Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Submission and First Rejection

I submitted a fiction piece for the first time ever at the end of October. I knew there was still work I wanted to do on the piece, but then I remembered a quote from a past workshop, "When does revision ever truly end?" So, knowing the faults in the piece I chose to submit it anyways. Of course I dreamed of the slight possibility an editor would accept my story, flaws and all. But I wasn't surprised either when I received the rejection email. The submission was for a contest by Narrative magazine. It was easy and took very little time to complete. The perfect combination for this virgin submitter. Now, with my first rejection out of the way I feel eager to welcome more. Let me explore that last statement more. I am eager to begin submitting more and paying the necessary dues of receiving "a certain amount of rejection" until that first ACCEPTANCE letter. I've already reworked the piece I submitted and feel very positive about its next submission.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Computer vs Notebook

Many writers, especially the new or young, try to devise plans of action to ensure they are constantly writing. This is important particularly for the writers that have many competing activities for their time (and honestly who does not fall into this category). In the world of wireless connections and the all-in-one computer (the cellphone), writers have many choices to pick from when trying to get their work down. I argue the biggest debate of this process is what is more productive, using the computer or writing it all out by hand? I am torn on the subject. I love the computer for its easy edits, clear legibility, and ease of structural changes. Yet, the computer can be just as distracting as my own life. The Internet is always trying to seduce me to a new Google search, my cluttered desktop begs to be cleaned, and perusing through a photo slide show is always a tempting trip.
So then I scream, just give me my paper and pen and I will produce pages! This too has its perks and downfalls. The blank (or lined) page is a refreshing return to the basics. The tools are more portable than computer cases and power cords. And there are fewer distractions within the tools themselves. It is the outside distractions that seem to take over. I also find it hard sometimes when returning to write, not to reread and edit what I wrote before. Most distressing is the ease with which the creative pages once created can be lost forever. The notepad has not evolved a "save" button just yet.
Therefore, what is the better medium for writing? The obvious answer is it changes with each individual. Everyone has their own "in-the-zone" environment, but it's important to be open to others' suggestions. As we change as writer's so does our own tastes and productive capabilities.
Personally, I work best with a pen and legal pad. I often prefer to write small segments of my work over a longer period of time. I need the chance to get the piece out in as many ways as possible to find what it truly wants to be. For example, I worked on a short story all summer never writing more than three pages, but I wrote them in over ten different points of views, tenses, and structures. I believe I needed to do this in order to narrow down my own style of writing. Too explore the different techniques available to me as a writer and which ones work best for me. The goal being the more I write the easier it will be for me to discover my own voice. And as of today it is the pen and pad that helps me on that journey.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Shame on me. It has been over a month since my last update. The true nemesis of the writer is every writer's day job. I admit for the past month I have been a slave to mine and only found reward in the paycheck received at the end of each week. The real life reminder of what I am working towards one day with my writing - money! But of course there are tons of mental, mind stimulating satisfactions to feed my gratification appetite until that day arrives. However, what is the best way to combat a rising up in the day job duties? The setting aside of time is the most common and obvious answer. Yet, that does not always prevail when the day job is taking up more than its set aside time physically and mentally. Hence the silence. It reflects very ill on my dedication to live the writer's lifestlye. I can only be glad the busy season at work last at most one month and not months. Now I must gather all my unfinished threads and begin again down the path of a successful writer. With some of my motivation lost I spent the day reading the last book of my summer reading list, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera. Though not as promising as I originally expected I am enjoying it as a different take on the concept to laugh and forget. Look for a review soon on my main page Having actually reached the end of my summer reading list I hope I am reinspired to aggressively chase after the other goals I began about a month ago. I will do better to keep you updated on that progress and check my day job back into balance.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to Basics

As a writer you spend countless hours thinking of the right adjective, verb, or word in general to paint a scene for your reader. Even as a child, I loved words and often had the idea I'd read the dictionary to be smarter than my twin sister. Although my innate competitiveness played a huge factor in that divine idea, there was more behind it. In the poems and stories I wrote I constantly searched, and still do, for new ways to say things. As a small child that meant using "big" words or "hard to spell words." Thus, I spent numerous years trying to build up my vocabulary to enhance my writing.
In the past week I have wrote and rewrote one introductory paragraph about the characters in my children's book project. The many revisions of my four to five sentence paragraph concentrated on trying to make it more concise. As a naturally wordy person in speech and writing you can imagine my difficulty. After the tenth or so draft I felt pretty good about the little paragraph I mulled over constantly.
I put it aside and finally having a day off went to the library to do some further research
on children's books in general. After drilling the librarian about different types of children's books, popular authors, and story lines I left with 14 books to further investigate. Last night I manage to get though a couple of the books. When finished it became obvious to me I still had lots of work to do on my little paragraph. Bottom line, the children's book is much more simple in its language than I assumed. When reading the books through the first time I found the language exciting and entertaining. The concepts and motivations in the stories were clear and interesting. Only when reading through a second time did I notice how the wording was simple and straight to the point.
Thus, after years of trying to build up my language and vocabulary I now have to get back to the basics. This is truly a great exercise for any writer. A story is much more poignant if you can say more with less. Therefore, what I describe with two adjectives is better said with one. What I explain in three sentences might read better as two. I think sometimes as creative persons, writers tend to over think a sentence or scene and lose their original intentions. I know I do. So, next time I sit down with my little paragraph I plan to scratch out all the fluff and get it down to the bare bones. Only then can I truly see if my main idea is still intact and what if any further details are truly needed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Project Updates

Small update of things to come. I am currently overwhelmed with the projects I have given myself, but love the pressure. My sister and I are in talks about the development of our children's book character Charlie Hoot (the owlet). We have finally decided on his friends' names and characters. They are Finley Swiss (the field mouse) and Amaya Phew (the skunk). More to come shortly. Also, I have started my eighth book of the summer Leo Tolstoy's The Cossacks. Look for a review on this book and other "Books of the Summer" reviews soon at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day One

I must first give a large thanks to my friend Adam who helped me become more web savvy by setting up this blog site. Adam, thanks. I have spent the past several days seriously contemplating the look and feel of this site. In all honesty, I am still mulling it over. If anything, I hope it will allow me to explore and push past the limits of my creativity and writing ability. As my adventure in Roosevelt University's MFA program enters into its down slope I hope to stay focused on my the main goal - to write and live as a writer. Much easier said than done, but still the path I choose. :)