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David W. Wright

The Daily-ish Journals of Writer, Cartoonist David W. Wright

How Clive Barker Changed a Bigot

I’ve always felt like an outsider.

When I was a kid, I was one of the only white kids in my neighborhood. When I was in middle school, we’d moved to the suburbs, where I was one of the poorest kids. After that, I gained weight and had horrible acne, which earned me all kinds of unpleasant nicknames.

For some reason, (maybe because I had long hair?) I popped up on a few assholes’ radars and they made my life a living hell. They picked on me for being socially awkward, for being a geek who would rather read in a corner during lunch than hang out, and for the crime of being a fat kid with zits.

And there’s one word they called me more than any other.

FAGGOT

Back then, the worst thing one of these jock assholes could call you was faggot, queer, gaywad, or some other homophobic insult.

And of course there were the attacks. Being cornered, hit, beaten up, having my clothes stolen from my locker, having gum shoved in my hair, being punched in the back of the head, having my comics stolen and ripped up because I wouldn’t fight back.

Or rather, couldn’t. There were groups of them, and one of me. And I wasn’t a fighter. I was a kid who just wanted people to like me.

In other words, a faggot.

Forget the fact that I liked girls and had never even thought of guys sexually.

But over time, being called a faggot long enough, I started to allow the bullies’ words to shape my own thoughts.

While I wasn’t a jerk to people I thought were gay, I did think bigoted thoughts. Some of that was intolerance learned from the church. I used words like faggot, queer, and homo. While I never used those words against actual gay people, I did say them to make fun of friends.

Because back then equating something with “gay” was an insult.

And though its painful to admit, I thought less of gay people. They were deviants. They were disgusting. And I was a judgmental asshole — a closeted bigot.

AND THEN CAME CLIVE BARKER

In the early 90s I was working graveyard shifts at a gas station where I had endless hours of nothing to do. During this time I read and wrote a lot. It was here that my dreams of being a writer truly took shape.

Working a low paying job, riding a bicycle ten miles a day, I dreamed of escape. I dreamed of the day that I could write stories that people would want to read, that they’d fall in love with, and get lost in the worlds.

TGASS-Clive-BarkerMy first exposure to Clive Barker was The Great and Secret Show. I had bought Weaveworld for my grandmother prior to that, but had never read it myself, so Clive had fallen off my radar until one day I was in a bookstore and this attractive employee came up to me and complimented my long hair. She was a lot nicer to me than most pretty girls, so I was totally willing to buy whatever she was selling!

She asked what kind of stuff I liked to read. At first, I wanted to lie, and say something I thought she would think was cool. She looked artsy, cute, like someone who probably read literary stuff way over my head.

But to be honest, I couldn’t even think of an author that might impress her, so I told her the truth — that I’d read pretty much everything by King and Koontz, and was looking for something new to get into.

She handed me The Great and Secret Show and said it would change my life.

I bought it, if only to have an excuse to go back to the bookstore and chat with her. (The book store was out of town and I had no car at the time, so I never had a chance to go back.) But also because she’d seemed so impressed by the book, and the author. I could tell by the look in her eyes, and some of the things she said about the book, that she truly loved it.

I started reading TGASS and was immediately impressed by the premise and Clive’s rich language. He used words in such a way that I felt like there was no way I could ever write something this good. Ever.

In fact, I was so intimidated that I stopped writing for a while.

Thanks a lot, Clive!

Imajica-Clive-BarkerAnd then I read Imajica.

If I was intimidated before, Imajica made me feel like a fraud. I wasn’t a writer in training, I was a delusional gas station cashier!

But then two things happened while I was reading Imajica.

I found myself questioning my homophobia for the first time (because of the relationship between Gentle and Pie).

I also found myself inspired to write again.

Not that I thought I could ever write something as good as either The Great and Secret Show or Imajica, but I had to at least try.

I wanted to create worlds that people would get lost in, just as I was lost in Barker’s.

While I felt like I was a bit more enlightened, I still didn’t understand homosexuality. I was still grossed out by the idea of two men kissing, let alone having sex.

And then Clive Barker released the book, Sacrament. And I read an article whichClive-Barker-Sacrament talked about Clive being gay.

I wasn’t sure if he had just come out of the closet, or if this was just news to me. In either event, I found myself disappointed in him.

I felt like I could no longer like his books the way I had. I felt like I had been betrayed or something. That I allowed this gay man and his gay stories into my head. And I certainly had no desire to read Sacrament, his first novel to feature a main character who was gay.

I don’t know why I felt like this. I was surprised by how deep my homophobia ran. And I was disgusted with myself for feeling like this.

Somehow, my curiosity for the book (it was a Clive Barker book, after all!) won over my bigotry. And then, on a long road trip with my friend, Tracy, I started reading Sacrament.

AND SOMETHING CLICKED INSIDE ME.

Suddenly, for the first time ever, I could understand how a man could love another man. How a woman could love another woman.

And how love is love, regardless of your gender.

I decided I would no longer use (or think) the hateful words of my tormenters. The words of oppression, the words used to make you feel lesser than.

I understood that despite our differences, we are all the same in the ways that truly matter, and nobody should ever be made to feel shame for who they love. And even if we’re wildly different, who am I (or anyone) to judge another for who they love?

In the years that followed, I’d come to have a few gay friends, and I learned about the struggles that many gay people go through. And, as a misfit, I could relate in many ways.

I also found myself speaking out for gay rights, debating people, trying to light that bulb in their heads — to illuminate the darkness and get rid of the learned hate. To understand that love is love, and we all deserve the same human rights.

THANK YOU, CLIVE BARKER

I doubt Clive Barker will ever read this, but I’d just like to say thank you — not only for inspiring me to continue writing, but also for inspiring me to open my mind. Through your fiction, worlds, and characters, you erased the bigotry I held onto and showed me what love is.

So, what books or authors have moved you, or changed you for the better? Comment below and share your story.

So, yeah, I’m still here

So, hey, how’s it going?

Typically when people return from long absences from their blogs, they go into a litany of reasons/excuses of why they were gone, then say how they promise they’ll do better to post more frequently, and it just sounds like a friend/lover begging for forgiveness for being a jerk. (And hey, who hasn’t been there?)

But I’m not going to bore you with a long list of things that I’ve been busy doing over the past many months. And I doubt you were too torn up about me being gone (especially when I’m on some eight million podcasts a week).

So instead, I’ll update you on what’s going on right now.

After releasing Yesterday’s Gone: Season Five and Crash, Sean and I got right to work on our next novel, a standalone called 12 which I originally conceived in the 90s.

The story is perhaps our darkest, and that’s saying a lot!

12 opens in the aftermath of a mass shooting. Then, immediately after the prologue, the story rewinds 12 hours leading up to the event, and follows 12 people’s lives in what will be some/many of their final day.

Who lives? Who dies? Who is the shooter? And why?

The idea came from back in the 90s. Someone who had been one of my closest friends had been shot dead by her estranged boyfriend. A little while after the fact, I coincidentally became friendly with the first police officer who had arrived on the scene, who was telling me about one his worst calls ever (prior to knowing I knew the victim.) It was all quite surreal.

After that stories about shootings, domestic and of the mass variety, seemed to stick out a bit more in the three papers I read every day. And one thing I noticed back then (though the media does a slightly better job of it now) was that the media ALWAYS seemed to care more about the shooter than the lives he took.

Yes, I said he, because it’s almost always a he, isn’t it?

Why did he do it?

What dark secrets was he concealing?

What else had he done in his past which should’ve tipped someone off?

More whys?

But the victims were barely a footnote in history. Their lives an asterisk.

Once I’d become a newspaper reporter and actually covered a few such tragedies, I understood a bit more why victims don’t get more press. Victims, and their families, deserve privacy and respect, not to have every sordid detail of their life churned out like a pasty substance for the parasites to swallow down their gullets.

Yet, sometimes the loved ones left behind want to see the victim get some attention. To be recognized as MORE than just a statistic, a nameless victim of a crime, but as a person who had loved, lived, and was cut down before their time.

Over time, a story started to formulate in my head. It wasn’t based on or inspired by any particular incident, but rather an amalgamation of the many MANY crimes that happen every single day.

I wanted to write a story about our last moments, our life choices and what we do with them, regret, fate, and the randomness of life and death.

It’s not an anti-gun story. I think the gun debate is rather complex and simplistic arguments do nothing to advance either side of the argument. While I think a lot should change surrounding gun laws and mental health, and lobbyists who profit off of a culture of death and dependency, this isn’t a political story at all.

It’s a character-driven story with some of our most complex characters yet.

So, yeah, that’s what I’m working on now with Sean Platt.

From there, we had planned to write a first in series monster hunter sort of book, but now we’re thinking we might start Yesterday’s Gone: Season Six early. Since it is the final book in the series, we want to spend a bit more time on it to really get the ending just right. Endings of series have a lot to live up to, and a lot to deliver.

And since I get asked about this more than ANYTHING ELSE I AM ASKED, Yesterday’s Gone: Season Six will be out on (or before) July 4, 2015.

RETURN TO COMICS

If you happen to be someone who has followed me since waaaay back in the day, when I was a cartoonist, then you’ll be happy to learn that I’m doing a new weekly comic strip. I was hired to do a comic strip for the TruDog dog food company. Normally, I have turned down client work, but:

a) I’ve wanted an excuse to draw again, and this is once a week, which I can handle a lot more easily than three, five, or seven days per week like I used to do.

b) I was guaranteed complete artistic freedom. The strip is what I make it. Though, of course, I can’t get all dark and stuff like I do in my fiction. But that’s OK. Not everything needs to be dark and gritty and realistic. In fact, sometimes we need an escape from such stuff and to have a place which reminds us of more carefree days.

So I decided to draw a comic about a dog and a cat, which I think pet lovers (and people who are annoyed by their asshole cats, like me) can enjoy.

You can find the comics here.

That’s it for right now.

Glad to be back.

And sorry it’s been so long.

I promise, I’ll post more, and …

Wait, stop that, Dave! Just. Stop.

 

 

The Walking Dave 11: The Worst Thing You Can Do As a Writer Today

Hi! This post was supposed to run on Monday, but I wound up holding onto it for a day or so to see if I still wanted to post it.

Why would I hold it?

Well, it’s kind of negative.

I know, big surprise.

But I try to keep these podcasts positive, because despite my now famous curmudgeonry, when it comes to creativity, I’m actually a rather positive person who hates when cynicism infects art.

This post was inspired by some conversations I’ve had recently with other writers who have been scared away from various message boards. Why? Because by sharing their advice, they’ve become targets so much so that they’ve withdrawn from certain parts of the writing community.

The way I see it writers do one of two things when they’re having a tough time at writing.

And I talk about those things in this podcast.

Other stuff worth mentioning:

My good friend Carl Sinclair has also started a writing podcast, a video one no less called Geekwalker. I saw it after I recorded this, so it’s not mentioned in this episode. But here’s a link to check it out.

Speaking of friends with videos, Garrett Robinson has posted an awesome video review of our book, WhiteSpace: Season One. Wow, our story sounds so cool when other people talk about it! Garrett also posted some hilarious outtakes from the review.


 

Listen to The Walking Dave Episode 11 below.

Or right click and save to your computer.

TheWalkingDavePodcast-Episode-11

Or subscribe via iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/david-w.-wright-podcast/id867072124

GOT THOUGHTS ON THIS POST? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. ALSO FEEL FREE TO SUGGEST FUTURE TOPICS OR ASK QUESTIONS YOU’D LIKE ME TO TALK ABOUT IN THE PODCAST.

As always, thank you for reading/listening,

dave

 

The Walking Dave 10: Taking a Lesson From Stephan Pastis on Selling Your Art and Yourself

I taped this episode last week, but wound up using it for today because it was raining all day and night yesterday.

In this episode, I talk about an industry in its death throes as artists attempt to cobble a living together.

No, I’m not talking about traditional publishing (though I very well could be), I’m talking about newspapers, and comic artists. As someone who did comics for 10 years, I was both moved and depressed by watching the documentary Stripped.

I urge you to watch it whether you like comics or not because of some of the wisdom imparted by Pearls Before Swine artist Stephan Pastis (who I inadvertently called Stephen with an “e” in this podcast — whoops!), and what he had to say about making it as a creator today.

And his advice isn’t just for comic artists. It’s for anyone making a living selling themselves and their art.

I also talked about how the Penny Arcade guys turned the corner when they met their business partner.

This is a pretty art and marketing-centric episode today, but I think you’ll find some value in it.

In other news:

I still owe you a post about my favorite writer and homophobia. I want it to be awesome, though, so I’m holding it until tomorrow (Thursday).

Lastly, Amazon has the first two seasons of our zombie trilogy, Z 2134 and Z 2135, on sale today only for $1.99 as part of a Kindle Daily Deal. So if you haven’t gotten those yet, now’s a good time to do it while saving a few dollars. While you’re at it, if you’re in the US, you can pick up the end of the trilogy, Z 2136 (which will be available worldwide in 3 more weeks).

Lastly, at the end of this podcast I say I’ll be back on Monday. That’s because it was last week’s podcast I was originally recording for Friday. There will be a new episode this Friday, though.

And lastly (again) there’s a few minutes of dead air at the end of this one, so don’t wait around for an appearance by Nick Fury or something. When I say goodbye, you can turn off the audio. Or meditate. Whatever floats your boat.

Listen to The Walking Dave: Episode 10 below.

Or right click and save.

TheWalkingDavePodcast-Episode-10

As always, thank you for reading/listening,

dave

 

The Walking Dave 9: Play and the Short Story Terms of Service

Hey there. Dave here with a few notes. First — from now on, I’ll be posting updates on M,W,F.

Next, we’re finally up on iTunes! Go check it out. And feel free to leave a review if you’re getting any enjoyment out of this podcast.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/david-w.-wright-podcast/id867072124

Back with an update in which I talk about my new favorite exercise — playing.

I also talked about a short story I’m writing, Terms of Service, which we’ll be giving out free to Goners on our list this week.

I also mentioned Buddy Gott’s new walking podcast.

Buddy’s Walking Show.

Though I didn’t mention them in the podcast, here’s a few other readers who have been inspired by me, or by me and other writers, to do a walking podcast. Thanks, guys. Glad to see more people joining the walking podcast movement!

Michael La Ronn’s podcast

The Walking Rob

The Walking Dave Episode 9 — Playing

Listen below

Or right click and save:

TheWalkingDavePodcast-Episode-9

See you tomorrow with a non-podcast post where I talk about homophobia and my favorite writer.

The Walking Dave 8: Politics in Writing, and Kindle Serials

Hey, there.

Dave here with an episode I did last Wednesday, which I was supposed to upload on Friday, but totally dropped the ball on.

In this episode, I answer a reader question on whether I’d write politics into our books.

I also talked about concern for Kindle Serials.

In the next episode, I’ll talk about this weekend, and a bit of progress I made mentally.

Listen to The Walking Dave: Episode 8 below:

Or right click and save:

The Walking Dave: Episode 8

 

The Walking Dave 7: Back and Talking About Addiction and Diet Soda

Hey, all. I’m back. Sorry for the delay. I explain why in this episode.

I meant to post this on Monday, but my schedule got slammed and I dropped the ball. On the plus side, I’ve already got tomorrow’s episode recorded and ready to go!

In this episode I talk about being addicted to food, and even more, diet soda, and trying to kick it.

Coming tomorrow, I answer a listener question about politics in fiction.

Listen below:

Or right click and save to download:

TheWalkingDave-Episode-7

As always, thank you for listening,

dave

The Walking Dave Episode 6: Jason Gurley Covers, Crash, and Listener Question on Comics Versus Books

It’s Monday and I’m back on the road, walking and talking.

Topics today:

Non-spoiler mention of the Game of Thrones premiere.

Editing Crash and Threshold.

Jason Gurley’s awesome cover work and whether we should commission him to do Yesterday’s Gone covers.

Then I answered a listener email from Laura who asked which I enjoy more making comic strips or writing books, and why?

Listen below

or right click and save:

TheWalkingDavePodcast-Episode-6

Got a question or comment? Leave it below or email me.

As always, thank you for listening/reading,

dave

 

 

The Walking Dave Episode 5: On Meditation and Loss of My Best Friend, Todd

Just got done walking and here’s today’s podcast.

Subjects included:

  • Doing covers for Crash
  • Brief mention of Ray Chase, the voice actor for Boricio.
  • Talking about why I love the show, The Americans, so much. (no spoilers)
  • Regret
  • Meditation
  • and I wrap things up discussing the anniversary of my best friend’s death.

Note: in the podcast, I said Todd died 16 years ago. It is, in fact, 18 years ago. Not sure why I said 16, unless I was thinking of the year, ’96. Or I suck at math.

As always, thank you for listening,

dave

Listen below:

Or right click and save

TheWalkingDave-Episode-5

Got something you’d like me to talk about or a question for me?

Leave a comment below and I may respond in an upcoming The Walking Dave podcast.

The Walking Dave Episode 4: April Fool’s, and comics

Hey there! After being sick for all of last week, I’m back to walking. Thanks to everyone’s well wishes.

First, I have to say that YES, yesterday’s post was an April Fool’s Day joke! The night before, I was talking with Carl Sinclair about doing something for April Fool’s Day. I pitched something, and Carl suggested the dancing thing, if I remember correctly, and I said YES! I must do that.

Thanks to everyone who commented or emailed me regarding the post.

On a Carl related note, he named me to his Geek of the Week list this week. Last time I was on a geek of the week list was in middle school, and it likely meant that I was about to get my ass kicked.

Without further ado, today’s podcast:

I talked a bit about the response to the April Fool’s Day joke and how touched I was by people.

I talked about finishing the first draft of Crash.

I talked a bit about wanting to do comics again, which led to discussion of the movie, Stripped.

Enjoy, and see you tomorrow.

Remember: if you have a question, leave it in the comments or email me and I’ll do my best to answer it in a future podcast.

Listen below

or right click and save

TheWalkingDave-Episode-4

As always, thank you for reading (and listening!)

dave

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