Embracing the Masochism: Writing Inspiration & Outlets
Hump day means different things to different people. To some it can mean that it is time to bust out the Barry White and the lube. To others it can conjure the hope and optimism of being half way through the work week slog. Here at Five 2 One Magazine hump day means it is time for another installment of the hard-nosed advice column you have come to know and loathe, Bread Crumbs from the Void!
This week I wanted to take the time to expound upon a couple of aspects which have merely been teased thus far. Namely, how writers are roped into the craft and various avenues to explore with your jagged little words. Rather than prattle on about my own demolition derby career thus far — I come from a long line of storytellers and bounced from one shitty job to the next while producing comics, short stories, poetry, and surprisingly a children’s picture book — I thought it might be a hoot to bring in a few writing friends to join the fray. Last week I drove across the country in a rundown, gas-guzzling ’75 Chevy Malibu rounding up a few pals for your entertainment. They were brought back to California, locked in a 10×10 sound-proofed room with a sand pail for a shitter, and fed stale saltines and warm Natty Ice until they delivered their respective entries.
I am now proud to present to you all the fruits of my aggravated kidnapping efforts.
Damian Rucci, (A Symphony of Crow, Musings of a Derelict Poet):
“I feel like I never had a choice about being a writer. I’ve been writing and coming up with stories for as long as I can remember— my earliest goal was to be a New York Yankee or to be an author. When I found out the odds of a fat kid joining the Yankees were slim to none, I dove straight into words. I’m trying to live a life of art at the end of the day and I try to embody that by writing daily, performing, and witnessing art. Of course I want to make it big— but beyond that I’m trying to influence the culture and move people with my words.”
Find more from Damian here: http://www.damianrucci.com/
C.W. Cooke (Solitary, Barrens, Joan of Arc):
“Writing has been important to me for a very long time, going back to high school when teachers would push me to be better at writing everything from prose to poetry and everything in between. Being a lifelong comic book fan and realizing quickly that my dream has been and will always be to write for a living, I started writing almost immediately after graduating college. From 2007 to today I’ve been writing independent comics for publishers all over the US and being published all over the world. I still work a day job so my goal has been and will always be to write for a living, to be a full time comic book writer, and to push my writing further and further. And to do so, I write every day, from lists to short stories to full comic scripts. To achieve my goals, I’m constantly reading and learning and investigating the world around me, always questioning and being curious about simple and exciting things. Not only that, but being a comic book writer and a full time writer means building a brand online and in person, so I try to tweet and post to Facebook often in order to make my voice heard as often as I can outside of comics as well. Going to Comic conventions, meeting editors, and always being a positive and open person helps a lot with growing my career and I believe it always will.”
Find more from C.W. here: https://www.facebook.com/CWCookeComix/
Craig A. Hart (Becoming Moon, The Girl Who Read Hemingway):
“My torrid, tumultuous love affair with writing began when I was in my early teens. This literary mistress infiltrated my life. Yes, I set out to write, but it would be even more accurate to say that what I write set out to be written. I am controlled by my craft, even as I pretend to control it. This impractical arrangement is where I find most of my inspiration. Writing begets writing, after all. The more one writes, the more one will write. I write to have written (the greatest high I have ever had) and I write to become inspired.
My goals in writing are common: to tell my stories and find an audience that gives a shit. Learning to tell my stories was simply a matter of hard work, study, practice, failure, and rebounds—one day I would like to paper a wall with my rejection slips. As an aside, the advent of the internet, with its wide and varied selection of online literary outlets, was a huge boon, as it began offering alternatives to the tightly-sealed, elite publications.
Finding an audience is easy. Making them give a shit is quite another matter. However, putting your craft out there in an honest, practical way is a good start. These days, a writer or any other kind of artist cannot sit in the studio and simply create, avoiding human contact—although many of us would prefer that. We have to build relationships and beat the bushes. But there is an audience out there starving for true, honest writing, especially since the reading public is currently awash in the alternative.”
Find more from Craig here: http://www.craigahart.com/
As you can see, each writer finds his or her way to the creative looney bin via various means. There are myriad ways to explore your own words and musings. If one road does not work, feel free to flip a bitch and try another route. The following are merely a smattering of possibilities, by no means meant to be a definitive list. My hope is that these overviews can at the very least be a guide and provide you with some lighter fluid for the fire under your ass waiting to be lit.
Some think of traditional publishing as the brass ring. You polish your shiny little brainchild, scrub the bastard clean and dress it in the finest of silks to gain the interest of an agent. The agent then plucks you from obscurity and launches your writing career into the stratosphere. Soon you are a household name and production companies are asking for sit-downs to obtain the movie rights to your creation. Can this happen? Certainly, though you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery or being struck by a stray bolt of lightning. Like with any other mode of publication on this list, the traditional route will take years of hard work and tireless self-promotion. Many have turned to self-publishing or much smaller publishing houses to give their work life. You may not have a world-renowned marketing machine behind you, but with an indie press you will be afforded greater control over your content and find much more personal attention. Receiving a noticeably larger chunk of the sales does not hurt either.
Sure, to the up-and-coming creative writer nonfiction may induce a yawn or a roll of the eyes. It may also incite derision as the creative devices used in fiction are generally thought of as inappropriate, or improper for use in nonfiction. The caveat here is that there is plenty of room for creativity in nonfiction. Infusing voice and style in a piece which relies heavily on truth or accuracy is not only a great exercise, but a keen way to sharpen your sense of self on the page. Depicting real events, people, and/or information does not automatically mean you must be subdued or refrain from exposing the raw innards that makes fiction so compelling. Read Experience by Martin Amis, or I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and then tell me that nonfiction is boring. Even if you still believe that to be so, you are wrong. So fucking wrong. Either way, there are plenty of mediums in nonfiction to discover and rage against including memoir, autobiography, essays (such as this here column), and our next entry blogs.
Both nonfiction and blogs could probably be categorized under the broader title of “online”, but I wanted to present them as two different entries for several reasons. Nonfiction is applicable to the direct market as well as online essays or articles and while blogs too include essays and articles, they are confined to online only. While nonfiction tends to veer toward subjectivity, blogs are far less stringent and include everything from diary/journal-style entries to step-by-step instructions on how to make contact with extra-terrestrials (no joke, check out this fucking psycho: http://www.truthcontrol.com/forum/how-make-contact-friendly-extraterrestrials). One of the more untapped applications for blogs — and one of their main distinctions from straight forward nonfiction — is their ability to serve as a marketing tool in and of themselves. You read that correctly. I am saying to use your writing to market your writing! More recently, “multi-author blogs” (or MABs) have developed, with posts written by several authors. MABs are a killer way to network and promote your work. The key to blogging is consistency. If you plan to start a blog, make sure you are in it for the long haul or you will find yourself losing readers faster than a minority gets assaulted at a Trump rally.
Last I would like to cover an industry near and dear to my gonads, comics and graphic novels. Funny books have been experiencing a renaissance of sorts in recent years. Some of that can be attributed to the big guns, big tits, and spandex world of superhero movies as well as the celebrity circus of San Diego Comic Con. I would like to believe it is also due in larger part to the fact that readers have begun to uncover the ridiculously vast ocean of varied material. Graphic novels in general have also gained some of the literary credibility which many of the writers (and of course artists) have so greatly deserved for decades while being shunned by the god-damn literati. Keep in mind with this endeavor that if you are a writer who could not draw your way out of a paper bag you will want to find an artist before pitching to publishers. Comic book houses rarely, if ever pair teams.
Again, these are but a mere few options in the world of the written word. Through trial and error you may find that none of these are the right fit. I will tell you that it is important to investigate any and every opportunity that comes your way, even if it may be in a format you never intended to be a willing participant. In the immortal words of one Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.”
Next Wednesday the secrets of plotting and pacing will be unlocked and rained upon your head in a majestic golden shower. Until then keep scribbling, you freaks.
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