Dear Blog Reader,
I am not going to troll you. This post is about my latest publication, Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes, which appeared in C.R.Y. yesterday. It’s an enjoyable piece if you read it blind. And I suggest you do. Below I’m going to be writing about the publication, so if you would rather not have spoilers, please click the link above and return here when you’re done.
In the past month I had around 30 people follow me on Medium. Currently, I try to check out my followers and read something of theirs if they happen to be writers. Almost every single person who followed me was a writer, generally posting their articles rather than submitting to publishers who use Medium, a company that hosts the writings of both publishers and individual bloggers. Some of the authors were quite good. About 20, however, wrote what I can only describe as motivational copypasta. Maybe it is original writing, but the vague feel-good and self-improvement articles certainly lack any original ideas or spin.
I have found that since Medium created a paywall option for articles—meaning that writers are actually paid when their work is read—that tons of articles with clickbait titles, containing little of substance, have exploded on the host’s platform. Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes is my response to this.
Derailment is the central image of this article. The piece starts out as another pro-tip for positivity, aimed at creatives and entrepreneurs. Your reading expectations are derailed when this motivational article turns into a story about the narrator’s celebration of his recently completed manuscript. Likewise the narrator’s own plans are derailed when his drug and alcohol-fueled night go awry. In fact, the image of derailment, in the form of dilapidated boxcars sitting off the train tracks, sets the final scene of this story.
By the way, this is a story. I only wrote it to make it seem, at first, like a nonfiction article. The character is not me. He only shares a vague resemblance to me, including a common nickname, just as the story only shares a vague resemblance to all the motivational copypasta inundating Medium’s feed.
Anyway, I appreciate you giving my story a read. And don’t forget to celebrate your success while knowing that perfection in your plans is unattainable, and sometimes what you want is derailed by circumstances both within and out of your control.
Also, don’t write clickbait. Write something original.
All photos from Pixabay or remixed from Pixabay unless otherwise stated.
My thirteenth dialogue to be released is BIG. Okay, it’s actually a rather short story, but it’s subject is big and is fittingly appearing in the Gypsum Sound Tales anthology COLP: Big. All the stories in this collection are themed big: Big is home to a collection of stories that feature large, enormous or gigantic characters and concepts and, in this situation, it is most definitely a case of bigger is better.
When I began writing Descriptions of Heaven, though I did intend to one day become a novelist, I never intended this narrative to be of book-length. The thing grew from a single scene into a story composed of chapters. It, in fact, unintentionally took the place of a book I was writing about a son dealing with the decline of his mother’s health due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Even with this book published, I had never been quite certain that I legitimately was a novelist, since my first book is what many call a novella. However, I have come across writing just as short as my novella where the publisher calls it a novel in the blurb and foreword. So I was either a novelist who wrote a little novel (novella) or a short story author who wrote a long short story. Either way, my book was published as a standalone piece, just like any novel—big or small. Yet, I still kept asking myself, Am I a novelist?
When asked what I do all day, my default answer is no longer “I’m a writer” or the only sightly less vague “I write books.” Instead, I’m more apt so say “I’m a novelist” (though saying I’m a short story author is equally true, short fiction work isn’t a part of my quotidian practices).
There are two primary reason I’ve embraced the term novelist:
1) Recently, a friend on my Literary Fiction Writers Facebook group, during a discussion about the demarcations between a short story and a novel, pointed out that the real difference isn’t word count, but structure and flow. Novels and short stories are extremely different in that respect. While I’m not willing to discount word count as playing a central role in their difference, I’m apt to agree that rather small word counts can still be structured as novels. Descriptions of Heaven has under 35 thousand words, but it is structured as a novel and does not flow like a short story.
2) I have to admit that in this past six months I’ve become much more focused on my novel-in-progress, spending less time on my short fiction, which I often used to write, edit, and submit in lieu of working on my novel. Not only did my computer go kaput, as I explained in a previous WIP Wednesday post, making this kind of productive “distraction” less available, but I’ve also been spending every free day I have novel-writing for as long as I feasibly can. While it’s often not as much as I want, I can honestly say I am spending large chunks of my weekdays writing a novel.
So, there you have it. I have already written one little novel, and most Tuesdays through Fridays I spend my hours after breakfast until lunch writing my next novel. I am a novelist, both a published and actively working novelist.
Real talk time: I think a lot of novelists suffering from impostor syndrome or whatever, suffer a lot not because their book is too small, but because they don’t write as much as they can. No one should spend all their time writing, and in your life there are likely other things that take precedence over creative work. But a lot of us have the time—have in fact painfully carved out some small hours to focus on creativity—and yet we feel like impostors because we haven’t developed a good writing habit, thus we don’t use the time as we should. Consequently, we don’t feel like writers, let alone novelists.
The truth is, I haven’t developed a consistent habit of getting back to the desk after lunch. I can’t even blame it on a honey-do list, since I don’t let chores distract me anymore. My problem is that writing’s been going so well that I often finish my intended writing goal for the day or complete a long scene before the hours I’ve carved out for myself are used up. So I often stop writing because my brain feels like it needs a reset or some time to think about what’s next (yeah, I’m not a huge plotter).
On the one hand, I don’t mind these breaks because I’ve felt productive and hit my goals. On the other hand, I want to make a living as a writer—as a novelist—and in order to do that, I’ll probably want to be putting out a book every other year. Stopping for scene changes isn’t going to cut it.
Here’s four things I’m doing to try and keep it going:
1) During lunch, I don’t turn on the radio or watch any TV. This lets my mind linger on my work, keeping me in my novelist zone or at least letting me transition back there faster.
2) I just get right back to the desk after my break and write. It’s been years since I’ve had to be in a mood or needed the Muse to write. So why I think I need to be calibrate my brain for the next section of my novel, I don’t know.
3) If I don’t have so much as a bullet point on a sticky note or general idea of what comes next, I’ll let myself go on a walk and think about it. I write when I get back. This isn’t something I want to become a habit since I won’t be going on walks come our long Midwestern winters, so I’ll only go out for a walk after serious creative thought. If nothing comes, I’ll let myself head out into the neighborhood for an hour or so.
4) I’m building a habit by writing every day I can, starting as early as I can and staying at it until 3:00pm if possible. Yet there’s this thing called real life that gets in the way sometimes of that good habit, so I’ve been trying to write daily regardless of the time. If needed, I’ve started at 11:00am, which is really late for me. I’ve even resorted to writing in the evening if I didn’t get a chance to during the day. While it cuts into family and reading time writing so late, it also shows my commitment to making a living from my books, continues to build my writing habit, and literally gets me a few pages closer to my goal.
This book is getting done. And, while I am a novelist, it’s forming the habit of novel-writing that’s going to let me someday be a career novelist (and occasional author of short story collections).
Do you consider yourself a novelist whether you’ve written a novel or not? Or a poet, even if you haven’t made a collection of poetry? What are your writing habits like? Are your habits working or can you improve upon them? Let me know in the comments below.
Public House Magazine has republished a story of mine, this time it’s available to read online for free. The original story appeared as Pissing Therapy in their print magazine, themed and designed as a tabloid. The reprint is now titled How To Piss On Your Therapist, cataloged online under their “How To” section.
I’m very excited to announce that my first ever hard science fiction story is appearing in Strange Mysteries 8 (Whortleberry Press). I’ve written some pseudo-sci-fi pieces before. But those works are satire, utilizing sci-fi worlds to poke fun at our modern times. There’s War and @ChefNipsNips are the two I’m specifically referring to. So I don’t consider them serious science fiction. Keep an eye out for an upcoming interview with Midnight Mosaic that I hope better explains my relationship to genre writing.
The Final Voyage is a story about the last two humans on Earth who grew up on opposite sides of a divided island. Melody, the artist, has plans to take their last floating boat and sail away on a solo voyage as a kind of final performance art. Fausto, the practical one, wants her to stay and, through their union, give humanity a second chance. They are not a good match. So you watch and you wonder, Will they flounder or will they float?
If you’re a fan of fantastical writing, then you should check out Strange Mysteries 8. As the blurb states: This collection of stories includes the science-fictional, the fantastic, the serious and the not-so-serious. All these writers are strangely mysterious, so fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!
Image source CC0 Public Domain
Another one of my dialogues is out this month. @ChefNipsNips has appeared in the humor magazine Defenestration. It’s free to read online. This piece is a throwback to my earlier days of bizarro fiction + some saucy satire of YouTube baking shows. Check it out if you want a laugh while you learn how to make murumples!
I’m pleased to announce to that my short story in dialogue, A Lover’s Dwelling, has been published in Flash Fiction Addiction: 101 Short Short Stories. It’s available as an ebook and in paperback. If you love flash fiction, this collection from Zombie Pirate Publishing is going to be one you’ll want to add to your shelves.
Find it on Amazon in
Thanks so much to Public House Magazine for publishing “Therapy” in Issue number 9 of their amazingly transgressive print publication. This is a super special issue because the magazine turns into a full 2019 calendar. Yep, read it, fill in the crossword puzzles, and then hang it up as useful wall art.
“Therapy” is a piece of fiction from my dialogue-only collection, Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations. Public House has published it under the title “Pissing Therapy.”
Winter Reads: 3 short stories for you to cozy up to with a cup of hot cocoa.
❄ ❄ ❄When The Dog Gets Ready to Die
A prose poem about a sad winter night.
❄ ❄ ❄Aunt Phyllis is Yours This Christmas
A funny, slapstick story about siblings at odds.
❄ ❄ ❄Man in the Snow
A meditative story on art in the snow.
Thanks for reading. Leave comment and let me know what you think and subscribe for more. Happy Holidays!
All photos from Pixabay unless otherwise stated.