I've heard about writers with exotic, fascinating rituals, but I'm not one of them. Instead, I have a drill sergeant who lives in my head. Shortly after I get up in the morning, she starts screaming things like this:
"Get your ass into the chair, you lazy maggot. Type, damn you, TYPE!!!"
She's not fiction-specific, truth be told. She first appeared in my head when I quit my full-time magazine editing job 14 years ago. I was single at the time, and I'd done plenty of planning before I left the security of the job. (Also, since I was living in Canada, I had the great blessing of having my health-care coverage virtually unchanged by the career switch; I lost dental and prescription coverage, but nothing else was affected.) Even so, when I woke up the day after my farewell party, I was seized by panic. I wondered how I ever thought I could quit a job and not end up homeless.
That was when I first heard the drill sergeant's voice. She's never really gone away, either, even when it became clear that I was making so much more money from freelancing than I had in my salaried position. I suspect she's here to stay, and I'm okay with that. If you asked certain members of my family — and by that, I mean my brothers — they'd tell you I'm a drill sergeant. They didn't nickname me Beast for nothing, you know.
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Have you heard that Thuglit is back? The brass-knuckled zine where I got my start in fiction is now available for Kindle, after a two-year hiatus. The legendary Big Daddy Thug, Todd Robinson, is back as editor. The first issue has new fiction by Johnny Shaw, Jordan Harper, Jason Duke, Matthew Funk, Terrence McCauley, Court Merrigan, and Mike Wilkerson. I've got a story in the issue as well: mine is called "Magpie," and it's as twisted as anything I've ever written. How can you resist? (PS Don't have a Kindle? Neither do I. But you can read Thuglit on your computer or smartphone with these free apps.)