Reading the Canon

 

As I was reading Vonnegut’s Hocus Pocus last year, one thing that soon became clear was that I did not enjoy writing the recaps. I would be reading the book and instead of really enjoying it I would be thinking stuff like, how am I going to describe this particular scene on the blog? What do I say about this character? It quickly became more of a tedious chore than anything else, so much so that I finished the book but never bothered finishing recapping it (by the way, I do recommend¬†Hocus Pocus).

So from now on, the plan is to enjoy the books first, then write a simple, concise summary.

 

 

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Just write, man

It has been almost a year since I’ve last posted anything. The reasons are numerous, yet ultimately not important. What is important is that I am once again ready to get serious about my writing.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, I plan on making steady progress on my fantasy fiction. There are also plenty of topics I want to write about. One good thing about my extended hiatus is that I have plenty of ideas swirling around. Now I just need to get them out.

 

Short story rejections in 2015: One

The story I submitted to SFF mag Strange Horizons was rejected a while back. It was my first rejection of the year (and first ever, really). It was not surprising; I like the premise but the story was simply not ready and I feel I rushed things. I’m going to work on it and then submit it elsewhere.

I also submitted a poem to Guernica. I’m proud of the way it turned out, but I know the odds it of getting accepted are slim.

And while I’m on the subject of fiction submissions, I have to say: I wish it didn’t take so long to have your work accepted or rejected. I understand this is selfish, and I understand that lit mags are drowning in submissions and are doing the best they can. It’s just…having to wait weeks (or often, months!) to learn of your story’s fate is a huge pain. For that reason, I’m planning on only submitting my stories to places with relatively quick response times.

<Insert comment about impatient millennials wanting everything right away>

How should I go about self-publishing my books?

I’ve spent a lot of thought about how I’m going to publish my books, which might seem odd since I haven’t actually started writing one yet. But I like to think ahead (often at the expense of the present), so onwards.

I know I’m going to self-publish. This is for ideological reasons, mostly. Self-publishing satisfies my lefty side. I am glad that at last, writers are no longer at the mercy of gatekeepers. They can tell their stories however and whenever they want. Sure, much of that creative output is nonsense; Sturgeon’s law, and all that. But to be in control of your writing career is a great thing.

This is especially true for writers whose work falls outside the mainstream, or who themselves fall out of the mainstream. Persons of color, gender non-conforming people, political radicals, etc. Before, such people had to depend on a largely white establishment to give them their big break. Now, they can take matters into their own hands. Who knows how many amazing writers¬† we missed out on because publishers were not interested in telling their stories. This is why I have no patience for the “gatekeepers” argument some use to defend traditional publishing. I would much rather go through self-published story after self-published story looking for a diamond in the rough than go back to the old days, when the amount of outsider voices we were exposed to was miniscule.

Anyway, my plan is to have my books available for free and give people the option to pay what they’d like to. Perhaps I’ll set up a Patreon account to connect with any future fans (damn, this sounds presumptuous) and release chapters on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. I’m not interested in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the like. I just want to have my work available on the web. It’s the simplest method I can think of, and a good choice for someone whose anxiety would make heavy-duty self-promotion unlikely.

I haven’t completely ruled out Amazon and other large venues, though. This is especially the case if I end up going the POD route. Physical books are not a priority for me, but if I end up with some folks who want them, I might change my mind.

Above everything else, I want to tell and publish my stories my way, whatever that ends up being.

Writing and the flu

I’ve missed the past two workdays because of the flu. Worse, it has been bad enough that I’ve mostly laid in bed drooping and coughing and haven’t been able to write anything. I’m feeling a bit better, though, so it’s time to get back to business.

I have some ideas that I’d like to turn into short stories. I think I can have them ready by the end of the weekend.

Then, it’s back to work on Monday, where I’ll get written up because I don’t have a doctor’s note (I don’t have insurance).¬† Oh, the joys of being a wage laborer in America.

Anyway, I’d like to share this article from Brevity’s blog. It’s about how you need to write, write, and write, as opposed to just thinking about doing so. I spend so much time thinking about my stories that I end up tying myself in knots and never know where to start. It’s one of my worst habits, but one than can be overcome with diligence!

Hey look! A post about New Year’s Resolutions!

One of the major things I want to avoid this year is setting unreachable goals. There are many things I can reasonably accomplish and it’s better to focus on those than to set myself up for failure and disappointment by reaching for the moon. So here we go.

Goals that are well within my power to reach

-I will lose weight. I’m not going to attempt any fancy diets or trendy workouts. It’s going to be good-old “eat less and exercise” for me. My goal is modest: get down to a size 32 waist. I’m at 34 now, edging uncomfortably close to 36.

-Focus on my writing. Time is always scarce, but I plan on spending more of it becoming a better writer, a better storyteller, with a better grasp of all the nuts and bolts of the English language. This is very doable as long as I remain committed to this effort. Classes are workshops are not a possibility right now due to lack of funds, so my teacher is going to be the internet. Not ideal, perhaps, but there is a plethora of great information out there, and I need to take advantage of it.

-Read more. These days, most of my reading is done online, in the form of sites and blogs. This is fine, but I want to get back to reading some books that have been on my to-read list for ages. And if I want to become a fantasy writer, it is vitally important that I read more of the genre’s best works.

-Post on this blog more. I’ve been slacking off lately in this regard. Yes, life gets in the way, sometimes shit happens, etc. But this is my online home, and this is where most potential readers will find me, so I need to give them a reason to keep coming here.

-Continue to deal with depression and anxiety. I have made a lot of progress since I finally decided to get help and seek counseling. I want to get even better, to the point where I my depression and anxiety does not destroy my social life as it has been doing for years.

-Enough with the armchair activism. Get involved. My mental disorder has made it impossible to do anything political aside from voting, but I will no longer use that as an excuse to stay silent. I will seek out awesome groups and activists and find ways to help. Immigration and anti-racism are just a couple of the causes I am finally willing to fight for.

-Be there for my family. My mom and sister are my best support group, and I need to be there for them as much as they are there for me.

-Get my license. I’m 25 and have never had a driver’s license. Sigh. It’s a long story, relating to my anxiety. But that changes this year. Not being able to drive is holding me back immensely and I will fix that.

-Have fun! Life is hard and there’s no reason to make it harder on myself.

Goals that are attainable, but will require some lucky breaks

-Get a better job. Nine dollars an hour and no benefits? Yeah, fuck that noise.

-Find a place to rent. Right now, my mom, sister, and I are living with our aunt. We’re glad to have a roof over our heads after getting evicted, but we need our own place.

-Get published in a reputable lit journal/zine. I want to publish both literary and fantasy stuff. The plan is to send submissions everywhere and hope for the best.

-Have this blog grow considerably. I’ll do my part to build an audience. After all, what’s a writer without one?

And that covers most of the important stuff. I’ll look back on this post periodically to see how I’m doing. Best of luck to you and yours in 2015!

 

 

Michael Moorcock and three-day novels

Michael Moorcock, famed fantasy author best knows for his Elric novels (which have been on my to-read list for a while now. It’s annoying how little of the fantasy “canon” I’ve actually read so far), had an interesting writing method that he used early in his career to churn out books rapidly – in some cases in as little as three days. It’s a straightforward formula and it worked well for him.

I’ve wanted to attempt this ever since I first heard about it. Writing a novel in three days is not for everybody, nor is it my ultimate goal. But I do think that it could be a way for me to learn and master the tenets of structure and plot. It would a writing exercise, basically.

I wanted to get started this past month during NaNoWriMo, but life got in the way (doesn’t it always?). I got a three-day weekend coming up, though, so I’m going to try and start something. In the meantime, I’m going to be thinking of potential plots, characters, scenery, etc.

The goal in doing this is not to write the next Great American Novel, but to begin and finish a novel. Writing is a craft, and I’m still learning how to properly use all the tools of the trade. I’ll make sure to report on my progress, if there is any. You can read all about Moorcock’s method in the link below.

How to Write a Novel in Three Days: Lessons from Michael Moorcock