Tag Archives: revisions

I’m not a writing guru but…

subs: 2

reject: o

Damn, wish I had more rejections.

Revised The Creative down to 5,943 words. Feels solid. The core, the meaning, of the story finally screamed out to me. In a few weeks I’ll give it a final run through and see if I still feel the same. Tomorrow I’ll start a new story to distract myself.

I turned 43 this week. Although I feel tired and achy, I don’t feel old. I don’t know why. Probably because I’m not. My life is content at this point. The life my wife and I built has been holding steady and there are many lights ahead of us. And if those lights should keep going further back, that’s still okay. Like I said, I feel content.

I have been writing since I was 16, 15? Before then I had been obsessed with story. I wrote scripts, novels, short stories, and made movies. I’ve learned many things. I continue to do so. Especially in this self-publishing game. I won’t get into why I do it. My reasons are my own. Strictly political. I also sell short stories to magazines and zines, etc. So mull over that.

During my time self publishing (I think I put out my first book in 2011), I have learned a crap load of stuff. I waded through the gurus and the marketers and information. It can be depressing and overwhelming for a newbie. I am not a guru. This will not be a blog for such information. There are others out there who  do it better. But I will drop a tip here and there. Like now:

Self Pub Tip

Sometimes I see on Twitter or Facebook the SP writers tooting their own horn about how they are “fulltime writers” and “professionals” and how “they are living the dream” and they have these blogs reveling on what it’s like being a writer. So I check out their books and read their samples on Amazon and SMACK!

They can’t write. What do I mean?

  • They can’t form a sentence.
  • They misuse punctuation or create new punctuation.
  • They’re unaware of scene construction, how to pull a reader in, or how to create an original or interesting character.
  • Their work is redundant.

 

They can’t form a sentence

I’m  aware that something happens to our brains when we turn into an adult. We regress into apes and write as we speak instead of writing correctly. Writing and speaking are two different things, two languages. If you are picking up writing late in your adulthood and you forgot your basics, I suggest you study a writing manual. I preferred The Elements of Style. It’s tiny, clear, and concise.

 

They misuse punctuation or create new punctuation.

I spot this one a lot.

Example: “My dog is in the hospital.” He said.

Huh? Shouldn’t it be: “My dog is in the hospital,” he said.

If I find the son of a bitch whose been teaching writers this I’m going to pull his scrotum over his head. It is everywhere.

 
They’re unaware of scene construction, how to pull a reader in, or how to create an original or interesting character.

 

There are millions of books, videos, and classes out there that will teach you how to write a story. A majority will teach you how to write a bestseller. They will give you the secrets on how to pull a reader’s heart strings or expectations and thrill them to no end. That’s great. Pick ONE of those books up and keep it as a reference. Something to inspire or to look back on.

You ever read clickbait on the world’s greatest writers tips for writers? One of those tips are always READ. Wanna know why? Reading is how you learn to write structure, character, and setting. Reading all kinds of genres and stories. It’s the best kind of education and it’s free to cheap. How do you think the pulp writers learned to write back in the 30s-50s? Hell, how do you think Shakespear or the guys who wrote the Bobe learned? They didn’t have writing gurus. They READ the writers before them and learned.

Now this is the important part. YOU NEED TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO LEARN. You have to be aware of what you are reading. You have to see what the author is doing and how they are doing it. Once you achieve this then you can add these tricks to your tool box and use them for your own work. Then you can mix and match these tools with your voice to develop a style as you write more and more.

A writer needs the ability to learn or they will never be a good writer. The only one that can teach you to write is yourself. You have to do the work.

 

Their work is redundant.

There are many reasons why a publisher would not be interested in your book. Primarily because they don’t think it’s marketable. A publisher is a business. They are responsible to their shareholders and keeping their doors open. Agents need to make a living and do not want to take on books that are not marketable.

What is marketable? I don’t know.

But now with the digital revolution one can publish the unmarketable and give those books a chance. A chunk of those unmarketable books seem to be books that tell the same stories that are already marketable bestsellers. Another form of the popular military sci-fi or the young adult romance. Some of these with their expensive covers stand out and make the bestsellers for a moment until the writer can make another carbon copy to chase another fad or just fade away. But there are many that gather dust by authors tooting their horn and wade in the points I mentioned above.

Although I feel the urge to condemn writers for resisting originality in independent publishing, I will say this instead. If you feel being redundant is your calling please be professional. In my experience readers can be forgiving with minor typos but not with shoddy storytelling.

So for now, the last episode of Stainboy:

a not so distant future where one struggles for gasoline

Finished Kharma Part 12 revisions.

Working on two short story revisions this week (MiLK and White Elephant in the Blue Room). Both are just about 5k words so that’s different lately.

Tried to find some markets to submit to and failed. Nothing in my pay rate.

As planned for June, I want to get in another short, flash or longer, before starting Kharma part 13 but I’m not sure what to write. Horror isn’t my thing, so that’s out. I could do a sci-fi/YA but it has theme setting I already used in other stories but a different plot. I don’t want to repeat myself.

Maybe something will pop into my head that will make it different enough for me to jump into it. For now I can just open my tiny notebook on Monday and pick anyone of the ideas and use one of those. Spontaneously write without a net. Maybe a crime story or a contemporary YA story will have to do.

Over the weekend I compromised my ego. The local vintage theatre was screening the greatest sequel of all time, The Road Warrior. Words can’t describe how important a film this is to me and my childhood. It’s a work of art. And a chance to see it on a 50 ft screen? When will I get another.

But for my wife’s birthday/mother’s day present I had given her tickets to see Kings of Leon that night at the PNC. I had bought the tickets back in February and the movie wasn’t announced until a few weeks ago. How was I to know the conflict. Of course I had to take my wife to the concert. You know how much these tickets cost me? Right side orchestra, row O?

Plus the context. My wife, a big fan of the group, won tickets to see them at the PNC 5 or 6 years ago. The week of the show they canceled and refunded due to health reasons. A band like this only does big venues, festivals. I’ve been stalking their homepage trying to find out when they would come back to Jersey. And they finally did.

My wife had a good time. She danced all night. I snapped some good pictures for her. She’s still shaking from the experience.

But still, I imagine myself in that seat in the theatre, looking up at that huge screen, in a not so distant future where one struggles for gasoline.

Oh, the car crashes.

Sorry.  No talking bugs or anuses.

Just about done with 3rd part of Kharma part 12 revisions. Nothing much to say. I must sound like a broken record. Writing about writing is not very exciting. Not like the movie Naked Lunch. Sorry.  No talking bugs or anuses. No spies. No Interpol. No drug taking. My life is boring. The words in the story are exciting. To me anyway. Maybe to you. I’ll have to wait and see.

Been stalling on my Italian lessons over at Duolingo. I think it’s from all the revisions I’ve been doing lately. They wear me out and take so long and then I have other stuff and I just can’t force myself to do it. I think when I get back into witing 4 pages a day of a draft I’ll get back into the Italian lessons again. It was a good system. What I learned is still in my head…sort of. It pops up in my writing. I’ve meshed it in with names and such.

If all goes at planned I can start a new short in June, one that’s been burning in my head the last few weeks, and then a new Kharma, also burning, soon after that.

Been reading this collection of Tim Burton essays about his films. Some deep analytical stuff. Before this I’ve only read his own POV of his work. Interesting to get a subjective stance other than my own.

What I love about Burton’s work, what I connect with, is his exploration of duality. I’ve talked about this in previous posts. What we show people and what we hide. The perfect example of this is in Batman Returns, the uses of masks and what we hide; real freaks verses created freaks. So many people need to wear a mask to be who they are. While people like me (and you) act the way we do naturally without the mask and suffer for it, ending up dead and carried out by emperor penguins. :-p

What I’m taking from this collection (I’m only halfway through it) is how his films are broken down into 2 plot styles:

  1. Hero story. The hero who never changes ventures into a foreign world and changes others.
  2. The artists/storyteller, how they find the means to create and execute their voice.

There may be more one or two more. I can’t fit all his films into these two structures.

The essayists also bring up society, family, sexism, capitalism, and colonialism. Funny to recall all the people in my life who have put down Tim Burton’s films and yet these people have given them such critical thought.

But let’s break that criticism with more Stain Boy, episode 4

Even years from now they may mesh

More work on third chunk of Kharma part 12.

Ideas/threads to carry over into future stories pop up in my head as I edit along. I write them down in my little book for later. Bits for the next story or even the third or tenth story down.

Can’t stress enough to a new writers how important it is to carry a tiny note/sketch book. Things pop into you head at any time. For me it’s when my brain relaxes or is distracted, in meditative states. Listening to music, watching movies, reading, showering, or by water. Like David Lynch says, You gotta grab them. Write them down even if they’re not perfect. You never know what they can be later. Even years from now they may mesh with something else that could pop up later. 1+1=3

Went over final proof before publication on short story for Unwinnable Magazine. Yes, that was the short that I did many revisions on. “You Are Disturbing The Peaceful Mood I Am In” should be out in their May issue soon.

Oddly the editor wants me to send him an invoice for payment so he can remember to pay me. Which is fine and honest of him. Sometimes these editors forget to pay. Sometimes they never pay. So I will do that.

I discovered that Thomas the Tank Engine will release a new character with autism this summer which is cool. Then I thought, shit. Not for the character. For the fact that the vaccine people out there will put it down like they put down Sesame Street and their autistic character. How it’s bad to normalize, create acceptance and enlightment for autism, how parents shouldn’t be okay with their children being defective, and okay with doctors and the pharmaceutical companies making them that way.

Grrrr, poxy fuckers.

No. I’m not going to get into it.

Thomas is good. Thomas is good for autistic kids too with those big expressive faces. My son loved watching Thomas. God, the little bastard ran tracks through out the apartment and sped ten trains at a time. I had no place to walk with out tripping and stepping on them. We had all the DVDs and I had to watch that Alec Baldwin movie. I did like watching the episodes with George Carlin in them, though.

Still have the tracks and trains in storage. I should bring them out for my daughter to play with. She’s gonna be 4 this summer, she’s just about right for them.

Anyway, here is episode 3 of Stain Boy:

people have more business than they need than to be annoyed by a bunch of weirdos

Started the 3rd block of Kharma part 12, pages 80 – 120 today. Should be done with it on Friday. Don’t plan on doing any writing on Thurs. Have to see my son get an award at school and then take my wife to work.

Finished the second draft of the short story over the week end. Waiting to hear back from editor.

Next part of the day we took our son to this pediatric dentist to look at his bad tooth. When we got there the two nurses, who soon became witches, told us that our insurance wont cover the visit. But we got them, ABA Pediatrics, from our insurance company. Yes, but your son is 10. We only work on kids 5 and under.

What the fuck?

Mind you my wife called them and verified all this. So we spent the next hour in the dentist office with the insurance company trying to get around it, to get an exception, to get the dentist their money, and almost did. The insurance company faxed over some papers to ABA Pediatrics and the witch wouldn’t touch it. The blond chick who’s accent I couldn’t place stood five feet away from it like it was the plague and said she will not fill it out. They made good witches. Had clipped, irritated voices when talking to us. Even had a kid screaming for thirty minutes in the back like he was having all his teeth pulled out.

In the end we left with nothing but the fax. I went back to the general practitioner dentist to have them fill it out so we can take it to another pediatric dentist.

Just so frustrating dealing with insurance companies and receptionist/nurses, having people act like they hate you doesn’t make it much easier. Funny, in this case the insurance people were the nice ones. I don’t know. I guess some people have more business than they need than to be annoyed by a bunch of weirdos.

My son’s not in pain, so that’s good. If he is we could just take him to the ER in Newark and get it done today but it is my wife’s birthday is today. I don’t think that would have been a fun time for her. Instead I took her to South House on Newark Ave and filled her with chili and wine.

Saw that actor Powers Booth and author William Hjortsberg died in the last 48 hours. Just crazy. Two more factors of my youth.

To cheer you up, I leave you episode 2 of Stain Boy:

I only need to be burned once to learn a lesson

Started working on pages 40-80 of Kharma part 12 (for sake of not calling it ‘a short story that turned into novel’). Still going well. Decided to hold off on other short story revisions until next week so I can catch up on do other things. Friday I have a lot of family related stuff to do.

Uploaded a few books to Bundle Rabbit. I hear these bundle sites are good for exposure and a few bucks. Mights as well give it a try. It’s free. Can’t argue with free. So many expensive scams out there that make promises to bring in readers, exposure. I just don’t have the money and I only need to be burned once to learn a lesson.

Now I find readers spending almost no cash. I thank you for finding me. I assume you found me by accidently reading my work for free and somehow connecting with it. We all win, right?

Heard back from one of the short story rewrites. The market request one more revision with a tight deadline. Said I could swing it. So that will put other projects on hold for a day or two.

And I received a nice rejection from another market. It was a flash fiction market that liked my story but felt it would work better as a short story. Maybe if they printed short stories too they would have requested a rewrite. Ohs wells.

My son received some good news in the mail today. Earlier in the year he applied for the Advancement Enrichment Program for two of the middle schools next year. He had to write an essay why he would be a benefit from/for the program and take a test. Only 400 out of 700 kids are accepted. He was one of them.

Of course I’m proud of him but I did prepare for the negative. I know my son is smart. Acceptance is not based on grades or intelligence. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. He could still go to regular public school and then test for the smart high school later. But now he can fast track into that smart high school and whip through the levels.

I never pushed him to do this. I explained how it works and sort of talked him out of it but I think that’s what he likes about it. He wants to do it. I don’t want my kids to do things they don’t want to do in life. I hope he does well. Lately he’s been bored in school. He could use the challenge.

Tonight I leave you with a little something from one of my favorite directors, Tim Burton.

Too Much Information. Not Politically Correct. Whatever.

Started revising this Kharma short story that turned into a novel. Going well. I wrote a solid draft so I don’t see it giving me much trouble.

Revising second short that was requested for revision. Think I should have it done in two more days and then out. Was originally 1k and now it has the meat the editor requested: 1,700.


 

Neuro Typical people are weird. There are a lot of them in the world. They are a strange bunch. They like to talk about the strangest things. All my life I had to sit across from them and pretend to have conversations about the weather, traffic, food, clothes, popular television shows, other people not in the room, bosses, music, etc.

During said conversations I would always offer something about myself, my interests, my life, my flavor of talking in hopes they would offer something about themselves.

Bad move.

Strange looks, comments, body language from the other person and never personal sharing.

I’ve been told I have no filter. TMI, Too Much Information. Not Politically Correct. Whatever. I’ve been made to feel that there’s something wrong with me before I reached double digits. I’m weird.

And like most organisms I learned to adapt. I did two things. I learned to speak the Neuro Typical Language. I fucking suck at it. I do a lot of tongue biting and angry grunting and nodding. Then just fall back into my usual way of being.

Or I kept my mouth shut. I avoid people, parties. I smile and wave. I’m soon perceived as weird. I developed social anxiety disorder and depression and now pop no frills Lexapro.

The irony: Be myself, I’m seen as weird. Avoid them, I’m seen as weird.

But I’m not weird.

I’m Neuro Exception.

Biologically my brain does not have time with such frivolous shit such as the weather, traffic, and the people you want to talk about behind their back.

And I’m smart enough to pick up the secret. All this frivolous, meaningless talk is just a ruse to deflect me from seeing that You don’t want to talk about your Neuro Typical self for some reason while I have no problem talking about myself.

What do you have to hide?

What are you scared of?

Maybe you are just as weird as me?

Or just boring?