Category Archives: inspiration

Friends and Lovers

cats

“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to makes speeches. Just believing is usually enough.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

If you’ve seriously committed yourself to your writing, by the very nature of the task, you will have to have to spend a great deal of time working alone. If you’re fortunate enough to be a full-time writer, you may have no reason to come into contact with anyone, other than at readings, or when networking with other writers, or perhaps meeting an agent or publishing representatives. If you have a job or are in school, the bulk of your time away from your professional responsibilities may very well be spent writing.

To join the literary game, to get readers to discover your writing, to get publishers to take you seriously, to maybe make a bit of money from your writing, you need to be serious about work and make writing a consistent part of your life. However, sometimes writers can take their profession so seriously that they become recluses, avoiding friends, disregarding or not seeking out lovers, and distancing themselves from supportive family.

I urge all writers to try to find a balance between their non-writing obligations, their writing, and their life and the people who love them. You’re not a machine, you’re a person. You need love, the same as anyone else. You have to embrace the love around you, not run from it because you have a “greater task.”

The isolation will destroy you. It’s not tenable over the long haul for producing good writing, either.

Make sure that you value your loved ones. In a solitary profession like ours, they can be your cheerleaders and confidantes, but it’s not just about you. Humans are social creatures. Scientists have proven that without love, your DNA becomes damaged over time. Embrace the love. It will keep you whole.

How do you balance your writing, your professional obligations, and your relationships? Have you ever had any problems doing so?

A Letter to a Young Author

believe

Please, whatever you do, never give up.

I know it may seem like all your efforts lead to absolutely nothing, but please don’t give up.

Believe me, I know that it’s hard rolling the boulder up the mountain to get everything going, it may even seem like a Herculean task, but please, don’t give up.

As best as you can, try to get over the initial hurdles, the ennui that keeps you from writing, the hurt feelings from the rejections, the fact that you know just how many other aspiring writers are out there.

And, please, stay calm. I know that it can be incredibly challenging for an aspiring writer to break in. It takes time to get the technique right, it takes time to know where to publish, it takes time to get the respect of other authors.

But please, try not to let your current situation get you down. So many other aspiring writers get discouraged. They could get to where you’re going, but they won’t, because they are choosing to give up. You can take their place. You can get your work out there.

So please, don’t get discouraged by all the hurdles along the way. You have work to do, lots of it, to push that boulder up the mountain. It may seem immovable, but it isn’t. Just please stay calm, regroup when you fail, and keep pushing.

You could be great, but the world may never know if you give up…

Announcement: Hey everyone. I want to thank you all for reading The Literary Game. I’m honored by how much support I’ve received since starting this a little over a month ago.

I write a lot about writing here. I hope you’ll want to read a bit of my actual writing. My piece UFO, a work of flash fiction, was just published in Farther Stars Than These. I hope you’ll check it out. Thanks!

How I Published My Writing (With a Little Help From My Friends)

Sixteen months ago, I had only published six poems (all in a close friend’s journal that accepted 100% of submissions).

As of today, I’ve now published thirty-two poems/short stories in twenty literary journals. Not bad for sixteen months work when you’re coming out of nowhere.

Every journal that has accepted my work (since those initial six poems) maintains strict standards regarding quality. They don’t accept every piece that’s submitted, in fact, most pieces are rejected.

How did I accomplish this feat? The truth is, there are many reasons. I can credit experience, perseverance, luck, and savvy – but the biggest factor that led to my work being published in these journals was working with two amazing editors who helped turn interesting ideas into finished products.

I’ve known my friend Rairigh Drum for eleven years now. I met her at Beloit College’s smoking lounge (2004 was a totally different era!). When Rair learned that I was a Creative Writing major, she was eager to read my work.

Years later, after my successes in publishing my creative writing, Rair let loose a barely veiled secret – she thought that my writing was terrible when we were classmates! I knew it. My professors knew it. My classmates knew it. She knew it.

While experience, perseverance, savvy, and luck have played their part in helping me improve – these alone would not have been enough. Everything came about from the help of my adroit editors.

When I decided to stop treating my fiction and poetry as a mere hobby, and began to take it seriously, I turned to some of my closest friends to give me their honest feedback about my writing. They didn’t pull any punches. They skewered it. Their constructive criticism steered my work in the right direction..

Because of my friends Rairigh Drum and Lena Olive, the two editors who I always turn to for my own pieces, I’ve been fortunate enough to have published with many literary journals that are perfect matches for my style. I’ve been able to publish with the same journals that regularly feature the same Internet phenoms that played a big part in inspiring me to take my work seriously: names like Misti Rainwater-Lites; Doug Draime; Sarah E. Alderman; and Michele McDannold..

I know that Rair and Lena’s aptitude in being able to see a simple draft, and from that flesh it out in a holistic manner, one befitting of a finished piece, was the deciding factor in my rapid advancement from nobody to emerging writer. Without their help, all the savvy in the world regarding how to find appropriate literary journals wouldn’t have been enough. My work would not have been up to snuff.

This post is really just a big “thank you” to Rairigh and Lena. They helped me move forward.

The best part is that Rairigh and Lena are available to edit your pieces – FREE. Here’s the catch: if you send your writing in to theliterarygame at gmail dot com, I’ll send it their way so that one of them can work with you to shape your piece (at no cost), BUT… you do have to give your honest opinion of how helpful they were after the whole process is over. Fair enough?

If you want to begin to move your writing to the next level, simply email us your work. Our email address is theliterarygame at gmail dot com.

It happened to me. It could definitely happen to you!

One last thing, would you please help us out by sharing this post with your friends on social media? Even if you may not have a piece ready to work with, I’m sure many other literary-minded friends may benefit!

If you’d like to learn a bit more about our editing service, just click right here. If you want to know more about our publishing service, click right here. If you have any questions, or want to send your work in, please email us (theliterarygame at gmail dot com).

There’s No “I” in Poetry

I graduated from Beloit College with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing in December 2006. I didn’t write another poem until August 2008.

When my friend and former Beloit classmate Russell Jaffe (founder of Strange Cage) moved to Brooklyn in the summer of 2008, the first thing he asked me was “Are you still writing poetry?” I told him the truth – I wasn’t. Russell had just completed his MFA from Columbia College in Chicago, and was determined to make an impact in New York’s literary scene. He had booked a space at Flushnik Studios, an artist’s space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and planned to put on a poetry reading there. He offered me a slot – if I had poems to share.

The truth was that I had felt rather down about my creative writing. I didn’t start writing until I was 20, during my sophomore year of college. I didn’t believe in myself as a writer back then. I gave it up after college – until Russell believed in me enough to put me on the show. Russell had spurred me on to write again. After talking to him, I composed a series of poems heavily influenced by slam poetry, filled with verve and clever wordplay, sharper than anything from my days at Beloit.

But they were filled with I’s.

I showed them to Russell about a week before the reading. He liked them, but he gently suggested that I should perhaps consider removing the “I’s” from my poems. I did. When the time came to read them, I was thrilled by the raucous applause I received afterwards. It felt a lot better than the similarities to being in front of a firing squad whenever my poetry was workshopped in college.

It’s not a hard rule that you should never use the word “I” in your poems. However, if all your poetry is so intensely personal, it devalues the intimacy of the device. It makes your poetry seem confessional and limited, when it could be so much more by choosing to remove the “I” and present it as far more expansive. Your work will go beyond seeming to be just relevant to the narrow contours of your life.

There’s a time for “I” in poetry. You should certainly keep using it, if appropriate for your poem; however, if your poem feels flat and insular, try taking the “I’s” out, and reshaping it to go beyond your immediate feelings and experiences. Your work should truly shine.

For free help with editing your poetry or any other type of creative writing, please click here.

How the 2013 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament Helped Me Dramatically Improve My Attitude Towards Writing

I’m a huge college basketball fan. Every March (and early April), I’m glued to my television set to try to catch as much of March Madness as possible. It’s my favorite sporting event.

March Madness is always a lot of fun, yet I never expected that the tourney could ever teach me anything that would help me out as a writer (If you can figure out a way that understanding how to properly space yourself in a zone defense would be of use to a writer, please comment below, I’d love to be enlightened!)

Every year, I look forward to seeing which team will come out of nowhere to be the Cinderella of the tournament. I always find it compelling when a mid-major school knocks off the “heavyweights” of college basketball. But again, none of the myriad of teams that have acted in that role since I’ve been a fan have ever taught me anything that would benefit me as a writer. That is, until 2013’s tournament…

In 2013’s tournament, Florida Gulf Coast University knocked off Georgetown and San Diego State, two elite programs. I had never heard of Florida Gulf Coast University (the school or its basketball team). I didn’t know any of the players. I didn’t know the coach. They were complete unknowns.

As I watched FGCU’s basketball team that March, though it may sound strange, I immediately felt that it was as if I were meant to watch it by some weird trick of the universe. I knew that I was supposed to see this because I needed to see exactly how to get anything done (including getting your creative writing published) – YOU HAVE TO STAY LOOSE AND HAVE FUN.

The players on FGCU’s basketball team were too loose and having too much fun to worry about how the odds were completely against them. Yes, the odds of your work getting published in top journals are slim. Yes, the odds of you getting a publishing contract are slim. Yes, the odds of your name being mentioned among the literati are slim. Yes, the odds of your book selling in vast numbers are slim. There are undoubtedly many writers just as hungry as you are, writing just as much as you are, who are as skilled as you are, and are waiting to claim it. All these statements are true.

However, if you really want to be a writer, counter-intuitive as it sounds, you have to put facts out of the equation. This is certainly not an insult to the men on the FGCU basketball team, but from the way they played, it was almost as if they were ignorant of the reality of their situation. If they were aware of the reality of their chances, they would have been easily whipped by Georgetown, and sent scurrying home to Lee County because they would have already been defeated in their minds. Aware or not, they put it outside of their minds, stayed loose, had fun, and made it to the Sweet Sixteen, allowing America the opportunity to fall in love with their team.

The odds are against you. However, the odds only can be taken into account if you pay attention to them. If you really want to be a writer, in the words of James Chance, “Why don’t you try being stupid, instead of smart.” Why not really believe that you can do the impossible? That’s the only way that you can!

Did you ever learn a valuable lesson about writing (or anything else) from an unexpected source? I’d love to hear your story. Please feel free to comment below.