Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Tension Mounts

Right now, somewhere in the world, my story "Westward Expansion" sits being considered for what will be my biggest publication to date (should it get accepted). It's been out for 98 days now and the editors have gone through two rounds of sending out rejections. As the old saying goes, "No news is good news." I'm excited, nervous, anxious, and scared as hell, because it will be a great step forward for me -- mostly because the story will be in print instead of online. So there's that.

In two weeks, I'll be hosting WriteHouse, which is like the little brother of WriteCamp, and I'm a little nervous about that, too, because I'm essentially doing the entire event by myself, with some help from the editor of UWM's undergrad publication (and she's been a doll about the whole thing with the help she's given). So it's a bit of a nerve-wracking thing to hope that it turns out well. But I'm satisfied that it will at least give more visibility to my little group.

Also, after five years of hemming and hawing about the idea, I've decided to go back to school to get my Master's. In what, I'm not entirely certain; it will most likely be either in Adult Education or Creative Writing, though I'm still not convinced that an MFA will really help me as much as something else would. We'll see. My only gut-twisting issue with this decision is that it will lead me out of state to get said Master's degree, and I haven't moved more than 20 miles from one place to another in nearly 15 years, so starting over -- while I've done it many times in my past -- is a change of monumental proportions, and it scares me.

So that's that. I'm eagerly preparing for NaNo, too, and that's exciting. And enjoying the last of Wisconsin's pleasant afternoon's at the coffee shop.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Music & Me

Lately I've been trying to inspire myself through music, and it's worked, though not in the most uplifting of ways. I tend to write relatively somber pieces (which most know if they've ever read my work), but I seem to be listening to a lot of very quiet, brooding, mood-dampening music. It's worked to produce some good work, though -- at least in my opinion.

I did recently finish a short story of 4700 words. It's another steampunk story, which I'm pretty pleased with. It falls a little more into the fantasy side of things, with a lot less history blended in. All-in-all, it's pretty solid, and I'm eager to get it polished and sent out as another submission for the year (though it will only make 4 this year).

I also finally found someone I'm very pleased to work with for the letter-writing project I tried to start about six months ago with someone else. It's a continuation of the "Westward Expansion" short story I completed back in January of this year. If things go well, it will at least be a novella comprised of both narrative and letters written between the two main characters of the previously-mentioned short story. I think it will be an interesting project regardless of its success, and it will be the first time I've really worked with someone long-term on a project, as I tend to write by myself (being that I'm kind of picky when it comes to my narratives).

WriteHouse is coming up soon -- second or third week of October -- and I think it's going to be great. I'll update as the event gets more formalized in date and time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Successes & Failures

It's always surprising -- though not shocking -- how things come in droves when they do come, whether good or bad. So here are some updates -- both the good and the bad -- and don't worry, there's some writing-related bits at the end.

1. After a very long and packed Spring planning for WriteCamp, we were rewarded with a great turn-out for the event and an even better response to it this year than last. There will most certainly be a continuation of the event for years to come, which has been my hope since it's inception.

2. After six years of marriage, my wife asked me for a divorce, which I must say will be on the biggest changes in my life to date. It's been a year filled with family tragedies, and this will certainly be something more to add to my list of life experiences. Life gives us a lot of hurdles to jump over; this is but another of those, and I will prevail.

3. For those who don't follow me on Facebook or Twitter (and you should), I had another story published on 365 Tomorrows' website. It's my first Steampunk piece, and I'm very happy about it. It's probably one of my most polished and experimental pieces.

4. With the success of WriteCamp -- as mentioned above -- I've decided to turn The Milwaukee Writers Workshop into a full-fledged organization, and I'm in the process of incorporating it in order to apply for non-profit status. That way (I can hope), we'll have a much easier time next year and years to follow to get more and bigger sponsorships from folks for WriteCamp and other events we might hold.

It's always friends and family that help me through the ebbs and flows of my life, and I thoroughly appreciate their presence right now. While many things in my life seem wildly out of control, at least I am kept sane by the continued mental benefit of my writing. I'll write again soon -- I promise.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Updates & More

Hello everyone. So it's update time.

First, there's WriteCamp Milwaukee 2. The event of the season is closing in fast, and we're all very excited. We're getting retweeted and forwarded and mentioned all over the place, and we're hoping that means an even better turn-out than last year -- which was, to our surprise, amazing. If you're in Milwaukee on June 5 of this year, please visit us. Here is the info:

In other news, writing has been going extremely well. Some of the pieces I have finished are as follows:

"The Village With the Hole in the Sky" -- 2043-word magic realism piece
"Lou in A Coffee Shop" -- 2005-word contemporary piece
"In Reynolds" -- 3171-word near future zombie story
"Adon Saldori" -- 6144-words steampunk story (part of a series)

I have two others I haven't yet typed up. I'm proud of the work I've put out lately. I think it's good work. I'm also working diligently on the YA Steampunk novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. I think it's on its way to being a solid, complete work.

So that's it for now. I'll no doubt be busy with WriteCamp coming up, but I'll do my best to update a few more times in the next month.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Recovery & Bouncing Back

January was a bad first month for 2010 -- at least emotionally. Without getting too sappy and divulging too much, I had a relative pass away and my dad went into the hospital. I don't deal well with tragedy sometimes, and this time was worse than usual. However, I feel like I've come back with a vengeanace, and I'm working hard to get back into the swing of things with my writing, which fortunately has been easy because of the significant downtime I get at work.

So I've been working on a few short stories that take place in a world I create two years ago for a NaNo. While the NaNo was not a success (I did complete 28k on it, but it wasn't very coherent or cohesive), I believe that the world I built for the story was memorable, and I've been trying as hard as I could to come back to it, but I've just not had the opportunity or spark of "what to write" until now. I also feel that my knowledge and understanding of the genre has expanded immensely in the last four months, having read three steampunk novels and two full collections of short stories (and I just started a new novel today). So as I learn, I have begun to understand my own take on the genre, as well as how to blend it with my unique style and method of storytelling.

I have also begun to incorportate a very loose collection of stories I started years but never completed. I think that the stories I began to tell within them is very much a part of this world -- perhaps even the promulgator of this particular incarnation -- and things are going along nicely. Over the course of four days writing only at work I pumped out 5000 words on one story, and I've already started a second one, both of which I'm pleased with after the first draft.

Planning for WriteCamp 2 (or WriteCamp '10, we haven't decided) began this past week. While part of me has become a little disallusioned with the writing community in Milwaukee, I am eager to get this event squared away in order to produce something as memorable as the first one. I will, no doubt, update as often as I can regarding the status of said event, as well as my own increased writing schedule.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Writing as Healing

I am always moved to write when someone I know dies. I feel like it's the best way for me to cope: to put my emotions onto the page and hope that in the process I work through my pain is the goal. It helps, though. A friend of mine -- a therapist and a good one at that -- once talked to me about coaching people suffering from depression and other things to use art as their outlet for their emotions. I've found it to be thoroughly useful, and I'm working through things right now.

I'm producing a short story that I'm rather proud of. It's painful, and strong, and emotional, and I think it's going to be something I can feel satisfied with sending out to some of the more mainstream publishers out there.

I recently read a letter written by Kurt Vonnegut after he was liberated from a workers camp in Germany during WW2. It was powerful to hear his thoughts on the series of events that led him from capture to liberation. The pain -- both physical and mental -- that he endured, the strength that he had to deal with it, and the emotion that he poured into his writing years later fascinates me and compels me to follow in his footsteps. To be so strong is admirable.

I think it is that harnessing of one's past that allows a writer -- or any artist -- to create something truly memorable, meaningful, and powerful. Those are the things I strive for in my own writing. To be forgotten is worse, to me, than death: that is what I fear the most.

Sorry for the bit of personal outpouring. It's a personal blog -- so I reserve the right to get personal sometimes :-)