Thursday, October 19, 2017

Some thoughts

Read this article by Eileen Myles the other day and resonated with it, the second half anyways. This idea of not reading what you are expected to be reading and how writers need/should be given lots of time to just think about whatever and write about whatever. Fucking paradise. Also she talked about Bernhard which ignited this interest in him again. Need to get 'Gargoyles' and 'The Lime Works'.

This recognition is dawning more and more: that you only write well when you stop worrying about writing well, that you only do good work when you stop worrying about doing good work et c. et c. Not, that is, that it is sufficient to stop worrying to be productive, but it is necessary. Works that are concerned with their own quality just stick out like a wound.

Read a short story by Jhumpa Lahiri for this class I am going to be taking. It was in the Scripber anthology of contemporary short fiction and it was easily one of the most boring stories I've ever come across. 'A Temporary Matter' or 'A Temporary Affair'. The story comes off like writing that is attempting to be literary writing, like a simulacrum of a New Yorker story, like something a neural network trained on the New Yorker would spit out. Utterly soulless, like a shell of a story with nothing within. It should be interesting to see what other have to say about it, certainly a number of them will like it a lot.

Too, there was this sort of fear of writing here for a while, since no one reads this. But then, it isn't for others, this isn't for anyone else. This is just a place that my thoughts can go and sit for a long time and then be brought back up in the future. Its useful.

Have been finding interesting thoughts that do not get written down and then are forgotten. Need to just write them down, not that they are actually interesting, but the more that are written down the greater the chance that one of them will catch, that they will be returned to in the future. Its all just a lottery, its all just a game. Everything is just a game.

Ishiguro gets the nobel and Saunders gets the booker. Sort of not surprised by either but glad about Ishiguro. 'The Unconsoled' was so strange and challenging. Not that it matters. Saunders is the sort of writer that seems required right now, which leads to a sort of resistance. Read that he was a geotechnical engineer before becoming a writer which is interesting/heartening.

The old saying which is always lodged in my mind 'stupid people talk about other people, mediocre people talk about events and smart people talk about ideas' and the worst talk only of themselves. So, in an ignorant attempt to increase intelligence (through following the correllation the other way) all writing should be scrubbed on any personal identifiers. There we go. That makes sense.

One thing that frustrates is literary studies. This idea that writers have this grand plan laid out, that everything is meticulously ordered and filled with intention. Perhaps in some cases but really? How can you buy this? It posits that writers are these superhuman geniuses. But no, surely most of them are just doing it and just doing it for fun. Otherwise, why write?

Some time would be wonderful. Just a week to let it all go, to reconnoiter, to forget things. Then two months or so to work ever day. To just shut up and write and read and really delve into this work.

Some four or five hundred pages and it feels like it is just starting, that it is just figuring itself out. There must be something there, but where is it? What is it?

There are the things that I know it needs/ has:

  • Chekov's travel to Sakhalin island
  • The emancipation of the serfs
  • Simmering, Berhard-esque hatred of others
  • A Prisoner like mystery surrounding the traveler's flight from the capitol/society/civilization
  • An ash man
  • McCarthy like conversations with the peasants/forced wisdom
  • Cosmic horror
  • Cosmic horror of the Taiga and the Steppe
  • A succession of disconnect from society, in some ways carried by the 'primitivization' of the mode of transpost. Concretely: he goes from a train to a carriage to on foot (to stasis?)
  • The plague always: always on the edge, always east of where the traveler is, and the plague as stand in for mass panic and mass violence.
  • Wading into the plague for a reason that cannot be discrned. He may have a reason but we do not know it.
  • Wading into the plague without knowing it, without sensing it. It always seems far away until he is in it, and then, even though he knew it was coming, he cannot see it and that he is a part of it.
  • The gods of the taiga, sleeping in the depths of the woods always off in the distance. Somewhere, everywhere extending their dream influence, pulling him in to the dark of the far east.
  • Perhaps a character, either Fetsingcroix or Stellian who he comes across and see everything that he lacks, or imagines it. Then he follows him. Then this man comes to the plague and is a sort of plague messiah.
  • And it all comes together into one thing, all of these are one thing at heart.
That seems like everything, I think. And all the time this one character. And all the time it is just his view, we only get his view. And it should be punishing, really just relentless, endless. How to get this endless darkness without dragging it out, there has to be tension somewhere, and that has been the challenge. It just sags at many points.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Where I am at now

I'm feeling frustrated.

On the one hand I think I have more literary energy than I have had for a while. This is good. I am feeling really upbeat re: submitting, have submitted a short story that I am feeling good about to maybe 15 venues, signed up for a short story class, am finding lots of books to buy and (strangely) wrote and submitted two poems.

On the other hand it feels like I am at the lip of this unbridgeable gap: I am working on this manuscript which has been in process since Jan 2016 and I just can't find the groove. I also feel the need to dedicate myself to it fulltime, wish I could dedicate myself to it full time, but don't think I can take time off of work to do it. I really think that if I had two or three months of dedicated time I could pull it all together, do a bunch of research and have something at least worth getting edited or sending to small presses, but I really need that 24/7 time to do it.

I also feel very isolated. Looking at a lot of other writers that I admire it seems like they often have at least a few other writers around them that they can talk to, bounce ideas off of, whatever. Get feedback from. I find it really hard to find other writers. I'm not sure why this is. I also find it hard to find other people that are doing stuff that I consider to be similar to what I am doing, and that will/might be able to give me substantial feedback. I'm also not sure why this is. I guess I'm not looking hard enough, but then where do I look exactly? And I have gone to readings, writer's workshops et c. and I tend to just find them tedious. Like social circles for the socially awkward, which is fine, but I guess I am trying to get substantial feedback above anything else, and I have just not found the energy required to attend these things worth the pay off in terms of benefits to my writing. There is a part of me that thinks that when I get published or get a novel published or get just more exposure this will change, but this might be faulty thinking and I suspect that it is dead wrong. There is also a part of me that wonders if my writing is just poor enough that it can't arouse interest. I try to stay positive, but there is this falling back to the null hypothesis (my writing isn't very good or interesting) that just seems safe, so I rely on it.

I also see this gulf before me, between where I am now (dedicated amateur with no publications) to where I want to be in the short term (basically dedicated amateur/part-time professional with publications) and I have no idea what steps I need to take to close it. I signed up for this class, which feels sort of strange already. There is a part of me that suggests applying to programs, but then that makes me feel slimy and as if I would be selling a part of my soul. Like a loss of purity or something. But then what else is there? Continue on as I am and just hope that things will change? I don't feel like I am gaining much momentum, or at least enough momentum and certainly gaining no attention doing what I am doing. What other options are there?

What is also frustrating is the lack of feedback. The ms. I am working on now is pretty long and hazy. There is minimal plot, it is mostly a guy wandering around Siberian Villages just ruminating on things. It does not lend itself to being extracted for publication in mags. So there is not really even the potential to submit parts of this now. I could work on short stories, but I don't find that particularly interesting. So I just have this two years gap from when I last published a story, which just feels unfortunate.

I guess I am just not sure what to do, what actions I need to take. I want to feel like I am doing something, moving forward, making some progress.

I like to think I am the sort of person that is okay with feeling lost or unsure or whatever but it sort of takes a toll. I guess I just need to see some sort of glimmer of something to move towards, to validate within myself that I am actually doing something.

There is the constant feeling of time running out. It is acute now, but it has always been there. It has been the prime motivator in writing, and considering the momentum I gained in 2013 (first ms finished, a few stories published, helping out with tNY, chapbook printer) I guess I thought I would have moved further by this point. But here I am, it feels like I am still at square on.

I am reading 'The Cave' by Jose Saramago right now. He didn't really get recognized until he was in his 60's. I guess that is sort of comforting. I also wish I was less obsessed with getting published. I wish I could just write in peace, in solitude and just leave it as it is. I guess the whole thing feels like such a long process that I feel like I just need to move as quickly as possible. I guess I just need to remember that none of it really matters anyways and that there will be no difference between getting published now and getting published later and not getting published at all.

Friday, March 10, 2017


I was interviewed about my experience getting into web development: New Developer Podcast

Thanks to Manu for interviewing me!

Monday, January 16, 2017

At Five years

So it has been close to five years since I started writing seriously. I was writing a bit before then but it was January 2012 when I started daily work on my first novel length manuscript. When I started writing my motivations were sort of out of place. I guess I liked the idea of being a writer and living the writers life. I liked reading a lot, but I was more interested in the aura of writing than the act itself. I was also interested in a huge variety of work. I sort of wanted to see it all. I also figured that getting published would be easy, or I suppose I didn't give a whole lot of thought to the publishing aspect at all. I wanted to meet lots of other writers and talk with other writers and be around them.

I figured (this is embarrassing now) that I would be able to figure out how to be a writer as a full time profession and be able to live off of my writing from then on out.

After five years my attitude has changed somewhat. After two and a half novel length manuscripts, none of which have been published and a handful of short stories I have come to recognize the marathon nature of writing. I have also shifted my interests and goals away from publishing and making money and toward the act at hand. The simple act of putting words onto paper, filling the page and moving along.

Though I only read the book describing it a few months ago, for perhaps the last year and a half my attitude toward writing has grown closer and closer to the process of finding 'flow' in my work. Rather than putting all of my hopes and expectations into publishing my work (where the highs never seem to justify the effort and the lows of rejection inevitably throw me off) I look at the process of writing itself as the important part. I get far more enjoyment and fulfillment during a solid writing streak than the few times I have seen my words in print.

This is not some fatalistic or cynical take on publishing. Rather, I figured I'll get to it when I get to it, and at a point where the effort expended.

I guess what I do have to admit, and this took me a long time to figure out, is that the only part of 'the writing process' that I understand is the actual writing part (though to be humble I should admit that even that is a stretch). I don't understand how to edit, how to publish or how to refine my work. I just don't get those parts and I find the actual fact of publishing to be so unrewarding in the concrete (yet persistently alluring in the abstract) that I have little motivation to push me toward these things.

I'm confronted here (again and again, every day, with few exceptions for these pas five years) with the question of whether I am a real writer if I do not publish. If I am only doing this for myself am I fulfilling the goals that I set out for myself? If I am not publishing does this work matter? If I am not publishing am I 'moving forward' moving toward better work or more engagement?

I suppose the only real benefit to publishing would be to 'push myself' to extend myself in some way. Again, the rewards of this are hard to define or predict, if they exist at all.

Thus far the majority of my publications have, more or less, fallen into my lap. I've been lucky in that way, but then it means that when nothing comes to me, I do not publish. Again, this is something that I am uneasy with, but accepting of. The question is whether this is something I should accept or something I should rail against.

The turning point for this was the string of rejections from my first novel length manuscript. It was hard, but rather than deter me totally it cause me to reevaluate the threshold for which I considered work 'ready' for publication. Since that point I wanted to make sure that, if I sent something out, it would most likely get one acceptance, or at least some positive feedback. I've been wondering recently if I set that bar too high, since I have not felt that I have produced anything capable of publishing in nearly two years. Or perhaps I have set the bar right.

I set a goal a few years ago to publish me first novel before I turned thirty. I am twenty eight now, about to turn twenty-nine and it does not seem like this is going to happen. I have become very aware of the passage of time lately as well, and it seems like life is passing be very quickly. I originally started to write (and still do to some extent) as a way to mark the passage of time, so that I can look back at the months or years that have passed and see that I have left, at the very least, something. Like a misguided attempt at timelessness. It now feels like a race, the hopeless race against time to create something.

I feel like I am at a point of tension or a point of prolonged stasis. Something has to advance soon, or move or break. I'm not sure what it will be. I've been at this for five years and little seems to have happened. Though perhaps I have this framed all wrong. Maybe something like this can exist in stasis indefinitely, maybe through lack of talent or mediocrity something like this can exist in stasis forever.

Friday, February 26, 2016


So I took something like six or seven months off from really thinking about publishing. I've been writing, not a lot, but every day, but I haven't made anything worth publishing in nearly a year, and the past set of submissions (over a dozen) were all rejections.

I got a few encouraging rejections, but still they are getting to me, and there hasn't really been anything that has popped up on its own. Also I haven't really met any writers here in MPLS and I'm falling out of contact with the writers I knew in WA so now I feel pretty isolated I/R/T literature as an imminent thing (as opposed to an abstract thing, I guess).

With a little time on my hands I looked back on my manuscript I wrote last year and the idea of submitting that made me sort of nauseuous. I feel like I can't really do anything until I offload that so I put it up on KDP, just to have it somewhere else. I looked at small presses to submit to and it was the most depressing thing. Just not worth the effort. You can spend hours upon hours looking for presses and then they really should buy their books and read them to find out what they publish so that takes you another like couple months and then their subs are closed and then if you find one that seems like it works the chances of getting you novel submitted is less than 5 percent or whatever, and even some of these small ones ask for an agent so, I just don't know what to do. I still like writing (I wish I could do it more) but I just don't really know how I am supposed to approach publishing as a part of that. Whether I should hustle as hard as I can or just let it be and just focus on writing and just let it happen when it happens. It seems like both ways are dead ends. I guess.

I'm not sure if that is a good idea or not, I don't expect anyone to buy it, but it is there, it is externalized.

I put up my first manuscript up as well. Here

I guess it sort of feels like a cop out. Like none of the authors admire put their work up on KDP, so I won't be like them, or something.

I feel like I never really hooked into a community of writers and I feel like I at least expended some effort on that, but it never really came to anything. It seems like everyone I talked to just got their work published becuase they knew someone and I've never really known anyone who does that stuff, and even when I tried to meet people who were in publishing it never came to anything.

I guess I'm not one to hustle.

I don't know I want to tell myself that right now isn't the time or something, but I'm losing patience, I've lost patience and I just want to move on, I want to throw this old work behind me and move onto something actually worthwhile.

I've ruminating on something recently and started to work on it, but I just feel like it won't go anywhere either.

I didn't write or read much because I was learning to code, which is cool because I have a decent paying job now, but I also sort of feel like I am getting away from my core priority. Like I was so excited a few years ago at the prospect at being a full time writer, or devoting my main ambition to pursuing fiction, but now I've spent all this time and money and effort doing something totally separate from that and I feel like I have compromised myself or compromised my goals.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I put my latest manuscript on kindle

I've been feeling pretty pessimistic about writing recently, and the publishing process in particular so I caved and put my last manuscript up on Kindle direct publishing.

I felt it wasn't moving anywhere, so I might as well move it out of my hard drive.

You can find it here:

Monday, November 16, 2015

New Piece out

I have a collaborative piece out in Neoglyphic Media's 'Emergence' #3