Emails from Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Twenty-Second

[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 Wipe your feet before entering.]


Dear Gladys,

I am going to lose my mind if I don’t get off this boat. Please carefully review the following NOTES:

Day Eight: Passage to Portsmouth

The writing retreat has officially been over for a day but WE ARE STILL NOT OFF THIS BOAT. Thankfully there hasn’t been any sightings of those horrible fish people and, with 25 Memoirists missing, there are a lot fewer mouths to feed.

Which is good. Because we have no food and all the snow in the world is blowing down on us as I type and the boat is rocking so much, everyone is taking turns throwing up in the dining room. Except me. I’ve locked myself in the bathroom because who wants to deal with the noxious vomit fumes???

Hang on, someone is banging on the door saying they need the toilet it’s an “emergency.” What am I supposed to do with these people, Gladys!!!!

Breakfast was NOTHING. The only upside to this whole trip is that I have proved to myself that I’m a REAL WRITER AGAIN!!!!! I have SO many pages to read to you!!!!

We’re supposed to arrive in Portsmouth in the next hour and I’ll be sending you off this email the minute I get back into Tod Boadkins’ trunk.

Evening of Day Eight

The Captain has informed us that Portsmouth is too far north and into the storm at this point. We have to dock temporarily in Arcadia Beach, New Hampshire. The Event Coordinator has secured everyone rooms at this old granite Victorian hotel called “The Alhambra Inn & Gardens.” It was closed for remodeling but we had to sign a reality waver to say that we won’t sue if we wake up in the wrong world—or worse, outside a black hotel in NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.

The only good part about all this is that a Sanderson has asked to read my story!!! I’ve sent them my pages and I’m heading off to bed with the knowledge that first thing in the morning we’ll be off to Portsmouth and I’ll have a new fan!!!

Oh. And someone shot one of the Memoirists. The Event Coordinator is trying to say that it’s the Deep Ones at work again but the Eroticas and the Furries don’t believe it for a second. The Furries are starting an investigation of all the “writers.”

To make matters worse, last week I had a hard time FINDING Tod Boadkins, but now, everytime I turn around he’s there, squinting at me and stalking me. I went for a walk on the frozen beach and I turned around and there he was just squinting at me, thinking real hard.

It’s kind of creepy. Who does he think he is, stalking me????

Wee Hours of Day Nine

There’s something weird on the television Gladys. First of all, I was ordering a new titanium orange juicer and neck spanx from the shopping channel when a news program came on and they were talking about this new epidemic in New England. It’s called “The Poor Man’s Plastic Surgeon” but it’s also known as SHIFTER SUDS.

Apparently if you go to the right people, you can get this stuff mixed up and you wash with it and you can change your appearance. Or at least your face. People are using it to catfish people on dates, to pose as celebrities, and to make their old friends feel like they’ve accomplished absolutely nothing in life at high school reunions.

Anyway, the reason I’m sharing this with you is because they said that one of the side effects to using Shifter Suds for an extended period of time is GENITAL ITCHING. And you know who THAT makes me think of????

YES!!! A Memoirist!!!! (And our old classmate, Tomlin Ball. Remember how much she was scratching at our high school reunion?????)

Day Nine

That Fraud Tod Boadkins won’t get off my trail!!!! I think he’s onto me, Gladys!!!

We left the Alhambra and tried to push further north for Portsmouth but the storms have persisted and somehow we ended up in a place the captain is calling Not Necessarily Maine, but Also Not Necessarily Not Maine.

We found a rock with a castle on it and have taken refuge in the castle which is tended by a very bleak man named Mervin who has warned us not to move anything in our rooms lest we “wake the gardener.” We’ve all been confined to our rooms until the storm passes and we can return to “New Hampshire.”

Breakfast was a gray gruel with gray tea and a glass of blood red sherry delivered on a tray by that bleak man, Mervin.

Another Memoirist was killed sometime after we all moved into our rooms. Mervin has given the Furries permission to leave their rooms to investigate.

I was interrogated this afternoon. I wonder if I did it.

Days Ten & Eleven

Day Ten is the worst day of my life.

I snuck to the Sanderson’s room because he NEVER TOLD ME WHAT HE THOUGHT OF MY STORY. I wish I hadn’t. What a wasted trip!!!

The Sanderson told me that what I’ve written is “utterly incomprehensible” and that there are “too many flashbacks” and I have a milquetoast main character. I would look up milquetoast but I don’t have any bars. THEN HE SAID THE WORST THING ANYONE COULD POSSIBLY SAY!!!! He asked me who my influences are and I said Brandon Sanderson and he snorted and said “You’re definitely no Sanderson.”

I just want to melt into a puddle and never be seen again. I deleted all of my pages. Fenchin is dead.

Breakfast was gray gruel with a sauce of my Complete Failure as a Writer served with a flourish of my writerly dreams flushed down the toilet.

Evening of Day Eleven

Gladys, something horrible has happened!!! Tod Boadkins just grabbed me by my arm and said he knows it was me looking in his window two weeks ago and that once we get off this boat, he’s going to take care of me once and for all!!!!

I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about and that he probably had just ran into my evil twin and that shut him up. But he wouldn’t let go of my jacket and ended up tearing it off me as I fled. That’s okay, it’s not even my jacket. I stole it from a Hemingway.

NO PAGES WRITTEN TODAY GLADYS!!!! I don’t know that I’ll ever write again. I feel absolutely cold through and through that someone could say something so HORRIBLE about what I’ve written!!!!!

I would throw myself off the top of the castle but I think it would hurt.

By the way, NOBODY is staying in their rooms. I literally saw everyone out milling around the castle and I think one of the Eroticas found a liquor cabinet from 1905. I’m glad I’m not the only one not staying in my room. That would be weird.

Day Twelve

Pretty much nothing worth writing about happened today. My whole world is over. I feel like a complete idiot. Why did I ever let that Sanderson look at my story???? Why can’t I turn back time and take it back???? I was so happy back then!!!! Now I just mope around the castle but it’s absolutely dead in here.

Except for the Furries have discovered who shot and killed the two Memoirists (it was another Memoirist looking to have the sole rights to tell the story of the writing retreat.)

Oh, and somehow the Gardener woke up. He’s this creepy gray figure that stands at the end of the hall and has demanded that someone has to be sacrificed and taken into the grave with him or we’ll never leave this rock.

The Event Coordinator had a nervous break down but the Eroticas are reminding him that he has excellent taste in shoes. And Tod Boadkins is staking out outside my room.

None of it matters.

I wonder what kind of fiction the Sanderson writes. It’s probably perfect. I’m so worthless, Gladys!!!

and Thirteen

You know what, Gladys????


MY WRITING MIGHT BE CRAP BUT IT’S HARD TO WRITE CRAP THAT GOOD!!!! And you know what???? I have yet to see that Sanderson WRITE A SINGLE THING!!!!

My mission, should I choose to accept it, AND I DO!!! is to lock myself in this room until the storm passes and type up EVERYTHING I DELETED.

I’ve also had inspiration for a NEW VILLAIN whom I’m naming Milquetoast.

As soon as the Furries finish putting up protective sigils around my room, I’m GETTING TO WORK.

Breakfast is the breakfast of champions: PURE CREATIVE SPITE!!!!!

Evening of Day Thirteen

Well, Gladys, things are looking up!!!! I’ve written through the walls trembling, through the shadowy figures rising up through the floors and walking right through me, through the shouted incantations of the Furries as the fires of hell blast the walls of the castle and the great news is, I’ve gotten FIFTEEN PAGES re-written!!!

I cut out some of the flashbacks and with this new villain, Milquetoast, I’ve really got somebody to contrast Fenchin against.

One of the Eroticas has come to tell me that we’re getting off this rock as soon as the sun rises and I’d better be prepared to run. I told her I’d get going as soon as I finish the next ten pages. Everytime I slow down or doubt what I’m doing I just type “SCREW THAT GUY” and a whole new wave of inspiration hits me!!!

Day Fourteen

We pulled into Portsmouth at about 2pm and, apparently, the yacht is unrecognizable but I have NEVER been in a better place as a writer.

The Event Coordinator punched out Fraud Tod Boadkins and said he doesn’t how he did it, but he doesn’t believe Tod Boadkins actually wrote Broken Tides.

The police have carted away the last three Memoirists, apparently they were all plotting to kill each other (a fact discovered by the Furries although the Memoirists are all saying that they only got into the idea of murdering their fellow writers after the fish people started the theme.) The Eroticas revealed they’d been writing faithfully every night and half of them already have like thirty books published. The Hemingways are all writing books about the self-reliance and rectitude of the Furries and the Furries are waving them off saying that it’s all in a day’s work.

The Sandersons can all go to hell.

Fortunately for me, Tod Boadkins can’t see too well over his swollen nose and I was able to slip unseen into his trunk.

I’m on my way home!!!!



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13 thoughts on “Emails from Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Twenty-Second

  1. I’m not a writer myself, but I’ve always heard that spite is the best writing prompt…

    (On the subject of fast foods, Taco Bell is attractive, but Kentucky Fried Chicken is addictive. Just sayin’.)

  2. @Lenore “sneaking fondness” is a great way of putting it. Ditto.

    @Cassy B. Lol! TRUE. I wonder if Rome could have been built in a day had the architects been a little more angry. 😀 And KFC is dangerously addictive.

  3. Runzas. You non-Nebraskans are safe from the alluring power of a runza, but once you have had one you will not forget it.

  4. I don’t think anyone should come to Nebraska JUST for a runza. So while you are planning, may I suggest Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo? It’s a world-class zoo with a rainforest jungle, desert dome, aquarium, and much more. Right now we are celebrating the birth of TWO baby African elephants. (Before this I had not realized how adorable baby elephants are.)

  5. I am assured that runzas are Czech in origin, and there are enough Czech-descended people in Nebraska that I would not dream of arguing the point.

    I do agree that bread dough wrapped around a meat-and-vegetable filling is a widely distributed concept.

  6. Further research has revealed that Cornish pasties and runzas have a significant difference: a pastie uses a short pastry dough for its outer wrapping, while a runza uses yeasted bread dough.

  7. @Nancy Sauer, I’m so glad you mentioned Henry Dooley Zoo! Coincidentally, my family was planning a trip to that zoo in 2020! Had to cancel for obvious reasons, but it’s on the list!

    @Michael J. Lowrey, I thought I saw it in an encyclopedia somewhere that Cornish pasties and Scottish pasties were invented in heaven and smuggled into earth under the robes of Cornish librarians. I also heard that a Cornish pasty was to blame for the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden or something (and not an apple) and honestly it made the whole story make a lot more sense.

  8. Meat pies and other savory pies are a big thing in Australia and New Zealand, too. Perhaps they’re descended from the various British ones.

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