The Post Nobody Asked For, or Art Doesn’t Work Like That
Pet peeve time! One of the things online that get to me is when someone’s response to something they don’t like, or think is silly, is, “The ________ nobody asked for.” I’ve seen in regards to movies like Solo: A Star Wars Story, sequels, TV shows…whatever. “A movie/sequel/show nobody asked for.” I feel like it’s an easy cop-out, like easily dismissing something as “overrated.”
The thing is, all art falls into the category of “nobody asked for.” One could argue sequels are asked for, and perhaps they are, but even then, there’s an element of creativity that dictates that a creator is creating it without the feedback of the audience. For instance, no one asked Stephen King to write Carrie but he did. Sure, his wife, the novelist Tabitha King, fished an early draft out of the trash and encouraged him to continue, but no one asked him to write it. Hell, even now, King doesn’t necessarily write things fans asks for. If an idea grabs him and it’s tied into something he did earlier, he’ll go there as he did with Doctor Sleep, the follow-up/sequel to The Shining.
Art, creativity, exists and is created by the creator. Nobody needs to ask for it, that’s the point. The gift, though, is that if it’s good, you’ll want more of the artist’s art, which is all right to ask for, but not necessarily expect.
This post originally appeared on my Patreon page as a Patron’s-Only update. Become a Patron for weekly updates and other fun stuff!
I’m No Candle, or There’s No Honor in Martyrdom
I believe Harlan Ellison said something like the starving artist is a myth perpetuated by those who don’t wish to pay the artist. I believe he said something to the effect of, “There’s no nobility in starving for one’s art.” He was talking about writing, of course. But it came to me a lot a couple of weeks ago as a quote that was been being posted and read at my school for Teacher’s Appreciation Week compared teachers to candles, who “light the way while being consumed.”
I loathe this idea. I love teaching, but it’s a job. I don’t want to be consumed by it. A candle gives light until there’s no more left. This is not honorable, it’s only the way of things. If I light the way, it’s with a flashlight, which needs taking care of and a recharge. Of course, teaching technology and media, my flashlight is on my phone. I will do whatever I can to help my students find the river and drink, within reason. That, I hope, is honorable. When it comes to my personal health—mental or physical—or it comes to time with my family, or it comes to my other calling, writing, I draw the line.
All the other ”appreciation?” Keep it. Want to show appreciation? Time or money, that’s how. For all teachers everywhere.
The myth that “teachers are candles,” or any myth that teachers should give so much more of themselves than nearly any other career–without the corresponding pay of, say, a doctor–is perpetuated by people who do not actually respect teachers, but choose to believe that they should give more of themselves than they should. And this includes administrators.
Administrators love to point out how they have to be on-call all the time, and do this conference or that conference, etc. Considering they’re paid far, far more than those in the classroom (and so many of them have not been in a classroom, of have only taught a little while), that’s their choice. Teachers should not be expected to do what the administrators are willing to do without the same benefits and pay.
And this is not school specific, but all schools, all districts.
Just a thought.
This was originally posted on my Patreon page, as a Patrons Only post. If you liked this post, please consider becoming a Patron.
The Early 2022 Post, or Man, I Really Need to Step Things Up
Happy New Year! We made it through 2021 and that’s probably as positive as I can be about that experience! I mean, I guess it wasn’t worse than 2019 or 2020, but it wasn’t great. Teaching during the 2021-2022 school year has so far been the most difficult I’ve experienced. We here at casa de Gauthier are still somewhat hunkered down. I haven’t been to the movies since January 2020, for instance, and only go to stores when absolutely needed. Yeah, I’ve gotten my haircut and we’re a little more willing to some things, but we’re still being pretty careful. My nine-year-old, Genevieve, is being homeschooled until the Massachusetts DESE gets their heads out of their asses and do what’s really right for the protection of students (and teachers, but who cares about them!). Still, 2021 saw some exciting things.
In January, I sent a query/proposal to an agent for my middle grade space adventure novel. Having not heard anything for months, I queried other agents, who promptly said, “Thanks but no thanks.” In the last week of December, the agent from January got back to me. While they passed on the novel, they told me that they’d had it on their “maybe” list. So I came thiiiiiiiis close! It’s much-needed validation for the book, so I’m looking forward to looking into more agents and querying.
In February, I went on a limb and emailed Crossroad Press to ask if they’d be interested in bringing out my backlist and maybe a new novel, and they were interested! So that’s the beginning of the journey of the rereleases of Catalysts, Alice on the Shelf, and Shadowed. Alice on the Shelf has been in ebook pretty much since it came out in 2011, but the new versions of Catalysts and Shadowed are currently available, and the new print edition of Catalysts is, too, which is really exciting.
I started editing the new adult horror novel in August and am almost done with the line-edits. December became the month of the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and the new novel took a backseat while I wrote mini-stories and photos, which I did minor editing to in Procreate, spending from 20 minutes to 2 hours working on the stories. Mostly, they were about an hour or 90 minutes, which is the time I’d usually work on editing the novel. Now that the advent calendar story is over, I’m back on novel duty. I have about 25 pages to edit, and hope to get it done in the next few days. As far as the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar story, that can be seen on my Instagram. If there’s interest, maybe I’ll collect the stories on a page here or on my Patreon.
I’m looking forward to what 2022 has in store and hope I can up things a bit—getting more Patrons, selling more work, and generally getting more stuff done. Echoes on the Pond will be released this year, which is exciting. I look forward to holding my first published novel in hands. I’m hoping to get more things going on my platforms. Part of that is health, too. I need to work on exercising and eating better, so that’ll be on the agenda.
If you’re so inclined, becoming a Patron of my Patreon page will help. I’ve been posting more there than on here, and Patrons get the inside scoop on things, including the titles of the works, occasional previews, excerpts, and perhaps more this year, especially if I get more Patrons.
It’s been a rough few years and I’m hoping 2022 will begin alleviating our pains. Thanks for reading, and I hope we’ll continue this journey for a long time to come. Again, happy New Year.
Gabby Ray Arrives!
Gabby Ray has lived in my family since 2007. It began as a joke but I’ve used the character as an example for years in my class when I teach Photoshop, InDesign, etc. Last year, I did a project with the students and actually did the project with them. Writing, drawing, all of this comic book.
The assignment was to take a myth, fairy tale, folktale, or legend, and adapt it as a story for an original character the students created. So I did this. It features Easter eggs of my sister, her partner, my wife, and both of my daughters. Han Solo and Harlan Ellison might also make an appearance. Most importantly, my mother makes an appearance.
My Patreon Patrons got to see it first. I hope you enjoy it!
CATALYSTS Out Now!
I’m happy to tell you that my 2007 collection of short stories, Catalysts, has been re-released by the fine folks at Macabre Ink/Crossroad Press! This isn’t just a re-release, but a new, revised edition. This 2021 edition has been revised throughout and includes a new introduction for the 2021 edition, a new short story called “KILL -13-“, which appeared in the anthology Darker Discoveries the year after Catalysts original release, and updated story notes.
Macabre Ink/Crossroad Press will also be re-issuing new editions of Alice on the Shelf and Shadowed, and will be publishing my novel Echoes on the Pond.
Right now, Catalysts is available in ebook with a new print edition in the works. Get a copy at Barnes & Noble or Amazon, or wherever else you get your ebooks.
I wrote a short memoir about a bookmark that I’ve had for 31 years. Here’s the link.
Patronizing Me & Other Updates, Including a New Book!
I’m sorry for lack of updates, but I have been working my lil ol’ bum off! I just want to through into the ether that I have a Patreon page where I tend to do most of my blogging these days, both the free posts and Patron-only. I’m hoping to update this website a bit in the near future, so if you’ve been following me, thank you! Head on over to Patreon and follow me there, too! And if you’d like to become a Patron, even better!
Things are happening. I’ve signed a contract to bring back my previously published books in new editions. This includes–
- Catalysts, my short story collection which was originally published by Dark Discoveries Press in 2007. This edition will have a new introduction and a new story, as well as general revisions.
- Alice on the Shelf, my novella that was originally published in 2011 by Bad Moon Books. I loved the look of the book but the publisher was, well…I’m glad I’m moving on. There will be slight revisions to this.
- Shadowed, my novella which was published by Delirium Books/DarkFuse in 2011. I loved this experience. Working with Greg Gifune and Shane Staley was a high point. This will be a new edition with some revisions and a new Afterword.
But, not only that, but my novel, Echoes on the Pond, will be published as part of the deal! The publisher hasn’t announced it officially, so I’m not naming them yet, but the contract is signed and I’m looking forward to this as it’s my first published novel!
Anyway, check out the Patreon page and thank you for the continued support!
2021 & Things to Do
I’ll start off right away by saying thank you for reading this. I know that I haven’t kept up with my blogs for awhile and there are lots of reasons, and in the past year, I’m sure you know and have experienced it yourself. Still, time passes and sins of those in charge, and those who put them there, are beginning to truly hit us.
Not only has a pandemic killed over 350,000 people as I write this, but there are fractures all over. And with that pandemic hitting everyone, the Senate has let us all down.
We are not wealthy people, as I’m sure most of you reading this understand and are in similar places. For the past two months, I’ve been working on getting proposals done for the middle grade space adventure novel and the adult horror novel, as well as a final revision of the MG space adventure. I’ve also been working on stories and essays. I’m prepared for when places will begin accepting submissions this month, and am about to query about essays, too. Still, I don’t know if that’ll be enough.
In May 2019, I began a Patreon page for myself. I’m asking you to please take a look, and, if you’re willing, become a Patron. With only one person working in the household right now, this can truly help. On my part, I’ve tried to help by being Patrons to at least two writers I admire and subscribing to a magazine I love. I may try to do more, within my increasingly tighter budget.
I intend to continue working hard in 2021 and you’ll actually begin seeing some of the fruits of the labor from the last few years. Here are some plans I have and a few things I’m trying to figure out:
- Submitting the middle grade space adventure to agents (which I already mentioned, but if I’m going to list things…).
- Submitting the adult horror novel to agents or publishers (which I also mentioned, etc.).
- Revising and submitting short stories.
- Write a few more short stories.
- Query about and write nonfiction for paying markets (I used to be a columnist, fer chrissake!).
- Revise/rewrite 2nd middle grade space adventure novel.
- Revise/rewrite another adult horror novel.
- Create more content through Instagram and YouTube.
Those are things in my head right now. The last thing, creating content for Instagram and YouTube, are things that I’ve been thinking about a long time. The Instagram thing will be similar to what I do with the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar every year. The YouTube videos are things I’ve been thinking about a long time and have had people tell me should be of interest.
One way you can help, besides following me on those platforms, is to become a Patron on my Patreon page. My head feels like it’ll split with all the ideas in it, now I just need an audience willing to see it. Are you interested?
Writing for Fun and Nightmares, My 1st Attempt at Fan Fiction
I have never written fan fiction. The idea idea of fanfic as a major thing is, to me, a fairly new thing, definitely since the rise of the internet. When I was of an age to really want to write fanfic, the internet was in its infancy and I didn’t have a computer. By the time I got my first computer and access to the internet, when I was 21, I was too busy writing Bill Gauthier stories to try my hand at fanfic, preferring to wait for the day that I was hired by a licensed property to write stories. Sometimes, though, an idea comes and it just won’t go away.
In the last few years, I had an idea regarding A Nightmare on Elm Street. Longtime readers know I’m a big fan of the movies, particularly the first five. Except the second movie. It’s bad. But, what if those stories could be told in a way that they were like five parts of a bigger story? This idea wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally, I decided to try my hand at fan fiction.
I haven’t done much, focusing on my other projects. I don’t really have any plans of sharing any more of this fun writing with anyone except–maybe–close friends. But here is what I did for the beginning of my unofficial fan-novelization of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. I hope it’s mildly enjoyable, at the very least.
Prologue — A Dream
He feels like he has lived to reach this moment. Everything that happens afterward hinges on this particular moment in time. As he steps into his workshop, his work shoes shuffling against the concrete of his area, he chuckles. The chuckle comes from the throat and sounds a little phlegmy. That’s all right. It is as it should be.
He approaches a workbench and grabs a grimy old leather work glove from a shelf that’s against the wall across from his cot. Because the boilers need constant attention, the owners of the power plant let him live here. No, lets him live here, present tense. Right? He lifts the canvas bag up, the items inside clanging together as he upends the bag. Knives fall onto his workbench near the copper plate he’d put aside. He lifts the brim of his hat and wiped the sweat beading on his forehead on the red sleeve of his sweater. Not wiped but wipes, except, he’s not sure that there is sweat beading on his forehead.
It doesn’t matter, though, because he has work to do. Thinking about it makes him chuckle again.
He picks up a knife with his dirty, fingernail-bitten hands and begins the process of disassembling. He looks at the sketches he made on the old notebook, his crude drawing more detailed than almost anything else he’s ever done. He chuckles. That’s not true. As he disassembles the knives, he remembers the dream that brought him here, the dream that was so intense that it almost had to be more of a vision than a proper dream.
In the dream, a child ran from him, laughing and smiling. He laughed and smiled, too, and said the same sorts of things he’d said before when he’d play around with the children (sometimes he remembered the child being a little girl, sometimes it was a little boy) in the neighborhood. He knew he had to wait for the real fun to begin, his fun. For the child, it was new. Being at the power plant, being in the boiler room was exotic, fun. The ultimate playground. It was the kind of place Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t allow them to play. Soon, though, the child grew scared.
He heard the child call out for him. He didn’t respond. He stood, back against a metal wall, barely containing the laughter he felt building up in his chest. As the child grew more panicked, he grew happier. His wheezing breath grew quicker. He followed the sounds of the child’s mewling until he saw the small boy/girl in her/his Sunday Best. It sickened him, really, how prim and proper these children could be.
He chuckled and the child turned toward where he’d been. The child saw nothing. He saw them, though. He slowly, silently crept behind the machines, and when the child stepped toward where he’d been, he leapt out and struck.
He chuckles now, as he welds metal to more metal. In his dream, he’d killed the child with a claw on his right hand. Long, deadly fingernails, like a bear’s or a lion’s tore through the pale flesh of the child. His other hand had held the child down. That’s when he knew what he had to do, what he had to build.
After warming the metal, he shapes it on an anvil. He uses a stone spinner to help shape the already curved knife blades. He then welds the blades to more metal and tests the feel against his fingertips. A surge of energy and excitement pours through him and he chuckles again. He can’t help it. At last, he will do what he’s needed to do in the way that he’s needed to do it. At last he’ll show them.
And they need to be shown.
He thinks of them now and anger bubbles in the pit of his stomach. They smile at him, and the children are kind to him, mostly, but he remembers when the parents were children themselves and how they weren’t kind to him at all. Oh, no. He’d never really been one of them, though he grew up around them, somewhere on that long street ran not quite through the center of town, but almost as long parallel to Main Street, a few streets over.
He’d been an orphan in the small town of Springwood. Somehow, most of the time his foster parents lived on Elm Street. Though he lived on other streets in the small, suburban town that lay to the northeast of Los Angeles, it was Elm Street where he’d spent most of his childhood.
Elm Street was comprised of four basic sections that were almost separate neighborhoods on their own. The northern most end of Elm Street were mansions. It was also the smallest part of Elm Street. Some of the residents in those large houses wrote N. Elm Street as their address, though there was no official North Elm Street. He’d seen these houses as a child, and had even done some odd jobs in them as an adult, but he’d never lived among them. Not that he’d ever wanted to. The children and teenagers who’d lived in those large houses and mansions were amongst the cruelest he’d had to deal with throughout his childhood and adolescence.
The next section, moving south down Elm, was the largest section. This section was home to the upper-middle class houses. He’d lived in two of these houses growing up, 1570 and 1428. The people of 1570 had been horrible. The man of the house was considered a stellar citizen of Springwood, even sat on the town council, but would put his cigarettes out on him. He’d only been eight years old and had already known pain. This same great denizen of the town would also make nighttime visits to both of his daughters. He’d been a rotten man. As a child, he eventually got out, but he’d had to kill a cat to do so. He’d lived at 1428 when he was seven and the people there had been terrific. Still, his anger could sometimes be too much for them and he’d been removed after a particularly bad tantrum.
Driving south down Elm Street, the houses grew smaller. As he checks the hinges on the fingers, he muses that he’d spent three years in one of the houses. The family had been okay but didn’t really give much of a fuck about him. This was where the middle-class and, eventually, the lower-middle class families lived. The cars weren’t as nice as the other section, and there were more divorced parents and trouble down here, but not much. As he’d grown up in the forties and fifties, things were still pretty good. As those who lived in that section Elm Street were fond of saying, they didn’t have much but didn’t need much. It was funny, he‘d noted as a child, how those who said that always looked north, up Elm Street and to where they dreamed to live.
The blades were sharpened and on the finger pieces, the finger pieces were hinged together, and now came the time to rivet each finger to the copper base. He takes a straight razor that he’s had since he was a teenager and cuts into the metal. He cuts and cuts until time passes and he’s left with a three-by-four-inch plate that covers the back of his hand perfectly. Throughout the cutting process, and into the mild shaping process, he remembers where lived the longest on Elm Street. The South Section, as it’s often referred to. No need to say “of Elm Street” afterward. If someone asked, “Where’s this freak from?” and another replied, “Oh, he’s from the South Section,” everybody knew what that meant.
The South Section was the small section of Elm Street that was, quite literally, on the other side of the tracks. The West Station train cut through Elm Street, running parallel to Spruce. This small part of Elm Street (though larger than where the mansions and enormous houses were) was all lower-lower-class. Generally, if you were a child who lived in the South Section, children from the other sections couldn’t play with you. Sometimes, if you’d come from one of those other sections and hard times had fallen on the family, then maybe things would be all right and you could have friends, but you always played in their backyards or out on the front lawns or sidewalks, never in the house, and your friends were never allowed to go to your house.
This is how he knew the truth about Elm Street, about Springwood. He chuckles as he rivets the fingers to the plate. Certainly, they’d call him a monster if they knew what he plans to do with his new toy, if they knew what he’d done on the outskirts of L.A. a few months back and over in the town of Longmeadow a year before. The impulses are too strong to ignore anymore and besides, they have it coming. Sure they smile and wave at him. They grew up with him, but he’ll always be the weird guy.
He attaches the plate to the work glove. It’s careful work, he doesn’t want to wreck the old glove anymore than it already was wrecked. And, finally, it’s done. His heartbeat rams in his chest and he feels an erection grow in his work pants. He flips the glove over to look at it palm-side up.
He slides his hand into the glove and it feels like coming home. He lifts the hand and is surprised by how heavy the glove is. Good. Momentum will help cut through cloth and then flesh. He looks at the clawed glove from one side to the other, wiggles his fingers, and chuckles and the sound the metal makes on metal.
He flicks his hand and splays his fingers simultaneously.
The sound is deadly and frightening. He imagines what the sound alone would do to a child and he laughs.
Yes, he thinks. This is where it begins.
My Best Big Brother Moments (Just Not for My Younger Sister), Part I
I’ll often say I lived my childhood like an only child, and it’s pretty close to being true. My younger sister, Tracy, was born three-and-a-half after I was, and while we sometimes played together and had a good time, we often fought, and are very different people in a lot of ways. I could be, frankly, abusive toward her. I didn’t know that then, but I see that now, and I honestly feel bad about a lot of the shit I pulled. Even as adults, we really didn’t have much of a relationship, until last year, until my mother died.
I think neither of us really knew how to talk to the other and because we didn’t have a lot in common, we didn’t try hard. Especially me, the big brother. So when Mom died, we suddenly had one huge, massive thing in common. And it brought us closer. I wish I believed in an afterlife so I could believe that Mom sees how Tracy and I have grown closer. Tracy believes in an afterlife and believes my mother does see us and is happy.
This isn’t about any of that heartwarming stuff. This about two times that I got under Tracy’s nerves that I don’t consider mean, and that make us laugh now. They were good.
When we were kids, Tracy got into wrestling. I mean, she loved that shit. Me? I kinda hated wrestling from the get-go. Our older cousin, Cindy, enjoyed it and watched it and because what she said, went, we would watch it if we were sleeping over my grandmother’s. And because Tracy watched it all the time, I got to know the characters. Tracy had saved up money from birthdays and holidays and had a couple of hundred dollars put away, unlike me, who never met a penny I wanted to hold onto for too long. Well, Tracy went through that money on wrestling events. Wrestlemania, Summer Slam, Oily October, Enema Everyday, whatever the were. She’d have my mother order them on Pay Per View and watch those things. Fucking family members would come over and watch them, and because that’s where the action often was, I often watched them. I didn’t know it completely then, but now I do. I was gaining knowledge, knowledge that I could use.
I’d started suffering from insomnia around the age of nine. By the time I was 12, I was up late on Fridays and Saturdays because my parents allowed me to. These were grand times. The late-1980s, when horror TV shows were, everyone had a late night talk show (even that sponge, Pat Sajak!) and I loved it. Sometimes, though, when there weren’t horror movies or softcore porn flicks on Cinemax to watch (those last were ones I’d “sneak,” and the quotes meant I thought I was sneaking them but realize that my parents knew exactly what I was doing), I’d flip through the channels to find something. I learned a lot this way. One night, I happened upon wrestling.
Here’s the set-up: In one of those events a few months before, the Ultimate Warrior fought Hulk Hogan and won. Now, this was a Big Deal for wrestling fans. The Ultimate Roidier–er…Warrier–had defeated Hulk Hogan so badly, that the Hulk left the WWF!! Tracy got really upset when I pointed out that maybe it wasn’t because Hogan got hurt so badly but rather was off shooting a movie in his umpteenth attempt to get a film career (John Cena and Dwayne Johnson must really fry his frijoles!) and she’d cry and Dad would tell me to leave my sister alone.
Anyway, here I was, flipping through the channels, there he was, all oiled up, bleached hair, asthmatic breathing, bright yellow clothing, talking to Mean Jean Okerland (was that his name?). This was the moment Tracy had been waiting for. She’d even mentioned she thought Hulk Hogan was coming back. The thing was, she watched the show on Saturday mornings. Here it was, late-Friday night, early-Saturday morning. And Hulk Hogan said the words that have been stuck in my brain for about 30 years now.
He said, with all the seriousness and heart that only a professional wrestler can summon, “I’m a born-again Hulkamaniac, brother!”
It was like Shakespeare. I was moved to tears. Tears of laughter. “I’m a born-again Hulkamaniac, brother!” Oh, shit, this was gold. And a plan formed. I shouldn’t be proud of the plan. It wasn’t nice. But it wasn’t terrible, either, and we can laugh about it now, so fuck it.
The next morning, I watched TV or read in the living room or some shit like that until Tracy wanted the TV. Saved By the Bell followed by what my Mémé referred to “wrasslin’.” This was often my cue to leave the room. Not this Saturday morning, oh no.
Wrestling started and I had to sit through what felt like four decades of it until the moment came. I can’t remember what she’d done, but Tracy had pissed me off earlier that morning, and I knew just what to do. The segment started and before Hulk’s intro, I turned to her and said, “Here he comes!” She looked at me, her crystal blue eyes and mouth all o’s. Then her face quickly turned to panic.
I stood up and began doing the Hulk Hogan twirling my hand and listening to the audience.
“Stop it!” she yelled. “Shut up!”
He was introduced. “Daaaaddy! Billy’s being stupid!”
From the other room: “Leave your sister alone.”
Mom was working. That’s fine.
I sat down and Tracy leaned close to the TV. Hulk Hogan had survived his fight with the Ultimate Warrior, and as he spoke to Mean Gene about how he’d had a crisis in faith, I began laughing. I couldn’t stop it.
“Shut up!” Tracy said. “Daa-aaaddd!”
“Call Dad one more time and I’ll tell you what he says.”
Tracy looked horrified.
“You see,” I said, standing up, doing an okay impression of Hulk Hogan.
And right on cue, Hulk Hogan and I said, “I’m a born-again Hulkamaniac, brother!”
Then I started laughing so hard, I cried. Tracy skipped the former and went to the latter. She cried for Dad and he came to the living room door, exasperated. He yelled at me, I’m sure, but I was laughing and crying. And for years, if I wanted to get a rise of Tracy (which is something older brothers often enjoy doing with younger sister’s), I’d say in my best Hulk Hogan impersonation, “I’m a born-again Hulkamaniac, brother.”
That’s all I’ve got in me right now. But I’ll be back soon with the other big thing I did, that was really a stroke of genius if you ask me.
If you liked this essay and want to help the cause, go on over to my Patreon page and sign up.