Adam Ross once described literary journals as the mix tapes of the literary world. I love that description. Each journal is a compact piece of art I can carry with me.
I remember the first time I received validation for my writing. I was in a workshop headed by Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest, and The Adjustment. We were sitting in the loft at Meshuggah Café when he told me not only did I write well, I wrote noir—it was dark, weird, and full of bad people doing bad things.
I remember, too, the first time I got to say, “I’m a writer.” I’d just had my first short story published and I’d been so eager to tell someone. I don’t remember the man I was talking to, or why we were talking. I do remember this also happened at Meshuggah, and I remember his response.
I am one of those people. You know the ones, those that are stuck in Niceville. I don’t want to be mean to people, and sometimes, because I’m chronically nice, it can be hard for me to give constructive feedback.
A recent conversation with friend and fellow writer Dona Fox helped me realize I’m not the only one with this problem.
Wait. Wait. Don't let the words "bullet journal" make you run. I promise, there are no multi-colored trackers, fancy layouts, mandalas, or zen tangles here. However, if that's your thing, they can easily be integrated into what I'm talking about here--A writer's bullet journal. Not one geared toward character profiles or plot lists, but one geared to project management and publication.
Finding time to write can be extremely challenging, especially if you have a family, go to school, or work another job. Or, if you’re like me, you deal with other things that impact your ability to sit for an extended length of time and work. My writing time is very precious to me, and it should be to you, too. If you want to write, and you want to take it seriously, you have to set time aside just for that. Turn off the phone, unplug your modem, do whatever you need to keep focused.
I am the least graceful person I know. I have a tendency to fall on my face—figuratively, mostly, but sometimes literally. I can also be a bit… impulsive, making quick decisions without knowing what I’m doing.
Like when I decided I was going to become a writer. I had the writing part down. I put in four hours every night, I workshopped it, I edited it… and that was about as far as I got. I had no idea what to do next.
What does a writer do, besides read and write?
A little over a year ago I mentioned that I was going to refocus on my writing and use it as a tool to find meaning in a life that was radically changed. It was pure coincidence that I made this decision around the same time I noticed Richard Thomas—author of both Transubstantiate , and Disintegration, editor of The New Black and Exigencies, and Editor-in-Chief of Gamut Magazine—was teaching a short story class over at LitReactor.