Grey Harlowe Sampler: Poetry Corner!

Just when you thought it was safe to read this blog again–poetry returns. This piece has undergone a lot of revision, (and I still don’t know how happy I am with the finished product) but it’s been on my hard drive for a year, so I think it’s time to share.

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October Town

In October Town, kids want to be in by dark,

even on Halloween.  What’s inside is scarier

than what you’d see in any theater.

People keep to themselves,

no making friends in this war zone.

Everyone wears a costume,

you never know who buries his Hyde

beneath a Jekyll mask.

Everywhere you go, you will see ghosts.

Those who couldn’t leave while living,

can’t escape in death either.

Here, the grass is grey, folded over year round.

At night, no matter where you look,

a branch arcs out across the moon,

the broken shine reminding you

of pure things you’ve damaged,

some beyond repair.

So many others like her,

cities of closed doors, drawn curtains,

where they say look the other way,

even if those in need are children.

Beware, travelers.

Her somber ease will lure like siren’s song.

Her grip, that liquid quicksand, seizes the soul.

You think you can resist, maybe tame her.

That’s what all the others said,

the ones you find around every corner.

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Grey Harlowe’s Top Five rules for writing.

This list is ever evolving. I’ve only been writing prose seriously for a decade, unlike those poems I’ve been churning out for thirty years. I have a few rules, though, which I will share for anyone curious.

1. The Five Paragraph rule. I’ve found that it’s harder to abandon a story completely if I’ve sat with it long enough to put down at least five paragraphs. Sometimes four paragraphs is enough, but five is a more reliable number. After that, no matter what pulls me away, I’ll have made enough of a mental investment in the story that it will usually pull me back in eventually.

2. Write the first draft outside, or away from my computer, whenever possible. Yes, I know that for those of you who don’t have outside space, or who never leave your laptop or tablet to save your life, this one sounds hard to imagine. For some reason, I do my best thinking out of doors now, or at least, away from my tiny desk here. Keyboard work is for revision, final draft, submission. The initial work goes better in environments without walls (or the expected ones.)

3. Shut the door to whatever room I’m in. This one was critical to my decision to commit to my writing several years ago. To demonstrate (to myself) that I valued my writing enough to prioritize my focus on it, I had to start closing the door during writing sessions. Worked like a charm.

4. Begin today’s work with a bit of yesterday’s work. I like to keep myself anchored in writing by making sure I’m immersed in the whole of the text whenever possible. Especially if I’ve been away from a piece for a while. Helps keep the writing from emerging in scattered, disconnected blocks, and helps keep me from feeling distant or disconnected from it.

5. Stick the ending. No piece of writing is ‘done’ until the ending works. Ever since I embraced this philosophy, it helped me develop enough enthusiasm for the art of bringing the ending together that I no longer fear writing endings. I’ve also stopped sending out work that isn’t ‘ready,’ as I don’t submit anything without an ending I’m truly satisfied with.

Okay, one more from YouTube guy: dating horror stories.

Every once in a while, this blog must take a turn for The Serious, so here’s a very scary (and not in a good way) collection of horror stories from the world of modern dating.

These stories, by the way, are why I pretty much gave up on relationships years ago. I mean, never say never, but let’s just say this vid didn’t make me regret my decision to go solo.

A content note: some viewers may want to skip the last story, which addresses sexual assault.

Personal note: run, do not walk, from anyone interested in Insane Clown Posse. Just trust me on this.

Back to the real reason you come here: ghost stories.

I might have some more of my own to post in a few days (or not, it’s touch and go right now) but to tide you over, here are some awesomely creepy ghost stories from the nursing profession.

These are pretty good—almost three million views worth of good (seriously.) I don’t recommend reading them after dark, though, or if you are about to check into a hospital: http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/whats-your-best-108202.html

ETA: Yes, I know the links thing is getting old. I will figure out a way to upgrade shortly. Right now, WordPress and I simply don’t get along, and seems like even TinyURL wants to screw me.

But seriously, we’re hosting a short story contest.

Or, rightly, I should say I’m hosting one.

Submit your short horror stories to my email address (greyharlowe@ymail.com) and glory and good fortune shall fall upon you.

Le sigh. I may have to hit Facebook to get this blog the publicity it needs to make this effort a worthwhile one on the part of anyone who wants to submit. Or maybe dig up some prizes (at yet, no prizes are offered for this competition.)

Five stories that made me never want to use Craigslist.

Ever.

While tooling around YouTube tonight, I found something that makes any fake, questionable, or even genuine supernatural stories from that site pale by comparison.

5 Scary True Craigslist Stories: http://tinyurl.com/o2as2xf

Um. Holy shit. These stories will scare you off Craigslist use for good. And for those of us never-used-it types, it’s one more motivation to steer clear of that monstrosity.

(The video is made all the more frightening by the narrator’s posh Australian accent.)

Seriously, never use Craigslist (or any other website) in the manner these individuals did—most of these stories could have turned out much worse.