Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Ninety-First

An ominous forest stretches beneath a starry sky. Creepy black goo drips from the top of the scene. Over the forest, white letters read: “Fit the Ninety-First: The “literary” writers of Cradensburg.”

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA. Find her in her virtual home at (temporarily closed for update). Wipe your feet before entering.]


Hello, all! Melanie here.

Cat Rambo, a writer with significant “literary” chops, once described the “literary” world of writing as cold and unfriendly. I’ve spent some time there and I regret to say I agree. There are lots of friendly people if you look for them, but there’s also an unnatural amount of angst and inferiority complexes masquerading as superiority. I much prefer our SFF community. It’s warm, friendly, and we have spaceships.

It’s a creative season for our friends in Cradensburg. Or, at least for Writer X. After a whole year of writing very little, she’s been typing up stories regularly. And it appears she’s found some new friends in Cradensburg! Although “friends” is a generous way to describe them.

Without further ado…

Subject: Turning over a new leaffv

Dear Gladys,

I am writing you a very serious and very highbrow letter, so I need you to place your college degree in a prominent place before you read it.

I have learned a new thing about myself as a Writer. Namely that I am a writer of refinement and intelligence, something akin to Tolstoy—

Hang on, Gladys, there’s a sasquatch peeling the siding off my house.

Anyhoo, I’m sure you’re dying to know how my writing is going. Where was I?? Oh, yes. Tolstoy. Someday I’ll read Tolstoy if I can find the book in movie form. But anyhoo, I am like him. As in—and I have to say this delicately—I AM A GENIUS. I know that because it’s a thing the other writers in my new friend group quietly imply about everyone who’s in our friend group. Now that I’ve met them, I know what’s been wrong with my writing life before: I wasn’t letting my true genius show through!!!!!!!

It all started when I went to the Mantra shop to pick up some more aromatherapy drops for writing dialogue. I already have a bunch of it, but I discovered that it’s an excellent replacement for motor oil and coolant, and with all the sasquatches we’ve had lately, I forgot to go get my oil changed for the second year in a row.

So there I was, buying some eau de engine coolant and thinking positive thoughts about becoming the next big epic fantasy writer of all time and I overheard three or four people complaining about the “worst garbage they’ve ever read.”

One of the gentleman had a silk scarf, a handlebar mustache, and an ironic t-shirt. He said, “Just because you WANT to write, doesn’t mean you should.”

I know you’ll think I’m crazy when I say this Gladys, but for two seconds I was afraid they were talking about ME.

I gave a tittering, self-conscious laugh and barged into their conversation. “What story was this??” I asked, throwing in some more elegant laughs to disguise the fact that I was secretly hoping they weren’t talking about my flash fiction contest winning story!!!! I am a local celebrity after all even if most people don’t know it!!!!!

Fortunately for me, they were only talking about a story from one of the other writers in their critique group.

“Sounds horrible!!” I said.

Each of their eyes lit up as soon as I condemned a story I hadn’t read. “You get it, right????” said the handlebar mustache. “Thank James Franco, SOMEONE gets it.”

“I wish she would get it,” said a woman with ironic pig tails and an eye roll. She was referring to the writer in the critique group, Galdsy, not me. “Gawd, if I have to read another word of her stupid work-in-progress! I could just die.”

“SHE should just die,” said handlebar.

Glad that they weren’t talking about me, but afraid to walk away in case they were, I hung around the circle and nodded my head whenever someone pointed out how no one can write these days and that Cradensburg is full of nothing but “genre hacks.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m sure they weren’t talking about me.

“Are you a writer?” asked handlebar moustache.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, I am. In fact, I recently won an award.” The flash fiction contest counts as an award GLADYS!!!!!!!

Handlebar’s eyes grew wide. “Are you kidding? Wow! How cool is that? You should join our writing group.” And then he covered his mouth in horror.

“You shouldn’t make assumptions about their time!” said Ironic Pig Tails.

“I know. I’m so sorry! What I mean is, you should join our writing group. That is, if you don’t prefer solitary. I mean, you just won an award so maybe you prefer solitary. But we’re a writing group and we pride ourselves on having REAL writers in our group. You know how the writers are here. They throw a spaceship and a ghost on a page and think they’re Tolstoy.” 

I mopped the droplets of sweat from my forehead with a Dunkie’s receipt I had in my pocket. Of course, I didn’t REALIZE that it was my Dunkie’s receipt until too late and I spread ink all over my forehead. When everyone’s eyes stared quizzically at my forehead, I realized what I had done and explained that I wipe my face with receipts because it’s a form of upcycling and paper is wasteful.

“It’s settled, then!” proclaimed Handlebar. “You MUST join our writing group. We won’t take no for an answer.”

Hang on, Gladys, that’s the sasquatch again. I have a tangerine launcher somewhere around here. I find that if you launch tangerines at the sasquatches, it buys you an hour or two. Not to mention the pleasing phthonk! sound they make when they hit.

I wonder what Tolstoy did to handle his sasquatches…

Anyhoo, I should probably go. I have to concentrate when I aim this thing and I already broke three windows this morning.




Dear Gladys,

My new writing group is getting together for our first meeting tonight and they want me to bring them some of my writing. Handlebar even called with a special request. He said they’re all doing “Naturalist/Realism Journals” and said it would be “uber amazing” if I could write up a journalistic entry that’s in the Naturalist style and I said “sure no problem.”

Then I had a small panic attack.

Fortunately, I also have Wikipedia, and once I found out what Naturalist writing is, I felt MORE THAN CAPABLE. It’s just describing stuff in your life, you don’t have to have any imagination at ALL!!!! This is gonna be a walk in the park!!!! Naturalist just means you write from your REAL LIFE.

Then Handlebar went on and on about those “genre hacks” whose writing doesn’t reflect the real world or have anything meaningful to say and I still haven’t looked up genre hack yet but I didn’t want him to think that I didn’t know what he was talking about so I said, “Yeah, totally, heh.” Then he asked me what I do about the rash I get from wiping my face with receipts and I told him I put engine coolant on it and he was very quiet for almost an entire minute and then he said, “I never would have thought of that. Thank you.”

I spent my morning putting out mothballs in the garden to keep the sasquatches away and then I went on to work on something that came out EVEN BETTER THAN I THOUGHT!!!

Gladsy, this may be the best thing I’ve EVER written and I’ll share it with you just as soon as I cover myself in deer urine and roll around my yard. Between that and the mothballs, I’ll have this awful sasquatch problem resolved!!! Don’t you hate when sasquatch season comes early???? Probably because of all the rain we’ve had. Which gives me another idea for my writing!!!! BRB!!!!

*(That means Be Right Back.)

I’m back!!!! And I added some new stuff so it’s EVEN BETTER!!!!! I even whipped out a semi-colon for this one!!!!!


by Writer X

Deer urine and grass in my nose. I’m sitting in my yard with the sense of something approaching. I try to beat it back. My heart is like a tangerine, sailing through the air, attempting to reverse the tide.

The siding on the house sags, warps, blisters. Sasquatch fingers picking at the paint. Sasquatch howls on the edge of the neighborhood. My heart is like a taco truck, thrown in the river of desire.

The trees are tangerine at the edges. Mothballs in the garden; small white stones. My lover says, “Why don’t you come in and shower? You stink of deer piss. I’ll call the sasquatch catcher.”

I know I should respond to him, but I’m here, with the world turning orange. A sasquatch howl echoes. And disappears into the night.

I CAN’T WAIT TO SHOW IT TO THEM!!!!! THey’re going to be so AMAZED!!!!!



Subject: EVERYTHING’s Fine

Dear Gladys,

So. I have returned from my first meeting with my new writing friends. And everything went absolutely fine. Handlebar was a lot quieter and considerably less enthusiastic about my being there, but I think it’s just because the ink rash on his face has made him have to cut off his mustache.

We met in a shed outside Handlebar’s mom’s house. It even had a little sign on the door that said, “We write BIRDS, not BIRDCAGES” and another that said “I write to make a clearing in the wilderness” and “NO GENRE HACKS.”

I showed them my writing. They squinted at it funny and Ironic Pig Tails finally pursed her lips and said, “I see the irony.”

Handlebar’s pale blue eyes burned into me. His ink rash looked inflamed. “Screw irony. Show me what page Tolstoy ever said the word sasquatch. Show me where Nabokov wrote about sasquatch howls—”

“Gawd, you only remember the Russians,” said Ironic Pig Tails to Handlebar. He turned his face away in a huff. “I think was Rufus is saying is that ‘Sasquatch’ is a hard word to read as a symbol.”

“Sasquatch is a symbol for chemtrails and tin foil,” Handlebar grumbled. “Sasquatch is what you put on the page if you’re trying to draw attention to yourself.”

“It’s not done!!!!” I cried. “It’s just a draft!! I was just using the sasquatches as a placeholder is all.”

Ironic Pig Tail seemed content with this. “Interesting,” she said.

“What is sasquatch a place holder for?” asked Handlebar, accusingly.

“Some other animal.”

“A werewolf?” he said. “Hmmm? Or a vampire? Or a “ghost”? Next time bring the second draft instead of the first.”

“I’m looking forward to reading your other draft. I think what Rufus is trying to say is what can sasquatches really tell us about life. About the moment we’re in. About whether we’ll have an affair or become an alcoholic.”

“Like REAL writing,” said Handlebar.

“I would just reach for another animal. Something much less…genre. You know.” Ironic Pig Tail wrinkled her nose.

And everything is COMPLETELY fine, Gladys. No, I am not questioning my self worth. No, I did not spend three hours crying into a bag of cheetos and a half gallon of rocky road. I was planning to do those things anyway!!!!

Anyhoo, I need you to read my new draft. I think it’s MUCH better.

Untitled – Draft Two

by Writer X

Deer urine and grass in my nose. I’m sitting in my yard with the sense of something approaching. I try to beat it back. My heart is like a tangerine, sailing through the air, attempting to reverse the tide.

The siding on the house sags, warps, blisters. Honey Badger fingers picking at the paint. Honey Badger howls on the edge of the neighborhood. My heart is like a taco truck, thrown in the river of desire.

The trees are tangerine at the edges. Mothballs in the garden; small white stones. My lover says, “Why don’t you come in and shower? You stink of deer piss. I’ll call the Honey Badger catcher.”

I know I should respond to him, but I’m here, with the world turning orange. A Honey Badger howl echoes. And disappears into the night.

When you finish reading it, you can find me in Tryxy’s abyss watching Golden Girls and wearing a snuggie and totally not crying.




Dear Gladys,

So I went to the meeting today to show my new writer friends my second draft and discovered that the group had been permanently disbanded because some sasquatches came by and carried off Handlebar’s shed and then Handlebar.


Besides, I never saw a Brandon Sanderson story with Naturalist/Realism!!!!! I never met a Brandon Sanderson book with a “THEME”!!!!! So why should my stories have them????

And you know what?? I prefer friends who don’t talk behind each other’s backs!!!!!


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Golden Girls to watch with a friend who NEVER talks behind my back and everyone knows is amazing.

Pages next week, Gladys!!!!!






























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