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Are You Published?

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The simple answer is no. When I’m asked this question I wonder what the person knows about the art and process of storytelling. As with any type of excellence in art, overnight success is not the norm. Could I be published? I’m 100% certain. It’s easy nowadays via Vanity press or ePublishing. Nothing stands in the way. So being published is not necessarily a sign of success or quality. It’s basically like a General Admission ticket. Anyone can get in. Almost like buying a degree. There’s a universe of white noise out there now.

I began writing the saga Creed of Kings, which has sprawled into a 300,000 word epic, right before the eBook revolution started to crank up. I made a decision to never publish through Vanity press. Why? Because if I ended up self-publishing it meant—not in all cases of course—that I sucked. Sorry for the technical language.  Vanity means what it means. Gratifying myself is not my aim, which is to rock the reader’s world. Vanity costs dearly and you end up with a bunch of books in your garage. My goal is for Creed of Kings to be published traditionally, in hardcover, on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and others. on black Friday. Even though I’ve tweaked it a bit due to the eBook revolution, the spirit of the goal has not changed, but that does not matter either.

What matters most is quality. One has to spin a yarn better than the people in one’s creative writing class do. College football is planet away from high school football, and pro football is a galaxy from college. You must never rest when it comes to creating the best characters, plot points, dialogue, set up, mood, structure etc. I must see myself joining the league of David Gemmell , George R. R. Martin, Terry Goodkind , Steven Pressfield  now, not someday. What I create must stand the light of day with no prequalification. I have to write at that level of quality. I have to stretch myself, sacrifice.

I’m not new to writing. I’ve always had the bug. I had an active blog life that started in 2004 on Xanga . Before that, I was a regular contributor to a message board started by the rock band Creed—where I relearned the importance of spelling! I’ve written a oodles of terrible poems and kept angst ridden journals. Before that, I wrote a short story in college for a humanities project. The professor thought I should try to publish it. I did not think it was good enough. It was not about self-image, it was about objectivity.

People have told me all my life that I have the gift. It’s rarely flying in formation though. Life’s storms and obligations must be handled and I have discovered it takes a lot of effort for me to keep that flame lit. Furthermore, I am human and I suffer those outrageous idiocies of us artsy fartsy types, such as bored easily, moodiness, brooding, attention whore, borderline ADD, impatience, and perfectionism.

I feel strongly that my day is coming. The agonizing work has come up front. At the start it would have been arrogant to just whip out a manuscript, send it in, and wait for the book tour to begin. I never believed that. Therefore, I’ve clawed through 2 million raw words to eke out a few gold moments.

Nope, not published, yet. But, I have loved every second of this challenge. I will deliver a gift from my soul to many strangers in name but kindred in soul. If you don’t love the process, the nail biting, the blood sweating, fuggedaboutit. You’ll end up admiring your words in the vanity mirror.

My First Visit to a Writer’s Group

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment

It was awesome!

I wasn’t awesome. I was on my heels the whole time. It was the good kind of “on my heels”, like a Disney World ride. Writings were read aloud. I only wanted to test the waters so I didn’t bring anything to be read. Comments after each piece was read were insightful. My comments were riveting, words like, um, wull, I, ya know, basically. Dull is not the word. Sharp as a balloon would be somewhere in the galaxy. There is a reason for it. Being that it was my first visit I wanted to explain my Forrest Gump-ness, but I didn’t. Figured I’d be back and they’d understand later.

But now that I have your attention; critiquing grammar is not my deal…at the moment. I know, I know. That sounds bad to some writers, who love them there perty sentences. If you tell me I have a dangling participle I would check my zipper. A few years ago I figured out I’m a storyteller, not a grammar-Nazi. Trust me. I hold an editor’s skills up there with quantum physicists. When I first started my epic I slaved over every sentence. It took me three years. That book is still, in what I consider, rough draft form. I nearly killed my creative flame slaving over every word before I had the structure of the story in blueprint. I was pantsing (God made google so you can look up that word), searching for the expressions of theme and concept. I was trying to brainstorm with perfection. It’s impossible! I fixed it and started re-writing it. Then as noted here in , I had a revelation.

At the meeting, my mind was on, and had been on, for a long time…Story Structure. When they started talking about writer’s voice, and grammar, being drawn into the character, I was as dusty as a Palm Pilot. I groped for words. I wasn’t thinking about that, I was thinking about the hook, set-up, inciting incident, first plot point, the midpoint context shift, pinch points. The big picture.

I’m still in the big picture mode. I’ve written two rough drafts, multiple outlines, and three notebooks for my latest book, a prequel the epic mentioned above. So, if I go back to the particulars, work on five pages to be read at the meeting, it will be from material that may never be seen by the light of a Kindle.

I may share some other stuff instead, like poems or creative flash fiction. I don’t know. No matter what, I’ll go again. It was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed being around weird people like me.

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