Words of Others: Jeff Goins

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Words of Others: Jeff Goins

Today’s Words of Others features a brief encounter of mine with You Are A Writer (so start acting like one) by one of my latest writing coaches, Jeff Goins. So we’re clear, Jeff doesn’t know me outside of receiving my ping-backs and page visits via Google Analytics. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to have him coach me. One day, I hope to write on my experience of getting to chat with him in person!

Some backstory:

I often find myself looking for inspiration. I am a writer, sure, but inspiration comes in waves. Many times, I just need to sit and start scribbling, letting words and ideas flow as they do until something begins to surface. Other times I will have done everything right to prepare for my morning session (coffee piping, journal in front of me, window open to let in the sounds of the city), but after scribbling, nothing really comes to fruition.

Two weeks ago I was seated at a bar in a coffee shop in Manhattan Beach. Outside, the sky was open, cloudless. The streets were slow with weekend drivers enjoying cliffside views. Patrons casually walked in and out of the open cafe threshold. Inside, under a waft of freshly baked bread and hours of brewed coffee, were subtle sounds of espresso being pulled, orders being placed, and men in women in t-shirts and shorts chatting with their friends.

I soaked it in. I sipped my coffee and re-read old journal entries until I felt ready to dive into a short writing session. Though, when I was ready, pen in hand, caffeine pulsing my bloodstream and pooling up energy, I balked. I had every intention of writing, but nothing big came. Nothing came to mind. Nothing surfaced.

So, I did what any procrastinator would do: I browsed social media and read my email instead. After deleting a few I came to one from a feed I subscribe to called Story Cartel.This site mostly offers book titles from authors looking for fair reviews in exchange for a free e-copy of their book. On this particular day came Jeff Goins’ You Are A Writer.

I sat back and stared at the title. I thought how oddly applicable it was to my current situation.

A few moments later my Mac was downloading. When it finished, I read it cover to cover (or however that’s referred to in e-book lingo).

Below is part of the review I wrote for Jeff’s book on Story Cartel. Whatever your craft, I hope my review inspires you to get up and do it. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, read Jeff’s book (you can download it like I did here). You might even insert your craft in wherever Jeff says “writer” or “writing.” I guarantee you’ll find something applicable!

Cheers!

I have been a person “of writing” for the past five or six years, and I’ve even been paid to write for the last year and a half. But, a “writer”? As in one who cannot help but write before the sun rises, and on my lunch breaks, and until wee hours of the morning, as Goins describes in his book? Fat chance.

But, I want to be a writer.

Reading his book confirmed much. Goins is realistic, affirming the calling “writers” innately know in their bones, and also instructive with how to develop the craft into more than just a pipe-dream. In short, he is relational, and then, he is practical.

The first few chapters (or rather, sections) deal particularly with what we writers all know to be true of ourselves but still seem to lack belief in. It is, namely, that we have something to say, and that we know we need to say it or our lives will feel meaningless, or at least lacking. He says, “In the late hours or early mornings, we wonder what we’ll be remembered for, what our legacy will be. While some people are trying to make it through another week, others find themselves succeeding in the wrong things — and despairing as a result.” In this, nothing new is offered (for we’ve all found great solace in the musings on “the writing life” by our other favorites) but in stating the obvious, the intuitive, we (or at least I) are brought into the fold. We are welcomed into the circle to learn then the secret of the pro(s).

The remainder of the book is, admittedly, more cut and dry. This is not to say it is boring. Quite the contrary. It was for me invigorating, like the first portion though in a different way. This second part is Goins sharing his wisdom. We read of establishing our platforms, brands, and connection channels, and learn that more than anything else, the writing business is about relationship with whom we’re writing to and for. Though, Goins always returns to the idea that we are writers for ourselves, and that we cannot be the sacrifice, but must make it. Goins speaks on methods and tactics on getting published (mostly in magazines), offering invaluable examples of his email/letter prompts to editors, and tips on how not to go about pursuing getting published.

Overall, I’d read it again. And again. And again and again, for its insight, being chock full of facts for young writers looking for ways to get into the business, is invaluable. Also, it is affirming to read that it can be done. That it can, has, and will continue to be done by those of us who take the craft and business seriously.

Read it, and then read it again, as I will. Then go write.

Words of Others: You Are A Writer, by Jeff Goins

Image property of www.youareawriter.com

Today’s Words of Others features a brief encounter of mine with You Are A Writer (so start acting like one) by one of my latest writing coaches, Jeff Goins. So we’re clear, Jeff doesn’t know me outside of receiving my ping-backs and page visits via Google Analytics. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to have him coach me. One day, I hope to write on my experience of getting to chat with him in person!

Some back story:

I often find myself looking for inspiration. I am a writer, sure, but inspiration comes in waves. Many times, I just need to sit and start scribbling, letting words and ideas flow as they do until something begins to surface. Other times I will have done everything right to prepare for my morning session (coffee piping, journal in front of me, window open to let in the sounds of the city), but after scribbling, nothing really comes to fruition.

Two weeks ago I was seated at a bar in a coffee shop in Manhattan Beach. Outside, the sky was open, cloudless. The streets were slow with weekend drivers enjoying cliff side views. Patrons casually walked in and out of the open cafe threshold. Inside, under a waft of freshly baked bread and hours of brewed coffee, were subtle sounds of espresso being pulled, orders being placed, and men and women in t-shirts and shorts chatting with their friends.

I soaked it in. I sipped my coffee and re-read old journal entries until I felt ready to dive into a short writing session. Though, when I was ready, pen in hand, caffeine pulsing my bloodstream and pooling up energy, I balked. I had every intention of writing, but nothing big came. Nothing came to mind. Nothing surfaced.

So, I did what any procrastinator would do: I browsed social media and read my email instead. After deleting a few I came to one from a feed I subscribe to called Story Cartel. This site mostly offers book titles from authors looking for fair reviews in exchange for a free e-copy of their book. On this particular day came Jeff Goins’ You Are A Writer.

I sat back and stared at the title. I thought how oddly applicable it was to my current situation.

A few moments later my Mac was downloading. When it finished, I read it cover to cover (or however that’s referred to in e-book lingo).

Below is part of the review I wrote for Jeff’s book on Story Cartel. Whatever your craft, I hope my review inspires you to get up and do it. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, read Jeff’s book (you can download it like I did here). You might even insert your craft in wherever Jeff says “writer” or “writing.” I guarantee you’ll find something applicable!

Cheers!

I have been a person “of writing” for the past five or six years, and I’ve even been paid to write for the last year and a half. But, a “writer”? As in one who cannot help but write before the sun rises, and on my lunch breaks, and until wee hours of the morning, as Goins describes in his book? Fat chance.

But, I want to be a writer.

Reading his book confirmed much. Goins is realistic, affirming the calling “writers” innately know in their bones, and also instructive with how to develop the craft into more than just a pipe-dream. In short, he is relational, and then, he is practical.

The first few chapters (or rather, sections) deal particularly with what we writers all know to be true of ourselves but still seem to lack belief in. It is, namely, that we have something to say, and that we know we need to say it or our lives will feel meaningless, or at least lacking. He says, “In the late hours or early mornings, we wonder what we’ll be remembered for, what our legacy will be. While some people are trying to make it through another week, others find themselves succeeding in the wrong things — and despairing as a result.” In this, nothing new is offered (for we’ve all found great solace in the musings on “the writing life” by our other favorites) but in stating the obvious, the intuitive, we (or at least I) are brought into the fold. We are welcomed into the circle to learn then the secret of the pro(s).

The remainder of the book is, admittedly, more cut and dry. This is not to say it is boring. Quite the contrary. It was for me invigorating, like the first portion though in a different way. This second part is Goins sharing his wisdom. We read of establishing our platforms, brands, and connection channels, and learn that more than anything else, the writing business is about relationship with whom we’re writing to and for. Though, Goins always returns to the idea that we are writers for ourselves, and that we cannot be the sacrifice, but must make it. Goins speaks on methods and tactics on getting published (mostly in magazines), offering invaluable examples of his email/letter prompts to editors, and tips on how not to go about pursuing getting published.

Overall, I’d read it again. And again. And again and again, for its insight, being chock full of facts for young writers looking for ways to get into the business, is invaluable. Also, it is affirming to read that it can be done. That it can, has, and will continue to be done by those of us who take the craft and business seriously.

Read it, and then read it again, as I will. Then go write.

Each Day A Different Kind of Writing

I make no promises other than to say I will try.

No really, I promise I’ll try!

In an effort to “show up daily,” as one of my new favorite writers and bloggers encourages, I have decided to make each day of the week a different kind of post. This, I think, will encourage accountability and creativity.

Aside: when I structure, or “plan,” something in my life I almost always fail to follow through with it. I speak mostly to ambitions I have for myself that (I believe) will make me stronger at something. Music, writing, reading novels, eating healthy, journaling, exercising, taking a picture a day, meeting a new person everyday, etc. Time and again, I fail, and it’s tough not to feel like a basket-case sometimes. I am pretty good about giving myself grace, but even that’s been a failed rhythm in my life. At some point, I realized that planning and structuring weren’t what made sense to me as a person. As much as I believe in making a plan of action, I know that if keeping to my plans are left to me, I will fail. Thus, something needs to change. My entire approach, the roots of the tree I am trying to grow, need to be planted elsewhere.

I need accountability in my writing. As I posted yesterday, one of the things that have made me follow through is telling other people about what I plan to do. This, I am aware, is sort of a weird psychological trick I am playing on myself, but sometimes we need that. Right? Sometimes we need to lead with something other than our own will.

I also need, and crave really, creativity in my writing. As I already mentioned, I believe in plans of action and I know their value, but my strengths reveal I am far more an artist than I am an engineer. I need to keep creativity brewing or I won’t write, or worse, I won’t believe in my writing.

So, here I am. I am writing, with the accountability of the world wide web, and with a creative structure (that I will admit will probably change) that I hope will result in content I am proud of.

Every Monday, I want to share something from a manuscript I am working on (or, “Manuscript Monday”). Every Tuesday will be “Tactile Tuesday” where I plan to share words or poems (spoken-word or otherwise) pregnant with tangibility. Wednesday will be “Words of Others” where I feature something from another blogger or writer whom I love reading. Thursday will be “Theology Thursday” where I flex my heresies, or attempt to correct them. Friday will be a day of “Free-flow” where I write about something on my mind. Saturday and Sunday will either be one or two posts about a “Street Story” of someone I’ve met (be it in LA or elsewhere).

One other thing. We need each other. We need people in our lives. Whether you’re a businessman, an actress, a construction worker, or a scientist, I’d bet you’d have a hard time making a case that you are where you are today without other people. This truth is universal. We need each other. In my daily writing, I need you. I need my friends, my peers, my critics (especially) to cheer me on.

Will you join me?

Tomorrow: Words of Others Wednesday.

Until then, how have you found structuring or planning to be helpful or harmful in your life? How important have other people been in your pursuits? Feel free to share!

Touring.

There is something brewing inside of me. Metaphorically, I mean.

It is welling, up, and up, like a hot-air ballon. I can feel fire inside, churning and pushing, burning toward the sky. If it could speak it would be yelling:

Well? When are you going to do it?

 

Five years ago I rode a bicycle across America with my best friend, Les. It was in every way a pipe dream and it had less-than-incredible beginnings. Over underwhelming and already cooled coffee, and with snacks Les bought from a grocery store one night, I felt my heart leap out of my throat.

Not really. But it felt that way. See, I was dating a girl, and we broke up, and yada yada yada… I mention that in order to convey this:

Every big idea starts somewhere personal.

I can already hear the nay-sayers… “What do you mean, personal? Not everything is subjective… Not everything has to do with personal experience…”

To which I expound: our big ideas are typically reactions to something we’ve learned or experienced. Think about that for a moment.

Everything finds its origin somewhere, and more often than not the things that make us tick, and move, and change the world happen because they’ve latched their hooks into us. They affect us, and we affect the world because of them.

So, in short, I am sitting at a table with Les and Jared, and I, my broken, bleeding heart in hand, say with the greatest of apathy and offhandedness: “Let’s just ride our bikes to New York.”

If I only knew.

Les becomes visibly intrigued. His brow furrowed, his hands caught in the air, like they too are motionless with thought. Jared becomes visibly disbelieving.

“Okay,” Les says. “Let’s do it.”

If I only knew what mysteries, what stories, and what victories would come from that moment!

East coast tire-dip ceremony.

We did it. We rode our bikes from the beach in Southern California to the Brooklyn shoreline, dipping our tires in each ocean.

There is more to the story, and this year I am (finally getting around to) writing it. That great adventure began with one of the most simple, predictable scenarios. It had a muse (my broken heartedness), it had a catalyst (Les), it had foes (ourselves, our wallets, our strength, the open road), and it had a hero needing to overcome some kind of an obstacle (me). Then, it happened. It happened, and we lived through it. But of course we lived through it!

Lately, I have been telling people about my next adventure. I won’t divulge just yet, but let it be sufficient to say that two years from this month I will be pushing off again, probably from LA, and probably headed south.

When Les and I decided to ride across the country we knew the best way to get ourselves to actually do it was to tell people. We had to answer every obligatory “Hey how are you?” and “Hey, what’s new” with the response: “I’m good, I just decided to ride my bike across America.” This is usually about the craziest thing most people have heard. I became a manifestation before their eyes, probably of psychosis.

This blog (and this post) will occasionally chronicle these new experiences, but at the very least, it will make my familiar itch for the road public.

 

What kinds of great adventures have you taken? How did they come about? How did your friends respond?

Downtown with Delani: Brunch, Pipe Dreams, and UI terminology

Dream-traveler, Aaron Delani.

“Brunch?”

He nodded.

I’d never been to the 5 Cent Diner before, but my roommate Les had. He said it was the kind of place you go to get comfort food, and that probably a lot of people go there after partying the night before. Probably to get rid of their hangovers, he said. Les is a personal fitness trainer.

Delani and I walked one block west to Main and two blocks north just past Fifth. There were a dozen people meandering out front and I pointed at them and shrugged, knowing our impending wait.

Delani shrugged back.

We went up to the host and asked about the wait. The dining room was a scene out of a Hollywood film set in the fifties. Great red booths, signs advertising hot dogs for seventeen cents (and five cents extra for chili). Black and white photos. Black and white tile flooring.

I saw the host mouth “fifteen minutes,” to which Delani shrugged again and put in his name.

Outside we meandered with the crowd.

“Want to grab coffee?”

“Sure, but I just put in my name.”

“Yeah.”

The host walked out and called a name. No takers, only people looking around at each other. He went back inside.

“Well, we could get coffee here, I mean. We could ask them if we could get a cup while we’re waiting. They let us do that when I lived in Portland.”

“Oh yeah, that’s a good idea.”

The host returned and called another name. Still nothing. I looked at Delani.

“Okay, Delani, party of two?” The host was looking at us.

I tried not to make a face as we followed him inside. He sat us two tables from the door, and I sat with my back to it. A bus boy took our coffee order and a waiter straightened our silverware and rattled off three or four specials.

I nodded at him and said thanks.

“Good. My name’s Travis if you need anything.”

“What looks good man?”

“Wait, hold on,” Delani said. I gave a quizzical look and he removed his phone from his pocket. He unlocked it and opened up an app called Pro Recorder. He hit the red button, set his phone on the table, and locked it again.

 

He was telling me a story from the fire escape right outside the laundry room about a journalist named “Lulu” who worked for NPR. She had apparently followed a couple for three years. At first she caught them on the road while they were touring on bicycles across America. They were to be married shortly after the trip.

“And?”

“Well, I don’t want to ruin it for you.”

“Okay, well I’m going to have to listen to it.”

“Yeah, it was on Radio Lab. The latest one. You should listen to it.”

“I will look it up tomorrow morning.”

He hesitated, fumbling the contents of his pockets. “Okay, so basically later in her story the guy said he didn’t know if he believed in God, which caused rifts in their relationship. After Lulu caught up with them again, well…”

“Oh come on,”

“Okay, well the girl gave him back his ring. It was like a year or so later when she got this second part of the story.”

“Wow. Bummer for him. Gah, I can’t imagine.”

“Yeah, you should listen to the rest. But the whole reason I brought it up was to mention how much I love how Radio Lab uses real-life sounds, like cars driving by, or cash registers opening, or people talking.”

“Isn’t that great? It adds so much.”

“Yeah, it’s like we’re there. We are watching a story instead of hearing it.”

“It’s always been a dream of mine to record something like that. You know, write a story and splice it with sound-bytes. I wanted to call it Radio Drama, but I think people would get the wrong idea.”

“Dude, we can. We can definitely do it.”

 

I found myself talking like I knew there was a recorder on my voice. The room was loud. Forks hitting plates, servers shuffling chairs, orders being taken. It was perfect, and it was ordinary. Probably too loud for the recorder, which was perfect.

Delani got the corned beef hash and I got a sausage and peppers scramble. We ordered a helping of pancakes and watched the syrup drip along the butter oozing out the sides and swim around the plate. Travis casually returned several times, asking questions he knew the answers to and topping off our coffee. He made sure our food was just right. He was earning his tip, and I appreciated his effort more than we needed his service. Truth was that he could have visited us four times and our food would have tasted the same. Once to greet, once to take our order, once to deliver food, and once to drop the check.

 

Three blocks north, just before Second, we stopped off at Groundworks for more coffee and a quiet place to talk about my website. An old church with gargoyles loomed above from across the street. Its cleanliness and carefully tended overgrowth meant that, for downtown Los Angeles, it wasn’t a church anymore. In fact, it had become an events center.

I bought a double espresso and Delani bought another cup of coffee. We moved the umbrella outside above our table and settled in. Distant sounds of voices and car motors boomed across the buildings.

Delani brought out his journal, and when he did I wondered if his phone was still recording. It had been at least thirty minutes. Talking. Bill dropping. Payment.Walking further up Main street. More coffee being ordered. An umbrella moving. Two guys joking. Delani’s journal slapping the metal table in front of us.

We started in and Delani flipped a switch. Suddenly, I was either his client, or his pupil. Mostly, I knew I was his friend. He cared this much to get business-y. He explained user interface terminology to me like “site-map,” “platform” and “intuitive design.” Under his tutelage I nodded, and under the umbrella we drew up elaborate plans.

A “landing page” is where people go when they type in a domain name. Like when you type in “www.google.com” and get a field by which to search the entire world wide web. Imagine that.

“So,” He said. “How would you describe yourself right now?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at what we’ve drawn here.”

I looked at boxes and words I’d scratched into his journal with his pencil.

“You mean for aaron green stories dot com?”

“Yes, but also, who are you right here and now? What do you want to say?”

“I am a writer living in downtown Los Angeles.”

“That’s perfect.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s all you need. Think more simply. People can navigate wherever they want on your site. But you can’t give it all to them at once. We’re designing a pathway. Give them too little and they won’t know what to do. They’ll just go check their email or type out a text. Give them too much and they won’t come back. They’ll go check their email and won’t remember to go back to your site.”

Building a website, especially for an artist, is a course in human psychology. Or so I learned.

Delani spoke my vision into tangible UI terms and turned my sketches into a palpable, realistic, and attractive website.

I had no idea any of this was necessary, but I knew something had to be done. As I writer, I knew my job was to write. But I also knew my job was to keep an eye out for people who would know how to market my writing. So far, nobody knew I was a writer. Part of me didn’t care if anyone ever did, mostly because I know I write to stay sane. I write to let a voice speak for an hour a day because, if left unheard, it would fester inside my chest like a campfire trying to burn its way out.

But I also wanted to write to communicate with the world. I wanted the stories I tell to be a drop in pond where seven billion people are swimming. I wanted it to ripple out in every direction: to the faithful, the angry, the poor, the lonely, the arrogant, the visionaries, the working stiffs, the bitter grandfathers, the lunatics wrapped in jackets. I wanted people to swim with my stories, and to leap out of the pond so high that when they would splash back into it they make their own ripples and waves.

A catalyst, perhaps, but it was simpler than that.

I wanted to convey a message to people, and I wanted them to care enough about the message to want to convey it out to people they interact with. And so on.

 

I had no idea that today, with my good friend Delani, would be a trip to the hardware store to purchase into my inventory the nuts and bolts needed to move my dream of sharing stories with people into action.

The Preciously Inherited Liquor

This is a short piece I wrote for LOVE NAIL TREE‘s 5th Edition. Hope you enjoy!
Image credit: LOVE NAIL TREE

It is with us when we rouse from plenty’s cozy hours of rest; here as we welcome warm, cleansing waters upon half-slumbered faces, yawning into quiet morning kitchens to casually break hunger’s fast.

It is nestled neatly into leather interior, riding shotgun upon early commutes as we treat the noise of world news like nagging mothers-in-law.

It is the steps along the corporate ladder, the heavy oak office doors and dark red mahogany desks. It is the long-anticipated lunch with the exec’s: the lobster and wine on the company dime.

It is the drowsy drift home once again, the passing of the hungry and homes made of shopping carts–the litter, the drunken, the helpless, the drug-enslaved, the weeping, the gnashing.

It is perched alongside under chandelier light, under sirloins and whiskey’s done just right. It is reviewing the better parts of the day’s events with the wife.

It is the closing of the blinds, the excavation of another drink, a subtle boat
in which to serenly
float
away.

It is unconsciousness upon the arm chair, the blanket of wall street and warm alcoholic exhalation.

It is sweet Liberty ever along for the ride, abused, ignored, and childishly taken for granted. It is she, the most delectable drink we could savor, the preciously inherited liquor of the American experience, tragically guzzled like one glass too many.

Cherish and remember her, you inheritors. Wrap her swimmingly in your arms for your children’s sake if not, at least, for God’s sake.

A Piece Worth Reading

I wrote a brief personal assessment of 2012 two days ago. Very brief, in fact. As I re-read it I could see Don Miller all across the page.

Yeah, yeah. I am aware that every mid-to-late twenty-something male interested in writing poetry and reading the classics, who has (or is) at one point been jaded with the church but is still convinced of his necessity to be devoted to God, wants also to be Don Miller.

The truth is that there can only be one Don, but there will always be room for new voices. Even if these voices echo those from ages ago, or even a few years ago, we need to be awoken into life daily. This is why we write. No?

Anyway, like I said, as I re-read my personal assessment, I thought: I can write a “Don Miller” book. I’ll get a ton of flack for it, just like Don, because there will always be somebody to nitpick and point out theological, grammatical, or personal inconsistencies. But whatever. For every nitpicker, there will always be five people who might find encouragement.

I have always wanted to write a book. Books even. I intend to with my life. Writing a “Don Miller” book is probably a good place to start because they are autobiographical in nature, lighthearted in prose, and yet still heavy enough to inspire (though as I write this I am completely aware of my naivety–surely Don took months, if not years to mull things over). I think I might have something to say though, just like Don did. The big question is: what in the world would I write?

Don wrote Blue Like Jazz almost completely around a series of interactions and conversations with a couple handfuls of people at Reed. The entire book is brought up around those relationships. Thus, I have been working through the following question: what unique, powerful relationships do I have, and why would anybody want to read about them? I’ll let you know what I come up with!

(Oh, Eccentric, You) – part one

     The tallest boy reached down and scooped up a handful of dirt. From the corner of my eye I watched as he slowly rose and began to move behind the rest of his chanting and prodding friends. The leader stared me dead in the eye.  His name was Dexter Villarosa, but he was known almost infamously as Stan.

     “You little tae; Ako pagpunta sa saktan ka!” he said. I did not move. “You’re going to remember this one.” As Stan took a quick step forward and began to pull back his right arm to bust me across the face a cloud of brown mist suddenly spilled into my sight. It burned my eyes. I reached quickly for my cousin, Bobby, who had be standing next to me. He was not there, and as soon as I realized a pile of boys were already on top of him I felt a crack blast across my lower lip. Within seconds Stan and the tallest boy, both of whom were my classmates during last year’s term but were held back a level because of poor grades, had tackled me to the floor. I kicked and swung at everything that moved, but when they struck me I did not scream. In fact, I did not even make a sound. I learned to fight at an early age from my older brother, and one of the things that I always remembered him saying was that making noises in fist fights only made you sound weak. But even more, not making a noise made you seem mysterious and unpredictable.

To be honest, I was more preoccupied with the thought of Bobby getting hurt than with my own fight. When I got a chance to smear some of the dirt from my eyes I peered over at him and saw him plant a foot into the gut of one of the boys. The kid screamed and fell backward. Just then the tallest boy kicked me hard in the ribs and I let out the kind of scream you release several seconds after you realize you have just broken your leg. It was bloody, and I could not help but to continue to scream. Stan and the tallest boy stepped back and looked at each other. Bobby’s perpetrators did the same. Everything was swirling around me. I held my hands like a wall over my ribs, and when I gently touched them pain shot up through my bones like nails through my hands. Bobby crawled over to me.

“Steebie, are you okay? What’s wrong–what happened?” His voice was shrill and it quivered at the end of each question. His lips were practically spilling blood down his face and his hair was matted and dirty. I could tell he had taken the beating of his life. My screams grew less frequent when I saw Stan and the gang running the other direction, back toward the schoolhouse and through the trees behind them. I lay, moaning.

“Steebie, where are you hurt? Do you want me to call auntie? Ano ang dapat kong gawin?”

“Get the doctor. I think I need a—ow!” I tried to turn over and I bit down hard on my lip to keep from screaming loudly again.

“Okay, okay. I be right back. I’ll get all of the doctors in Manilla, and the police too! Just stay there, Steebie!” Bobby ran off and I suddenly felt really alone. Tears were running down my cheeks from the pain and I tried not to move, not even to breathe, except if I needed to, and when I did I felt the bitter pain run through my bones.

In the wake of my inhibition, as I lay upon my back twenty feet from the cargo rail line in the alley behind my childhood schoolhouse, feeling the sun beat heavily upon my forehead and arms, I thought about shapes. I thought about how circles, triangles, and squares can be blended together to create images, and how every image, in two and three dimensions, can be reduced back down to simple shapes. In that moment I realized, at a core and fundamental level, how beautifully necessary, and even imprinted into our world they are. Like dirt, and air, and water, shapes have always existed, even before humans were around to see them. As long as something physical has existed, there has been shapes. I was pleased at this. Just then my head began to ache. My heart continued to race, and I was getting really thirsty when, suddenly, it all went black.