Embracing Diversity

Something that’s been on my mind lately…

When we talk about embracing and fostering creator diversity in media, it’s important to remember that this does not mean dismissing current creators as though they are somehow “half-assing” their craft due to some level of privilege. To do that does a disservice to all creators.

Embracing diversity is also not about filling some kind of artificial quota. That, too, does a disservice to all creators. The best work should always be out in the world.

The point of increased diversity is to deepen the pool from which we discover the best work. To ensure that all talent has a chance to rise to the top. Because opportunities are not always equal. This might be systemic. It might be outdated tradition. It might be cultural bias. By casting our nets wider, we can find new voices that drive all of us forward. That inspire us to ourselves be better.

However, it occurs to me as I type this, that even this is not the whole truth.

Increasing diversity also forces us to challenge the idea of what it means to be “the best.” We accept that in art there is no single objective truth when it comes to the stories that thrill and captivate us. But even so, when art is biased toward a monolithic culture, we tend to gravitate toward similar trends, call upon similar influences. When we include into the mix new voices, art created from new perspectives, we gain a better insight into what “the best” can be.

We don’t have to like everything. We don’t have to consume everything. But to see a wide variety of stories and art from a diverse swath of creators is to broaden our understanding and to judge our craft from a place that better resembles the human race.

Fantasy Fiction: The Tailor and The Knight

If you’re unfamiliar, I’m part of The Deceptionists, a creative writing podcast that covers a number of different aspects of the craft of writing. While I wasn’t part of the recently recorded “Fantasy” episode of The Deceptionists genre writing series, and I hadn’t selected “Fantasy” as one of my writing prompts, but a funny thing happened during my daily commute. I had written a rough piece for my Sci-Fi prompt, and I started to think: “What would I have done with Fantasy?” That’s the way things go for me sometimes—inspiration hits when I’m done with another deadline. It’s that curiosity without the pressure, the what would I have done if…? Continue reading “Fantasy Fiction: The Tailor and The Knight”

Fighting and Writing like Jazz

Last night, as is often the case on Wednesdays, I watched my son in his karate class. The classes shift occasionally, so it happened that on this night, the class I watched was a special one devoted to presentation and building confidence. It seemed a little looser and more fun, and I was happy to see my son engaged (though still a little embarrassed when called to perform in front of the others).

Many martial arts have a segment of the practice devoted to mastering memorized forms, sometimes called katas. They’re a choreographed series of steps meant to serve as a training routine and also as a presentation unto itself. At each of his belt tests, my son has had to present various forms, which are judged by the instructors.

In the final fifteen minutes of this particular class my son’s instructor asked the students to invent their own form. Ten steps—anything you want!—now go!

Continue reading “Fighting and Writing like Jazz”

Wormwood: "Top 5 Bits of SciFi Earcandy"

Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery is a full-cast audio drama podcast that I launched with Jeremy Rogers in 2007. We launched the series to go against the grain of the short films we had been producing at the time. The audio-only format allowed us to move through a lot of material at a fast pace and a low cost. The podcast format allowed us to reach hundreds of thousands more than we would with films in festivals. The format also allowed us to tell longform, serialized stories, something that appealed to both of us. And we still got to work with talented Los Angeles-based actors, which is something we really do enjoy as filmmakers. Continue reading “Wormwood: "Top 5 Bits of SciFi Earcandy"”

The Creative Life: The Writer Question

This post was originally published on Murmur.com.

Last week I talked about my road from creative writing to an audio drama podcast. A bit of a twisty road, but it’s an interesting one. Obviously, the common link is story. If you know me at all, you know I’m all about the story. If you don’t, please allow me to introduce myself…

My name is David. I’m a writer.

Continue reading “The Creative Life: The Writer Question”

Monkeyshines79 in Grok #6

So, I’m looking to revamp the blog and hopefully dust it off and get some more current content on here. The truth is I’ve been very busy with Wormwood: Revelation and various other creative projects, and this blog is really sort of a portfolio for fiction at this point.

However, I can announce that my newest short story, “Monkeyshines79,” has been published in the latest issue of the online PDF ‘zine, Grok. This is a geek culture magazine that focuses on essays and fiction for the nerdier among us. 😉 The theme of issue #6 was “avatar.” I conceived and pitched a short story to the editors, which they accepted. I then went about writing the short story. I do like the short story, but it’s  unusual for me because it’s one of the first ever prose pieces that I pitched first, THEN wrote. It’s a Twilight Zone type of a story, so it’s all about the twist, and it was an interesting writing experiment to come up with the twist and then have to write everything correctly in order to play the twist and make it work.

Grok #6 is online now and it’s free. Please be sure to check it out!

I Had a Strange Dream Last Night

I had a very strange dream last night. In it, my girlfriend and I are walking along a very dark city street. There are no lights from the street. There is no moon in the sky. Everything consists of shapes of blue and black. We are returning from somewhere; I don’t know where. We come to my car. It is at the front of a small parking lot. While I can’t see much, I can see that something has happened to the car; it rests at a steep angle. We walk around the car and see that the tires are gone. The car has been raised to a forty-five degree angle. As we continue to walk around the car, I can see that the rear bumper has been torn halfway off the car. It’s been peeled back as though it was the lid of a tin can. Continue reading “I Had a Strange Dream Last Night”

Apartment House Blues

This story originally saw print in Transfer #75, Spring 1998

By David Accampo

Leroy leaning on the black iron gate, Leroy owes me forty dollars. He’s thin as a lamppost, bent over, brown skin faded. Shit, I mean look at me. I’m black, white, everything, all mixed up, he tells me, thin arms outstretched, scant black hair curling up his forearms. Why did Leroy tell me that? When he asked me for ten dollars yesterday. Didn’t have any milk. No milk for the kids. His breath was sharp and hot, the metal tang of malt liquor. Hey, can I come in for a minute? I want to ask you something. I’ll pay you back as soon as I get my check. Disability check only comes once a month. Leroy scratches the brown weave of his hair under his baseball cap. Once a month marijuana smoke drifts across the cement courtyard. Leroy’s blue eyes waver when he talks about his newborn baby in the hospital, Her…her heart can’t beat on its own, they got her hooked all up with tubes and wires and shit. But I asked the doctor, you know, ‘cause me and Debra smoke a little pot on occasion, but that’s okay, the doctor was saying that it ain’t ‘cause of that. Can I use your phone to call the hospital? We don’t got a phone right now.

In the courtyard, Pablo paints the door to the apartment next to mine. Bright blue. The police busted it open when they arrested the last tenants, a swarm of black-and-yellow jackets buzzing through. I heard the shouts through the paper-thin walls, heard the stomping boots, heard the door frame splinter. I turned the volume on the television down and listened to the voices, sometimes loud and raw, sometimes low and firm. Pablo’s shiny skin is striped in blue. You let Leroy into your place. I wouldn’t do that, man. He and Debra got a problem with the crack, if you know what I mean. Pablo likes me because I pay my rent, even though its always late. A fading shaft of daylight plunges down the center of the courtyard, down past the iron railing of the second floor, illuminating gray concrete, an overturned tricycle. I think he’s checking your place out, I think he’s casing it. Robert, in #16, got robbed when he was out of town. I think it might have been Leroy. I mean, I heard about the baby, but I never seen it. I didn’t even know she was pregnant, did you? The Washing Woman carries a wicker basket across the court. I’ve never learned her name, but she is always doing laundry, jeans and shirts and socks draped across the railing, drying in the column of sun. The chubby white girl in a plain yellow dress smacks a soccer ball against the mud-streaked walls until her mother cracks open her door. Get in here! Now, you little shit! If you don’t get in here right now, you’re going to be SO fucking dead! The gate creaks on its hinges as Milo walks in, home from work, his coveralls smeared with paint and primer and plaster and dirt. He hums a tune, jingles his keys, and opens his mailbox. Pablo says, Hey, and Milo tips his hat to us and climbs slowly up the stairs. Continue reading “Apartment House Blues”

The Physics of Apathy

By David Accampo

When there is nothing left between two people, the physics of the room appear to change. A stillness overcomes the space between them, lazy dust motes trapped in a shaft of light.  There is movement, of course — the nervous fidget of fingers, the swaying of legs, the tilt of the head to a slightly sharper angle.  A yawn.  But these movements become infinitesimal in the void between the occupants of the room. Continue reading “The Physics of Apathy”

The Art of Noise

By David Accampo

Allen talks, a little too loud, a little too fast. A little too much. He’s telling Dawn something, and she’s listening, really she is, but more to the rhythm and cadence, wondering if he’s going to stop and take a breath. It may sound annoying, but Dawn doesn’t mind; she doesn’t really want to contribute to the conversation, and Allen doesn’t appear to require any collaboration.

Continue reading “The Art of Noise”

The Woods

The following story is the answer to a writing challenge from Paul Montgomery, and inspired by the this prompt: “An old bachelor, having just moved to the country, discovers something strange in his back yard.”

By David Accampo

Finding no further answers, I called Mrs. Macready. Phone picked up on the second ring.

“Oh, Bill — I was just thinking about you.”

“I’m sorry to bother you, Mrs. Macready–”

“Please, call me Helen, Bill. No one except the kids at school call me Missus. Haven’t felt like a Missus since Tom died anyway, really…”

“Helen…sorry…listen…I found something at the house today. I’m…I’m not sure what to make of it.”

Continue reading “The Woods”

The Incremental Time Traveler

By David Accampo

Jude’s ability was — in the larger scheme of the universe — rather unimpressive. And yet, he took pride in his ability, as he felt it was something that was solely his, to grow and shape.Jude didn’t tell anyone of his ability. They wouldn’t understand. “Time travel,” they would say, “Bah.”

The way it worked was this: by closing his eyes very firmly, so that he could see nothing at all, Jude could travel into the future. He couldn’t travel very far, of course. A short blink could only get him one, maybe two seconds into the future. But as he became a teenager, Jude realized that longer blinks, with a great deal of concentration, could move him three, sometimes even five seconds into the future. It was at this juncture that he decided two things: Continue reading “The Incremental Time Traveler”