Friday, February 28, 2014

Chuck's Ten Different Ways

The guy, the man, the dude, everyone's favorite writer's writer, Chuck Wendig posted a Writing exercise in his blog. You can find that post here.

Because I just had lunch, and was in a moderate amount of discomfort, I decided to participate while expressing my very real feelings.

This is the result. Enjoy.

I Just ate Indian food for the first time. It Feels like my stomach is a cement mixer. Like someone prepped the inside of my nose for wallpaper. Like I drank some experimental rocket fuel. Like my insides were replaced by a pile of samosas. Like my tongue is in the hair club for men. Like I’m the guinea pig for a new line of curry flavored body wash. Like oh God, the cement is hardening. Like the sobbing after a bad high school breakup ended only a moment ago. Like the sulphurous depths of a very real Christian hell annexed a part of my esophagus. Like… like I’m full.

Send help.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Grand Rejection

I knew this day would come.

With submissions, come rejections. The two go together like peas and carrots. I hate peas. Like Tom and Jerry. Like Cadbury Creme Eggs and Easter. I frickin love Cadbury Creme Eggs. What I don't love is rejection.

Oh God yes.

I was afraid, when I first started finishing things and sending them out into the world with their little bindle sticks over their shoulders, hopping boxcars out into the interwebs, that when (not if, but when) I got my first rejection it would flatten me. I was afraid that rejection would send me into a doubt spiral like that whirlpool at the end of The Little Mermaid. I was afraid of listening to The Smiths and dying my hair black and painting my fingernails black and wearing black skinny jeans. Black like the depths of my sorrow.

I'm so dark.

 Mostly, I was afraid that being rejected would make me stop writing.

You know what? It wasn't that bad. What I got yesterday was a form letter rejection. I won't say the name of the press because I'm sure they are a fine organization. I have no problem with them. Are you ready to have your heart ripped out and shown to you still beating? All right, here it comes. Brace yourselves.

Hi Ian,

Thank for your submission of "Magician's Helper." Unfortunately we don't think this piece is right for [Name of Ezine] at this time.

We encourage you to submit to future issues, such as the upcoming [Future Themes] issues. We also suggest that you subscribe to our newsletter for updates on future calls for submissions. 

Thank you,

The [Name of Ezine] Team

Pretty horrible right? What unbelievable assholes.

I was afraid that a rejection letter would tear a hole in my very soul, but it turned out to be nothing but a polite "no thanks." I guess I don't really know what I was expecting, but definitely I wasn't expecting it to feel so unimportant, so casual, so... polite. There was no insulting my work, no criticism of my style, no "yo momma so fat" jokes. There was no resentment, no chip on my shoulder, no "I can't believe you don't appreciate my genius" rant. It was just kind of like... meh. *shrug*. I gave my story a quick run through a spellcheck filter, patted its little behind, and sent it off to another press.

He'll get there eventually.

It wasn't that I didn't care, or wasn't disappointed, but it wasn't this life-shattering thing that I was afraid of. It was no big deal. I'm glad, because it promises to happen a lot. A LOT. So the less I fear it, or let it keep me down, the better I'll be. I'm glad they rejected me, because now I don't fear it. The band-aid has been ripped off. 

One last thing. I would like to point out the obviousness of their form letter. My name, and the title of my story are in a slightly smaller font. So there, jerks at [Name of Ezine]. I've seen through your ruse. I AM SMARTER THAN ALL OF YOU!

No, they aren't jerks.

Well, they could be. I don't really know them. They might be jerks. Who is to say?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Handcuff Your Inner Editor to the Radiator

There's this thing in storytelling called the inciting incident. If by some chance you're not familiar, that would be the initial trouble that starts the real action in the story. It's the Terminator showing up nude in a bubble of energy. It's Gandalf knocking on Bilbo Baggins's door. It's whatever in the heck was happening in Suckerpunch.

I don't know what this is about, but I like it.

It's the things that starts the story off, and it is generally good practice to have this stuff as close to the beginning of the story as possible. This is especially true in a short story. That is what I'm writing currently, and I have still not reached my inciting incident. 

A short story is generally 3,500 to 5,000 words. They could be longer or shorter, but most online magazines, or "EZINES" as the kids are calling them, are asking for somewhere between those numbers. That is not a lot of space for character development. Most inciting incidents in short stories tend to happen right away, or maybe even have already happened before the first sentence is read. These type of stories start "in medias res" which is latin for "Yo, it already happened, we're doing it now, get with the program."

Or something like that.

In my current story, I am 1,300 words in, and my main characters are still bantering back and forth and not doing much of anything. They are still kind of feeling each other out. I'm still figuring out who they are. Now, on the one hand, I'm screaming "AGHAD 1300 WORDS AND NOTHING IS HAPPENING THIS IS THE WORST STORY EVAR!" But, on the other hand, I know that this is a first draft. This can be eleventy billion words long if I want it to, so long as I take the best four or five thousand and distill them down into a nice, tight story. My inner editor wants to hack away all the non-essential stuff (read: all of it) before I've even gotten to the inciting incident. I've got to tell him, woah, slow down buddy. This is a process. I've got to figure these characters out. This isn't being live-streamed. Put that down. No... NO. BACK OFF! OW! MY ARM!

Did I mention my inner editor is Toshiro Mifune?

You can't write and edit at the same time, or you'll go insane. You'll keep going back and re-writing stuff that doesn't matter, or you'll lose things you might need later. You gotta keep that inner editor at bay. Tie him up. Duct tape him to the ceiling. Just write. Write everything. Write all of the words. Don't be afraid to write crap. You're not carving a story in ivory, it can be taken out and fixed later. It's better to have more than you need and cut the crap then to have not enough and stretch it to fit crap and all. This may seem obvious to anyone who's been doing this for any length of time, but this is as much for me as anyone. I don't want to be a hypocrite in not following my own advice.

So, I keep writing. I'm 1,300 words in and I don't have a story yet, but that's ok. I just have to keep going and not look back. 

He's... he's right behind me, isn't he?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bee and Puppycat Yes Yes Yes

This is pretty much my favorite thing on the internet. Go ahead and watch it. I'll wait...

Right? RIGHT!? I can't even... I don't... guh...

Anyways... This is from Natasha Allegri, whose awesome Tumblr is here.

She also works on the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time, which is also really great.

The End.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Little Nonsense

I don't have much to say. I have two things to edit and submit this month, so in lieu of something with substance, here is some nonsense. Enjoy.

“The bats!” he screamed. “Oh Jesus, the bats are in my hair!” Meanwhile at the circus Jason felt that he was being watched. “I’m spiffy!” he shouted, and they all marched together to the saloon. When the cows danced in unison, the sky grew dark and someone made a sound like a cuckoo. Then, as it happened, the doors to the castle were opened, and the five horsemen rode side-saddle to the Interstate welcome center.


Never again would an octopus of that color be seen, for it was lunchtime. Sally proclaimed that she and all around her were squirrels and that life was simply a series of assorted nuts. "Finally," she sighed, "my mailbox will be whole again." Then, as if it had been preordained, the vanilla pudding was served. There were no survivors.