This Is A Movie?

I went to the Redbox outside Walgreens just about a mile away looking for the movie CAKE with Jennifer Aniston.  To my disappointment it was already checked out, and so I stood there a moment debating.  I could go to the other Redbox outside the Hess Wilco gas station a block over, but I was tired.  Instead, I decided to scroll through the remaining movies just to see if anything else caught my eye, and boy, did it.

When had CHILD OF GOD been made into a movie?

COG was the second book I’d ever read by Cormac McCarthy.  The first was THE ROAD.  Both prompted a McCarthy frenzy which sort of petered out before I read the last book I’d bought by him, BLOOD MERIDIAN.  I’ve blogged about this in the past, with this book, and this one. 

I’d come away from those with a bit of burn out based on his repetitious style of writing.  Granted, he can take a situation and for several hundred pages have you following along because sometimes you think, “it just can’t get any worse,” and then it does.  He’s extraordinarily talented with revealing just how corrupt and backwards some individuals can be when forced to live at the edges of society.  He writes about characters who are depraved, ignorant and typically desperate.

At any rate, imagine my surprise as I stood there trying to decide since I can’t have CAKE, (ha) what’s it to be?  And then I saw it,and my curiosity about how they could take a story like THAT and make a movie of it won out.  I rented it.  I figured James Franco directed, I can’t go wrong.

Just like with books, I don’t typically rely on the ratings too much.  It was a little surprising however, when I got home and searched for the movie’s release date (2014), to see that Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave it two stars.  And reviewers who use IMDb ranked it at 5.4 out of 10.  I watched the trailer.  I thought it looked pretty good.

Maybe it’s the extraordinarily tasteless acts ole Lester Ballard engages in that has turned folks off.  If nothing else, you got to hand it to McCarthy for going “there.”  No one else has, not that I know of.  I thought certain topics were taboo and he proved that’s not the case necessarily.


I’ll hand McCarthy this.  He writes as if everyone he knows, or anyone who might judge him is dead.  There is no topic off limits.  As a writer, I’ve yet to learn this.  I think twice before I word something a certain way.  I write a scene over and over and over with the thought, “who might read this?  Oh, yeah, them.”  DELETE.

I want to learn to write like no one’s looking over my shoulder.

Don’t you?



Yes, that’s how I’d like to write. I mean, art imitates life, right? Look at Harper Lee – TKAM is pretty much her experience growing up and it’s amazing.


    It does. I don’t know why I think twice about writing about certain subjects. Much like Teri’s comment above, hardly anyone in my family reads my stuff anyway. Well. Mom reads it, God bless her. She’s funny. She’ll usually call me and say,”phew!” or a “holy cow!” if I’ve written a scene with sex.


There is no such thing as not feeling fear. Feel the fear and write it anyway. What can writing it hurt? Just because you write it doesn’t mean it ever, especially in the first or tenth iteration, needs to see the light of day. It’s the writing it down that counts. I never know what I really thing, deep inside in the crusted over places, until I get it out on paper.

The best thing I’ve learned from blogging and publishing short pieces: if I feel sick to my stomach and terrified when I hit the send or post button, the piece is worth publishing. Everything else, for me, is filler and bullshit.


    *think* not thing. And to be clear, I write plenty of filler and bullshit, and every time I publish it I fucking hate myself for it.

    P.S. Over the last decade, I’ve also learned how little my friends and family read ANYTHING I write, so there’s that.


      I have to hand it to you, some of your pieces sing with clarity and truth, and I think many, many times your work has struck just the right nerve with many. And by nerve, I mean it resonates – loudly.

      It’s funny. Much like you, if I write something that makes my heart pound harder, that’s sort of my emotional compass on what I’ve produced. And you’re right of course, about what’s the harm in writing it? Even if it only serves as a cleansing. I definitely need some of that here lately.


I definitely wish I had those kind of guts. But since I write mostly middle grade, I do have to be careful of certain topics. I’m sure once it gets to a publisher, I’d have to nix it anyways. But props to him for his boldness.

Liked by 1 person

    “But props to him for his boldness.”


    What I should remember is I don’t look at any other author like, “OMG, how could you think to write about that?” You know? So, I just need to get over these little writerly hangups and worries, and give people credit for knowing it’s a story. If someone thinks I’ve hit too close to home, maybe I’ve done my job. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

With total disregard to over the shoulder gawkers,
I wrote it.
True as truth can be.
I send it out, petrified that the big guys would run it.
I blogged about my fear of acceptance.
The possible fallout looped in my mind.
I didn’t sleep well.
They replied.
I can breathe.


    Okay, as I said on your site, I had to pop over there to see what you meant.

    Now, my biggest question is…what if one of them ran it? How would you feel? I’m honestly curious to know and of course because I don’t know what your piece is about, I also wonder who in your family would it have affected?

    And won’t you submit to more? And just because I think I know your answer, I’ll go ahead and say, “why not?”


Protip: your local library might have DVDs, and thus might have CAKE.

I sometimes am very concerned about my grandmother (and other family members) reading what I’ve written. Then I remember that not only did my grandmother read the Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogy, but also went to see THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO with my grandfather. She can handle it.

This doesn’t mean I write (or edit) with complete fearlessness. But it sure Goddamn helped.

Liked by 1 person

    My first book deals with quite a bit of abuse, sexual and otherwise. I remember when writing it I cringed with worry over family reading it. What I need to remember is my mom had that book called “Our Bodies, Our Selves.” Which isn’t a real comparison, but it sure was a very open and frank discussion about women and their bodies. Orgasms and all. And how to look for certain parts of the female anatomy. When I was twelve, I would sneak into my parent’s bedroom and read it.

    Of course, that’s a far cry from some of the stuff I’m talking about. Like McCarthy’s work. Comparing my stuff to his = lily white to dark depravity.


“I want to learn to write like no one’s looking over my shoulder.”

Seriously — you need to stop that shit, right now, no excuses, no weak moments, no bullshit.

If you aren’t happy for people to HATE you because they can’t understand that fiction is all about telling a Greater Truth, and that Everything is fair game in the striving toward that telling, then you will NEVER write the best work you’re capable of.

It doesn’t mean you don’t, or can’t, write good work. It only means your work will lack complete truth. Every time you pull back from it, your work suffers, and becomes less than that Greater Truth you’re striving to tell.

It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, or sell even millions of books. In fact, million-sellers are ALMOST NEVER great books. So it comes down to what you want. I’ve sold 80,000 books in the past year, and those books are written for a particular market, contain no Greater Truths, are not well written in the sense of what we are talking about here, and are not the books that will matter to me when I’m on my death bed. If you only want that sort of success, then feel free to go on as you have been, and pull back when it comes to writing what might hurt someone (including yourself). But you can’t win the fight — the fight being to LIVE your life — if you keep on pulling your punches.

But don’t listen to me. I’m an arsehole who’s happy to hurt those I love in the name of a Greater Truth, or at least to have them think less of me. And maybe I’m wrong — for what greater truth is there than love?
Also, if we prove to be unsuccessful at writing that Greater Truth, we’ll have hurt people for no reason, so if you’re going to do it, you’d better do it properly. You can’t be NICE and be a great writer. But me, I’m not nice anyway — so in my real work, none of which is yet published, I’m throwing everything at it, no matter who it hurts.

I feel like everything I just wrote should serve to convince you that your statement, “I want to learn to write like no one’s looking over my shoulder,” is the wrong thing to do. The Bukowskis, Byrons, Dickenses and Hemingways of the world gave us great gifts, while shattering the lives of many of those closest to them. Because they wrote what they wanted, did what they wanted, lived how they wanted. If they’d felt someone watching over their shoulder and let it affect them, they may have been nicer people, but…

Liked by 1 person

    You know how everyone who writes talks about first sentences? You successfully snapped me to attention with the first sentence in your reply here. Well done.

    Of course, I expected nothing less. (sidebar: Congratulations on selling 80K books! Now that is some of the best news I’ve heard in a while!)

    Funny thing. Lately Mom and I have been having some, what we call here in the South, “come to Jesus,” meetings. Obviously not real meetings, this is really more of the blurting out stuff we’ve kept pent up for years. Probably more me than her. Sometimes I feel like a sack of shit b/c Dad’s only been gone for a few months, and plop, out of my mouth it falls. Usually when she’s having one of her proverbial “meltdowns.” Dad put up with those all his life. My brother and I witnessed them throughout our childhood.

    Anywho, back to your comment. That was like the Greater Truth in of itself. All I can say is thank you for the knock upside the head which, and you may not believe this, serves it’s purpose more than you think.


%d bloggers like this: