My column in WD follows my writing life. Usually (and i’ll be the first to admit, sometimes I’ve strayed) that means giving everyone a first person view of how a young(ish) professional writer tries to take his career to the next step be it by publishing a book, getting an MFA, writing for more national magazines or losing his mind and going to Eastern Europe for three months. The idea is that people can see what I’m doing and, as I said in the first column I ever wrote for the magazine, see the big sweeping mistakes I make and try and avoid them in your own writing life.
In it, I try and talk about real things that everyone goes through: getting rejected by agents, going to writer’s conferences, the pros and cons of getting an MFA, how to write a book proposal, how infuriating it can be when you don’t trust your mailman, etc… Unfortunately, I don’t have any tricks or super technical writing tips, as you can read in my first blog entry in the “how in the hell did you of all people get a column” portion, I, like many of you, just wrote and sent out my work and hoped for the best.Luckily for you, we do have more how to and technical advice in WD, it’s just not my thing.
My goal with the column is to a) give you insight into what im doing as I progress in the writing world and b) hopefully entertain you while I’m doing it. I want you to laugh. I want you to realize that despite the sometimes over the top sarcasm, alarming procrastination techniques, obsession with crappy daytime television and aversion to pants, I really just want us as writers to not take ourselves so seriously and, most importantly, just write. Sure, some days it’s going to be crap, some days its going to be good, and every once in a year or so, you’ll get that unique turn of a phrase or spot on bit of dialogue or perfect word, and suddenly you’ll understand that ‘yes, this is why I keep coming back, day after day to this same stupid Starbucks, this is why I’m a writer’.
I think of the phrase that Franz Kafka says about the appeal of Prague, “This mother has claws” and I can’t help but think that the phrase could just as well apply to writing. If you’re a writer, you almost have no choice, writing just sinks into you and won’t let go, no matter how hard you try and shake it off and do something with dental insurance and a 401K. Like my boy says, this mother has claws. Anyway, so that, in a decently sized nutshell, is what the column is (or tries to be, at least) about.
The blog, as many of the people who read my section of the Writer’s Forum already know, is slightly different from the column. A blog, by definition, is a more open, less constrained area to write in, and, as I’m not working under the same limitations as the column, I try to keep an open mind about what to put in. I do try and stick to the general idea of writing, and, again, what’s going on in my life, but, as you can see from the previous entries, that is loosely adhered to. It’s more stream of conscious, more random, has more swears, and generally makes less sense. But I think it can be fun all the same, in a different sort of looser way than the column. Think of it this way: if the columns like the late 50s, early 60s: more rigid, straight laced, and square, than the blog is like the late 60s, early 70s: more free flowing, random and given to wearing hemp and tie dye.
But as I said before, I am also here for you, the reader. If you have questions, give them to me, and I will try and help you out. I’m going to change a statement I made earlier, and say that I will post answers to questions on the blog, so that they can benefit everyone. I will have specific entries focused on just answering your questions, if that would be useful. We did just start the blog a few months ago, so we’ll let it adapt and change organically, but I really am happy to help and want to see everyone succeed. Not just so you can blurb me.
But again, I am the first to acknowledge, my blog is not for everyone. And being how this is a free country (well, America is…I’m not 100% sure about the Czech Republic…), and a democracy and a place where anyone and everyone is welcome to lease a car, assuming they have a down payment and good credit, I will never edit or censor the comments or opinions people have about my writing (unless of course they don’t coincide with our standards of decency), even if they really, really don’t like it. But, and again, the beauty of the USA comes into play, no one has to read this. Ramsey doesn’t read it. I don’t think my brother or my sisters read it. My mother doesn’t read it. And I certainly hope my dad doesn’t. So if this isn’t for you, there are no hard feelings. We can still be friends and go to the mall together and split the Tour of Italy at the Olive Garden. Just please, if you do have an issue, try and be constructive, so I can learn from it. Just like in the workshop, if you just say something’s bad, no one learns. But if you say, “this is bad because the protagonist spends all of his time taking IQ tests in coffee shops in Slovakia” then the person getting workshopped can look at that specific criticism and try and change.
Ok. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to turn this into a monster post. I hope that helped clarify both the difference between the column and the blog and what I’m trying to do with both. Now, seeing how it is almost 4AM in Prague, I’m going to eat a granola bar and rationalize not showering before bed. I’ll see you back here in a Czech week:)
I love you all. Never change.
Pictured below: The photographic manifestation of my blog. Notice the guy’s not wearing any pants…coincidence? Luck? Or yet another John Cusak like Serendipitous moment in my life?