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Out with the Old

I'm not really sure I have anything relevant to say, but this is the last chance I will have to do this in 2014, so I thought I might just list a few goals and lay out a tentative plan for the coming year.

1.  Find a home for Antiartists.  I'm still not sure what this means.  Whether I find an agent to represent it, or if I find an indie publisher that accepts unrepresented manuscripts, or decide to pull the trigger and e-publish, I think it needs an audience, needs to get out there, so I can move on and let it go.

2. Finish the new novel (working title: Flagg).  I've got 25,000 words so far, and I would like to finish it sometime before the end of 2015.  If I can work with any semblance of discipline, this seems to be a pretty modest goal.

3. Develop some kind of network of readers and writers that I can feel comfortable sharing with.  This is important, I know.  Ugh.  Other people.  Gross.

4.  Stay positive, and keep moving forward.  Obviously. 

 2014 has sucked on a massive…

Out with the Old

I'm not really sure I have anything relevant to say, but this is the last chance I will have to do this in 2014, so I thought I might just list a few goals and lay out a tentative plan for the coming year.

1.  Find a home for Antiartists.  I'm still not sure what this means.  Whether I find an agent to represent it, or if I find an indie publisher that accepts unrepresented manuscripts, or decide to pull the trigger and e-publish, I think it needs an audience, needs to get out there, so I can move on and let it go.

2. Finish the new novel (working title: Flagg).  I've got 25,000 words so far, and I would like to finish it sometime before the end of 2015.  If I can work with any semblance of discipline, this seems to be a pretty modest goal.

3. Develop some kind of network of readers and writers that I can feel comfortable sharing with.  This is important, I know.  Ugh.  Other people.  Gross.

4.  Stay positive, and keep moving forward.  Obviously. 

 2014 has sucked on a ma…

Coming Out of Hiding

We can not grow alone.

I realized fairly recently that a major theme of Antiartists deals with the strange impulse we have to connect with one another, to have people around, even if they are clearly bad for us, even if they are poison, even if we hate the world around us, we can't stand feeling alone.

If we want to grow, we need others around to challenge our ideas, to tell us when we are being obtuse or unreasonable, to give us new information, to give us a different perspective.

Like it or not, we need each other.

 This is a problem of mine.  I don't trust people with anything I care about.  And I have found myself having to reach out to strangers, having to expose myself to criticism, leaving myself open to rejection and disappointment.  Even this, writing these strange little public journal entries makes me feel nervous and exposed, and I have to struggle with my honesty.

Because someone may read this, may judge me harshly, might reach a mistaken conclusion about who I am.

Or …

Coming Out of Hiding

We can not grow alone.

I realized fairly recently that a major theme of Antiartists deals with the strange impulse we have to connect with one another, to have people around, even if they are clearly bad for us, even if they are poison, even if we hate the world around us, we can't stand feeling alone.

If we want to grow, we need others around to challenge our ideas, to tell us when we are being obtuse or unreasonable, to give us new information, to give us a different perspective.

Like it or not, we need each other.

 This is a problem of mine.  I don't trust people with anything I care about.  And I have found myself having to reach out to strangers, having to expose myself to criticism, leaving myself open to rejection and disappointment.  Even this, writing these strange little public journal entries makes me feel nervous and exposed, and I have to struggle with my honesty.

Because someone may read this, may judge me harshly, might reach a mistaken conclusion about who I a…

Worshiping the Data Gods

Can we just throw out the phrase "aspiring writer" please?

If you write stuff, congratulations.  You're a writer.  There's no paperwork to fill out, no license application.  If you write things down, you're a writer, end of story. 

If you want people to read your stuff, you need to make it available to them in some form.  Fantastic.  You now have a readership.  If it's good, your audience will grow.

While researching agents and publishing houses, I have read a lot of interviews and what to do and what to not do and what makes your query stand out and 'what are you looking for' articles, and all this talk of market and platform and online presence gives me the fucking creeps.  

I read the work marketable and I want to throw up in my lap.  I read the word platform and I seriously want to punch myself in the balls.  I wrote this book because I thought I had something to say about art and life and addiction and masculinity and the strange, frustrating impul…

Worshiping the Data Gods

Can we just throw out the phrase "aspiring writer" please?

If you write stuff, congratulations.  You're a writer.  There's no paperwork to fill out, no license application.  If you write things down, you're a writer, end of story. 

If you want people to read your stuff, you need to make it available to them in some form.  Fantastic.  You now have a readership.  If it's good, your audience will grow.

While researching agents and publishing houses, I have read a lot of interviews and what to do and what to not do and what makes your query stand out and 'what are you looking for' articles, and all this talk of market and platform and online presence gives me the fucking creeps.  

I read the work marketable and I want to throw up in my lap.  I read the word platform and I seriously want to punch myself in the balls.  I wrote this book because I thought I had something to say about art and life and addiction and masculinity and the strange, frustrating i…

Here we go again...

So the bad news is, I got rejected again. The good news is, it didn't seem too terrible this time.

I don't really know what to think about this, maybe I'm just getting used to it. 

When I was submitting poems to lit magazines, I got rejected all the time, a ton, two or three a day in the mail.  I'd get a little slip in an envelope that I had written myself, usually a nothing little sentence: "Thank you for your submission, but it does not meet our editorial needs at this time."  When I finally had a poem accepted, I was ecstatic, but also somehow disappointed, because they took the wrong one.  They took a poem that I wrote as a one-off idea, that I didn't care about too much.  It was great, excellent, perfect, but my first published work was a poem that I was only mildly proud of.  It was also liberating in a way because I could then stop writing and submitting poetry.  I had won.

The only short story I have ever submitted anywhere was accepted for publicati…

Here we go again...

So the bad news is, I got rejected again. The good news is, it didn't seem too terrible this time.

I don't really know what to think about this, maybe I'm just getting used to it. 

When I was submitting poems to lit magazines, I got rejected all the time, a ton, two or three a day in the mail.  I'd get a little slip in an envelope that I had written myself, usually a nothing little sentence: "Thank you for your submission, but it does not meet our editorial needs at this time."  When I finally had a poem accepted, I was ecstatic, but also somehow disappointed, because they took the wrong one.  They took a poem that I wrote as a one-off idea, that I didn't care about too much.  It was great, excellent, perfect, but my first published work was a poem that I was only mildly proud of.  It was also liberating in a way because I could then stop writing and submitting poetry.  I had won.

The only short story I have ever submitted anywhere was accepted for public…

Honesty

So I've done enough whining.

I saw a low-level MMA fight once where the fight ended just because one of the guys got tired of getting hit.  It wasn't a ref stoppage, he wasn't being submitted, in fact, he was still on his feet.  He had taken a few shots to the face and decided that maybe fighting wasn't for him, and he quit.  I remember saying to the guys I was with that if you can't take getting punched in the face, maybe you should take up a different sport.  Maybe checkers, or golf, or tennis, where you rarely get attacked by opponents.

I know that I will be rejected.  I know that this will not be the last time that someone isn't scooping what I am pooping, so to speak.  After the thing gets picked up by an agent, I will still have to endure the hope and disappointment when they are trying to sell it to a publisher.  After that, people will (hopefully) read it.  They will for whatever reason, feel compelled to get on Twitter and call me a moron or a monster, t…

Honesty

So I've done enough whining.

I saw a low-level MMA fight once where the fight ended just because one of the guys got tired of getting hit.  It wasn't a ref stoppage, he wasn't being submitted, in fact, he was still on his feet.  He had taken a few shots to the face and decided that maybe fighting wasn't for him, and he quit.  I remember saying to the guys I was with that if you can't take getting punched in the face, maybe you should take up a different sport.  Maybe checkers, or golf, or tennis, where you rarely get attacked by opponents.

I know that I will be rejected.  I know that this will not be the last time that someone isn't scooping what I am pooping, so to speak.  After the thing gets picked up by an agent, I will still have to endure the hope and disappointment when they are trying to sell it to a publisher.  After that, people will (hopefully) read it.  They will for whatever reason, feel compelled to get on Twitter and call me a moron or a monster,…

Rejected! (again)

"My Mother did me the great disservice of telling me that I could do anything I wanted.  I believed her.  I believed every lie anyone has ever told me, including the big lies like 'everything will be all right'."
-Ralph Pullins, "Family Stories" (unpublished)

I have been rejected again.  Twice, actually, since the last time I have written about this.  Judging from my choice of quotes above (mine this time), I am ...displeased.

For those keeping score at home, I am now 0 for 3.

So what, right?  Now is where I go and read a bunch of stories about how Dr Seuss was fired from an advertising job because he was deemed not creative enough, or about how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, about how some incredible writer was rejected again and again, and shit, yeah, OK, I know all that but really this stuff means the same to me as the poster over the chair at my dentist of the bulldog wearing boxing gloves that reads "hang tough."  Y…

Rejected! (again)

"My Mother did me the great disservice of telling me that I could do anything I wanted.  I believed her.  I believed every lie anyone has ever told me, including the big lies like 'everything will be all right'."
-Ralph Pullins, "Family Stories" (unpublished)

I have been rejected again.  Twice, actually, since the last time I have written about this.  Judging from my choice of quotes above (mine this time), I am ...displeased.

For those keeping score at home, I am now 0 for 3.

So what, right?  Now is where I go and read a bunch of stories about how Dr Seuss was fired from an advertising job because he was deemed not creative enough, or about how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, about how some incredible writer was rejected again and again, and shit, yeah, OK, I know all that but really this stuff means the same to me as the poster over the chair at my dentist of the bulldog wearing boxing gloves that reads "hang tough."…

Messages in a bottle

I think there must be something wrong with me.

The other day I passed ten thousand words on my new novel.  It's a milestone for me; it means that the new book is a real thing, not just an idea for a book, but it is becoming a significant piece of writing (and a good one, I think).  I'm excited about it, and the words seem to come out of my head and onto the page pretty easily so far, and a few magical times I have had that experience where things just seem to flow out from some external source as if I'm just a conduit, and the direction and concepts that are happening on the page don't even seem to be coming from me at all, that writing sweetspot where things work better than I could have planned for...

And it is awesome.

However, I still have an unpublished, unrepresented, largely unread novel that is just hanging out on my computer, waiting.  And I think: Why are you sacrificing all of your evenings, all of your lunch hours writing when nobody cares?  I sometimes feel a…

Messages in a bottle

I think there must be something wrong with me.

The other day I passed ten thousand words on my new novel.  It's a milestone for me; it means that the new book is a real thing, not just an idea for a book, but it is becoming a significant piece of writing (and a good one, I think).  I'm excited about it, and the words seem to come out of my head and onto the page pretty easily so far, and a few magical times I have had that experience where things just seem to flow out from some external source as if I'm just a conduit, and the direction and concepts that are happening on the page don't even seem to be coming from me at all, that writing sweetspot where things work better than I could have planned for...

And it is awesome.

However, I still have an unpublished, unrepresented, largely unread novel that is just hanging out on my computer, waiting.  And I think: Why are you sacrificing all of your evenings, all of your lunch hours writing when nobody cares?  I sometimes fee…

The Unexamined Life

I have spent most of my life completely unaware of myself.  I just did things one after another without stopping for a moment to question my own motivations without regard for my own safety and future well being.  There were times, events, that changed me, altered my future, my perceptions of the world, that changed the way I believed how life was supposed to work, and until embarrassingly recently these things went unexamined.

I have lived my life without any idea why I was doing anything.

The characters in Antiartists do this; they do things without any understanding of themselves, and even though the book is not about me at all, I realized that I do identify with a lot of the impulses that they feel, a lot of the same disconnection and isolation that they feel, a lot of the understanding that as much as we want to believe that we are masters of our own fates, we are who we are largely because we were made this way by events and relationships and by sick random chance. 

One of my reade…

The Unexamined Life

I have spent most of my life completely unaware of myself.  I just did things one after another without stopping for a moment to question my own motivations without regard for my own safety and future well being.  There were times, events, that changed me, altered my future, my perceptions of the world, that changed the way I believed how life was supposed to work, and until embarrassingly recently these things went unexamined.

I have lived my life without any idea why I was doing anything.

The characters in Antiartists do this; they do things without any understanding of themselves, and even though the book is not about me at all, I realized that I do identify with a lot of the impulses that they feel, a lot of the same disconnection and isolation that they feel, a lot of the understanding that as much as we want to believe that we are masters of our own fates, we are who we are largely because we were made this way by events and relationships and by sick random chance. 

One of my re…

Doing the Important Things

"I don't really understand writing and I'm not sure I want to.  I just know that for some obscure internal reason, I need to do it."
 - Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, Filth, The Acid House, Glue, etc, etc, etc

There are a lot of books out there about how to write a novel, how to get started and how to keep a schedule and how to apply discipline to your writing.  I'm sure that they sometimes inspire a new writer to apply these concepts to his or her own process and are an invaluable resource for these people.

Call me a cynic, but I would guess that most times, however, they fail.

I believe that we do the things that are important to us.

I have always thought it would be awesome to be able to speak Spanish.  I took Spanish in college, I used to ask native speakers to teach me things, we got a learn Spanish at home teaching module for the family to learn together, I even went and bought a Rosetta Stone knock off.  I had all the greatest intentions, paid for the e…

Doing the Important Things

"I don't really understand writing and I'm not sure I want to.  I just know that for some obscure internal reason, I need to do it."
 - Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, Filth, The Acid House, Glue, etc, etc, etc

There are a lot of books out there about how to write a novel, how to get started and how to keep a schedule and how to apply discipline to your writing.  I'm sure that they sometimes inspire a new writer to apply these concepts to his or her own process and are an invaluable resource for these people.

Call me a cynic, but I would guess that most times, however, they fail.

I believe that we do the things that are important to us.

I have always thought it would be awesome to be able to speak Spanish.  I took Spanish in college, I used to ask native speakers to teach me things, we got a learn Spanish at home teaching module for the family to learn together, I even went and bought a Rosetta Stone knock off.  I had all the greatest intentions, paid for …

Fearlessly Honest

There is a pretty common myth out there about being creative and being messed up, in that it seems that we create better art if we are wrecked.  

In a way, the myth isn't a myth at all.  We do seem to create good stuff when we are messed up, when we are flayed open and ruined, when the world is a weight and there's nothing to do but crawl into a bottle, to hide behind chemical curtains until things don't hurt anymore. 

We do create good stuff when were messed up.  You can see it in the wreckage that Hollywood serves up, sacrificed for our entertainment, in the suicides and broken homes and arrests of creators.  Brilliant art made by complete and utter ruin, human beings tortured by talent and psychological disaster. 

But it's not about being smashed; it is about honesty.

The greatest, most heart-wrenching things we read and hear and watch come from someone who is just messed up enough to be honest, who is brave enough to just lay it out there for the whole world to see…

Fearlessly Honest

There is a pretty common myth out there about being creative and being messed up, in that it seems that we create better art if we are wrecked.  

In a way, the myth isn't a myth at all.  We do seem to create good stuff when we are messed up, when we are flayed open and ruined, when the world is a weight and there's nothing to do but crawl into a bottle, to hide behind chemical curtains until things don't hurt anymore. 

We do create good stuff when were messed up.  You can see it in the wreckage that Hollywood serves up, sacrificed for our entertainment, in the suicides and broken homes and arrests of creators.  Brilliant art made by complete and utter ruin, human beings tortured by talent and psychological disaster. 

But it's not about being smashed; it is about honesty.

The greatest, most heart-wrenching things we read and hear and watch come from someone who is just messed up enough to be honest, who is brave enough to just lay it out there for the whole world to…

Planting Ideas...

So the characters in my book get up to some pretty harmful shit, self harm and vandalism and worse.  The other night, I had a chilling thought: what if I give someone ideas

What if there's a kid out there that just needs the seed, the impulse, the implicit permission and then takes the ideas from the page and applies them to the real world?

There's evidence for this idea already.  About ten years ago I was invited to a fight club.  A real one.  Literally a group of dudes that met up in a basement, put on some thrash metal and just straight up fought each other.  I didn't go, don't honestly know if the guy that invited me was serious. Truthfully the guy could have been just winding me up, or trying to lure me into something unspeakable in his basement.  He seemed sincere, though, like it wasn't something crazy he and his friends were getting up to, like it was simply a good way to pass a Saturday evening.  When he wrote Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk touched on an idea…

Planting Ideas...

So the characters in my book get up to some pretty harmful shit, self harm and vandalism and worse.  The other night, I had a chilling thought: what if I give someone ideas

What if there's a kid out there that just needs the seed, the impulse, the implicit permission and then takes the ideas from the page and applies them to the real world?

There's evidence for this idea already.  About ten years ago I was invited to a fight club.  A real one.  Literally a group of dudes that met up in a basement, put on some thrash metal and just straight up fought each other.  I didn't go, don't honestly know if the guy that invited me was serious. Truthfully the guy could have been just winding me up, or trying to lure me into something unspeakable in his basement.  He seemed sincere, though, like it wasn't something crazy he and his friends were getting up to, like it was simply a good way to pass a Saturday evening.  When he wrote Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk touched on an id…

Knock, Knock

I used to feel directionless.

For most of my life I have felt like this, that there was something out there, some bigger destiny, some way for me to prove my worth to the world.  I would take stock of my god-given talents and look at other, more successful people in the fields that I am interested in, and ask myself, why not me?

I genuinely had never understood why not me until recently.  Until I had the Realization.  I capitalize Realization on purpose, because it was a singular thought that arrived in my head and though it is terribly obvious to everyone, everywhere, it has been revolutionary for me, a transformative notion.

The answer to why not me is simple:

Not me because I had never finished anything for people to grab on to.  I was not a successful novelist because I had never written a novel.  I wasn't even a failure; I was an absence.  The reason those other people were more successful had nothing to do with talent or opportunity or networking or serendipity.  First and fore…

Knock, Knock

I used to feel directionless.

For most of my life I have felt like this, that there was something out there, some bigger destiny, some way for me to prove my worth to the world.  I would take stock of my god-given talents and look at other, more successful people in the fields that I am interested in, and ask myself, why not me?

I genuinely had never understood why not me until recently.  Until I had the Realization.  I capitalize Realization on purpose, because it was a singular thought that arrived in my head and though it is terribly obvious to everyone, everywhere, it has been revolutionary for me, a transformative notion.

The answer to why not me is simple:

Not me because I had never finished anything for people to grab on to.  I was not a successful novelist because I had never written a novel.  I wasn't even a failure; I was an absence.  The reason those other people were more successful had nothing to do with talent or opportunity or networking or serendipity.  First and …

It ain't over yet.

I'm not done.

This is what I have been fighting:  the feeling that I'm done.  I mean, I wrote the damn thing, I edited it, I gave it to readers for feedback, I changed, re-wrote, and polished it, I let it sit for a couple of weeks and then re-read and re-edited it. 

I'm done right?  This is the part where I can relax and start something new, right?

Actually not really.  I've got to send query letters to agents.  If I want to get a fair shot at finding a agent that will represent me, I have to research a little, have to go to the website, find what they are looking for, make sure they are even accepting queries, make sure they don't specialize in anything my book isn't.  Hopefully I find someone that says in their bio something I like, or something that leads me to believe that they might take a chance on an unproven and unknown writer that has just sent an email query.    

And the worst is, I have to wait (unless I get rejected in record time).  I have to send out…

It ain't over yet.

I'm not done.

This is what I have been fighting:  the feeling that I'm done.  I mean, I wrote the damn thing, I edited it, I gave it to readers for feedback, I changed, re-wrote, and polished it, I let it sit for a couple of weeks and then re-read and re-edited it. 

I'm done right?  This is the part where I can relax and start something new, right?

Actually not really.  I've got to send query letters to agents.  If I want to get a fair shot at finding a agent that will represent me, I have to research a little, have to go to the website, find what they are looking for, make sure they are even accepting queries, make sure they don't specialize in anything my book isn't.  Hopefully I find someone that says in their bio something I like, or something that leads me to believe that they might take a chance on an unproven and unknown writer that has just sent an email query.    

And the worst is, I have to wait (unless I get rejected in record time).  I have to send…

Rejected!

I got rejected in eight hours.

The first agency I sent a query to preferred electronic communication.  I sent off a query letter with a sample of the manuscript as per spec, and by the morning already knew that they did not want to represent the book. 

I have mixed feelings about this.

First, I know its not personal.  Getting a form letter from a robot first thing in the morning, however encouragingly it may have been written, is decidedly impersonal.  They didn't say that they didn't like me.  They didn't even say that they didn't like my book; they just said that it didn't match their needs and good luck finding representation.  It's not personal. 

But dammit, it feels personal.  If feels like they're saying that they don't like me, that my book isn't good enough for them, it feels like I should just walk away and never write another word.  And as much as I was expecting it, as much as I knew that I wasn't going to find an amazing and dynamic agen…

Rejected!

I got rejected in eight hours.

The first agency I sent a query to preferred electronic communication.  I sent off a query letter with a sample of the manuscript as per spec, and by the morning already knew that they did not want to represent the book. 

I have mixed feelings about this.

First, I know its not personal.  Getting a form letter from a robot first thing in the morning, however encouragingly it may have been written, is decidedly impersonal.  They didn't say that they didn't like me.  They didn't even say that they didn't like my book; they just said that it didn't match their needs and good luck finding representation.  It's not personal. 

But dammit, it feels personal.  If feels like they're saying that they don't like me, that my book isn't good enough for them, it feels like I should just walk away and never write another word.  And as much as I was expecting it, as much as I knew that I wasn't going to find an amazing and dynamic …

Antiartists: The Beginning

Like a lot of people I have always wanted to write a book.

Unlike most people I actually went and did it.

What I want this to be is a chronicle of what happens afterward, when you have a manuscript and you want to see the thing in print.  And that is what I want.  My goal is to be able to walk in to a bookstore and buy my book, which means traditional publishers.  Which means agents.  Which means rejections.  Which blows.

Because even though I work a professional 9-5 and am a suburban father and husband, even though I drive a ten year old Honda,  I remain a punk somewhere in my heart, and the whole 'hat in hand, please Mr Traditional, would you be kind enough to consider considering to consider my heart and soul for your soulless corporate greed' still stings quite a bit.  If I was going to make music, I would DIY like a punk; I'd press my own vinyl, I'd tour, I'd hit up other like-minded guys and work the grass roots, because even now I still believe that it's no…

Antiartists: The Beginning

Like a lot of people I have always wanted to write a book.

Unlike most people I actually went and did it.

What I want this to be is a chronicle of what happens afterward, when you have a manuscript and you want to see the thing in print.  And that is what I want.  My goal is to be able to walk in to a bookstore and buy my book, which means traditional publishers.  Which means agents.  Which means rejections.  Which blows.

Because even though I work a professional 9-5 and am a suburban father and husband, even though I drive a ten year old Honda,  I remain a punk somewhere in my heart, and the whole 'hat in hand, please Mr Traditional, would you be kind enough to consider considering to consider my heart and soul for your soulless corporate greed' still stings quite a bit.  If I was going to make music, I would DIY like a punk; I'd press my own vinyl, I'd tour, I'd hit up other like-minded guys and work the grass roots, because even now I still believe that it's…