Purposefully Erratic

Bionic Tumbleweed

Approaching Aiguille du Midi Approaching Aiguille du Midi

Traveling has left me caught in an expanding web of magnificent eccentrics. Last night I had dinner with a pair of mountain bikers I met in Chamonix this summer. Though we’ve known each other less than three months, I knew by the light in their eyes – knew by the grin that started in the right corner of Tom’s mouth and didn’t stop until the left corner of Gloria’s (across the room) – that their latest expedition was a grade A sufferfest. A two hour bike ride that turned into eight, uphill over roots and boulders, through the viscous, silty mud that forms in the rain that really hasn’t stopped falling all season. Only a coke and a few madeline’s to sustain them.

I can’t ride a two-wheeler. The closest I came was the red tricycle I scooted along on as a toddler, or the wheelchair…

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Don’t Run From Who You Are: Writing Advice From George Saunders & Cheryl Strayed

Don’t Run From Who You Are: Writing Advice From George Saunders & Cheryl Strayed

Thought Catalog

I don’t know who said you should never meet your heroes, but I can’t help but feel that whoever it was probably spent too much time worshiping rap stars or professional athletes (I know they’re not ALL douches, but I’m extrapolating). Having had the great pleasure and privilege of meeting both George Saunders and Cheryl Strayed this year, two of my biggest literary heroes, I know that meeting people you admire isn’t always a letdown. Walking away from both experiences, I could not have been more delighted, or inspired.

In the unfortunate instance you aren’t already familiar, George Saunders is a renowned short story writer, whose recent book Tenth of December was hailed as “The Best Book You’ll Read This Year” by the New York Times. I look up to Saunders for his wholly original style and his unparalleled ability for mixing wit and imagination with piercing social commentary. For…

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Working to regain my momentum

The grades are in the system–and aside from the usual grade complaints–the Fall semester is in the books. So now, I have no excuse to not write. Except that I just can’t get my rear moving. What the hell is wrong with me? My focus for the last year and a half has been working on this novel and getting it right. And now when I have some solid ideas about how to do that, I feel paralyzed to do it. Is it the fear of, once again, getting not quite there and having to start over once again? Or is it the fear that maybe I do have the solutions, and once I fix it,  then I’ll have to actually begin the painful process of trying to get it published? That maybe there is safety in the drafting process. It’s a cocoon of work protecting you from the harsh reality of rejection. You can still say you’re a writer because you are WRITING. But when you’re done writing, and you’re not-yet published, well what are you then? Maybe that’s what I’m afraid of having to find out.

Struggling, but motivated

August 6th I finished the first draft of what will be my thesis novel. As hard as it was to keep motivated during that process, I am having a worse time trying to edit. I took a break from the thesis novel, only because I’ll be editing it from September to April and I didn’t want to get burnt out on it. So I’ve edited two short stories and then I stared editing my Ghost novel. Then I hit a wall.

I got discouraged. I’m still not sure why. Maybe it’s the idea of recreating what I already created that seems depressing. I used to LOVE to edit. I described it as a sculptor pulling the features out of the rough form he’s molded from the lump of clay. But man, this week it has been more like taking a blow to the head.

Then yesterday, I went from hope down to a pit of self-doubt, again. I happened to see a new book, by a first-time author, it’s I believe a collection fo short stories, all based on southern Indiana. When I first saw this, I thought “Awesome! Maybe now Indiana will be viewed as a legit setting for books.” But then I read this guy’s blog.  Agent: Donald Maas. He’s like a factory worker. And the book is all about meth heads, drug runners, etc. And the reviews are fantastic. So why would that depress me?

For on thing, I don’t write that stuff. Nor do I read it. But it seems like to be taken seriously, that’s what I need to write. Everyone I know, in particular MALE, who has had publishing success is writing this “grit.” So here’s my dilemma: Write crap I don’t like to read, so I can be taken seriously OR write the more lighthearted, kooky stuff I’m writing now and just hope to have SOMETHING published before I’m too old to type on the damn computer. I don’t know. I know what others will tell me: Write what you love! And I do, but the older I get, the more depressed I get about whether or not what I’m doing is going to be of interest to anyone. Will anyone want to read about a gay ghost or a middle-aged man guided by Oprah and a pigeon? I don’t know.

And I guess that’s why I have such a hard time editing. Always in the back of my mind I hear “The next one is going to be the best yet. That next one you write is going to be the ONE.” So if that’s true, why spend the time editing what I’ve already done? The answer to that is, of course, thinking ahead that way will only delay getting ANYTHING published. Maybe it’s my way of self-sabotage. If I don’t have anything read to send out, I wont be rejected, I won’t have to answer the question about changing the subject-matter of what I write.

This writing life is not easy. Never will be. But I have tow choices: give up or fight on. Today, the answer is easy. HELL YA! FIGHT ON!

Tomorrow, well, tomorrow is another day.