Sunday, May 31, 2009

He Said What?

OK, he's free to say whatever he wants, and I understand that he's known for being kind of a run-at-the-mouth dick...but apparently ignorance plus hypocrisy equals success in the wacky world of Kanye West.

He was quoted last week as saying how he has no respect for books, doesn't read them, doesn't think anyone else should read them, and doesn't think they are worth the paper they're printed on--or something to that affect. At the same time, this pinhead has just--wait for it--written a book, and he would very much like you to buy a copy. I suggest you don't.

Pinhead. Effing twit.

In happier news, though, and I think in response to West's heroic stand against literacy, Cakewrecks has devoted an entry to books. Pretty cool stuff. Cakewrecks is geeky and goofy and for some unexplainable reason, really fun to read.
O, mighty Ra's beak, I haven't posted in like three weeks I think...nothing tragic, nothing new, just really, really busy. DayJob™ and family stuff have been keeping me on the run, but I have been writing; in fact, I re-wrote a piece (the only poem I've ever done...I re-did the whole thing with a stronger theme, and I actually really like it), have been making good progress on my full-length, and started another story-of-indeterminate-length called Cotton.

In the grand scheme of my life, if I run out of time, it's television and internets that lose my attention, but I have been trying to read everyone's blogs at least once a week. I've noticed that blogging is like diet and exercise: if it's a part of your routine, it's easy to keep up on it; but if you let it slip, damn is it hard to find that groove again. So, here I am, groovin'.
Mercedes already did a writeup, but I wanted to touch on a few of the things local Vegas author Vicki Pettersson discussed in her spiel to the Las Vegas Writer's Group a couple of weeks ago.

First of all, she was awesome. She is fresh from the kiln, from a pro-writer standpoint (her forth book is being released soon, but didn't go full-time until 2006, I think she said...previously she was a showgirl with Jubilee, which I think plays at Bally's on the strip), and from that standpoint had some great advice on writing. Not so much language or themes or trends or any of that stuff. As she pointed out, there are hundreds of books on those topics; pick one. Her advice was more practical, and can be summed up as such: if you want to be a writer, then quit whining and write.

Some of the details of her talk that were particularly useful:
  • Time is the writer's currency; don't waste it (obvious, but worth stating over and over again)
  • Story is king, but word count is pretty frickin' high up in the court
  • Write every day; she actually surpasses Stephen King on this topic, and he took a pretty aggressive stance on word counts and work habits in his On Writing tome. To this day, she writes every single day, even if it's just notes (although she has a standing goal of 2k a day).
  • Get through your first draft as fast as possible; everyone does this differently (there was a guy in the audience who said he can do 10k a day but will spend the next two weeks editing that 10k before he moves on to the next section...I, personally, would go mad). Vicki said that once she has a firm grip on the broad strokes of the story, she'll tear through a 120k draft, including blocks of notes ("they talk about something here") scattered throughout. If it makes you feel any better, when she subbed her latest book to her editor, she had her re-write the whole thing twice, to the tune of 600 pages.
  • She logs her writing. I've been doing this for a couple of weeks, and it has been a very good thing. I now keep a spreadsheet with dates (every day between now and the end of the year), word count, which projects I worked on, and journal-type comments on the story, etc. It really has helped keep my word count up--the spreadsheet doesn't lie.
  • Lastly, a point that she made that I like so much, I paraphrased it in my own sardonic way and have it at the top of my writing log: "The person who will get the book deal instead of you got up an hour before you did this morning, fucker."
Lastly, a Kanye West meme, because I read that he really hates these pictures scattered around on the internet.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sometime words get in the way of writing

Read an interesting quote from Toni Morrison today: something to the effect that she solves all of her literary problems on the subway, because there's nothing to do there, anyway.

I think someone who has never tried to write anything of length or substance or quality may have trouble really catching the gravity of that problem, but, as we can all testify I'm sure, solving those problems is really a substantial thing, and it takes effort. Speaking for myself, I am constantly inundated with stuff: phone calls, emails, bloggies, twitters, facebookles, kids, wives (well, wife), etc, etc...sometimes I have to just leave everything and everybody, just walk away and think: where is this story going? what is the next scene? am I on track? why did this character do this? how will the other characters react? what's my next story? 

I don't know about you, but if I have a literary problem and I sit down to type, I'm screwed...I have to solve it before I type, or at least think through it to define the problem better. Kind of like a musician doing their homework before they step into the studio. I like to strap on my iPod and sit outside and think; I don't like to walk, or shop, or drive...anything where I have to think about what I'm doing. I just like to sit and think. Or take a shower, but there's only so long you can do that in a day.

So, then--question of the day: where do you solve your literary problems?
Sage advice on getting through writer's block from...well, someone who goes by the handle Virtual Stranger. I haven't put any backwork into figuring it out, but I have no idea who this person is...but they are my new favorite blogger for writing advice.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I was just cleaning up my aging rejections spreadsheet to log response times, and when I went to log American Short Fiction, lo and behold, Duotrope has them listed as, well, Delisted.

I checked their website, whaddayaknow, they now charge a $2 fee to submit. My first thought was Holy Shit, if American Short Fiction, a seemingly reputable literary mag, can charge what amounts to a reading fee, who's next? Granted, $2 isn't much, but take that thought out a little bit: if everyone starts charging $2, or $5, or $7, multiply that by the many, many submissions a lot of writers keep out (off-hand, I know Mercedes keeps around 30 alive at any given time, for example). That's $60 in reading fees, in a world where most of us don't make that much in revenue from short stories in a month. I would happy-dance if I sold a single $20 story in a month.

My next thought was: I wish them luck getting writers to submit after getting kicked off of Duotrope.

My third thought was: no, I really don't wish them luck with that. At all. As much as I don't like seeing magazines fold under financial stress, I like even less for it to get harder for writers to get paid. So, I wish them bad luck with that, and hope they find a way to make more money with subscriptions and advertising.

Be interesting to see how this little experiment works out...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Random Yappings

I can't believe I'm down to one post a week now...I think the problem is I've been so busy with the day job, coupled with my not working on any short stories--and there really isn't any news to report on the novel, other than word counts, and that's boring as all fugg. And, I've started suckling at the teet of Facebook, which is a time-thief. If I announce I've signed up for Twitter, someone please send me cynide-laced pastries.

So, them's my excuses. Apply liberally, use only as directed.

I did get one more rejection for a poem I've had out since January; it was a very nice but non-specific rejection from 42 Magazine which said it was "interesting premise", which to me says "I'm too nice to tell you to keep your day job"...but hey, it's the first and only poem I've written. I may re-tool it and try to find a home in May.
I often work from home for my day job, which keeps me bolted to my chair for 9-10 hours a day, at least. When I'm done there, I make dinner for the family (yes, I'm the cook), and, many days, come right back to that same chair and fire up some writin' work. 13 hours of sitting in the same chair day after day is starting to drive me just a little bit bananas, so I've decided that the best way to keep my sanity is to buy a little mini-laptop. I can't afford a full-size unit, and I'm hoping getting a little Acer netbook for $300 will at least give me a little flexibility in where I'm sitting and, hopefully, keep the few marbles that I have left.
Nice article from Apex with submission pet-peeves from all of their editors. Now that Apex Magazine is on hiatus and they are only dealing in books, good things to keep in mind if you have novels/novellas you're sending their way (or, for that matter, anyone's way).
Lastly, a review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Really-lastly, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, Aneka from Krod Mandoon.