Archive for September, 2014

Hello? Is this thing on? Whew, that was dusty.

I’ve been doing a lot of struggling with my status as a ‘writer’ as of late. When it comes to fiction, it seems I’ve finally encountered the ever-trendy Writer’s Block. I have a tale for Demonic Visions #5 due by mid-October, would like to get something in to The Sirens Call for their Halloween e-zine, and am trying to convince others among me to take up writing for themselves. I’m still churning out opinion pieces for the college’s newspaper (The Eagle, that is), so I can at least say I’m still writing, but I’m not doing so nearly enough. I don’t have a daily required word count on myself. I don’t blog or keep a journal regularly. I know I need to, but carving out this routine is harder than I suspected. When I get home after all day in class or at work, I just wanna be a vegetable. Excuses, excuses, I know. Where I go next is problematic to me. I’m 21 years old with 5 publications under my belt (not counting the newspaper), so the sky should be the limit. But I don’t feel like the sky’s the limit. I feel like I bumped my head on the ceiling.

File:Ceiling cat no text.gif


One thing I don’t tell people very often is that I constantly worry about the validity of my current publications. Don’t get me wrong, The Sirens Call is definitely a major name in the horror biz, and Chris Robertson has compiled quite the star-studded cast for Demonic Visions (including RAMSEY CAMPBELL. I was in a book with Ramsey Campbell!) But I wonder if by not branching out a bit more I’m making myself look too much like an amateur. Granted, I don’t have the infamous pile of rejection letters aspiring writers do… but that’s because I haven’t submitted my work to enough places to amass those rejection letters. For that, I am ashamed. I really need to renew my Duotrope account so I can get back to publisher-shopping. This blog is an attempt to begin writing again. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate when writers have to update you every time they achieve a minor accomplishment? Author Facebook pages that consist of nothing but statuses similar to “guess who got 1000 words today?” give me a resounding case of “WHO GIVES A FUUUUUUUUUUCK.” Don’t try to sell me something that’s not finished, okay? This isn’t Kickstarter, I’m not investing in an idea. I want results.

Above: me when someone posts a status about being a writer

I’m also beginning to try and step into the ring of true literary criticism of my work. I’ve began to shop it around to professors and ask them to critique it – did I mention that I’m a sensitive guy and that despite my mild taste of success my ego is still about as durable as stained glass? There’s definitely been instances of professors essentially saying to me, “It’s good, but…” and then handing me back a page riddled with highlights. Yet at the end of it, they’ve said “But you’re the published one, so…” Does that really make a difference? Does that make me immune to criticism? I don’t think so. I don’t think so at all. I’ve still got a-lot to learn. One common criticism or comment I get is that my style is super wordy. Very King-esque. I enjoy it, that’s my voice in there, but others see it as needless words. I’m just saying, Tolkien is a famous author, and he had some god damn needless words in his work. I’m not gonna go all Hemmingway on everyone and use 3 word sentences in my work because someone else is too impatient to read 1500 words.

Charles Dickens 

One final demon I’ve been grappling with is the novel vs. short fiction idea. Friends and family alike ask me when I’m going to write a novel, and the truth is I have no fucking idea. I’m with my man Edgar Allan on this one, I love novels, but I’ve always been in love with pieces that I can sit down and read in one sitting. Anthologies and short stories are like the potato chips of reading to me. Sometimes I prefer them to a full meal, you get me? I have no big novel plans right now, but I do aspire to have my own anthology somewhere down the road. I don’t think I’m incapable of writing a novel, I just haven’t gotten an idea that, to me, held enough merit for 300 pages and blank-hundred-thousand words. I feel like I operate effectively in short fiction, in and out before they know what hit them. I love the quick set up, and I’m a sucker for the open-ended or twist endings. My writing reflects that, for better or worse. At the end of the day, I still feel I should identify as a writer, which is a sentiment that was echoed today by a rather successful author.

Today, NY Times Bestselling Author Margaret Coel came and spoke to us aspiring writers about, well, writing. Mrs. Coel is a wonderful woman, a fun personality, and a successful author. While it was valuable to hear her perspectives, I’m unsure if the write (see what I did there?) questions weren’t asked, or if I’m just a closed-minded asshole, but she really didn’t say anything I didn’t already hear somewhere else. The rules of the game are read a lot, write a lot, and be persistent. End game. If you want to be taken seriously, either find an agent, or market yourself well via digital publishing. Having recently read Stephen King’s “On Writing,” and having picked up a few tricks during my short time in the trade, none of this information was new. Just from a different mouthpiece. This is something I want to do, but I want to be taken seriously. I’m not some casual horror flunkie dipping his toes in the water. I’m playing for keeps. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ve got a long life ahead of me to get good at it.

The future looks as bright as the lights of a freight train