The Internet can be lonely

I never thought that in the world wide web, one can still find a quiet place. Well, if your here, you found it. I started this blog only three short months ago (which isn’t a long, I know) and have not had a visitor. I may be wrong. Who knows? I know almost all of the “visitors” have been me accidentally opening my own page. There may have been one or two who actually stopped by. If so, thanks and I hope you enjoyed what you read if you read anything. I haven’t really advertised my blog or even brought it up in conversation, so I don’t think even most of friends know about it. I’m doing this for me.

It is nice to have a blog actually. I always thought I’d not really use one. That nobody would want to read what I had to talk about (same with social media), but it had always been suggested to have one if you wanted to be “serious” about writing because it was a showcase for your writing, etc. I may only have a few visitors for the entire time I have this, but I’m actually having fun with it and it forces me to write something every week (at least I make myself post something every week) even if what I write is only a small train of thought. In that aspect, it is very beneficial. I had a poor discipline of writing outside of assignments and occasional bad short stories. But I feel like I’ve really come into my own during my MFA program. My soon to be published story I think is proof of that. My confidence in my writing is finally where it needs to be.

I still write stories that I don’t share anywhere, but the stories I do share or submit I think are actually doing something. I will admit that I keep all my best stories for submissions and will not post them on here unless they get published. I know I haven’t posted a story in a while. I promise I will soon. This thesis is giving me a run for my money, at least the time limit on the thesis is.

For anyone who reads this or any other post/story, feel free to comment below if you feel so inclined, or contact me via the contact tab (yeah, I actually have one) and I’ll respond when I can.

Rejections are speed bumps

Today I got my first rejection. Of course it was inevitable and I was extremely lucky to have had a story accepted at my first go around. Granted, I still have a submission “in progress” that I had sent in almost six months ago. This rejection had the quickest turnaround (7 days) that I’ve experienced or even heard of. It was soft rejection too (I think) since they encouraged me to still try to have it published. It wasn’t an outright No. So I’ll take that as consolation and see if the story can get accepted somewhere else. I’m toying with the idea of 3’s. After 3 rejections I’ll give the story a proper look to see what isn’t working. I did send it to a fairly well known journal so I can’t be too surprised they rejected it. I’m still new to the game. Of course it isn’t fun to get rejections, but they are necessary. Any journal that accepts anything and everything can’t really say they publish the best stories they find. I expect my incredible luck of having more acceptance notices than rejections was bound to give out quick, and I think the rejection slips will pill up much higher than the accepted. That’s life. Failures (if rejections are actually considered that) are just speed bumps on the road. Jarring, maybe. Slow you down a bit, maybe. Do you continue, absolutely. No one achieves their dreams by giving up. I’m just going to have to beat down that self-doubt that accompanies such letters. I’m just getting started.


Exciting news. My first story is being published. I won’t say what journal or which story it is until everything is final. I found out just the other day that it was accepted. I can now (or soon) say I am a published author. I’m even getting an actual paycheck for it too. This is kind of big. It means people like my work enough to share it. I submitted the story what seems like forever ago (3 months, which I’m told is a standard turnaround for such things). This is the start. This is how it begins. I just need to keep writing and keep submitting (which can be a bit scary, it was at first anyway) and keep building my resume of published pieces. Then I can maybe look for an agent to help get my first book published. My MFA thesis is the start of a book. Hopefully, I can finish it and get it polished an published in the next two years. Let’s aim for May of 2019. Hopefully sooner. Got to write it first. But that’s getting ahead of myself. Step one: write. Step two: submit. Step three: get accepted and published. Step 4: repeat. I’m on my way. I’ll post more info about my first publication later once it is actually in print. I’ll hopefully be able to post a link to it.

Two Beginnings

There is so much that goes into writing a story that can be called into question. Where is the best place to start? Is this scene doing what it needs to do? Is it an important part of this story or can it be cut altogether? Is this character well rounded or flat and uninteresting? How to do I introduce the next scene? There is a big difference in reading a work work as a writer vs reading a work as a reader as well. Why did [author] write end the story here? Why this particular event? What was the reasoning behind those word choices? These questions may seem like the tedious generic ones an English teacher asks a class in hopes of engaging them with the text. Some may answer but many younger students will simply try to go with the old “maybe the author made the wallpaper yellow simply because the wallpaper is yellow” and imply there is no literary meaning behind the color choice. A valid, maybe lazy, point, but these questions can be used for more than to simply spur a class discussion. They can be used to hone your own writing. Apply these questions to a story you’ve written and you might find there is more hidden away in the words you had originally chosen, or there is more you can add to the story by changing a few, seemingly minor, details.

Or…or, you can just write a story to tell a story and not worry about any literary shenanigans and secret meanings. But as writers, we want to write the story to the best of our ability and make them engaging and leave the reader with something to remember or think about after they read it. We hope our story isn’t forgotten after the last word or, worse yet, given up halfway through the read. We can only do so much on our end though. Once the story is done and polished (and hopefully published), it is no longer in our hands and we can only look at the reactions it creates and learn as best we can how to make the next story better.

Below are two beginnings to the same story. Yes they can be worked into a dual narrative style and believe me I’m still thinking of doing that. But imagine this will only be a single perspective story. Which one is a better opening? Which one makes you want to read more?

Jessica felt like a typical high school girl and she worked hard to be seen that way. To blend into a crowd and become invisible in the halls between classes. She refrained from dyeing or highlighting her hair, which had become a popular fashion trend, so it remained raven black. She had stopped growing at five foot seven and though she liked being average height, she also liked being taller than her mother. She excelled academically and failed socially. Both being entirely to her purpose. She had a few, close friends and she enjoyed their company but did not plan on staying in contact once they graduated next year. Jessica had big plans after graduation and her only thought was to get through the boring obstacles of public education as quickly as possible. She rarely went out, even with her friends, but tonight she was going to a party. During the entire car ride, she went through the series of events to figure out how she had found herself in this predicament, but she couldn’t find a proper origin. Parties were where people connected, did stupid things together, got noticed. She didn’t want to be there. Yet, she was outside an unfamiliar house waiting on her friends as they touched up their lipstick. She found herself impatient. There was something in that house waiting for her.

No one seemed to notice her. Will had, but only because Mr. Erickson had called on her during a discussion over Brave New World and she gave an actual, intellectual answer. He hadn’t been able to focus for the rest of the class. He had to force himself not to look over at her. In the hall, he learned her locker was around the corner from his own. He stalled before the next class to try and learn more about her, but all he gathered was she had straight black hair and smooth pale skin. Even her lips were a faded pink. But her blue, crystalline eyes sparked something in him. She walked smoothly down the hall and disappeared into a classroom. He would have followed if his class were in the same direction. He would have talked to her if he were brave, but as with anything else he would find out more about her first. Jessica, he recalled, her name was Jessica. He wasn’t sure what it was, but something about her made him uneasy.

Where do you get your ideas?

I hope I get asked this question one day while I’m touring for a book. I don’t know if I’ll have a good answer. It is fascinating how we come up with ideas for books and movies and creative works and solutions to conundrums. It could be an idea that pops into our heads seemingly out of nowhere and we jot it down and feed it and let it grow from a seedling to a world tree or one that festers within us (consciously or unconsciously) until an something pops it onto the tracks and the ride begins. I cannot tell you how many books I have been introduced to by watching a movie or a trailer for said movie. I remembered just yesterday that Howl’s Moving Castle (probably my favorite Studio Ghibli film) was based off of a book. I’ll hopefully be starting that book tomorrow if I can finish The Gunslinger by Stephen King by then.

Writer’s tip #1: Keep a notebook and pen with you at all times to jot down ideas that pop into your head. You’d be surprised how helpful it can be. I keep a small, credit card sized notebook with me. I can usually find a pen when I need one, but I should try to keep one with me more often. Yes, there is the phone, but I don’t use my phone for taking notes. I prefer actual paper. Same goes for reading. I prefer a physical copy than a digital one. If it’s easier for you to just take notes on your phone then have at it. I’ve pulled out my notebook several times and flipped through it when I’ve sat down to write a short story. Some of the ideas in it are not very good or will not work well beyond a flash piece/scene, but others are good and I’ve used them. It helps combat that blank page if it gets too intimidating.

Ideas can come from anywhere. Stephen King, in his forward to The Gunslinger gives credit to its origin to two things; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (which has inspired millions of people let alone writers) and the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I’ll admit The Lord of the Rings has inspired my writing career significantly and I will one day write a large fantasy world and a good story to happen within it. I’ve had the idea since I was fifteen and it’s been festering in me for over a decade. Soon I think I may be up to the task and will get it on the page. The time is almost ripe, but for now I am working on the my first novel that is a mix of both fantasy and science fiction. I’ve drawn inspiration from many sources for this which I’m sure stemmed from my original love of science and theoretical physics.

This is why reading is so important. Alongside experiencing other creative work. It plants ideas. Of course it also increases vocabulary and entertains and reminds you of all the great things that can be done with words.  This is why I am always up for a recommendation. Hell, The Dark Tower series was recommended to me by a friend. It may be awhile before I get through all 4500+ pages of it, but I’m almost done with the first of seven books. You never know where your next great idea will come from.