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Archive for April, 2008

At any other time in history has this been the question du jour for authors everywhere?  They say that more people are writing than ever, thanks to texting and messaging and e-mail.  At the same time, fewer people are reading fiction than ever–self-absorbed in their own lives?  Their own words mean more than finding some other world to inhabit for a few hours?  Television requires fewer muscle movements?  All of the above? 

Maybe I’m naive enough, but yeah, I’m still leaning toward publish.  I know that the experimental novel I’m writing will never be mainstream.  I don’t write genre fiction.  Genre fiction, typically, is formulaic, you can read it in two to three hours, and you’re done.  It’s all about just getting there.  Not so much about the journey, not so much about the sudden stop at the end… It has its purpose.  It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s done. 

Then there’s literary.  I’m half literary, half something else.  I want the reader to think while they’re reading.  I want them to feel they want to come back and read it again.  Doesn’t mean it’s working, but I’m doing my darnedest to get the reader to that point.  And when it’s perfect, I’ll find a publisher.  Not a vanity press.  I wouldn’t have gone to college if I was just going to jump into vanity press.  Would have been cheaper.  Just publish a couple books and then peddle them on streetcorners.  Not to say there’s not perfectly quality stuff in the vanities, but I’ve done my work, I’ve done my time… and writers are never appreciated until after they’re dead and stop eating everyone else’s food! 

So the question arose, why bother seeking a small press when you can get millions of folks to read your stuff on the internet?  Lemme offend people by saying, I don’t think the internet is all quality.  You have to slog through a lot of stuff to find anything quality.  There is quality stuff out there, but you can’t take it with you, you can’t hold it in bed at night.  I’m old-fashioned.  You can’t put your blog on your resume, because you’re the only one saying it’s brilliant.  If you get published in, say, Mid-American Review–who’s heard of them folks???–you have something (really good) for your resume, regardless of whether or not they pay.  Some of these journals are all about the prestige, with no pay, some pay pretty well.  But in the end, I’m working for a far-reaching goal.  Not just immediate gratification.  I’ve worked really hard to make my writing better and better.  I’ve worked with countless folks in writing workshops (be they poison or mead to the brain?), and I can see I’ve gotten better.  And with all the rejection letters I’ve received, the great thing is that, nowadays, about a fifth of them are really GOOD rejection letters.  Try us again, or We liked it, good luck.  It might just be a hastily scribbled note, or Form Letter #2 (the one they don’t send to Everyone), but it’s mead to the soul.  A little nibble for the starving prisoner. 

Art isn’t supposed to be easy.  It’s a craft.  And the worst part, publishing is a business.  Craft, art, and business don’t mesh up. 

I’ll take my little pittance.  And I’ll keep getting better.  I’ll keep writing.  And some day…

night,

dawn the naive

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Short Story Samples

I’ve been toying with the idea for a while… this is a writing blog, mostly… of putting up samples of my short stories.  Of course, I don’t want to post the ones that are totally brill and possibly publishable, right?  So I dug through my older archives and found a couple short weird crazy odd things that I don’t totally dislike, but which are not publishable.  So it’s like “the best of my worst writing”.  Is that a good thing?  Er, sure.

I avoided vehicular manslaughter today–okay, it would have been justified homicide–multiple justified homicide–don’t drive through Hy-Vee’s parking lot–ever–because people in little mopeds are only using gravity, and the people who work there actually hold conferences in the middle of the crosswalk.  And even when they’ve crossed once, they’ll dart back in front of you.  And stop.  Were they trying to save the lives of baby ducklings???  Or, like electrons, do they just circulate a fixed point, until someone runs them down?  Why don’t more people die in the grocery store parking lot? 

Need to find out how to write a query letter, and to whom.  What trouble.

night,

dawn

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I certainly wouldn’t mind playing tiddlywinks.  It’s so underrated.  Not that I’ve ever played, so really, how could I know?  But truly, if you read the rules, it’s not so far off that old Pac-Man game I used to have, only without the batteries.  And what lovely terminology!  Forget off-sides and blocking.  Blah.  Snore.  I prefer to squop and gromp.

night,

dawn

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It’s not sappy.  A little sentimental, but not sappy. 

It’s not sloppy.

I applaud the way the author used the narrator, the indirect discussion, leaning into his head, and out.  Distance, then nearness.  The problems the narrator faces, knowing this isn’t normal, but just accepting that even though it hasn’t always been like that, he can’t fix himself and go back.  This is “normal”.  How many people can accept that change? 

And sliding into the modern Japanese ghost story.  Who is this woman who looks so familiar?  It’s not possible, is it?  But he’s not the only one who can see her. 

Long-term “love”, the type that doesn’t grace the storybooks, the kind that sees the hurdles, and falls in love anyway.  It’s too hard?  You wouldn’t know it’s worth it, not if you’re not prepared to give everything. 

Is that what this world has come to?  Self-preservation; I won’t give everything, not only that, but I’ll keep my eyes open, so that I’ll know if something better comes along.  Maybe that’s why this book was so special.  Mio gave everything.  An American woman would have seen this as a “warning”.  And stopped.  And turned the other way.  But for Mio, this was once in a lifetime, and this was how she would spend the last years of her life, and she knew it. 

And that is how the world should be.

night,

dawn

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Slugfest 2008

The first slug of the season, and I’m up by one point. 

So the rational part of my brain explains that they can’t kill me.  But the irrational part of my brain still gives me a heart attack every time I think of the day that one attacked me… and finding out they can teleport… and have retractable heads… and don’t even get me started on slug procreation. 

The pre-emptive strike continues.  Even if God tells me I have to sit on the bench for my actions… but the slugs enjoyyyyy it!  I give them beer, it’s not my fault if they fall to temptation and drown in the glorious alcohol.  Okay, a lie–it’s Milwaukee’s Best, so it’s not so glorious.  But I don’t salt them!  If I was truly evil, I’d set out salted peanuts, then stand by and laugh while the slugs sizzled. 

night,

dawn

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