Adam

Time Capsule

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So I’ve been a bad person, as you can probably tell, and I haven’t posted anything in a week or two…*cue wrist slaps*. I admit that I am an awful blogger but I also admit that change isn’t going to be as immediate as I’d like to think.

But that aside, I’m going to try and get back into the swing of things. Post today, maybe one tomorrow, definitely another by the end of the week. As for today, a 642 Things To Write About post has made its way into my text box.

This time, the prompt was as follows: “Write an anonymous letter to a stranger detailing the things you’ve learned about life”. I couldn’t resist taking it and using this format…anyone like myself who needs semi-proper grammar and spelling to live, I’m sorry. Some things have to happen.

* * * * *

Hello my name is Adam. I dont know who you are. I hope your friendly.

Do you like the future? Mom says if I put this in the ground, your gonna find it in the future. I hope shes right.

I dont know what to say so I asked Mom. She says I should tell you some advice I no now so you can have it in the future. 

  1. Make sure you share all your toys with people. Espesh Uspetch Especially when they arent nice to you first, even though those are the hardest shares to do. Thats how you make friends is by being nice first. Mom told me how to spell that word.
  2. Clean your room and make your bed every day even on the weekends when its a lazy day. Theres no excuse for living like an animal even though their happy just the way they are and go to animal heaven.
  3. Some adults are good people but not all of them. Some ones are bad people who steal good people away. Those ones are usually tall with must ashes and big coats. If they get you make a lot of noise like theres a fire and no one else knows about it.
  4. Mommies can see around corners and through floors and seelings. Even though it doesnt make a lot of sense they still do.
  5. Even though daddies are a privilege and only some kids have them its not a bad thing when you dont because it means the world is happy that way and its for the right thing. If you have a daddy thats cool and I wish I could meet him in the future. Wait if he is your daddy in the future is he a kid like me right now?

I dont have any more advice in this letter but I hope you liked this and maybe I will send you another one soon. I wish you could send me one back from the future but Mom says time machines are a story. This is kind of like a time machine though except it only goes forward not back. 

I hope you have a really good day and say hi to all your future friends for me and tell them that Adam said hello how are they.

Bye

* * * * *

More to come.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

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Five Reasons Why I’m Not Self-Publishing My Novel

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Here’s another post from the Archives–this one dating back to 2013. I feel like stoking some controversy, so naturally I’ll put this one up.

But wow, though. After reading the piece…how young and naive I was. The points still stand, though.

* * * * *

So I’ve made a lot of talk recently about having a novel almost ready for seeking representation. It’s well on its way, and that’s all fine, but given the recent disposition toward self-publishing to be found in the modern literary world, I’ve had to give a bit of thought as to whether or not to pursue that route.

The answer is, for me, a no.

Here’s why.

  1. I’m a debut novelist. Also, I’m sixteen. That means that even if the world were to stay as it is right now, with no advances in medicine, I have roughly 58 years more to write and publish material. That’s very daunting, at least to me, and I’m looking at that statistic with next to nothing. Aside from my wonderful readers at WordPress, and friends and family out of the Cloud, I have no base in readership whatsoever. So, to jump-start a productive 58 years of noveling, I would very much like to follow the route to publishing that will net me a larger audience earlier on. Self-publishing, unfortunately, does not offer that. For debut novelists, self-publishing is a trap, because quite frankly there’s a big chance for a novel to make no progress in such an environment. Then, I have nothing but an extra novel to tote around for the rest of my life.
  2. It’s a new market. Or at least, self-publishing has only become widespread very recently. This means a number of things. First, there are still things we’re figuring out about the system, which I’ll get into more later. Basically, there is no way yet for people to sift through the vast piles of self-published manuscripts that already exist, even without the multitudes still making their way through gestation in their writers’ minds. Also, there’s not really a way in business terms to work with self-published books, whether on the level of libraries, bookstores, publicists, the Internet or whatever else. There are a lot of kinks to still work out right now, and I’m not willing to submit my novel to an unrefined system.
  3. It counts against me in the published world. What I mean by this is that in the world of publishers and agents and publicists and all that, self-publishing doesn’t exactly hold much merit. Unfortunately, once you’re in self-publishing you’re in it essentially for good. Publishers won’t sponsor the latter half of a series started in self-publishing–it’s too tedious. Agents won’t represent authors who flaunted them before and didn’t achieve success–it’s like punching someone and then asking them for a band-aid for your knuckle. Established authors won’t respect the self-published–why should they, when you’re trying essentially to break down their way of life? Publicists won’t bother with one self-published work when there are literally millions which could be better. Essentially, if I’m going to self-publish, I’m on my own for good.
  4. There are far too many ways for the process to go wrong. Ever heard of PublishAmerica? Yeah, well, they’re a giant scam publishing house. Look them up if you don’t believe me. And in terms of the sheer volume of scam traps, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There are SO MANY people out in the world looking for a quick profit, willing to sacrifice years of someone’s life in order to get it. And, there are for-profit agent-extortionists, easily identifiable by the characteristic of charging exorbitant amounts of money simply for them to read a manuscript, let alone consider it for anything. And even beyond that, there’s the entire system, filled as it is with the pitfalls of apathetic editing, poor proofreading and the hordes of other self-published authors all vying for a top spot in a system packed to bursting. Self-publishing honestly holds way too many shortfalls than it has positive points. It’s that simple.
  5. I want to write something good. And I guess for me that’s really the heart of my entire argument. I want to write something WORTH me wanting to take the time and energy to publish traditionally. I want to write something an agent sees and is thrilled with, rather than regurgitates upon. I want to be able to build that relationship of mutual trust and forward-aiming progress. I want to write something editors and typesetters breeze through, something publicists jump at, something Hollywood fawns over because it’s going to make the people there rich beyond their wildest dreams. I want all this because only then will it be worth sharing, and worth reading. And if I can’t at least do that for my readers, I don’t deserve to be read. I don’t want to be remembered for my literary inadequacy. I don’t want to be forgotten in the midst of millions of self-published novels. I want to live a life filled with good things. And as it stands now, traditional publishing is the surest way for a novel to get me there.

Well, that’s that. Let me say that I have nothing against those who choose to self-publish–writing is one’s own journey, it can’t be transposed. All I’m saying is my own reasons, for my own choices.

Tell me thoughts in comments. Am I wrong? Am I right? Did I miss something?

Be well and prosper,

Evan

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On Writing the Hard Scenes

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

I’m not really sure what to feel right now.

I’ve been working on the new novel for much of the day, and I’m at a point in it where I’m writing some really emotionally heavy stuff. Like, the kind of heavy where people watch their loved ones suffer in front of them and have to put them in even more pain in order to keep them safe.

It sucks. There’s really no other way to put it. Not the writing, or anything…but the feeling I get, when I write this kind of stuff. The guilt about having written it, and the pain I feel for characters who have become real in all but flesh to me at this point…it’s an empathetic process. And rightly so, I guess–I’m of the school of thought that says we as writers write what is truest to us. And in this case, that means writing pain and suffering that, while I haven’t felt, I can still manage to completely and thoroughly understand.

I know I’m not alone in writing scenes like this, or experiencing the fallout in my own life as I do. We’re writers…we take this stuff personally, create characters who are truly important to us, put them through trials we find most meaningful. And, I won’t lie, there’s an aspect to writing this kind of thing that feels right, even rewarding. That’s a good thing, too–it means whatever we’re writing is worth the trouble.

But that’s not to say it doesn’t suck to have to write it, anyway.

And to a point, I do feel like it’s obligatory to write like this, at least sometimes. It’s that emotional kick in the groin that stories really do need, the essential core of readers’ empathic involvement with the characters and plot. These are the scenes, like I always say in person to fellow writers, that need to be written and be read. They’re the ones making us learn what it is to be ourselves, and what it means to be human, even though the writer doesn’t have to directly say it. They’re the scenes that truly provoke thought and understanding, the ones that stay with our readers long after the last page has turned.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to write them. There’s such a powerful, vast return on scenes like this, that maybe they demand some kind of cosmic payment to be able to create. Or maybe it’s because it really is us as authors, asking questions we don’t even comprehend ourselves. Or maybe it’s something beyond that I can’t rationalize or explain, some universal law that demands that I get so deeply impacted in writing about my characters.

Or maybe, as I’d like to think, it’s something simpler. It’s something between two people, and no more–character and creator. Because there’s a mutual understanding there. We live inside them, just as much as they live inside us, and maybe it’s that bond being stressed and pulled at and nearly severed that makes such an impact…because we’re afraid, and threatened, and we’re desperate to keep that bond together.

Please, people, share your thoughts on this one. I’ve always been into this conversation in particular, and I’d love to explore the concept further with you all.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

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On Writing Well…Versus Thinking You Do

Hell0, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Here’s a fifth post from my Archives, this one from February 2014. And now, one day away from its one-year Existence Anniversary, it’s going to see the light of day again.

Before present-day Me goes, can I just point out that image thing? I was very happy to have discovered that one. Even though it kind of negates last week’s piece. But oh well. It’s funny.

* * * * *

So often, as I’m looking around the world of WordPress and reading (stalking?) the Writing feed, I see really good, high-quality work. Often I can tell the brilliance behind pieces, see the intricacies their writers create, and I’m stunned.

However, more frequently, I find myself a bit underwhelmed. Now, I’m privileged to have a far-above-average audience, but the quality of content in various other posts can be, quite frankly, crap. And along the same tones, I make it a point to visit the About page on every blog I visit, and all too often the authors of such work write about themselves like they’re the next Thoreau. And this strikes me as something of a travesty.

Not because of the blindness of human introspection. Not because of the wasted terabytes. Not because of the rampant egotism. Not even because of all the time I’ve dedicated to reading for such rewards and such only.

But because of the condemnation.

To me, the real issue in this is that these people are writing their content without fear, trapped in a self-fueling cycle of their own supposedly superior articulations. They gain the idea that they know how to write extremely well, and lose the desire to change and improve. So, these budding writers in need of a path are essentially closing themselves to that, condemning themselves to perpetuity spent in subpar production and supreme egotism.

So I’d like to give a few words to those people, if they’re listening.

First, however, a quick bit of introspection.

I don’t claim to write well. Not at all. I think I’m still just getting on my feet, and I have infinite things to learn and infinite places for improvement. However, I do know a bit about reading, and I’d like to think I can judge whether or not something’s good and the reasons for that from the point of its creator.

So, to those people I’m referencing:

If I were to paint a picture of multicolored squares of varying sizes and try to auction it off, I’d be a laughingstock. However, Pablo Picasso tried the same thing, and his image would likely sell for tens of millions of dollars today. Even if we created the exact same image, there’s a huge variation in the appreciation we’d receive. The same is true with you and the authors you’re trying to…well, to be. They can get away with stuff. But that’s because they’ve already proven, almost invariably, that they can write well conventionally. That’s not to say you can’t have a unique voice, or style, but you have to reach a certain level of aptitude before you can go and do your own thing, just like a doctor probably shouldn’t open up a practice with an associate’s degree.

So, improve. Stick it to me, I dare you, show me that I must have meant someone else. Write, and write well.

Because quite frankly, I’m fed up with you praising your own refuse without cause.

May you remain existential,

Evan

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Project Exodus

Project Exodus

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

I wrote another response to a prompt from 642 Things To Write About, this one inspired by the following sentiment (or thereabouts, I don’t have the book with me right now):

“You are an astronaut. Describe your perfect day.”

I actually have been working through this one for about three days, more because of a lack of time to actually…you know, finish it…than anything else. But regardless, it was an interesting experience to work a while for something for the blog. In all honesty, I usually set myself a limit of about a half-hour to write stuff for this and just put the first draft online–I try to keep it as pure as possible, and quite frankly I don’t have enough spare time to play with this blog as much as I’d like to.

So anyway, here’s the prompt for this week.

* * * * *

“It’s a stupid plan.”

“I’m going”

“No, Sam. Command can’t lose you, Houston can’t lose you. Dammit, man, I can’t lose you.”

Sam leaned back, resting his boots amid the mountains of paperwork on his desk. “It’s not that bad a mission.”

“Not that bad?” George leaned toward him from his own chair, bits of lettuce tumbling from the sandwich he held only loosely. “It’s Project Exodus, man. You know what that means.”

“Yeah, I do.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes.

Sam traced the NASA logo on his jacket.

“Stop that.”

“What?”

“Your patch. You always feel around at it when you’re stuck on some godforsaken mission.”

“You know me that well?”

“We’re flight partners, man. What do you expect?”

Sam laughed. “Yeah.”

George stood up, tossing what remained of the sandwich into the trashcan. “Sam, listen. The second you step into that module, there’s no turning back. You know that.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“The kids? Think about them, Sam. Your kids. Molly and Jack, remember them? And Emily? How do you think she’s going to take it when you sign on for this?”

“I already talked to her.”

“And she agreed?”

“After some convincing.”

“What the hell does that mean?” said George. He rubbed his temples. “You know what Project Exodus is. You know, right?”

“I know the risks.”

“But it’s not just you, Sam! It’s not just you this time. Hell, I’d go with you if Command would let me, but it’s not the two of us going up there this time. It’s you and your family, and that’s it.”

“You really don’t need to tell me.”

“Listen, man…there’s no coming back from this one. The module isn’t built to land.”

“I know.”

“Remember what it’s built to do? Remember what Houston told us and the other guys?”

“Yeah, I remember.” Sam stared at him. “It’s going to hit Waypoint One. That’s the star with the stupid Gaelic name. It hangs on the gravity well from that and travels two hundred and eighty degrees, then it’s ninety years Earth time–forty months Module time–until it hits Waypoint Two. It curves forty-seven degrees out, and after another hundred million miles and a couple days of slowing down, it slams forcibly into the Mission Objective. And we leave the Module through the hatch, and if the atmosphere doesn’t kill us, then we make our new home and radio back home.”

George’s mouth hung open for a moment.

Freddie, the young guy, opened the door to the office. Sam made eye contact and waved him away.

George fumbled for words for a moment, and took a deep breath. “You’re telling me,” he said at last, “That you’re okay with that?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re crazy, man. You know how fast you’re going to be going, right?”

“Point nine-nine-nine-six times the speed of light.”

“And you’re not the least bit worried that something might go wrong?”

He slouched back and took a long draught of coffee. “Look, man. It’s not-”

“Not what? Not a big deal? Not dangerous? Not stupid? It’s all those things, Sam! And you expect my flight partner to put his life, his family’s lives and the peak well-being of the organization on the line just to crash into some planet that might be poisonous or volcanic or pressurized enough to crush the Module like a tin can? You’re crazy, man.”

Sam nodded and closed his eyes.

“Well? Don’t you dare shut down on me.”

He took a deep breath. “Emily wanted to go.”

George’s jaw dropped again. “You serious?” he said, almost in a whisper.

“Yeah.”

“Damn…what did she say?”

“I talked to her about it, and we stayed up till three last night just going over the details and parsing through everything. And we both want to do this.”

“Why?”

“The dangers are minimal. Command wouldn’t send us if it wasn’t, and I’ve seen the data myself. Standard procedure.”

“But-”

“And we kept talking, and I finally told her what living up there taught us. Remember? Six months alone on Station 7, during the crisis? Up there, remember what you and I realized?”

“If you’re talking about when we said-”

“How much we hated it down here. Yeah, I’m talking about that. And you and I both still feel the same way, George, and you know it. I see it in you during the briefings and when you look at that goddamned news feed. And I was talking to Emily and…she agreed. She feels the same way, man…it’s not just us. She wants to go, too.”

“And the kids?”

“Molly’s wanted to become an astronaut since she was born.”

“Every kid wants to be an astronaut.”

“She’s thirteen. I don’t think there’s a single other girl her age who wants to see the stars as bad as she does.”

“And Jack?”

“He’s fit, and brave, and he’s just as ready for a mission as you and I are.”

“But he doesn’t want to go.”

“I don’t know. I haven’t talked to them.”

George sighed. “You’re crazy, man.”

“No. We used to be crazy. But I figured it out. I know what I want to do, and so does Emily.”

George looked at him long and hard. “There’s nothing I can say. Is there?”

“I meet with Command in half an hour. But I wanted to tell you first.”

Neither of them spoke for a few minutes.

“Do you want me to go with you?”

Sam raised his eyebrows. “What?”

“I can talk to Jen…I could convince her, if you and Emily were both going to go.”

“The Module can’t fit all of us.”

“They haven’t built the rocket yet. Hell, I could build the new schematics myself, and it wouldn’t cost much. And Command’s been floating around the idea of a group for years.”

“If you’re not serious, George…that’s okay. But if you’re not, I need you to tell me. Right now.”

He closed his eyes for a moment. “You’re my partner, Sam. I’m not going to let you up there without someone to watch your back. Not on Project Exodus.”

“The kids?”

“If yours can do it, so can mine.”

Silence again.

“You really want to do this.”

“Don’t you?”

“Yeah.”

They stood, together.

Sam reached over for a roll of blank paper. “We’ve got twenty minutes till the meeting.”

“Let’s start on this Module.”

* * * * *

Be well and prosper.

Evan

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A Word To My Fellow Teenage Writers

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Here’s a fourth post from the Archives. This one’s more of a special message for one demographic, but if anyone’s looking for some light reading anyhow, you’re welcome to it.

* * * * *

So as a teen writer, I’m in an interesting position to experience the slander between adult writers and authors directed at myself and my compatriots. In the first of what will likely be quite a few posts toward my fellow adolescents, I’d like to just make a few comments on the few comments.

Often, I hear people say some very rude things about teen writers. You know the general cadence–we’re untalented, inexperienced, self-absorbed, and chasing some goal we’re never going to have a hope of reaching. Now, as a teen writer myself, I tend to intensely disagree, based mostly on the amazing friends and authors I’ve been privileged to work with over the years, especially my current writing partner…who, quite frankly, is absolutely fantastic. So I’d like to give a little bit of encouragement today, on the particular issue of our accomplishments.

We as adolescents live in quite an interesting world, one of very much immediate gratification. We all know the Athletes, who are told they’re doing just the right thing after every victory. The Musicians, who pick up songs so effortlessly and make beautiful things on a whim. The Theater Kids, where every line is a sweet reward in itself, and the Tech Squad, with every bolt put onto the prize-winning robot a new guarantee at some six-figure paycheck straight out of MIT.

The world around us is very much based upon gratification, whether by receipt of grades or pursuit of extracurriculars or what have you. And it’s immediate gratification–you do, you receive. It’s simple, and from a distance, it seems very nice. And that’s all well and good, for the people who want to be Olympians or play Carnegie Hall, who want a role on Broadway or to invent the next Facebook.

But what about us writers?

As I’m sure anyone reading this has noticed, writing a story takes time. Writing a good story takes Time with a capital T. And being a writer takes TIME with a capital on all of its capitalism.

So what’s my point?

Well, essentially what I’m getting at is that there is something unique about being a teen Thoreau, rather than a teen Pelé or a teen Jimi Hendrix. It takes time, a lot of time, to have an end result to show people. And in the midst of such endeavors, the lack of output looks a lot to the immediate-gratification-hardened soul like blatant lazy inaction.

That. Is. Not. The. Case.

Look at what you’re doing. You’re telling stories, fabricating memories. You’re building worlds and creating consciousness itself, exploring who and why we are and what it truly means to be human.

And that takes time.

It takes time without return, without compensation, without that immediate gratification. But that does not make teen writers weak. It makes them all the stronger, for we must fight against the storms of the outside in our art far more than in most others, just as we all fight against the storms within ourselves.

So write. Write well, please…but write.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

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On Agent Queries and Denial By Silence

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So I haven’t quite figured out whether I love the publishing process, or I hate it.

Like I said in the last post, I just sent in two queries to agents Saturday night, and to be honest, I think those two are going to be my last for a while. That’ll be about a dozen, and though another four letters have a week of hope left in them, I haven’t gotten any positive response to the degree I was hoping for. So I’ll give it till the middle of March, and if there’s no response, I think I’ll take the book back for some heavy edits.

So basically, I don’t have a ton of hope riding on this. I’ve gotten back two rejection letters, four or five have done some denial-by-silence kind of thing, and the other six remain in the mill for the time being. But there’s not a lot of time remaining for most of those, either.

Now, I don’t mean to sound butthurt over this. I’m really not–I appreciate the work agents do, and I’m grateful to them for reading and considering the submission. The lack of hope isn’t at all based upon them, or anything like that. It’s just disheartening, I suppose, to not hear anything back.

Call me crazy, but I love rejection letters. I absolutely love them, and I’m grateful that they exist. Because I really do appreciate it when someone has the guts to say to someone else that they’re doing something critically wrong for their objectives and need to either stop or change directions. I honestly wish more of the world was like that–pure, honest feedback, to tell people when they’re being stupid without any sugarcoating.

Better yet is the first rejection letter I got, which actually had a substantial amount to say about how to improve the work. Regardless of what it actually said, which is for me to take into stride and for the reader to never notice, it was really nice to know that there was someone else who believed in the work and helped me in doing something about the deficiencies.

So I guess I’m a bit frustrated at the moment, because I haven’t gotten any feedback at all from most of the people who I’ve submitted to–three of whom’s deadlines have passed, and four more of whom’s pass in four days. It’s not that I don’t understand what they need to do–again, not trying to sound butthurt, and if there’s anyone who can empathize with how busy they are, it’s me. But it would’ve been great to have even a single sentence of feedback.

“The dialogue was sloppy,” or “The character development was incomplete with regards to your supporting figures,” or even “The concept has been overdone and is no longer marketable.”

I’d honestly love to have any of those grace my inbox, or anything else. But the one thing I can’t use to improve the book is silence. If the book is broken, I completely accept that, and in a lot of ways I’ve already come to terms with it. But as a writer, even outside of the premise of the single book, I’ve got to know how to fix it.

Well, I just wanted to get that off my chest. I’m sure I’ll have more to say soon, about other aspects of this whole process, but for now, that’s that.

Leave comments in Comments!

Be well and prosper,

Evan

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