It Is Blog Time, My People

Happy Thursday (Friday) evening to all. Well, to those in the Western Hemisphere anyways. Happy… whatever day/time it is for you, wherever you may be. (P.S., I meant

Writing takes a new life when your time is constricted. Between children, a wife who apparently enjoys my occasional company, a full time job, the various animals and my garden… le sigh, as the kids say (I’m kinda old so if the kids don’t actually say that anymore, just leave me to my blissful ignorance).

And yet, I’ve still managed to complete my third draft for my novel Capitalist Bacon, am working on a second draft for a 5K short story, and am happily beta-reading along with two other novels (which is really giving me an inferiority complex considering how damn good they are).

Finding time to structure writing into my day is a challenge, but I think it’s actually brought out the best in it. Something about having the time crunch of a lunch hour while at work and the frenzied focus of writing time I do manage to give myself on weeknights has birthed a great new focus.

Up until last month, I was unemployed for a bit. (Yay 2020!) I had time. Granted, I was also frantically looking for a new job, while also taking extra toddler duties, but I certainly had more time. Looking back, it was very random and unfocused time. Occasionally I found myself with three straight hours to write, or even more. And yet I would easily become distracted, or if I hit a snag in the writing, I could just get up and walk away for a bit–no rush, right?

In the daydreaming I do on my work commutes (because of course I went from a working-at-home job to an in-office job when the entire rest of the world pivoted the other direction), when I dare to imagine a life where I’m a full-time writer, I do wonder how I would still manage to harness that focus.

But while its fun to daydream, its probably not an issue I’m going to have to worry about. And if I am ever so lucky, well, that’s most likely so far off, no use to worry about it now. Yet, it is nice sometimes to see the bright side of things. Quality, not quantity, rules how I want to write, so even with the annoying time suck that is a job, in a weird way it’s been a blessing to my craft.

That’s all for now. Til next Thursday. Oh, and obligatory self-promo time! Check out The Poetic Narrative (under ‘Published Here’, if that’s not clear enough), a website exclusive*, and sign up for my newsletter for more inane ramblings and another exclusive story*!

*totally not exclusive here because there’s no way they would ever get published elsewhere

The Schedule Says Its Time for a Blog Post

So, uh, here’s a blog post!

Since I’ve been operating off of the idea that this will be a journal of what not to do and how not to do it, let’s review what’s new and why its all wrong.

On the good news, the second edit of my WIP is going swimmingly. I am quite behind self-imposed schedule, but a.) when you have ADHD like me, you tend to make ridiculously optimistic schedules regardless, and b.) considering I’m in week two of being finally back to work, time isn’t quite as luxurious as it once was. That said, I’m over halfway through, and really I think it will be ready for the next round of #PitMad, which is the ultimate goal anyhow.

On the bad–rejections abound. A story I really believed in was submitted some months ago to Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. I got the email back this week that it didn’t place. Not as in first, second, or third. As in, not even ‘honorable mention’. Something particularly unpleasant when you think to yourself ‘this has a shot at the gold!’ and being told ‘no, actually, we’d rather not even mention it exists’.

Two other rejections rolled in as well, including one that had been held for quite some time at a well-esteemed magazine. Normally I keep my expectations low when submitting, but this one had dared to spark a kernel of hope in me, considering how long they kept it. So to not even get a personal rejection after that was another uppercut to the chin.

(At this point, you’re probably wondering to yourself… ‘self, I don’t think it sounds like he’s very good at writing, maybe I shouldn’t bother on his website anymore’. This is fair.)

But onwards and upwards. The beta reader feedback on my works has been growing increasingly positive–moving from structural issues like missing character arcs and other story-killers to more line edit nitpicking. (Some structural issues still arise. Let’s not kid ourselves here.) I did receive a personal rejection from one mag of esteem, my second from there, and trust me a personal rejection from a magazine that receives hundreds of submissions a week is honestly a win.

Eventually, this journey will start properly, and I’ll be telling you all to go read one of my stories in ‘Doc Smitherwick’s One Issue Magazine That Features A Story This Random Guy Emailed Us And We Didn’t Pay For’. And then, it’ll be smoooooth sailing, my friends.

Also, go read The Poetic Narrative, up now here as a website exclusive! Because I’m clearly such a good author, you definitely don’t want to not read that (maybe)(ish).

Till next time!

Screaming Into the Void

So my goal is every other Thursday, I’m throwing up a new blog post. Despite really having just launched this website, my original blog post was written two weeks ago, and in the interest of discipline I’m going to go ahead and post a new one now.

And in the interest of me being who I am, I’m already a day late with my own self-imposed schedule.

I figure that this blog would best serve as some sort of horrific timeline of a dude wanting to become a writer. A thing for me to, down the road, look back on and cringe. And extra cringe knowing I made it public. Well, sorta public I guess. Hi again, mom!

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I wrote my first novel at 17, re-wrote it entirely at 19, and wrote a second novel around 20-21. (They’re both garbage. You probably guessed that.) My first ‘published’ story was for some forum that was offering $25 for short stories. I think I was 16-17. I don’t even recall if I actually edited it, or if I literally banged it out and hit ‘send’. They posted it and mailed me the check.

That was a cruel first sense of standard to receive about my writing. Because that story was probably garbage too. But at the time, I took it as validation.

I did get away from writing in my mid 20’s through early 30’s. I banged out a few ideas for novels, did some scenes and chapters here and there, stuff like that. Goofy shorts for my friends. But around 32 or so, I decided I wanted to take it seriously. It began with me pulling the idea of a Western I’d worked on previously and getting it together. I got about a third of the way through when I realized ‘yikes, I don’t think I was as good at this as I previously thought’.

So it was time to, you know, work on that. I scoured the internet for writing activities and tips. Starting reading Writer’s Digest, and went down the rabbit hole of #WritingTwitter.

Just as I was about gassed out on that second part, realizing that, uh, Following Spree! and No Impostor Syndrome Here! were less useful than a tomato sauce soaked paper towel at a cleaning party, I randomly stumbled across the mention of a writing group, namely The Inkubator.

Holy hell. It was like when Bruce Banner went into the gamma chamber and lived happily ever after (I think that’s what happened, I’m a bit hazy on the details). I came across writers of astounding ability and infinite patience who were more than willing to absolutely trash my work, shred every word, take the last bare threads of my dignity and light them in a gasoline-soaked pyre.

It was amazing.

See, I don’t actually like cheerleading. That’s not a knock on the practice, nor on those who do take something from it. But for me, it does nothing. I don’t want to be told I’m good. I want to be told what I’m bad at, and ergo what I need to fix to become great. (To be clear, when I joined the group, I wasn’t ‘good’. At all.)

So let’s fast forward this rambling, meandering, and otherwise adjective filled fiasco to the now. About a year into this writing group, and after a previous year or so of trying to hone my craft on the solo, I now have the confidence to submit shorts to magazines, and am halfway through my editing rounds with a new novel. We’ll see where it all goes.

My confidence is back, so it’s a matter of getting the wind knocked out again.

Onward and forward!

Obligatory First Blog Post

What in the actual hell do I write about here? The year is 2020. Even if the sweet merciful release of death comes to us all, we know that in this cursed epoch of a year said release would neither be sweet nor merciful. No, the murder hornets would be a Chekhov’s gun that finally goes off, and with much blood splatter.

Ahem. But that’s not what this post is supposed to be about. I’m supposed to be introducing myself to those following me here (so, hi mom!). Who am I?

I’m a gardener and a cook (nothing like cooking fresh veggies you just picked yourself). I’m a father and a husband. With the amount of animals we have, I think I also classify as a zookeeper. But not like one of those creepy tiger guys.

And I’m a writer. A good one? No. Working on it? Yes!

I love writing. Always have. I love the craft of it–all of the different styles, techniques, methods. Understanding what each and every word means, beyond just the dictionary definition. The flow of words and how they impart comedy in the banal, or dread in the calm. I’m even starting to love the process of editing (but not entirely).

About two years ago I started to take it seriously. Before that it was just some things written here and there, with little thought beyond the joy that crafting gave me. I’ve now drafted dozens of shorts, a few novellas, and am in the second round of editing a novel (not technically my first, but the others were written when I was in my late teens/early twenties and they are not really worth mentioning). Most importantly, I joined an incredible writer’s group filled with individuals who talents are not only lightyears beyond my own, but who are imbued with the patience to share that talent and help me grow. And dear G-d above does that require monumental patience.

So now I’m roughly at the area where my confidence has grown just enough that I am willing to put my words out there. I’ve got some short stories pending with pro-level mags, entered some contests of esteem, made a Twitter account. Also, this website.

Why the website? Well, if I ever get to the point that people like my writing, I very arrogantly want to point them to all the places they can find it. It’ll also feature some exclusive works here! Plus the random blog updates. About what? Who knows. Maybe my killer (and easy!) grilled white eggplant recipe. Stick around and find out. We can be surprised together.

Also—in the interest of full disclosure, I am a cisgendered, heterosexual white male. Does that matter? Yes and no. It matters in the sense that, if someone feels that there are certain topics in my works that should be dissected with that consideration, then it should be an open fact. And I myself am open to that dissecting. Call me out. Tell me where I’m wrong. A very good writer friend of mine did so not that long ago and I feel I’ve grown from the experience. Just like my writing, I am a work in progress, and I’m also committed to putting the same effort into that as I am putting into my words.