Friday, January 31, 2014

item #32: FREE to good home, a writer's mantra

item #32:

One part of my job that I love doing for Mr. Neil Gaiman is to take care of fan requests.

A growing subsection of this is requests for quotes written out by Boss that people get permanently inked upon themselves.

An popular quote for Neil to write out, is the funny but true statement: “Writers are liars”- and in this case, he wrote it three, count ‘em, three times—to make sure the person etching this on their skin had options.

He is kind.

This little card will go free to good home anywhere in the world, sent at my cost, a writing mantra that you can post above your trusty Underwood, if you tell me this:

What have you, as writers, found to be the most effective trick used to shut out distraction while writing?

Please use the comments section of this blog (or either of the others) & I'll pick in a day or two where it goes.

Speaking of tattoos, last year, Neil and David Mack teamed up to do a beautiful little 8” x 10” print of a poem that @Burtzor got tattooed on his back.

We have sold out completely of the red sash silkscreens, I have only 7 remaining blue variants, click here for those.

but the red sash version is gone gone gone. GONERS, I say! The delicate silkscreen work by my friend Brian Rise out of Rise Ink in Austin was so gorgeous, I cried real tears of joy when they arrived.

 photo 436a1a94-d008-41bc-a4bc-a0e5e6003563_zps1f87bda5.jpg

David and I were chatting recently and he said, well if those are gone, why don’t we release the version that Burton actually got tattooed—so here they are, I announced them this morning:

A bigger version, clocking in at 11” x 17”, printed right down the street in West Hollywood—

again, we will split the run, David getting the evens and me holding the odds.

Hand-numbered, limited edition full color run of 500 this time, all stamped with the @Neverwear seal.

ONLY $25.00 for the next few days, until Feb 4, 2014 at midnight PST, then they go up to $38.00

A Valentine etched on the skin by Neil and David, a little reward for those early supporters.


PS. don't forget, this key will be hidden somewhere near the best dive bar I can find around my hotel...more clues tomorrow.


  1. The best distraction for me when writing is putting on music and making sure I can not log into the internet easily. Usually with a fountain pen and notebook in hand.

  2. checking that comments are going through- heard some concerns...

  3. Comic book writer and artist Skottie Young recently shared his method of shutting out distractions while creating - listen to the DVD commentary of bad movies. I tried it and it really seems to work.

  4. A hoodie with the hood pulled up and earbuds in (whether they are playing anything or not matters little).

  5. Noise. All the noise. To cover the distractions, I put on the TV and, over that, the soundtrack I've created for the project. Outside noise and distractions can't bother me, can't reach me, over my own white noise.

  6. I need the white noise of conversation around me, which is why I love writing at coffee shops. Total silence doesn't work, neither does total music. Also, ocean waves. They can be magic when I write.

  7. Cat, I might be ineligible, having one a luggage tag earlier in the week. Regardless, whats worked for me for a year now is lighting a candle with a crackling wick and setting it directly next to my notebook or keyboard. It doesn't stop the distractions, but I find it does tend to redirect them into a safe contemplative place that often proves useful to whatever I am working on. I was a firebug as a kid, so an open flame is easily the strongest distraction in a room. Spatially its not far from my project, so it's easier to jump in and out. No trick lasts forever, but having a "safe" distraction has done me well for quiet a while now.

  8. I'm very good at ignoring everything as long as the deadline is impossibly close. Otherwise....ooh...shiny...

  9. I've started writing with a typewriter, instead of on my laptop. An old fashioned manual one, I can switch my computer off and am free from all internet temptations. It also stops me from immediately going back and spending hours editing a paragraph that's likely to be cut anyway, because it's so much of an effort to re-type an entire page!

  10. I used to think that silence would help and I could just sit and work, but now I find that silence just makes me twitchy. Music without lyrics is good usually, but sometimes I just have to talk my writing out loud and walk out the distraction and then sit back down :)

  11. there is no good distraction. sometimes i need the noise of the world, sometimes i need a bad horror film, sometimes i need dead silence. when the page is ready, it tells me, no matter whats going on in the background...

  12. In the still dark hours of night, I drink coffee. I drink boiling hot coffee and watch the steam rise up into the air as my tongue burns. I pour coffee all over myself. I make ten gallons of hot coffee and ten gallons of iced coffee and I pour it all over myself to balance it. I inject coffee into my bloodstream, with a needle I had sterilised with coffee. My internal organs turn into coffee. I become one with the coffee. I become coffee. I take its form, its name, its identity, and I laugh. I laugh because for the first time in my life everything finally makes sense, why I never belonged, why my life was not my life, why my body felt like a hollow shell. For the first time in my life I understand. I realise who I am. I was coffee all along, always and forever, nothing more and nothing less, first and last. I celebrate my new identity by writing and when I write it pours out like a basin tipping from in the sky. Like the rain. And the tiny drops are my thoughts and ideas and I could never catch them all at once or at all and I would just let it wash over me, let the words wash over me like the rain. I want to be the rain. I want to wash over other people and inspire them. I want quell fires and run down drains and turn concrete streets into silver. I want to tell people how much I love them. I want to arouse lovers to kiss and bring life to the ground and I want to kill everyone as I stab them with my cold icy knives and I shall engulf them in my watery arms and they shall die in me. I want to do this because I love them.

  13. To be honest I'm not a writer....just a fan!:)

  14. Half the time I write it is done in my ideal conditions. That involves waiting for everyone else in the house to go to bed and then sitting in the kitchen so that the only sounds I hear is the ticking of the clock and the humming of the fridge. Other half of the time I find myself sitting in my favorite cafe. I allow myself to build a tolerance of sorts to the noise. Then it is just a matter of pushing it aside.

  15. If it's physical distractions (i.e., living at home with your parents/spouse/other), I go to a local coffee shop, put on some quiet string music, and write there for five hours. That also helps with distractions such as wandering around the house and staring in the fridge since you can only write, stare at the computer screen, or eavesdrop once you are seated in a coffee shop.

    If it's mental distractions (i. e., the negative Nancy inner editor), those are a lot harder to block out. Sometimes, I scribble in my journal just to get the words going, or I'll treat myself at the coffee shop--get a latte and a slice of cheesecake. Some days, it's easier just to read a book, let the inner editor scream until she loses her voice, then start writing the next day. There's no set routine for mental distractions.

  16. Pen & paper, music with headphones (not earbuds, because the world can still seep in through those), and the lights dimmed down so low I can barely see what I'm writing on the page (the internal editor can't criticise what he can't see, right?).

    An empty Twitter feed and being out of lives in Candy Crush helps, too.

  17. NO FACEBOOK. (working on this...clearly failing)

  18. Quotes and music: I have a box from a friend I admire. It used to contain a cupcake over which she presented the story of how she made one of her dreams a reality. Inspired by her tenacity, I have since decorated it with authors and artists who also inspire me and have filled that cupcake box with their words about writing and art.

    When I am serious about blocking off time to write, I pull a random quote from the box and read it. Whether it fully resonates or not, that slip of paper sits on my desk as my promise to myself and that author/artist that I'll keep focused on the task at hand. Then, I slip the headphones on...

  19. When I write which is not as often as before, the only thing I can do is get the grandparents or wife to take the kids somewhere, lock the door, put on some Nina Simone or John Coltrane, disconnect the internet and let things happen.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. For me, focus is all about location. A dusty office? Not a chance. Desks breed claustrophobia and conformity. Starbucks? Overwhelming and hassled, heavy with the stench of burnt coffee and existential corporate dread. But sitting on the edge of a pilot's cliff in rural Tennessee, bundled up in an Appalachian cabin in central Maine, dipping my feet in the water on a sun-bleached dock on the Gulf of Mexico, or perched on top of a northern Kansas hay bale - here words are easy to find, and they flow out of my pen with reckless abandon, struggling to keep up with a new adventure. My stories take after their mother, and spread themselves across the American landscape as I do, finding focus and motivation in hidden treasures and small-town secrets. There's something incredibly pure about feeling the warm sun on the back of your head and a gentle breeze ruffling your pages that makes all else just... disappear. Whatever is left, be is a daring tale of adventure, a quiet memoir, or a timeless love letter, is guaranteed to be more genuine than anyone could have imagined. The chance to leave the worries and stresses of our day-to-day lives behind, if only for a few hours, is a precious gift that must be claimed before it inevitably slips away, and I would journey to the ends of the Earth for one more hour of the sharp clarity that flings aside the floodgates of distraction.

    Then again, a catchy electroswing playlist never hurt either. :)


i have lifted all blocks on commenting, not sure why it's a sticky bitch.
please try again or follow the blog for more ease in commenting. Sorry!