Writing. Insipration.

My wife is often asked by aspiring writers how they can improve their writing. They both already know the usual advice, and good advice it is – write more, read more, etc. – but she very often tells them to live a full life.

travel, yo

This is the best advice of all, certainly. Travel, that’s obvious. Read non-fiction, listen to others’ tales, love fully those who you are closest to. These are all things of a rich life. But what if you are fully entrenched in the rut?

One of the reasons, I believe, that I am not as prolific as other writers is that I neglected to properly accumulate activity memories while I could, while I was younger. I saw what I saw, and experienced what I experienced, and I draw on it now while writing – but it’s a small pool.

Those who are best at what they do often start exceptionally early. There’s a video of Tiger Woods on the Bob Hope show putting at age two. Two!

I started writing early enough, albeit inconsistently, but I spent more time playing video games than expanding my horizons. Growing up poor contributed to this, but I’m not sure I can blame my apathy for that. My desire to go be do is currently brimming, so I don’t feel like it’s a personality thing. More of an availability thing.

poor me

Growing up, I merely existed. I was a passive character. And now I’m 42 and my job is consuming and travel is difficult and I’m doing it again. But now I can analyze and ask myself if I’m simply making excuses, if that’s just me, or if I can break free and observe and b r e a t h e.

So when my wife says, live a full life, she’s really telling us to fill our cups. Take part in our fellow companions’ lives, our settings, our feelings, and the world around us. We can start at any time, as long as we turn on the mechanism.

Do whatever you can to lead a full life, a rich life. Be part of the action, not the scenery.

Exist like crazy.

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On being a Semi-Finalist in my favorite writers contest

Oh, so I haven’t blogged this year. So much for that resolution…
It’s not that I don’t have blog thoughts, it’s not that I don’t write them in a .doc file on my desktop called “blogs”. It’s that I don’t come here and forge them into coherent sentences.

Well, I will try, just for you dear reader. Whoever you are.

Today’s blog is a little about my writing, and reaching a place I didn’t think I would, and what it means to me.

On receiving a semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest:

I didn’t think this story had a chance. I was just hoping not to get rejected. So when I saw that calls were going out, I figured I had my result in my e-mail. When I saw the words “Congrats, you are a semi-finalist” I literally didn’t believe them.

I printed the e-mail and read the words again because that somehow made them more real, and then damnit I got all choked up. Why? Because this is the validation I’ve been waiting for. No, my first finalist didn’t do it. Not on my 3rd WotF entry, and only my 5th submission anywhere. No, not my flash fiction sales. They are great, I’m not knocking them, but I can sell an idea. I want to sell a story.

So why is yet another rejection so validating? (I still haven’t sold anything over 2K) Because A. It’s from a different judge. And B, because all those people who told me back in 2011 that I could do it again had thusfar been wrong until that moment. (Yeah, I know it’s not a finalist, but as we’ve been told and reassured, a semi is a finalist that simply didn’t fit into the top 8.)

Translation: I’m a real writer. That’s how I felt at that moment and the moments after. I felt like I’d arrived. And if anyone ever asks, that’s the moment I’ll tell them. Not after selling to X or Y, but right then. I know there are plenty of rejections to come, that’s just part of this whacky thing I do, but now I can finally believe the words I’ve heard again and again, “editor taste” not “needs improvement”.

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Writing. Focus.

So my college classes are over. College classes? Yeah, I don’t blog as much as I should. I spent the past 16 weeks back in school taking Psychology 101 and Contemporary Short Story 221. I can’t believe the sheer number of hours I just spent on only two classes. How on earth did I ever take and pass five? Oh, right, I was in my twenties.

But now I’m back to writing in the mornings before dawn in Iceland and I’m enjoying the heck out of my WiP.

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Career – to date – submission stats

OK, so I’ve given you my mid-year stats, but how about career?

Recently, I reached the milestone of my 50th submission, so I thought I’d share some more stats.

Submission 1. Writers of the Future contest. March 20, 2010. Result – Honorable Mention. (Still a rejection, but a nice one.)
Submission 15. March 5, 2012. A flash fiction story sent to Fiction365. My first acceptance!
Submission 50. Sept 6, 2013. IGMS. Oddly enough, a rework/rewrite of my first submission.

Rejections: 39
Acceptances: 6
Pending: 5

So, right now I’m at a 12% acceptance rate. (Assuming the pending 5 are rejected.) Pretty good, I’d say!

Here’s to the next 50, may they not take 3.5 years to happen…

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Mid-year submission/acceptance story stats:

Okay, so I’m totally stealing this idea from Jennifer Campbell-Hicks 

As of today. (Missed the mid-year by a lil bit.)

Total submitted = 11.
Currently submitted = 3
Accepted = 1

Last year I was 4 for 21, so I’ve got to pick up the pace if I’m to equal last year’s totals, which, for me, was my best year ever.

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Age, the leading cause of death.

Age: A blog honoring my published story regarding the cure for aging:

I recently read that one hundred, eleven (111) year old Bernardo LaPallo visited the new Yankee Stadium. (Around a hundred years removed from visit to Hilltop Park, the Yank… I mean the Highlanders first park.)

I expected to see a shriveled, shell of a man in a wheelchair. Instead, he stood upright, dressed in a snazzy suit, and shook hands with Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130601&content_id=49324808&vkey=news_nyy&c_id=nyy

I can’t help but wonder why some people live so dang long, while others wither and die in their fifties. Case in point, my grandfather.

I never knew him other than a sickly, old man. He passed when I was 11. He was 59.

Recently, I was looking at an old photo album of my father’s. I found a picture of my grandfather in his early 40’s, before I was born. He looked OLD. My father commented that he was “always old.”

Mr LaPallo is 111.

So what is it? Modern medicine? Constitution? Genetics? Luck?

In general, we’re all living longer, (Average life expectancy varies by country, Japan leads the way.) but 111? Seriously?

The article says there are several hundred known super-contrarians. Those over 110.

Where will I fall on the spectrum? I have my grandfather’s genes, (And his southpaw.) but I’m not “old” at 40. That’s a good sign. But there are diseases out there that don’t care hold old we are. If they get in, they stay, and the average takes a dip.

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Goal set: 10k words a month – 2013

In April, (I’m a little behind in my blogging) I publicly (on a writing forum) offered up a challenge – to write 10k words a month, each month, for the rest of 2013.

I reached my goal in April and May.

I believe the 22k or so words were more than I wrote all of last year. All because I set the goal and insisted on reaching it.

June is looking like it will be quite challenging to reach the 10k. I’ve got to edit my WotF entry, (editing doesn’t count as new words) I’ve got some writing contest entries to read and critique, I’ll have a few other WotF entries to critique, and I have a script to look over and tweak. (Thanks to a Kickstarter reward, a movie producer will read my script and offer comments/critique)

Today’s the 4th. I’m around 1000 words. I need to get busy.

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