Doesn’t That Just Figure?

Hello again my adoring fans. Also, hello to those of you who hate me and the ones who have no idea who I am.

It appears I lied to you again when I said in my last post that I would see you the following week. Fortunately, I posted that on April 1st, so… uh… April Fools? Anyway, you should all know that I’m less than reliable when it comes to regular posts by now.

Anyway, here’s the good news. I have a story ready to ship. So far, everyone I’ve shown it to seems to really like it. Better yet, I really like it. I feel I’ve finally progressed to the point with my writing that I can start submitting it. (If you ask my girlfriend, she’d say I’ve been at that point for a while. I’ve just been a chicken.) I have a publisher in mind for the story. Yes, they are one of the better paying publishers, but that’s a secondary consideration compared to the prestige of having a story accepted by said publisher. I realize it’s probably a long shot, me being an unpublished writer, but why not shoot for the moon, right? Besides, they say they love discovering new writers. Hopefully I will catch their eye.

Now for the bad news. I was all ready to send it out. I had everything formatted properly. I had checked my spelling and punctuation several times (although I’m sure I still missed a typo or two.) I went to their website and… they aren’t accepting submissions until May 1st. I realize this is only a couple weeks away, but I’m hoping I still have confidence in my writing by then. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to send it out. I just have confidence issues.

Writing is still progressing, although I really have to learn to do an outline. At least a rudimentary one that I can refer to when I get stuck. I dropped one story because it wasn’t going anywhere, only to jump right into another which is now having the same problem. Once upon a time, I was able to just jump into the proverbial story car and see where I ended up. Nowadays, I need at least a simple road map. Of course, i have to remember that back when I could just go, the destination wasn’t always somewhere I wanted to be.

I am also considering submitting a few things to some writing competitions. I still hate the thought of paying an entry fee to get read, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes at this point. Wish me luck.

Well, that’s about it for now. I will try to post again next week, but I won’t promise because we’ve all seen how reliable I am.

As always, follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Also, check out my website. I’m hoping to update it when I get a chance, but I’m trying to make writing my priority, so who knows when that will be?

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Here Comes The Guilt Again

Well friends, We’re over a month into 2015 and I’m proud to tell you, I’ve written every single day. Sure, most days I only get through a page or two, but at least it’s something.

And that’s where the guilt comes in. No matter how much I tell myself that a page or two every day is good enough, I have this nagging voice inside my head telling me that it isn’t. As much as I try to tell myself things like I’m just trying to build good habits or that I’m taking baby steps, it all has a familiar feel to it. All those things I keep telling myself feel remarkably similar to the excuses I used to tell myself back when I wasn’t writing much at all.

Part of the problem is that I’m still not exactly sure where the story I’m writing is going. I thought I had a definitive plot but it seems like page after page of people not doing much of anything other than talking. I’m really trying to train myself to finish what I’ve started, but I feel like I’m going around in circles. I’m tempted to start on something else, but I hate the thought of giving up on this one. (Yes, I realize this last paragraph has been yet another excuse.)

Still, I’m soldiering on. I am proud of myself for sticking with it and getting closer to my ultimate goal of sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent. I mean of being a successful writer. I just wish that I had started sooner. I have a feeling that a little down the road I’ll be kicking myself for not pushing myself to do more each day.

Maybe the solution is to get my page or two done on the current story as a warm up, and then switch to a new project. Perhaps some short stories are in order.

Other than that, I’m (sort of) looking forward to my birthday on Wednesday. I think I’m finally reaching that age where birthdays are something to be dreaded rather than celebrated. I just pray to god that I’m published before I’m forty.

As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1 and on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60. I’m only two followers away from breaking triple digits. How about helping me out?

Is It A Habit Yet?

I’ve heard it said that it takes two weeks to break a bad habit. I wonder if the same rule goes for creating a good one.

I’ve been writing at least a page a day for the past two weeks and a couple of days now and I don’t feel much different. Although I did consider skipping writing tonight and I couldn’t bring myself to. I just had to write, at least a little. I think it was partly not wanting to break my streak and knowing how disappointed I would be in myself if I did. At the same time though, it just felt weird not to write at least something.

I have to admit, I’m not thrilled with the story I’m writing right now. In the past, I would have chucked it and started something new. Luckily, I’ve learned doing that is no way to get anywhere. I have to push through and hope it all comes out right in the end. I’ve also learned that if I ignore these feelings of doubt, eventually it will be replaced by an abundance of confidence and I will love every word I write.

I’ve never been an outliner, but I think I may have to give at least a loose outline a try. I feel like I’m wandering all over the place. I’m forgetting some things I meant to put in that will help what comes later make sense. Then again, some things I know I want to have happen are happening too early. I really just need to sit down and organize my thoughts. As long as I’m not too rigid, it should all be okay.

That’s about all I’ve got right now. I’ll see you guys next week.

I’m Finished!!!!!

Finally, after much procrastination, I have finished my 35 page short story.

I know this may not sound like such an accomplishment to some of you, but for someone who’s well known for getting halfway through a story and losing interest, It’s a major accomplishment. Even better, after a little polish, I think it will actually be publishable. So far my readers agree.

Of course now I’m considering expanding it into a novel. I’m going to let it sit for a while and work on another short while I consider my options. I’m just so excited. It feels like I’ve finally broken through a wall I’ve been bumping into for years.

And now that the good news is out of the way, it’s time for a mini-rant.

I want to start by saying that I’m a huge supporter of independent writers. I think the time of the big publishing houses is drawing to a close.

(If any of them are reading this, I totally didn’t mean that. Please sign me.)

Still, many of the independent writers I’ve read have made one seemingly common mistake. They assumed that since they were self-publishing, they didn’t need to have their manuscripts looked over by a professional editor.

I will say that some of the things that are like nails on a chalkboard to me probably don’t even register with most readers. Still, I think professional authors should do everything they can to make sure their work is the best it can be.

When I see a glaring error in a book, particularly pertaining to usage, it takes me right out of the story. If there are too many of them, I may even give up on it. Let me make this clear, I almost never stop reading a book once I’ve started, but if I’m constantly being jerked back out of the story I finally have to admit defeat.

Now I’m not saying this will stop me from reading independent books but it may stop me from reading a particular author.

As for me, I will hire an editor.

Okay, rant over.

As always, check out my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1. I’m also on Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly .

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It’s Time To Nut Up Or Shut Up

Friends, today I received some bad news. At the end of summer my current job, which I have worked faithfully for the past seven years, will no longer exist. I received this news just before it was time to go to bed and thus, rather than sleep, spent the day tossing and turning in bed as I progressed through each of the stages of grief. In the end, believe it or not, I found serenity.

Serenity ship
I wish

After much considering and a little gentle prodding from my wonderful girlfriend, I realized I had two options.

1. I could start looking for another job where I’d be miserable and earn a pittance while making someone else rich. Or…

2. I could stop talking about becoming a successful writer and actually work full time at making it happen.

The first option would be the smart route. I would have a steady paycheck which I could count on to be there and maybe even get something with some benefits. But would I really be happy? I think we all know the answer to that.

Admittedly, the second option will be downright terrifying, but as they say, fear is an excellent motivator. If failure is truly not an option, then I can’t let myself fail. Besides, all the best writers had something I don’t. They were hungry, both figuratively and sometimes literally. The fact of the matter is, I’ve gotten way too comfortable in my current job anyway and spend far too much writing time doing other things than writing. (Damn you Netflix.) It always seemed like there was more time. Well my friends, time has suddenly gotten exceedingly short.

Don’t worry, I’m not expecting my writing to pay a living wage right off the bat. Fortunately I have other hobbies that I think with a little hard work could turn enough of a profit to pay my bills. I am an amateur blacksmith and also make copper jewelry which I sell here. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MythicFlames I admit there isn’t much in it right now but keep checking back. I’ll also post to this Facebook page when I add new items. https://www.facebook.com/MythicFlames I plan to add items on a regular basis. I am also going to be setting up an eBay store to sell some of my items as well as swords and knives not made by me. I will post the details here when it’s up.

As always, please follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and Twitter @JustinMKelly1. Also, check me out on Tumblr  http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly.

I also have some informational e-books in the works on topics from wilderness survival to romantic advice and everything else I’ve learned in my time here on earth. I’ll post a link as soon as they’re done.

So basically, it’s time to make my dreams happen. Or as Tallahassee put it…

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Oh Those Summer Nights

And I’m back again. I realize it’s been a couple weeks since my last confession post. All I can say is this, it’s been a weird couple of weeks. I’ve been adjusting to summer which has finally arrived. With the arrival of summer, my girlfriend’s schedule has changed. Which means, in effect, so has mine. I’m trying to adjust my sleeping schedule to match hers so I’ve had a hard time keeping my eyes open at night, much less writing. Also with summer come tourists. Since most of my writing time is done while working at a motel, I’ve been somewhat plagued with interruptions from needy guests. I’m finally starting to settle into my summer rhythm and last night I was actually able to get some decent writing done. There, now that the excuses are done, on with the rest of the post.

Other than the issues I listed above, the writing has been going well. I have just about finished one short story and am well into a second. I know it’s not the two a week I had planned but it’s coming faster all the time. If only I could stop myself from getting distracted by the internet. Anyone know where I can get an old DOS word processor? I’m very happy with the story that’s almost done and I’m considering, after a bit of polish, submitting it to TOR. Am I shooting too high? Possibly. But why not aim for the stars?

The other story I’m not so sure about. I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere, but it’s certainly helping me exorcise some personal demons. We will see where it goes. At least I’m writing.

I’m about to attempt a daunting task. Years ago, I gave up cigarettes. I didn’t have too much trouble with it because I did allow myself an occasional pipe because, well, writers smoke pipes. Right? Unfortunately, it’s gone from an occasional thing, to a regular thing, to an every day thing, and finally to a several times a day thing. I think it’s time to finally give up the pipe. Although I might still hold it in my mouth while I’m writing. Anyone know if they still make those bubble pipes? Seriously though, I might look into an e-pipe or something although I’m still not sure if they’re any better for you. If anyone can give me any advice, I’d certainly appreciate it.  I’m hoping for a nice long writing career and I don’t want cancer throwing a wrench into those plans.

Now that I’ve got you all down and thinking about mortality, it’s time for an up note.

The great thing about summer is, I can finally get out of the house and enjoy my surroundings. I have big plans to jump on the motorcycle and head into the black hills just to explore. I also have my hiking pack to set off on the many trails around here and lose myself for a couple of days. I’m working on setting up a YouTube channel so I can show you all the wonderful places out here and I might just talk a bit about writing while I’m at it.

Well, I guess now you’re all updated on my life.

As always, check out my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1. I’m also on Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly but so far all I’ve used it for is to mirror this blog. I’m hoping to change that soon. I just have to remember not to get so obsessed with social media I forget to write.

I promise I’ll be back next week with another update but just remember, writers lie for a living.

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Can Genre Fiction Also Be Literary?

When it comes to my writing, I’ve always had a bit of a dilemma.

Like a lot of writers, I have a fantasy in my head of being the modern era’s Hemingway or Faulkner. Perhaps sitting in a small cafe in Paris, dutifully punching out literary masterpieces that will be cherished throughout the ages. After all, isn’t that at least part of why people write? So that while we may pass from this earth, at least our thoughts and feelings might become immortal.

Still, while I do love reading the classics, I have to admit that my favorite books have always been in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres. Particularly fantasy. It probably won’t surprise most of you to find out that I’m a big nerd. I love nothing more than reading fantastic tales of swords and sorcery. Maybe I’ve always dreamed of being the valiant hero who saves the damsel in distress, (please forgive my chauvinism,) or maybe I just long for a time when courage and chivalry counted for something. Whatever the reason, I’ve always loved medieval history both factual and fictional. I still hold out hope that some day, an archaeologist will discover evidence of dragons. I’m such a fan of the genre, I’ve even taken up amateur blacksmithing as a hobby.

Because of this, I’m afraid I’ve developed a bit of a split personality when it comes to my writing. I switch from being the serious author who wants to immortalize his thoughts and feelings in print, to the writer who just wants to play and step into the shoes of his characters to live out the lives of people he will never be.

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about this recently and have come to a conclusion. Who says genre fiction can’t also be literary? Why can’t one piece of work be both entertaining and meaningful? Of course there are examples of books that, were they written today, would be pigeonholed into a specific genre but have still managed to become literary classics. Books such as The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, and Robin Hood. The question is, Can it be done today?

I guess there’s only one way to find out.

So I suppose the point of this rather rambling post is this. I’m going to be true to myself and write what I enjoy. Hopefully my more literary personality will be able to reconcile with my other side and I can find some peace. Or at the very least, I’ll be able to finish a project without questioning whether it’s really what I want to be writing.

Of course, the fantasy bar has been set fairly high by certain contemporary writers, (I’m looking at you George Martin,) but I think I’m up to the task.

One other perk of being a successful fantasy writer, if I get popular enough, I might be invited to Comic Con.

What do you think? Can a work of fantasy, sci-fi, or horror also be literary?

Leave your answer here, or on Twitter @JustinMKelly1, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60. Also, please visit my website at http://justinmkelly.com/ (I have plans for a major overhaul but I’m concentrating on the writing itself right now.)

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My New Profession

Some exciting things have been happening since my last post.

No, I haven’t been published yet. Let’s not get crazy. I have however, written some stories that I think could be publishable with a liberal application of polish. I’m not the only one either. It’s a good feeling to have someone that I’m not either related to or sleeping with praise my work.

More importantly, I think I’ve managed to change my mindset and it’s made a world of difference. No longer is being published something I hope to do at some vague point in the future. Even though I’ve yet to make a dime from it, writing is now my career. Yes, I still have to have another job until my writing pays off, but writing is my profession and I’m determined to have several pieces published before the year is out. Even if I have to do it myself.

I am realizing that the job I had gotten so comfortable in is no longer such a sure thing. Believe it or not, I look at this as a good thing. After much thinking, I realized I had two options. I could either start looking for a new job making money for someone else and living off of his table scraps, or I could get serious about my writing career and hopefully someday soon, no longer have to work for someone else. It gave me the kick in the ass I needed to finally get serious about my writing and start treating it as a business. Also, a certain amount of fear about my future has been healthy.

So here is my plan.

1: Write two short stories a week. I’m still a little out of practice so it will take some time to get my speed back to where it should be but two stories a week is my ultimate goal.

2:Once the stories are finished, I will submit some of them to magazines, while others will go into collections to be sold digitally on Amazon etc. Any stories not picked up by magazines in a timely fashion will also find their way into the collections. Ones that are published traditionally will be put into collections once the rights revert to me.

3:Spend time each night working on my novel. I plan to use the short story time as a warm up to writing the novel.

4:I plan to update this blog at least weekly. Right now I’m planning to write a post sometime Monday night through Tuesday morning but that may change to Sunday night through Monday morning. Of course I may write a “bonus” post if I have something important to tell you or if I just feel like it.

5:I will post to twitter @JustinMKelly1 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 on a more regular basis. I’m hoping to do it daily but I do get busy and forget. Still, follow both of those for all sorts of random thoughts from my twisted little brain.

I have been reasonably successful in limiting my internet/T.V. time. I still spend way more time than I should on both but I have gotten better.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. See you next week. If you don’t, feel free to yell at me.

Justin

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