Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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 scale in both a global and personal sense.  Crashing planes and murdered children and riots and protests and wars and death.  The world, as I have known it, seems to be falling apart around me.  My family has experienced and endured profound and painful loss.  I personally cannot remember a time when we as a people have seemed more ready to destroy ourselves with greed and ignorance and willful malice.  I'm getting old, I guess, and things seemed better back when I wasn't so connected to this unwanted influx of information.

BUT:

I am humbled and eternally grateful for my family who have all been incredibly supportive and beautiful and brilliant.  I have a good shot I feel at making something of this writing thing.  I mean, holy shit, I finished a novel.  I WROTE A NOVEL!  This is literally one thing that I promised myself that I would do before I died, and it is done.  And it is good.

We started this thing last year at New Year's Eve, we got a jar, and we would write on a slip of paper all the good things that happened throughout the year and when New Years came around again we would dump them all out and get a chance to remember all the great things that had happened to us that year.
 
I can't wait.  Mostly I filled it with silly stuff; they released a new version of my all time favorite video game, my team won the Super Bowl (GO HAWKS!), and things like that.  But also in there are real life events.  My kid learned to ride a bike, he learned to tie his shoes, I finished writing a novel.  And I bet there are things in there that I just forgot, cool things that passed me by and fell out of my memory and blew away on the wind...

I think going forward here, in addition to writing about writing and trying to publish, I will also put up some things that I have written that have no home, that just need some eyes and minds and hearts to read them.

You are out there, readers, I know it.  You are mostly silent and watching, but I can tell you are there by your glowing eyes in the dark (and by my view counter).  Speak up, let me know what you think, just say hey, whatever.  Take a moment. 

Take care of one another, be safe, love each other through hard times and good times.  Let people know how you feel about them.  Smile more, love more.  If the world wants to crumble into dust, I will not go out crying in despair, or screaming in anger and hatred.  I will sing and laugh and love until I have no more breath.

I will not give in.

I will keep trying.

Have a happy New Year. 

Welcome 2015, you brand new beautiful bastard.

Still Writing, RP            
   

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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 worse: they might reach an accurate conclusion about who I am.

I have a face, a plastic smiley-mask that I show to co-workers, to strangers and acquaintances at social gatherings, to people I interact with everyday.  I have a public persona that I can drape over my shoulders, a warm soft cloak to hide inside, and he is funny and likeable and doesn't ever, ever speak without a trace of sarcasm, without a wisp of disdain for everything.  I can hide behind a shield of snark and aloof irreverence, and feel safe.

Yet, I have this thing, this work of mine, this strange little book that I want, somehow need, to share with others and that means I have to come out from behind these things, my mask and cloak and shield, and I have to expose myself and it makes me scared and nervous.

Understand:  I'm a big boy, over six feet, a hefty side of beef, and I just wrote that I'm scared that people won't like what I have done, that their judgement of my work reflects somehow on my own worth.

I swear, I'm a fucking child.

So it goes.

Still writing,

RP 




Thursday, December 11, 2014

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 impulse we have to latch on to one another even though its not always in our own interest.  I don't know how other people do it, but I wanted to show readers a little of myself, and maybe hold up a strange mirror so they can see themselves in my words too.

I am not against success.  When Antiartists gets published, if it sells a million copies and becomes a huge Hollywood hit, that's awesome, just tell me where to sign.  But it won't happen because I engage with people on social media, or harass my friends and neighbors to push it on to others.  It will happen because I wrote well, I touched readers, I moved people.  This digital world that people seem to believe we all live in is a dream.  The digital world is filled with too much noise to ever send a clear signal out.

Does anyone remember organic growth?  Are we all too busy worshiping the data gods that we forgot that relationships and hard work move people better than any marketing plan?      

Writers write for many reasons, and maybe for some it's to hit it big and sell a million books and to spend your life managing your business, but that's a fucking long shot. If becoming JK Rowling is your five year plan, I wish you all the best, I really do.   I just want to tell stories and share ideas. 

But remember this though, you know the name Harry Potter not because she sent out tweet spam and bugged the shit out of people on Facebook. You know Harry Potter because something about his world, the world that Rowling created, moved people, made them believe, made them want more.  She touched people with her words and ideas, not with her market share and trending. 

Still writing,

RP   

Thursday, December 4, 2014

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 publication in the Wayne Literary Review 2012.  They did take the right one in that case; I love that story.  (If you are interested it is called "Burn it Down" and you can read it here: http://issuu.com/wayneliteraryreview/docs/wlr2012/1?e=0)

I believe it is not a coincidence that the word for sending work to editors and agents is the same word for giving up.  I'm going to submit, one way or another.

So.  New plan.  I am going to throw out the somewhat dry and professional query letter that I have been submitting, and write something with a bit more color in it that I think better represents my style.  I am going to submit the new and improved query to a predetermined number of agents.  We will see what that brings. 

Here's the thing: somehow in all this researching and querying and madly writing on the new novel, and rejections and ups and downs and sidewayses, I have forgotten that this is about writing, something that I love to do just for the sake of the act, just for the unbelievable feeling of creation, of making something that wasn't there before.  I have written my entire life, long before I ever thought of this becoming a career.  This is about the words.  It is my firmly held belief that the audience will arrive, that whoever should read my stuff will.  Content first, then everything else will follow, whatever may come. 

I love writing.  Would I like to get paid for it?  Yeah.  Would I like to have my entire life in upheaval because of it?  No, I don't think so.  I'll be patient, and take it slowly.

On a side note, this blog has now had over five hundred views. 

Whoever you are, thanks for reading.

If you are interested in reaching out to me, and for some reason won't or can't comment here, try my email.

Or if you like uninformed and poorly thought out opinions about politics and punk rock, coupled with fart jokes, I'm also on Twitter @RDPullins.

Cheers, RP