"Sue's Storm's horror is the horror of the interior, and the every day, painful step-by-step realization that people are sick and life sucks. But life is just a little bit bearable through her mellifluous and exact prose." -Michael Hemmingson, author of The Naughty Yard
"Sue Storm's writing is stronger than the Thing, and more flexible than Mr. Fantastic. When she is as old as I feel today, she will be another Karen Joy Fowler." -Don Webb, author of A Spell for the Fulfillment of Desire
(For the comic-impaired, Sue Storm, alias "The Invisible Woman", belongs to a super-hero group called the Fantastic Four.)
Strangely enough, I do possess the power of invisibility. As a child, I was a compulsive reader, and used my ability to avoid my mother and her endless chore list so I could -- what else? -- read, read, and read some more. I spent typing class writing stories, and the teacher never even noticed. In fact, I often disappeared from school for days at a time with no ill effects. The talent continued its usefulness at various jobs I more or less unsuccessfully held.
From these facts, I evolved the theory that I live in an alternate comic universe. Instead of blonde hair and a fashion doll look, the Sue Storm in this universe has silver-brown hair and the body of a plank. She is married to Mood Disorder Man, who can stretch his moods to incredible lengths -- but not his muscles -- and she has a brother named Mike, who possesses a fiery temper, but never quite bursts into flame. As for the Thing; well, I better keep quiet.
And, yes, that is my real name.
Now that we've gotten the du jour questions out of the way, on to the meat and potatoes.
First of all, I want to say writing is not breathing to me. Breathing is breathing and, without it, I'd be dead as Uncle Willy's dinker.
Writing is actually a powerful drug. I don't need drugs in order to live, an amazing fact I stumbled over eleven years ago in a drug treatment program. However, once an addict, always an addict. Sadly, I have a new addiction. All the signs are there -- I ignore my family and friends while pursuing my habit; I sink all of my money into the paraphernalia necessary to continue said habit; I forget to eat, forget to sleep and, if I am deprived of the daily dose, certain pains develop in the various vital organs of my body.
Drug addiction is a severely masochistic affliction. They say insanity is making the same mistakes and expecting different results. Yet, time and time again, the writer (I know I changed voices -- give me a break. I'm writing about me, and all three of us happen to be very schizophrenic.) merrily sends out stories, only to reap mountains of rejection letters. How many normal people deliberately set out on a career where daily rejection of their essence, their very soul, is routine stuff? The answer is obvious: only crazed drug fiends. This is clearly seen at conventions, where pathetic addicts wander from group to group, seeking editors who can give them a fix.
But, oh, what a fix it is! When an editor accepts that story you've worked on obsessively, praising the qualities you know in your bones exist in your story, then the high is incredible, unbelievable, and -- as one who's been there -- far better than anything they sell on the streets.
There are stages in this addiction, just like any other. Your first acceptance you never forget -- even if it's to some small press rag filled with typos, and you only get a copy. A copy you're embarrassed to show to anyone. It doesn't matter. Your name is in print! Your story is there, in black and white!
Your next few acceptances are enough to feed your addiction, but soon you start yearning for more. You want to get paid. Finally, a check comes, and your being soars. You've never been this high before. This is it, you think. It doesn't get any better. But after awhile, one-quarter cent a word isn't enough. You start hungering again. Half a cent, yes, half a cent would be nice, just a little more, not too much to ask. But after half a cent, you want that whole penny, and from there, it's more, more, you've got to have more. You crave that elusive three-cent professional level. If you can only get there, you think, you'll be happy. And then, you promise yourself, you'll start sleeping a little more, maybe eat again. "Perhaps then," you say out loud, bargaining with the cruel and fickle god of writers, "I'll even cook dinner for my family."
But the secret -- and best -- part of your addiction occurs when you're alone at your keyboard. You're grunting along, straining out a phrase here and there. Suddenly, a savage high grabs you and turns you into a feral beast. You rush through the universe, tearing at its fabric, clawing and biting out great gobs of words and spitting them into your story. You lose control, you lose all sense of time. And you love it.
When Ray Bradbury created his first "really fine story" (Zen In The Art Of Writing, by Ray Bradbury. Buy it. Read it. Live it.) after ten years of writing, the hair on the back of his neck stood up.
And then he was hooked.
I know the symptoms. The dry mouth, that prickly feeling running down my back, the goosebumps on my arms. Suddenly a fey and wonderful story appears, a story so unlike me: me, the person who scrubs the bathroom and laughs at movies like Dumb and Dumber. Me, who gropes through conversations, who can't even think of the right word when talking to the neighbor about mowing the lawn with that thingamabobber.
Ah, such a drug. It makes you glib, and powerful, and even mends your clothes.
Where does it come from? How come it doesn't cost a hundred dollars an ounce? When I first started writing, I noticed sometimes I wrote like I was forcing overcooked peas into a two-year-old's mouth, and other times I wrote like that same toddler sucking up a week's worth of brownies. What was the difference? Was it something I ate? Was it my underwear?
No, after some reading, I hit on it. I was right about being schizophrenic. My brain is like the Odd Couple. The priggish left half hates the messy right half. To write, I must beat Mr. Prim and Proper into submission with a baseball bat.(I leave him hooked to life support so, when I need editing, he's available.) The right side of my brain I feed with roses and chocolate, purple clover honey, and those fuzzy little fruits with the tiny seeds in them.
That's where the drug comes from. It's a slippery concoction of subconscious images -- and those fuzzy little fruits with the tiny seeds in them.
I've sold more than fifty of these sticky-fruit stories to magazines such as Pulphouse, Sirius Visions, The Silver Web, Dark Regions, Space and Time, and the anthologies Air Fish, The Magic Within, and Palace Corbie #5 and #6. My book of horrific childhood stories, titled Star Bones Weep the Blood of Angels, is out and garnering good reviews. Two Xizquil stories earned honorable mentions in the 1993 and 1994 Year's Best Science Fiction and the 1994 Best of Soft Science Fiction contest. A Sirius Visons story made the 1994 Year's Best Fantasy And Horror honorable mention list. Another story gained quarter -finalist status in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest. The special #13 issue of Xizquil features the first part of my novel, The Price Of Water. Space and Time recently accepted an excerpt, titled Ashes, Ashes, All Fall Down, of my other novel.
So goes the life of inveterate drug addict Sue Storm, the Semi-Invisible Woman,
who sometimes materializes in cyberspace at
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