advice

Oh, Boy, Another Writing Rejection

This has to be, what, the thirteenth or fourteenth time I have been rejected by a short story magazine? Just so you know, I keep count–there’s this stack of rejection sticky notes hanging on my cork board, stuck to it by a thumbtack. They’re accumulating, so, in a way,  I suppose that’s a good thing, getting my stories out there and what not, even if they don’t make it.

I got this batch of short stories, at least seven of those puppies, waiting on special opportunities to free themselves and go out to those great readers that I will have someday. You see, there is no way I’m giving up. I’m gonna shoot off stories until I get published, damn it! And you can take that to the bank, or the publishing company…or wherever you stow your own stories, be it in a crate or a refrigerator.

Fun Fact: Tom Wolfe wrote on top of a refrigerator. Yeah, try that one on for size, you chair lovers.

Rejection is not so bad to me, most of the time. I view my failures as stepping stones, telling myself, “okay, buddy, you didn’t get in this time, but what can you do next time to make sure you receive a personal rejection instead of a form rejection?”

Oh, don’t you just get sick of those? It starts off all kind, “Thank you for submitting, such-and-such to our splendid magazine,” then comes the hammer to the gut, “but we do not think it exactly fits our tastes,” as if, instead of being publishers, they pursued a life of culinary critique. Ah, yes, hand me the fried lobster, would you, dear writer? In the end, they sometimes give you a little compliment, wish you luck, the sort of stuff that makes  you want to nod your head while gorging on a Klondike Bar, not me personally, but, hey, whatever works.

I persevere, however. I fight the good fight and write once more into the night. Ah-ha, it did rhyme! I then search the darkest corners of the Internet for magazines accepting stories and blast ’em off, like Buzz Lightyear blasted Toy Story to the top of the Box Office. You go, Buzz! Be a friggin’ incredible Space Ranger! I’m gonna stay here and write some more stories.

Just can’t wait until I get done with these two novels, then we’ll see how hard it is to get published. Oh, you betcha, it’ll be a trial–several trials, in actuality–but I am ready to kick it old school and get my stuff out there!

Whoo! Whoo-hoo! Writing rocks, dudes! Cowabunga!

Ah, crap, I think I stepped too far into the surfer lingo, ’cause all of a sudden I’m in the ocean. Well, the laptop’s sinking now, so…I guess…wait…I think…I’m…breaking up…the connection…seems…to be…going on…the fritz…

Later…dudes…and…dudettes…

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Interview With A Blogger

Tell me something, chaps. Tell me who you really are.

No, I don’t mean the you in public or the you in school or the you around your family–I mean you, the actual living and breathing sack of flesh that you are. Maybe with a bit more personality thrown in.

You don’t want to tell me?

Oh, I guess you don’t know me that well. Here, my name is Will, nice to meet you. A little more introduction? I’m a senior in high school…I run a bit…I write a bit more…and sometimes I frequent television, mostly Netflix.

That’s your name? Great name! Might give it to one of my kids–if I ever have any. See, a joke, I just broke the ice a little. Tell me a bit more about yourself. Okay…uh-huh…I love doing that, too! We’re like twins–except not at all!

Allow me to continue:

I like to eat cheeseburgers–love me some bacon!–and my favorite TV shows have got to be Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I’ve written a couple novels and recently I got third place in a writing contest, got some money off it. Family is also pretty important to me–hanging with those people, well, maybe not 24/7; but I plead the teenager rule.

Now you go and tell me all the happy things in your life. Doo-doo-doo…and boom, we say our good-byes and part ways. Life continues on as it always has, will, and is–hey, that confused me.

Say we reverse. Say we go back and, instead of telling all about the happiest parts of our lives and acting as if we are all living in a Leave It To Beaver rerun, we take a chance and spill our guts.

Second Go:

Oh, I guess you don’t know me that well. My name is Will Boswell, a name I happen to really really like. Little more introduction? I’m a senior in high school and cannot wait to be shot of this crappy joint, I mean it is bugging the hell out of me, all these tests and the homework. Oooh, gimme a break.

Your turn! What? Not feeling as up to it as you were the first time? You say you’re a tad uncomfortable? I’m not what you thought I was when you first talked to me? Interesting how our perceptions can change when we say we know a person through and through, but, as it turns out, we don’t…at all.

What if you told me all your secrets? All your taboos?

Hell, I might ditch you then and there–but, then again, I might not. It depends.

That’s a smart ass answer. 

Yeah, it is, but you are lying to yourself if you say you’re not wondering about that question.

I do; in fact, quite recently, I decided I hate it when people assume they know me, when they say I’m perfect. Hey, if a can of Pringles can’t be perfect, then I can’t either. We’re not gods here. We’re all humans–like I said, living and breathing sacks of flesh.

Then why, why do people freak when they learn you’re not all you’re chocked up to be?

It’s like we enjoy staring at a portrait covered in drapes. We can eat our snacks and drink our drinks and watch–just watch it be covered. But, take off the drapes, we leave. Jack Nicholson walks into the room and says, “We can’t handle the truth,” then he morphs into Jack Torrance and butchers all us remaining folks with a friggin axe. Redrum…Redrum…

What would happen if we took off the drapes in the first place?

You have an answer? No? You just created another secret, added another drape.

End of session.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

 

 

Brain Vomit: Creating and Editing Stories

There comes to me to be two great parts of writing. The Creating and the Editing.

Creating is fun because–well, why is it fun? Is it that we’re bringing to life these splendid, and sometimes not so splendid, characters who, in a way, are foggy representations of ourselves and those around us? Is it that we can meet people without even leaving our office? They are real, really! Or is it that we have a drive–an insatiable hunger–to produce   stories to change the world and spread global peace and cure the hunger epidemic and hand out Nobel Prizes like Hershey chocolate bars?

I think that applies to all but the latter.

I can create for who knows how long. One novel took me nearly six months to complete–and that was the first draft, currently it is in its second draft. My other novel took me four months; and, truth be told, it was harder to write. So, it depends. A single short story may take you a month. A single novel may take you five years, make it six if you want to beat Tolstoy and Hugo.

Then–[lightning sounds and a hissing cat]

IT IS TIME FOR…

EDITING!

Yes, scream, scream and bang your heads against the wall! The dreaded editing monster has returned to wreak havoc on your precious little writing brains and hands–and, worst of all, your time!

But I don’t have an hour and a half to spare! 

Wipe up those tears, crybaby, and make it ten minutes a day! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Side note: I was having fun just inserting those laughs, had to force myself to stop.

Editing was a hated task of mine…when I was fourteen. I’d finish a story, usually between fifteen or twenty pages; read it to my family, who sometimes fell asleep during those times; and stuff it inside a binder or send it off to a publishing company.

Random House, here I come! What? A piece of shit? Excuse me? 

Now, quite obviously, I have seen the error of my ways and am editing constantly. Seriously, dude, it’s an eight hour grind, totally not tubular or radical at all. I finish a short story and start the editing process the night after. For me, the whole set of writing and editing one of those takes near to nine days; some of you may be different, and that is A-okay.

What works for you, works for you.

Yeah. I can feel the inspiration surging through us. Go Writers. Blow the trumpets.

You can be a Creator or an Editor, or you can be both. But those guys are nerds, am I right? Eh? Anyone want to laugh? Who honestly edits and creates? It’s too much of a chore. Everybody knows the surefire way to becoming an excellent writer is by watching crap loads of television, pouring grape juice on your manuscripts, and shouting at your computer because it won’t invent the story of the century at your command.

Sure, I know that club. It’s called Dead End.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

Note: We made it to eighty posts! Let them eat cake! Thank you for staying with me so long!

And I don’t really have cake. That was a joke. Sorry.

Four Ways to Rap Effectively

I have recently come across the cultural world of rap, the hangout of all the great artists like Tupac and Eminem and–I don’t know any others yet. I’m new at this, cut me a break!

There is something to be said about how fast their mouths move, especially in Rap God. I swear, Eminem has to have some kinda cloning device for duplicates to have his mouth move so fast and so fluently. It’s like they’re the brainchildren of auctioneers and debaters. How the hell do they do it?

I asked myself this, while working through Lose Yourself about seven times in a row. Of course, being dumb like I am, I rapped while suffering from a sore throat–ahem, in other words, I win dumbass of the year award. And so I thought. And I thought. And I eventually came up with a list of how, maybe not the methods of those famous rappers, to rap effectively.

There are four sure-fire methods:

  1. Holding your breath underwater
    • Go to your bathtub, fill ‘er up, and stuff your head in there! Not only will this teach how to hold air in your lungs for prolonged periods of time, but it will also help you survive Swirlies, if they should arise.
  2. Wear a lot of heavy bling-bling
    • For some reason all these rappers wear giant chain necklaces and rings and belly piercings and nose piercings and eyeball piercings and–anyhow, proven in a study by myself, a reliable source, the rappers with the more jewelry tend to rap faster. Dunno why. Maybe it helps keep them grounded. Gravity and all that.
  3. Learn how to twirl your tongue
    • No joke, I’m reasonably sure the one reason Eminem is able to pull off Rap God is by flicking his tongue around like a Cirque Du Soleil act. It’s not too hard. Until your tongue stops listening to you and moves wherever it wants.
  4. Rap about what matters
    • To you, especially; if that means your raps center around how many ways to fry a chicken or flying a plane upside down, then go for it, you ambitious young sprout! Get out there and show those other rappers what you can offer with your next single, Frying A Flipping Bird in Kentucky. 

Follow my list and you are guaranteed to be on your way to stardom in the rapping community. Be the next Eminem. Be the next Tupac. Be…well, be who you’re gonna be.

I’m not here to give out nicknames.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Brain Vomit: Pantsers and Seaters

All you writers out there; yes, I am even talking to you, Man Who Uses A Fountain Pen On All Of His Manuscripts, I have a revelation–writing is a flooding of the mind, the gates open and the brain is drowned in tidal waves of words.

That sounds badass when I put it that way, not to toot my own horn–

Any who…

All of us have varied methods of writing, some like to write a certain number of hours or minutes–two hours is a good amount for me–and others prefer a trusty word count limit between 1000 and 2000 words…some go to 6000, those are the outliers…don’t tell them I said that.

Whatever methods we use work for us; well, they have to–what the hell is the point of organizing all this writing shit if it turns out to be Dumpster material in the end?

Of course, organization can take its own forms. Most like to call them Seaters or Pantsers–I am wondering who came up with those because the latter seems like it was meant to sound immature…I identity with the Pantsers, just unbuckle that belt–but I am kidding…in reality a Pantser could not give two coal heaps about a written plan and decide to, like the Hippies of old, go with the flow, dude–cause, why not?

In a world of Seaters I have been criticized as a Pantser–not many like to take a leap of faith and rely on the good ole’ Muse to supply with them a Pass Go and Collect $200 dollars card. Those who do know how relaxing, and, unavoidably, how stressful, it can be. For Chrissakes, you’re writing in your underwear, how can it not be more stressful?

But I am not here to convert writers to the dark Pantser side of the Force.

Sometimes, and this has happened frequently to me while writing novels, I curse my Pantser beliefs and decide to migrate to the realm of the Seaters; but each time I get freaked because I’m worried the story is going to suffer from my change of perspective.

It is difficult to plan out a novel, let alone a short story, and I commend the writers who take the extra time to do so. Being a Seater means sketching out the characters and the setting and the conflict all before actually writing the first draft–I wonder they don’t get bored from figuring out how the story ends and who the characters are inside and out so early.

See, for every fifteen Seaters, there are thirty Pantsers.

The writing world has to have both perspectives to ensure different types of literature; one can never be the same as the next, as they say.

Because repetitiveness is just plain dull.

Writers reading this, tell me one thing–when you are Pantsing, that sounds bad, or Seating, your stories, when does it get to the point where you ask yourself, “What the hell am I doing?” and change faiths on a dime? Or does it ever get there?

Now, if you’ll excuse me–I have to get back to Pantsing.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

What Is Life Without Friends?

I value many things–home, food, a family, my many, many pets, and perhaps, most of all, my friends. Dictionary definition: these are the people in whom you can confide; they listen and…sometimes…they offer advice: of which it is your choice to follow or disregard.  They have no Insert Cash Here buttons to make a little compensation off your worries–no; in fact, wealth is the farthest thought from their mind.

For true friends it is.

You know how there can be artificial friends? I like to think of them as one dimensional blankets: you seek their comfort and cherish it…until you stab at them once, mistakenly; and their front is compromised. They bolt. In tatters. In scraps. In the mind they never want to speak to numero uno you again.

Luckily I have not frequented many thin blankets in my time; however, all of us, at least once, have met people, people we call our friends, who, when the shit hits the fan–literally…although that’s gross–those somewhat thicker blankets smile and run and bury their heads in the sand.

Nothing wrong with it. Not at all. I just happen to appreciate genuineness. Sound like a snobby art critic, “Yes…this work was..ah, it was a fake…look at the way the watercolors smear and the brush–oh, the humanity!”

When you get the real friends–well, you just know. I like to call it a connection, see, because as humans we connect, or disconnect, with thousands, millions, of people everyday of our lives. With real friends that connection surges all the time. It is as if the two of you are fused together on a circuit box the electrician forgot to disassemble; and each volt shooting through those wires is felt simultaneously.

Woah. And a bunch of other crazy existential shit…

I hope–I honestly hope I am not speaking to a brick wall. I’ve done that…it gets boring.

Most everyone has a friend, most everyone values their friend.

I am not trying to say–actually, I am saying not all of us value our friends. We need to–it’s an epidemic, larger than the Black Plague or…or the H1N1 virus–stupid swine–and those of us who have taken the cure: pat yourself on the back; you have earned your friends.

Here:

Think of a life without friends.

What life is that?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Life. It’s A Toughie.

Full disclosure here:

I am not a hater of this whirlwind called life…however…I do become irritated with it.

Life. It makes you want to take a deep breath, and, at the same time, stick a plate of razor blades down your throat. Too dark? Let me power up a lightbulb.

I can cope with life–everyone reading this should, by now, understand I have a pretty positive viewpoint on most things: wrestling puppies, chocolate, flowers–and hell yeah to the hippies! Whooh! Adrenaline! Life is a rocking and rolling thing; so, what up, home-slice?

There are unfortunately some grievances to rainbows; you see, sometimes, the world does not make a lot of sense. I look at the platypus and think, what the hell? I go to places only powered by solar panels and think…anyway, that joke got stale. Racking up the dry humor points tonight!

What is ludicrous to me is not to others–this I must remember.

Problem is…I am one jealous crackpot. And I know I am not alone…at least I think so.

You all understand where I’m coming from–hopefully. It’s one of those conundrums in life that don’t make no sense; but, as a loyal friend who cares deeply about what happens to his other friend and whether or not she is going to be A-okay and that she is going to make her own choice, well…I can only be a watchful guardian.

Sounds like some Batman crap there.

I trust this girl because she is stronger than I can be.

What’s that? Do I see tears springing to your eyes? I brought tissues–take one, or, sure, sixteen…I’ll give you all a second to collect yourselves and talk out your deepest struggles. Maybe a traumatic experience on the jungle gym…a swirly in a urinal…yuck.

Well, boy, I got that off my chest. Feeling better, lighter…a marshmallow.

I leave you with advice–none of you have to follow it; it is not written in stone or Sharpie, so plug your ears with Kleenex or turn your hearing aids up to maximum volume: Never assume a friend cannot find their way by themselves. Many are much stronger than you think; and when you step aside and let them choose what, for them, is that which makes them happy, then…you have been all you can be.

Inspirational? Or mediocre?

Hell, I’m just trying to be a good friend.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

Brain Vomit: How To Write

I am a writer. Shocking news…I know; please, don’t all of you have a heart attack at once–I cannot stand writing induced heart attacks. Look at all those other writers who caused heart attacks: Stephen King; Guy De Maupassant; Bram Stoker…Dr. Seuss. It goes on for a while…

I am a writer and I like writing.

Enough said.

Time for the “Think daily”–what’s that? I didn’t talk about writing? Of course I did–I mentioned how writing is an escape route; and, in a story, it is not you who controls the characters but the characters who control you. Dun Dun Duunnnn! Excellent B-horror movie material for all you fledgling movie directors…enjoy, be merry; but remember I accept checks of up to 200 dollars. Toasters just ain’t that cheap any more, folks.

Not as if I wrote a list or anything: I may have some pointers; but, listen, I’m a seventeen year old–what the hell do I know about writing? You put a pen on a paper and let your brain vomit. I really can’t say more. Okay…maybe you scrape off the vomit–the little carrot giblets– and spread some tofu on that sucker, adding a bit of tasteful flavor to your literary work. I forgot–then you turn on a box fan to the highest setting and spray paint your artist studio in tofu vomit…it’ll be hard to tell the difference…Whatever picture shows up, be it a portrait of Jesus Christ or the McDonalds arches; that is the personality of your story.

Then…if you feel up to it…you take a fork from your silverware drawer, a nice thick fork; and walking up to that beauteous Michelangelo-died-of-shock wall stab those prongs into the glob and pile it into…a manilla folder–for storage.

What, did you think I was gonna say your mouth?

Get your head out of the gutter.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Love Is A Funny Thing

I say this from my soul, the bottom of my heart, truthfully and without prejudice–love is a funny thing. It’s not hilarious like a knee slapper, or chest bursting like an excellently written comedy skit..but it is funny, all the same.

I don’t laugh about it. Most of the time; however, I think I should chuckle…a little. So many people are hellbent on finding that spark, that one connection where you can snap fingers in Moscow and your soulmate can snap in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Hard pressed are most of them to uncover their searched for buried treasure: some never find a doubloon of it. Some do. And they are still, believe this, hellbent on the hunt; for them it never ceased.

I sit and I wonder and I wonder. What does it all come to? A heart shaped balloon fit to explode…a conscience the size of a grapefruit, a dry grapefruit, mind you…and a resilience that not a thrown dime can chip. Gleeful thoughts. Sad thoughts. Mood swings. A feeling of confidence–then doubt…The washing machine for the human soul, having a compartment for that too largely swelled heart.

Imagine a drawing, a drawing depicting such a description; and then, then, think of the artist commissioned to sketch it…vividly. No artist should come to mind. None of the human race can truly–though they try–express a feeling, all that are said to be real are imitations. See, just as an artist cannot paint that watercolor of heartbreak, nor can the musician compose the secretive, the personal, melody attuned to the blush inducing state of mind: a crush.

It is almost laughable, I say; and I do so because we spend our lives searching for the unknowable, those crown jewels everyone tells us to forget and leave where we found them. I laugh in delight, not mockery–if so I should be mocking myself; me, one of them fallen prey to this…but words hardly can express…it takes a greater writer to crack the block of ice. It is humanity I laugh at so proudly…that even when we fall off our tricycles we climb back on and spin the wheels again and again and again and again…until the rubber runs flat.

That is all that keeps us.

But, it is best to remember, much like a heart, a flat tire can be pumped.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Cancer SUCKS–Obviously!

Cancer sucks.

Most of you probably already know that–maybe some of you have had loved ones suffer, or you yourself have suffered, through the disgusting disease known as Ca. N. Cer; he is not a nice guy–the complete opposite of kindness.

If so, I commend you for taking the punch. It’s a rough patch of life to get stuck in; but, thankfully we have thousands of faces smiling down on us and saying, “Remember, we’re here for you…whenever you need us…give us a call…

Whenever I enter into a conversation now those phrases flush through my mind; I could be  chatting football with a close friend–not that I often talk sports–and, by some chance happening, find myself on the topic of cancer: Hey, they doing all right? You should remember, we’re here for you guys…

I know. I have known. And I really wish everyone could stop being so damn awkward about it. It happened. Maybe it is still happening; but you all should know we can power through the roughness.

Do I need to write a memo? A note–a sticky note; here, take one, take a hundred!

Got it yet? I hope so.

But bitterness is not my style; more so I am simply tired of having to wear a mask anywhere I go where people know about the cancer. It’s like a trending topic on Twitter or something–a caption runs above my head and reads, This man is in a family affected by the CANCER! And, yeah, it’s in huge uppercase letters, because it’s a big deal.

Anything’s a big deal when you put it in uppercase letters. Say I’m eating a bunch of green beans and the caption appears with, This man is eating GREEN BEANS; he is the prodigal son of the Green Giant! Or–this man is using TOILET PAPER; and when is that not a big deal?

Cancer is a big deal. I already said so. I promise to stop beating you over the head with it if you do one tiny thing for me–listen well, dearies, I want you to give anyone you know with cancer, or who knows someone else affected by cancer, some good amounts of SPACE; they will love you forever and buy you a fruitcake for the next Christmas.

Think daily,

A Southpaw