Four New Stories

The last few weeks have been .  . . busy.

The import thing: I finished two full-manuscript revisions: Mind the Gap and Drunk in the Warm Glow. That’s a solid 165,000 words (all of them, misspelled and put in the wrong places).

Creators Publishing now has my full Drunk in the Warm Glow manuscript, all ready to be reviewed by their editor.

Before Mind the Gap is released, I wanted to release four brief, true stories.

Check them out on Amazon: ““Huh?: Tales of Bewilderment


I mean, look at that cover picture. You’ve got to read it. 


Four New Stories


I need one of those speed-bags boxers use.

Everytime I want to do something, I encounter this attitude.


Image result for meh

Whatcha wanna do?

Wanna join next year’s basketball league?

Wanna see a comedy show in Madison?

Dear professional who wants to work with me: wanna email me back because I emailed you four months ago and each month I’ve followed up with a polite request for you to email me back like a professional (and not like a teenage girl who’s not interested but doesn’t have the confidence to just say no?) I want to get moving on things. So, maybe let’s get moving? Or do you have a lot of “indifferencing” to be doing? Yeah. Probably that. Netflix + Angry Birds + Flappy Birds + Incognito Internet browsing will really amp up the meh-factor in your life.

Wanna go . . .?

Nah. They don’t. People are boring. People are dull. They don’t like weird. They like sameness. They don’t like risk. They like cat photos. They like Two and a Half Men. They like being told when to laugh, when you stop, go, and turn. They want security. They want to be great again . . . but they want someone else to do it for them.

SO when you ask, wanna go take a risk? Don’t be surprised when you get:

Meh. Bleh.

Did you like the movie?


Why didn’t you like it?

It was kind of, bleh, and meh, and the part with the guy who was all like, “Bah!” I was more like meh.

Instead of ranting at human beings, perhaps a speed-bag would suffice. I can’t keep kick-boxing the bumper of my Buick anymore. One day the bottom will fall off and I’ll be Flinstone-style getting to work everyday.

Yabba-dadda . . . meh.




“Hey, baby, you wanna hop in and get outta here?”

“Meh. No thanks. Netflix is streaming Fireplace for Your Home.”

“Okay. I am off to not go on an insane rampage.”



Every time I think of productivity, I think of Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption. Day by day he chipped away to achieve something. Writing weekly letters to the government for funds for expanding the library. And the whole wall thing, too. He didn’t do anything all at once, but it was one drop by drop one drop into a lake until the lake was filled.

So many students and friends of mine try to do everything all at once, and when they don’t succeed, they become frustrated and quit. In college, I had a roommate who was taking an English course, and he kept putting off an analysis on J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, which he had over a month to write. Night before, he panicked and was offering to pay me to write it. I didn’t write it, and he pulled an all-nighter, chugging coffee and Monsters and whiskey. He dropped the class days later after the all-nighter produced about a page of distracted writing.

I just read an interesting article about Jerry Seinfeld. (Note: I think Seinfeld is overrated, and I despite comics who tell the same jokes for fifteen years; I’m love me some Louie, Bill Burr, Carlin, and other who ditch their material after a year or two or after it’s been recorded). Seinfeld gave this advice: Get a big calendar. Make a goal for each day. For example, write 1000 words. Or write a joke. Each day, you must complete that task; it doesn’t have to be perfect or wonderful or even good. You just need to complete it. Then draw an X through that day. Day by day, do this. Then, you’ll create a chain. This chain will create momentum, and you’ll want to see those X’s lining that calendar hanging from your workspace wall. Overtime, you’ll produce plenty of garbage. (I know this personally. I have tons of garbage. I don’t burn it, though. That’s bad for the electronic cloud.) You’ll also produce good writing/ideas.

So, that’s what I’ll be starting Monday. A big ol’ calendar on my work wall. Its only purpose: for me to draw a big X on each day I complete my goal. And my next goal will be daily writing on my next work, which will be my third novel, and fourth book-length project.

Oh, John Grisham does something similar, too. That’s how he was able to write novels while working a seventy-plus hour workweek while he was still a lawyer. I don’t know if he was a Street Lawyer, but he did something right, at least in terms of success and making a living making shit up. (He’s produced at least one book per year for the last twenty-four years.)

On another note, check out how Seinfeld doesn’t get political correctness: What’s the deal with PC people?


Dan-man: The Expected Virtue of Ignorance

We’re all so special. We all could be president one day. We’re all one break from being the next American Idol (thank God that show is over). We’re all trying to stay relevant, somehow. But it’s all delusion and ignorance.

And I’m failing at being relevant and at being aware of my own ignorance. And mostly everyone else is, too. Well, except all those fuckers on TV, and the people sexing on top of piles of money (beware the paper cuts). Yet, does our irrelevancy and insignificance indicate a lesser status? I feel like I never gave a thought to being significant until social media made everyone have a voice, even those who should keep their thoughts locked in Tartartus with monsters and evil-doers. Now we have YouTubers and Soundcloud (or whatever) people blasting their thoughts and videos and music into the over-saturated cloud hovering above us and in our pockets. Status is something few of us should ever consider. It’s fleeting. Yet, if you want to be someone, even it’s as small (or big) as being writer, status does matter. You want to collect accomplishments; it’s just another extension of the American mentality: collect material possession. If not material, then bulletpoint accomplishments to add to your CV. But even successful writers who’ve spent year and countless hours pecking at their computers, even they are a blip on the radar. I’ve been glancing at writing competitions here and there. Most of the time, the guest judge is a poet or short story writer whose novel/chapbook is listed on Amazon but has no reviews. It’s has no readers. It’s out there, floating in cyberspace (and maybe in print), but who is reading it? How can one grab the attention of readers when there’s and WhatCulture and all the other list-based websites which are not the work of one person; instead, they rely on readers to do much of their work. How can one person compete? Six Celebs Who Are Shitty Parents. You know you’d read that over a story entitled, “Advent,” even though one has substance and one is a list about people you’ll never know. I’m the same way. I fall for the cheap stuff. So status? It matters, but it shouldn’t. It’s good, it seems, to be aware. But to focus on it too much? Talk about setting yourself up for depression and a spiral downward with the bottle by your side.

Somedays, it’s tempting to drop everything and head to some location where it is a). calm and detached from reality or b) buzzing with art, story, comedy, music, and film. Yet, I’m here, in a small-ish Wisconsin town where there is no comedy scene. Our college is a solid liberal arts college, but beyond that, I need to travel an hour and 1/2 to see any comedy/music/film worth its weight, (which is not to knock any of the beautiful work done in Oshkosh and its surrounding areas).

I believe it was Conan O’Brien or Demetri Martin who said in order to be truly successful, you need to have no backup plan. You need to throw yourself into your project(s) without some cushion to land on if you fail. Knowing you have a cushion beneath you allows you to relax. Instead of, “Fuck, I must perform tonight. I must write a story tonight. I must hit my 2000 word-per-day goal or I’m done. I won’t be able to buy food or pay rent.”

I can appreciate that thought. However, it is comforting to know that I do have a safety net. I have a job which provides a salary and medical benefits. Is this a bad thing? Maybe. I certainly have days where I’m too beat to write for more than fifteen minutes. There are days where I watch Netflix (awww, sheee-iiit, Arrested Development, baby!) instead of adding drops to the dry lake which might become another novel. Comfort can be bad. And perhaps I have too much. Too much comfort and cushion. Do I drop everything and head to a place where my entire monthly pay goes to surviving? No more saving up? No more random travels? I don’t know. It’s hard to give up comfort. Once you have it, it is addicting. To come home at the end of a work day and be able to just sit. Relax. Watch. Nap.

Besides, even if I dropped everything and dove head-long into my writing–relocating, joining some MFA program or high-grade writing group, who is to say that I don’t drown in the pussy-clogged pore that is pretty much every art-based city? No one. It’s a risk. And to take that risk, I think I’d have to be delusion. I’d have to be ignorant. And in that case, it can be seen as a virtue. Perhaps, if success in letters and writing is what I truly want, delusion and the virtue of ignorance is exactly what I need.

Now, I’m off to stage my own adaptation of a Raymond Carver story. Spoiler alert: I’m going to blow my nose off with a handgun.



Dan-man: The Expected Virtue of Ignorance

The Anxiety to Be Productive

Think about it. Every moment you’re alive, you could be doing something excited, innovative, expressive, emotionally-rewarding, or anything else fulfilling. If you scan the news, especially news of celebrities, you find that Jesse Eisenberg is acting in a handful of movies and publishing stories and a newly released book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups. James Franco, the pretentious and pseudo-literary wunderkid who teaches at universities, acts, directors, and produces films (and does othershit), is constantly squeezing out new material that pops up on Amazon and other retailers. Recently, he’s dumped a few chapbooks (poetry) and is working on a screenplay adaptation of his own eye-roll-worthy collection of stories.

I could go on and on about these successful people who seem to jump from one success to another. It is daunting to see these people rolling in success and spewing out works at an outstanding pace. It’s especially daunting when you compare celebrity to celebrity, because it then seems like this is the norm: movies, plays, books, one-(wo)man shows, etc.

In reality, there’s just too much shit that exists. Countries, peoples, languages, academic subjects, entertainment, and so on. Even within writing, you have a plethora of options. Screenwriting, TV-writing, novel, poetry, short story, blogging, and others. As a teacher, I’m hard pressed for time, but I try to write every day. As of today, I’ve written two novels, and I’m nearly finished with the first draft of a collection of stories, entitled Mind the Gap. Yet, I feel the constant burden of being underproductive. A sense of failure and underperformance hovers over me like a malicious rain cloud. Yet, is this a reasonable feeling? Is it worth the stress and anxiety? For the last year, I’ve been spending hours upon hours reading and researching and writing and editing and attending conferences. Yet, Jesse Eisenberg got a book published. James Franco has several published, despite the negative reviews and laughable poetry.

It’s hard to tell if I should blame myself for the stress and anxiety I put on my self, or if I’m relying too much of an idea of success that is no more real that a Hollywood movie with talking robots that morph into cars and cause explosions all over the landscape.

IN any given day, you have a set numbers of productive hours. Experts say that once you hit fifty, the hours after that are pretty much lost. You’re better off just stopping at that point. Yet, every week, I find myself going well over those fifty hours. Between school, writing, sports (basketball, flag football), reading, maintaining (somewhat of) a social life with my significant other, it’s damn hard to keep sanity. When the hours disappear and at the end of the week, I haven’t completed my goals, it’s frustrating. And that frustrating builds over the weekend as I frantically try to achieve my goals, which may be skewed to begin with because of the unrealistic and illusory expectations set by these artists and actors who have a team of editors and collaborators and life-managers to help them succeed.

Really, what might be best for those like me is a simple retreat from the skin-deep accomplishments of those we admire. I have a novel coming out at some point in 2016. I wrote the novel in 2014-2015. I don’t know how successful it will be, if at all, but at least it’s a step. It’s a feel good moment. But then I glance at the others. Then the sense of accomplishment is completely gone. And ten or twenty years ago, this probably wouldn’t have been as big of an issue. There was less bombarding the American people.

I’d like to buy a cabin in the woods. Minimal living. There, perhaps, I’d be able to ignore the successes of famous people, such as Jesse Eisenberg (whose book I am currently reading and enjoying, for the most part). Afterall, in the Acknowledgements part of his book, his thanks his three agents. 

I don’t even have one.

By the way, cabins in the middle of nowhere aren’t too pricey.

In short, ignore all that noise. I’m mostly talking to myself here, but who cares about Franco’s diarrhea-d out chapbooks? People are reading it because he was in one of the Spidermans and he’s good at playing a stoner in that stoner movie with other stoner guy who looks like he’s always got a dip in.

Looks like a dip is in his bottom dip, always.

The Anxiety to Be Productive

A Writer Going Where None Have Gone Before

Hey, you,

I feel like it’s the first day of school and I don’t know anyone. Or, in this case, there’s no one at school except a tumbleweed. And the tumbleweed is ignoring me.

I’m Dan. I teach high school. I write stories. I want to keep writing them. So, I wrote two novels in the last year. Agents tell me I need an online presence. I need to be Twittering inside stranger’s phones; I need to Instagram all over your Facebook. I must be shoving TinyUrls into my friend’s messages until I am recognizable as a person on the internet.

So, here I am. A blogger. And I picked the free blogging website because I don’t know how it works. Maybe I’ll upgrade when I figure out how this all works and the tumbleweed starts to acknowledge me.


I write a lot. I’m planning novel number four as my two of my other novels are being bounced around between agents and publishers. My motto: keep writing and keep slinging the stories at people until someone says, “Hey, I don’t hate you. And this story about the boxer who killed himself really wriggled inside me and tickled my feels. Here’s a sack of money.”

The sack of money will be labeled with $$$.

I’m going to use this webpage to post stories that are eventually going to be part of a humor-oriented project called Mind the GapBasically, I tell stories that are supposed to be funny but they all relate to how I’ve failed and how I’ve missed the essential step between understanding and . . . falling into the speeding rail-train. . . . because that’s what people love. Death. And reading about it.

My goal is to post one story a week until all internet searches bring up this blog. (I don’t even know what “blog” means. I also don’t know how internet searching works. This will certainly be a success.)


A Writer Going Where None Have Gone Before