Monday, February 28, 2011

How to finish a novel

My amazing friend Lydia has written a wonderful and beautiful post about what it's like to finish a novel you have spent 12 years writing. It's also about literary heroes and writing realities, what it's like to be a mother and a writer, and how it feels to be done with something that you didn't think you could ever let go.
When we reached Paris at the end of our month-long adventure, I was immediately inspired. I sat down and wrote a thousand words the first night. We were, after all, in Paris. I had read the relevant Hemingway. I had read in fact the guidebook that told me exactly where to go to follow the path that Hemingway took when he wheeled Joyce home in a wheelbarrow after a night out drinking. This is what I'd always had in my head -- a trip to Paris, a literary explosion, my hands on fire, my brain turned to molten ideas. My husband, beautifully compliant after a month of climbing Alps on his bicycle and following the Tour de France, agreed to take the children out in the city so I could work. And I did work. I worked with the floor-to-ceiling balcony windows open behind me on an antique table in a mirrored room. I worked with gritty coffee next to me, and then French wine, and then more coffee. I worked fueled by awesome cheese and some sort of internal engine. I worked so much that I was within one scene of the end of the book, and then I stopped.
[Read it]

Friday, February 25, 2011

What's upcoming ...

Next week, I'll be launching a new blog on a big site. The first post should go live on Tuesday. It's taking me in a new direction, and I'm excited.

I believe also next week, I'll have a new story up on It has something to do with TV. I got to talk to a bunch of interesting women for it. Check back here for the link when it's online.

A few people have asked how my STORY FOR SALE experiment went. In a word: excellent. I'll be revealing the story behind the story on the new blog next week.

Have a great weekend, because you're awesome.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

About that new blog

I'm sure ever since I announced last week that I'm going to be writing a new blog for a big site, all of you have been on pins and needles. OMG, what is Susannah's next move? What will she do next? The suspense must be killing you.

Due to reasons that have to do with barometric pressure, the length of an albatross's beak, and that illegal porn movie you downloaded last month, my new word-fest won't be launching until next week. Monday Tuesday, it looks like.

It is going to be awesome, though.

In the meantime, I'm still pounding the pavement since I got downsized. If you know of any writing, blogging, or social media opportunities, check out my mad skillz or email me.

[Image via The Tumblr King]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to write a novel

I spent the long weekend working on my novel. It was very productive. I did some editing and some writing.

My novel is about a federal agent searching for a missing porn star.

Here's what I learned:

1. Make It Funny. Every time I start feeling unsure about a certain part of the novel, I add details to make it funny in some way. Novel writing is not serious business. It's entertainment. If you aren't entertained, no one else will be.

2. Brick by Brick. Novels are hard to write because they are long endeavors. Unless you are smoking crack, in which case you are too busy seeking out boulder holders to write well. My novel is broken down into a great many smaller pieces. If I think of each piece as a work unto itself that can be polished to a high literary sheen, it makes the entire task seem more accomplishable.

3. Demand the Time. It helps if you can get uninterrupted time to focus solely on the other world in which your plot is taking place. This is difficult in today's world of small children, email, Twitter, Facebook, and BuzzFeed. I think it is the single most valuable thing you can do for yourself in this process. Part of getting there is feeling like you deserve to take it. (See #4.)

4. Get Help. For me, this involves various close friends, a shrink, an acupuncturist, and yoga. Someone recently told me that if you are flexible in yoga, you are flexible in all things. This is true. Sometimes it can seem like writing a novel is becoming skilled at banging your head against a wall. Having a flexible neck makes that less painful.

5. Eat Right. I have been sick with three different things in the last month that I'm sure you have no interest in hearing about, but a week or so ago, my acupuncturist put me on a diet. The diet involves no sugar, not even fruit, which I am pretty sure constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and no carbs of any sort, but you can eat a lot of cooked vegetables, legumes, and white meat and fish, which sounds fine, but after a week makes you want to eat 17 cupcakes as fast as you can. This diet isn't to lose weight, but one benefit is that it makes you feel less insane. (See #6.)

6. Don't Be Insane. A lot of people spend time lionizing the nutjobiness of literary writers. Well, it's all well and good when it's not you, but the sad fact is that being wack doesn't make you a better writer, not over the long haul. It just makes you crazy. It's better if you try and be sane, rather than insane. Take it from me.

7. Enjoy the Process. That's one of those stupid phrases that people say to you, and then you try and stab them. Or at least that's how I feel about it. But somewhere, I can't remember where now, I read something that was like, stop trying to finish X and start trying to enjoy X, and while I am embarrassed to even write "enjoy the process," it is probably true. Because I have found it to be true. Every time I forget about getting to the end and just wade into the quicksand, I'm like, "Hey, this isn't quicksand -- this is a giant vat of frosting!" And then things get better.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm a robot

Because a computer named Watson trounced some human beings on "Jeopardy!" last night, I wrote a story about MAN VERSUS MACHINES! for
In man’s modern-day battle against the robots, the winner last night was abundantly clear. Watson, an IBM computer, appeared on “Jeopardy!” and soundly annihilated his two human opponents, previous “Jeopardy!” champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The show was the finale of a three-night throw down pitting an oversized computer chip against flesh-and-blood trivia nerds ...
[Read it]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My new blogging gig

Next week, I'll be announcing a new blog I'll be writing for a big site. I'm really excited about this. Content-wise, it will take me in a new direction. At the same time, it will allow me to focus on a few things that have been of increasing interest to me lately.

The name we picked for the blog is very cool. And, while it will cover a certain beat, as it were, it will also incorporate my personal narrative on a regular basis. For those who feel you don't get enough of me, me, me, your prayers have been answered.

Check back in next week for the big reveal ...

Edited to add: BTW, this is a part-time gig. If you're interested in hiring me as a writer, blogger, social media whiz, copywriter, or pet rock, check out my online resume here or email me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Suicidal tendencies

Six years ago today, I wanted to kill myself. Now, I do not. A year ago, I wrote a post about that time.
For the last couple weeks, I've been thinking about writing a post about suicide on February 15, because five years ago, on February 15, 2005, that's what I was thinking about doing. I've alluded to it a few times over the years, mostly on my old blog, but I don't think I've ever really written about it much. It's sort of an odd thing to write about, and you wonder what people will think, and you wonder why you didn't do it. But it's been five years, which, I suppose, is some kind of a miracle.
["On Suicide"]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things I've learned since I got downsized

Awhile ago, I got downsized. It's been quite a ride. Here are a few things I've learned.

1. It's probably for the best. Maybe you were bored, or maybe it was inevitable, or maybe there wasn't any reason at all, not that you can figure out, anyway. Still, it was a good thing. It won't feel like a good thing. Probably, it will feel like getting hit in the face with a two-by-four, and not even with a warning first. But after you dig the splinters out of your face, you'll be like, In a strange way, that felt right, and then you can figure out what you want to do next, not keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, day in and day out and day in and day out, forever and ever until you die.

2. It forces you to learn the things you weren't doing and do them. Like, be intuitive. Or be creative. Or think outside the box. Or redecide who you are. Or get over it. Or start doing yoga more. Mostly, it makes you stop doing everything you were doing before, not just the work stuff, and it makes you start rethinking everything you're doing, and if you can do that, go with that, you'll turn into someone else, and your old self will bore you.

3. You might get sick. Within five days of getting downsized, I got a kidney stone, which I hadn't had in a year. If you haven't had them, they suck. It's like if Alec Baldwin walked up behind you, whispered, "Suck on this, pretty lady," and shived you with an ice pick. Getting sick is in no way a good time, but sometimes when you are in the throes of agony, you will wonder if all the bad stuff before is what is leaving you, and the doctor can call it "kidney stones," but maybe the whole thing is like what the acupuncturist calls a "healing crisis," which basically means you have to get sick before you can get better.

4. Don't be a sullen jerk. First of all, when you get downsized, when your boss is like, "Sorry," don't be like, "Um, fuck you!" Because your boss isn't downsizing you, the universe is, and when the universe hands you shit, you kind of have to be like, "OK," and accept it, because, make no mistake, if you go to war against the universe, you will lose. You might feel like a giant fucktard, but you should try and conduct yourself with a modicum of grace. Also, who knows what the future holds, and just because the bridge collapsed doesn't mean you have to set it on fire.

5. It will force you to interact with people in new ways. Even though I telecommute, downsized meant I had even less contact with human beings. I read something the other day that indicated mice without contact with other mice go crazy. Now, I'm on Facebook. All my friends were, like, "WTF, you're on Facebook?" Because I think they know I am not the most social person. But there I am. You have to interact with people, or you might die from loneliness. Thank you, God, for the internet.

6. Losing something will make you understand things about yourself. Like, afterward, I was surprised to find how bruised my ego was. I sort of felt like a guy, like my job was my identity, and without my job, who was I? I felt castrated. And lame. And dumb. The good part is that that is just a phase, and then there are other phases, like, when you feel like you're great, and you're doing something new, and then something that didn't make sense, which, in a way, was you, starts to make sense, sense in a way that before seemed like nonsense, but, in fact, was the truth all along.

7. The money issue is hard. I haven't figured this one out yet. This is the hardest part for me, in a way. For reasons my shrink would be happy to discuss with you. Right now, the only thing I know is that if you make X dollars a year, and you aren't happy, you know exactly how much someone has to pay you to be unhappy. And that number is never high enough. Because it is never worth it. Not even if you swear that it is.

8. Fuck logic. Jobs, especially jobs that involve working for large corporations, are very logical jobs to have. Because they give you money, and you work a certain number of hours a day, and you are like the other people with these jobs. You are them, and they are you, and you are a part of the human race. This isn't really logic, though. This is insanity. If you get downsized, you should immediately start doing a lot of illogical things. Last weekend, I did something that was motivated primarily by my desire to do something kind. I also followed my intuition about it. Throughout, I attempted to define it in logical terms, which was sort of illogical. In the end, there was a thing I did, and another person that needed that thing, and we found each other. That's a lot like life. Or falling in love. Or karma. Corporations lack these things. You might tell yourself otherwise, but you are lying.

9. People love you. I was so surprised how many kind emails and tweets and stuff written elsewhere happened after I posted about getting downsized. I was like, "Woah." I was like, "Hey, this is cool." I was, like, moved. That mattered to me. Sometimes people write shitty stuff about me on the internet. A few months ago, this guy I don't know wrote something somewhere else about how I was past my moment, and I had a really stupid "world weary" approach to the world, and some other crap I've conveniently forgot. There was a way in which he was right. I was tired. I was weary. I would like to be as compassionate towards him as he wasn't to me, but instead I would like to say, "Hey, fucker. At least I'm trying. You stupid piece of shit." I'm not sure what my point here is.

10. You should quit your job. You should quit your job because I didn't have the balls to quit mine. I waited to get downsized. That was sort of a vag move. I guess you could say I sort of regret that. I understand why I did that, but I think if you quit your job, that's better than getting downsized. If you're on the bull, why not grab the horns and attempt to steer it? Instead, I flopped around until my ass landed in the dirt. You should quit your job and become a rodeo clown. It's got to be better than what you're doing, right?

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm a copywriter

After I posted my "Hire Me" post, I heard from someone who was sent the link to the post from someone else, and now I'm doing some part-time copywriting and social media marketing for an iconic American brand.

As it turns out, when it comes to channeling the inner-voices of inanimate objects, I am a natural.

If you know of someone hiring a copywriter or looking for someone to do social media marketing, or know of someone who may know of someone, shoot me an email.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

FOR SALE: A short short story by Susannah Breslin [Updated]

Are you looking for a truly unique Valentine's Day gift for the object of your affection?

I sure am!

Would you like to see yourself come to life in literary form, finally?

Oh, boy, would I ever!

For the first time in the history of the universe, I've decided to create a custom-made, 1,000-word short short story, or "flash fiction," for a special person.

Wait, what's "flash fiction"?

Basically, it's a short short story. Wikipedia says: "Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature of extreme brevity." It's the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am of fiction. This one will be 1,000 words long.

OK, how does this work?

Send me an email describing your short short story idea in 100 words or less. For example: "I would like a story that features me and my one true love, we live together on COROT-7b, where it rains rocks, and I would like the story to have a happy ending." In your email, include what amount (in dollars) you'd like to pay for the story. At this time, you can send in only one email and only one story idea.

I decide how much I'll pay for it? Wassup with that?

I thought I'd let the market set the price. Or however a business person would say that. This is an experiment. What's the story worth to you? Let's find out!

That's cool. Will you pick my idea?

Out of all the submissions, I will pick only one story to write, for now. I hope to will announce which story I've chosen tomorrow, Friday, February 11th as soon I chose one. If your story idea is picked, you will receive an email stating that your story has been chosen. (If your story idea is not picked, you will receive an email stating that your story has not been chosen.) We will arrange a payment method. After that, I will write a short short story based on your idea. Finally, I will email you the 1,000-word story in a Word document within 24 hours.

That sounds awesome, but who are you?

I'm a journalist, author, editor, photographer, and blogger. I've written for Details, Harper's Bazaar, Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The San Francisco Chronicle, Variety, The LA Weekly, and, among many other publications, and I've appeared on "Politically Incorrect," CNN, and Fox News. I'm the author of a short story collection, You're a Bad Man, Aren't You?, and my short stories have appeared in print, online, and in anthologies. Currently, I'm writing a novel about the adult movie industry.

Hey, can I read a story you wrote?

Sure. Here's "The Boy Who Wore His Heart on His Sleeve." It's about a man who wears his heart on his sleeve ... literally.

One more question. Does this mean I can tell people I wrote this story?

No. I will remain the author of the story. Technically, the copyright of the story will belong to me. Metaphysically, the spirit of the story will belong to you. Any future use of the story must be agreed upon with me prior to usage. The story cannot be resold. It is a special thing and should be treated accordingly.


*No refunds, revisions, or layaway plans available.

Update: A story has been chosen! Expect an update on this experiment next week.

Update 2: Want to know how this story turned out or order your own bespoke story? Go here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I get email

Hi Susannah,

Thanks so much for your trial posts. You’re a very talented writer, but I don’t think your voice is quite right for [Redacted]. Again, I really appreciate your taking the time to try your hand at the position. Best of luck with all your future endeavors.

All best,


Thursday, February 3, 2011


Jesus in a refrigerated case, Mercado Central, Costa Rica.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I got downsized

I've got a new post up on Thought Catalog. This one is about getting downsized.
Yesterday, I got this email: “Dear, I could use you on my staff. If interested kindly attach your CV and salary requirements. Tafik.” Who was Tafik? Why did he call me dear? What did this mysterious job entail? Moving to Brunei? Joining a harem? Marrying Tafik? Should I simply reject Tafik for his enigmatic job offer, or should I explore all possibilities, even ones that may convert me from a human being into international sex chattel? It’s too early to rule anything out. While job searching, one must keep an open mind.
[Read the rest]

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm culture blogging

I'm going to be doing some culture blogging over at BlackBook. My first post is about Rihanna's new video. The song is called "S&M."
Wearing what looks to be a knockoff of the Dior newspaper gown made famous by Carrie Bradshaw on "Sex and the City," the singer kicks the crap out of "Cox News," walks blogger Perez Hilton on a leash like a dog, and presides over a posse of ball-gagged journalists.
[Read the rest]