Tag Archives: writing

Patience Sucks. Patience Works.

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One year.

I had to wait one fucking year between my first conversation with a client and starting the project.

Did it suck?

Are you deef? Of course it sucked.

But oh my God was it worth it.

My client paid five figures. There are writers with book deals with presses whose advances aren’t even close to that. I received that from a dude.

My client is awesome. Not only is he a badass pilot, but he gave me everything I needed to successfully write what he wanted, without micromanaging my ass along the way. He knew I was a professional and treated like me a professional, not like his bitch.

My client’s project is awesome. A kinetic screenplay set in the world of counterterrorism and espionage. Uhh, fuck yeah.

Waiting a year, yeah, not fun.

But you know what, if you’re not willing to pay some dues, you’ll never break into the literary game.

Sorry.

You’re just not that important yet. If you act like a diva, you’re going to lose any opportunities that may come up.

I’m not saying to just hold fast and wait. You’re not passive (and if you are, knock that shit off), but sometimes things don’t go on your schedule, they go on the gatekeeper’s.

You damn well can try to speed them up, but never, ever, ever, EVER get pissy about it.

Unless you want to be a nobody forever. If that’s what you want, have fun.

The same situation’s come up again for me.

Through a whole bunch of weird and complex life events, I was connected to a New York Times bestselling author.

He read a screenplay I wrote.

He met with me.

And he told me, “Normally I tell people it’s a great accomplishment that you finished a script. Most people never complete one. But here’s what you should do: put it in a drawer, close the drawer, and never open the drawer ever again.”

Do you know how many assholes are constantly bothering a successful writer for a favor, or to front something?

First off, I know I have the luck of the devil himself to even get a read from this guy.

Second, when you have someone who sold over a million copies of their book telling you you’re good, it feels pretty fucking sweet.

Third, when the guy says he’ll connect you to an agent, and then chews you out for why in your early 30s you’re not already writing for Hollywood, then that’s almost surreal.

But then a year later, you’re still occasionally exchanging emails, trying to push him on to connect you.

It’s easy to be a loser and bitch and moan. Most writers would do that in a situation like that. That’s why most writers are wasting their time and should give it up.

But not you, right? You can see this for what it is, a test.

And you’ll pass it because you won’t give up.

If you’re an outsider, you need a leg up to break into the literary game.

Or the screenwriting game.

Or anything big.

If you want to blow up, or change the world, or get rich, or do something other than work as a barista, you damn well need powerful allies.

And your powerful allies are, by nature, more powerful than you.

They can make your career.

Or, if you alienate them, they can keep you doomed to obscurity.

What do you think’s the better way?

When you find your opportunities and your allies, make it happen.

And if you can’t make it happen quickly, then hang on for a long ride.

Interview with Shawn Hudson

Hey everyone! I had a lot of fun talking with one of the finest up-and-coming poets/novelists around, my good friend Shawn Hudson.

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(Shawn on the left, rapper Young M.A. on the right)

In our interview, Shawn shares his thoughts on his poetry collection Poetic Thoughts of a Rebel, contemporary politics, hypocrisy in power structures, and life in general.

You can listen to Shawn’s interview by pressing play below:

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If you liked Shawn’s interview, help spread the word about his writing by sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook.

If you want to support Shawn’s writing career, you can pick up copies of Poetic Thoughts of a Rebel, By Any Means, By Any Means 2: The Ghetto Gospel, and By Any Means III: Judgment Day on Amazon.

If you want to learn more about Shawn, you can follow him on Twitter @RBGLiterature.

To keep tabs on the latest writing info, inspiration, and entertainment, you can follow me on Twitter @bookcartpusher

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Introduction

I didn’t start writing until I was twenty.

I don’t mean I didn’t start taking writing seriously until I was twenty, I mean I didn’t write anything that wasn’t for a school assignment until I was twenty.

No short stories.

No poems.

No novels.

No nonfiction.

OK, scratch that last one. I did write about thirty pages of a memoir on my old IBM Aptiva. I have no idea where that partial manuscript is, and that’s probably for the best.

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When I transferred to Beloit College, I decided to become a Creative Writing major because it seemed like fun, and it was, but back then I had many, many, MANY misconceptions about what being a writer meant.

Top Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Writing As A Twenty-Year-Old Absolute Beginner

1. Writing is rewriting.

You just finished your novel. Great. Now the fun really begins.

2. Rewriting is not a quick process.

God may have created the Earth in six days; however, you will not complete your manuscript in anywhere near that time frame.

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3. Working with an editor isn’t optional, but necessary.

My short stories wouldn’t have been published without the assistance of Rairigh Drum, who was my developmental editor. My screenplays wouldn’t have attracted the attention of a New York Times best-selling author and a screenwriter who has worked with Spielberg without the assistance of a developmental editor. My non-fiction book wouldn’t have…you get the point.

4. Writing well isn’t enough, you need to think like an entrepreneur to get noticed.

Is it ugly? Yeah, maybe, but the days of the pure writer who refuses to attend to the business end of things is over. Those writers are doomed to obscurity.

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5. Success doesn’t come overnight.

Trust the process. If you know that you’re good, go out and prove it. Stay the course, and don’t lose your confidence if you don’t rapidly advance.

6. Networking with other writers (and, if possible, with editors, publishers, and agents) can open up many doors.

Remember that saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Well, it’s both. Don’t be isolated.

7. Most publishers will have zero interest in your writing and will reject it, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have talent.

Publishers and agents receive an incredibly large amount of submissions. They also usually have very strict criteria about what types of work they publish/represent. Receiving rejections is inevitable. I’ve had over 60 short stories and poems published and scout publications carefully, and still only have an acceptance rate of about 25-30%.

8. You can’t half ass your way to quality writing; you have to whole ass it.

If you’re planning on going through the motions, just put down your pen and give it up.

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9. Not all writers are miserable people, and you don’t have to be miserable to write.

Although I won’t lie, sometimes it helps. 😉

10. You don’t have to drink to excess to write well, but sometimes it can be fun.

Nostrovia!

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Conclusion

“He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory.” – Lao Tzu

Don’t make mistakes based on incorrect perspectives about being a writer.

Make writing a consistent habit, work with an editor that you can trust, network, realize this is a process, and try to keep a sense of humor. If you do all that, and you have some talent, you’ll be more than fine.

What Do You Wish You Knew When You Started Writing?

Leave a comment below!

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In Need Of An Editor?

Check out my editing services page.

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

I Want To Write, But I Don’t Know How To Start

Introduction

Many of you, I’m sure, have started to write.

Some of you, have achieved a bit of recognition. Maybe you’ve had some short stories or poems published in a few literary magazines. Maybe you’ve self-published a book and sold a good number of copies.

Sorry, this post isn’t for you guys. This post is for those who want to write, but haven’t embarked down that path yet.

Because they don’t know where the hell to start.

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Where to Begin

KISS. It’s an acronym a future writer would do well to heed.

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And no, you don’t need to become a knight in Satan’s service.

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Keep it simple, stupid.

What does that mean? Here are a few examples of rookie mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.

Don’t Write That Novel…Yet

Have you tried to write a novel? Did you get a few thousand words in and then not know where to go from there. Frustrating, isn’t it?

If you’re just getting into writing, don’t attempt something as monumental as a novel.

Especially if you don’t have an idea that makes you want to practically burst with excitement.

Instead, start with short stories. Master the narrative arc. Get familiar with setting, dialogue, internal monologue, and character development.

So yeah, that epic 150,000 word novel. You may want to put that on hold.

Unlimited Freedom Isn’t Always A Good Thing

You can literally write about anything. That’s great, right?

Wrong.

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Beginners often find that they can’t think of a compelling idea. That’s where writing prompts come in.

If you’re a beginner, writing prompts can be a nice tool to help focus, allowing you to focus on writing, not on generating ideas.

The New York Times produced a list of 500 writing prompts. To read it, click here.

Setting Goals

Realize that you’re not going to become an overnight sensation. At least not in the course of your first night writing.

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When you’re just starting out on your writing career, you may find it helpful to set little goals for yourself. Once you achieve your goals, you’ll find that your confidence increases. Your increased confidence will spur you on to write more and write better.

Here are a few goals you may want to consider targeting:

1. Writing 1000 words per day for a month.
2. Completing three short stories.
3. Crafting three works of creative non-fiction.
4. Submitting your writing to ten literary magazines.
5. Achieving your first acceptance in a literary magazine.
6. Learning how to use Duotrope to find literary magazines that publish writing similar in style and content to your own writing.
7. Receiving your first sincere compliment (close friends, romantic partners, and family don’t count).

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Conclusion

If you’re new to writing, there are four main things that you want to do:

1. Keep it simple, stupid.
2. Start with short stories.
3. Utilize writing prompts.
4. Set appropriate goals.

How About You?

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For the more established writers who read this post anyway, what methods did you use when you started writing? Did you find them helpful, or were they more of a cautionary tale? Share your thoughts in the comments!

How To Keep Writing When Everything Around You Is A Mess

Introduction

I’ve said it, and pretty much anyone who writes about writing says it, you need to write daily. 1000 words. An hour. As many words as you can fit on the page in as much time as you can possibly spare.

Yeah, that’s all well and good in a perfect world.

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But your world isn’t perfect, is it? Neither’s mine. Who can really say that they don’t have any major challenges in their life?

So, how do you keep writing when it feels like the world’s crumbling at your feet; or, if your life isn’t so bad, how do you keep writing when your life could use a tune-up.

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Solutions

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Fix Your Shit

If you’re unable to write because of too many crazy things going on in your life, then don’t write. Solve your problems first. Besides, you can’t write 1000 words a day if your computer…and your grandparents’ typewriter…are confiscated by repo men.

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Phone A Friend

When life’s at its worst, know that misery loves company. Get on your phone and dial a buddy. You can ring the wisecracking one to get you out of your slump, or the understanding one if you need a shoulder to cry on, but ring someone to get out of your own head and elevate your mood. Then, after they’ve served their purpose, hang up and write!

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Power Through

If your problems aren’t going away anytime soon, then just say “fuck it” and go ahead and write. Put your feelings on the page if it’s a confessional work, or write from a fictional concept to take a brief reprieve from your stressors. Being productive can sometimes be the best cure for mental anguish.

Seek Professional Help

I’m not a psychiatrist. I don’t even play one on TV. If things are really bad, get yourself to a trained professional who can help you get back on track. Who knows, your psychiatrist may even know an agent, and if that won’t get you to start writing again, I don’t know what will.

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Conclusion

We’re all unique. Each of us responds to adversity in different ways. Find the way that best handles your situation, and go with it.

How About You?

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What method do you use to keep writing when life becomes overwhelming? Share it with our readers in the comments section.

As always, I’m Alfonso, and I’m fighting the good fight with you!

Eventide, by Chance Averill

Introduction

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Chance Averill, a longtime reader.

Chance told me that she enjoyed my posts, but wondered if I could go beyond the general info provided on the site. She wanted me to coach her in both writing technique and in navigating a successful literary career.

Obviously, I accepted. I mean, helping writers flourish is the reason that I started this blog in the first place.

Over the course of a few weeks of intensive sessions, Chance has developed this first piece that I’ll present to you – Eventide. Enjoy!

Eventide

Countless times I have sat or lied beside you. Sometimes just in the same room with you in a trance, eyes affixed to a screen. The thought of you stroking yourself off into the night to thousands of little boxes formed into a fantasy, be it organized into cosmic or flesh scene, I always find myself revolted by it. I came from the senses. Scent, sound, touch, taste, the beauty of nature impressed upon me without that incessant buzzing in my ears. I was cultivated to acquire the flavor of salted skin on my tongue. My eyes burned, melting into more than a few others as we’d drift from dusk to dark turned loose in a field, under the trees, locked into a van with the windows condensed so thick with shared breath, they would drip. You are a digital slave and I am an analog damsel held captive in your world where the empty fantasies never end and reality is obsolete. Meanwhile, I itch and boil and ache for my sickly savagery. I almost left to go be with two different self absorbed assholes just because I knew if I touched them, they would feel real: filthy, weathered, connected to cellular entropy, in tune with the cycles of corporeal rise and fall. This is the best time to be with you, listening to you heaving through membranes, forcing air through your nasal passages. You sleep like a beast but you wake and function like a milk cart, the wheels turning incessantly knowing only the draw of compulsion. I knew this when I met you. It didn’t matter then. I just wanted the company of another accepting body in the room. My former partner made my world a living nightmare and I would descend to your basement to get stoned so my awareness of his cruelty could dilute, if only for a while. I had to deal with your e-hive, its whirring and spinning. I knew I’d be leaving that town and would have to acclimate to the electronic grid of a city. So we did it and the hardest thing of all after five years of transition is having shored up a strong desire for community, the touch of other humans amidst the constant interference of electromagnetic bombardment.

The purgatory of commitment gets really bad at night, I imagine walking out into the dark and intercepting some beautifully physically sculpted brother under the moonlight, somewhere the vegetation gets thick and the waves of radiation subside. Where the human organism reclaims its domain of the tangible, receptive and offensive vessel we call a body. I dream of the bicep covered by cotton, the kind I can pull back and feel the skin of humanity spark against my own. Just standing there in the dark holding fast to his arms overcome by the lust of this vehicle. Like an utter stalker in the night, over his shoulder and inhaling his organic pheromones. Somewhere the wires and threads and frequencies can’t find me. Your snoring flaps next to me like a lone car window of four open on a fast highway or like a taut sheet on the line, yanked by a strong breeze. The most agitating and yet one of the few truly human things that you do.

I guess all addiction is human. Like water caught in a dam or cornered in a recess of mud. It’s a blockage. The fluid swirling around in a spiral pressing against the resistance of its mineral boundaries. That’s where I’ve been for too long. Compressed into a bubble of existence with you. Self imposed abduction though you would protest, you wouldn’t find a way to sweep me off into the trees to ravage me; I know this because its been years and you’ve yet to try. You’re not uncivilized like me. You don’t see what’s amiss and if I were to explain it you would find a way to take that upon yourself as criticism but it isn’t. It’s just a fact of my reality, I haven’t been swept away in so long. I don’t even mean the sexual component. Just the pure and concentrated animal intimacy. The grooming and preening, the encompassing tears and sweat and temperature of living beings. Raw epidermal exchange under the canopy of lush green arboreal protection. I long to hear the vocal undulations so close to my ears that I’m actually overwhelmed by tuning in. Intonations traveling the auditory range, so close to a real person you can hear their heart pumping blood through their veins.

This body has become shabby from neglect but I’m determined to rekindle the fires of my will’s hearth to blaze frenzied trails for future deviants to tread. I expect my new style of conditioning will revive this body to its former fusion with the human network in all its disgusting and meaty glory soon enough. I don’t know how you’ll take it when I redeem my soul from the systematic tedium you’ve become accustomed to but I won’t let that deter me from this quest. This is what alive means: knowing instinctively when something is wrong, be it physically imbalanced or psychologically insubstantial. I’ve always been so observant, so detailed, apprehensive and cognizant of my environment and it looks as if I shall remain this way indefinitely. The universe perverted me for its own purposes and this is the crux of my character. By it I have been instilled with a sort of curse to defy the convention of societal inundation and drudgery. The affect of industrialization is lost on me. I am repelled by factory bought or thought and am drawn to invention, defiance and distinction.

The drowsy montage of time flips me forward like a slideshow into a quaint backyard enclosure. The sun shines but the brutal unabating winters from the North clutch desperately onto the breeze here even in the subtropics. Years now and I have yet to run the beach in the notorious birthday suit I donned frequently in the woods I hailed from. It’s not a matter of fear but of liberation. Gotta be able to pay the fines for indecent exposure and gotta have a co-pilot ne’er do well to get caught with. You’re a lovely soul to watch a clock tick beside in content TV dinner, suburban ambiance but you are not what I expected. In your flights of fancy and bold displays of courtship days, the peacock colors you presented to the world I later discovered were a gold dust mirage fashioned by your esteemed PR party planner. She had you impacted in the bowels of her closet and tagged you on the clearance rack or not unlike a fixer-upper staged in presentation for quick sale.

She made you believe you were a bargain basement find and when she set you out on the floor with a ribbon round you, she knew there was sentimental value but grossly underestimated how much. After the transaction was complete and you were no longer a utensil in her drawer, she lamented her lost showpiece. A curio; a trifle and none know better than I the value you have depreciated yourself to match her assessment of you. I challenge your self-analysis and it’s no cake walk to prove your potentiality to you after a lifetime of her training. It’s so strange to watch you shrink small as the curtains of life open wider. With such qualifications as yours, one would think you’d light up naturally luminous under such conditions but the seats are empty, save the one for yourself. I understand your perception, you see no need for masquerade knowing full well what lies beneath. But do you really? You only know the subjective half of it and undercut your own value, by default of course, to the point of discounting your own position as an observer, an objector. That is the gaping seat you refuse to take, declined to applauding yourself on in the moment and instead tolerating the experience with banal filler: activating the digital treadmill and running the program. The one you coded straight from watching your father fall asleep in those aisles despite your exhibitions. I glimpse smiles of accomplishment after the fact when another captures your skill in motion but not so when you are dared to espouse the present moments where your inner critic could be your greatest ally. You deny him and by that mistake diminish the adjective, “potential” as it’s curse word counterpart in noun form. It doesn’t have to be an ends but for that you must make peace with the means to embrace ambition and promote your inherent promise. That dirty word, “abeyant”, “unrealized” “within the realm of possibility”…potential.

Through the viewmaster, my mind frames back as the shadows fall to what I need. The waking hours belong to function and the eventides are bound to form. I always do this… begin with me but somehow end with you. My cold toes cramp my style, waiting for my high noons to return and my deep currents to swell once again. I hope one day your epiphany of this skewed vantage point will strike you and that ambition will engulf you so that you’ll set sail with purpose. You’ll open your eyes to the world waiting for you, one without scarcity and excuses, one lavish with passion, joy and bounty. I long for those days where you leave the false security of her mainland and make the voyage to the claim that we have staked. Long as I might, you may never make that journey.  No matter, you don’t have to be a force of nature but it is inevitable that I must. I only hope you’ll batten down the hatches and find your hands on the wheel ready to navigate the squalls when they arrive. If the lighthouse goes dark, I hope for your sake you’ll have your position ready and your eyes on the stars for when the clouds part. I don’t want you lost out there drifting, a drenched straggler on the liquid frontier as I come ashore and lose these sea legs, primed and ready to be a pioneer.

Leave Your Feedback

What did you think of Chance’s piece? Let us know in the comments below!

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

Punk Rock is Over, Thank God

I wrote a new poem. I want to share more of my stuff with you guys. Cut out the litmag middlemen. Enjoy!

Punk Rock is Over, Thank God
by Alfonso Colasuonno

she talked about green anarchy
and punk rock music and
nintendo gamecube and
wasn’t sure if she was a
punk or a hippie
maybe she threw
red paint on her
leather jacket
but she didn’t eat meat
but she blew trees
i remember she blew trees
and had pet roaches
and she went to school
in Olympia but I never asked
her if they all fuck the same
she wasn’t Courtney
and they’re gonna bitch about
this poem having a bunch of
pop culture references and
pass this one over and joke
about it but fuck them
and I’m gonna bitch about
them calling it pop culture
and I’ve never been to Olympia
and I’ve never thrown a javelin
but I’ve been mistaken for a Greek
and they’re killing an Arab
somewhere with U.S. bombs
and we take our smoke breaks
and talk about green anarchy
because we aren’t worth shit
we’re all talk, no action
aren’t we? are we?

college is over
and she still won’t quit
usually, that’s not how these things go
one of us becomes a politician
even when we talked shit about them
one of us becomes an entrepreneur
even when we talked shit about them
one of us becomes a small business owner, a weird shop, but a business
a mother, overprotective, like our mother, right, but not
even when we talked shit about mothers
and business and everything
one of us dies
because how punk rock of us
one of us goes somewhere else
because transit and we talk about Dylan
and gang of four and Ivanka was at the wedding
of a girl I used to know and by know I mean date
and by date I mean the modern sense of the word
as in watching the office for an hour
and then kissing, her lead, and then fucking, her lead
and then falling asleep to some old Hitchcock film
and Ivanka was at a wedding in page six with some
yellowing paper memory of a girl and her sister

and ten years later
how much has changed
when one talks about riding across the country
in a hippie van
the other about art
and culture
I’m just bored
how punk rock
punk is over, thank god
good and dead
but as for me,
not quite inside
just bored
and amused
weren’t they supposed to entertain us?
isn’t that in our mutual interest?

johnny ramone voted for nixon
and moe tucker is in the tea party
and exene is to the right of ted cruz
you can’t satisfy the editors
you can’t satisfy the punks
but you can kill a little something
day by day