Sunday, September 14, 2008

Praised and Confused

After attending a writer's workshop this past weekend, I found myself swimming in enough over-used cliches, and tripe filled superlatives, that Michael Phelps would've needed a life jacket, and a flotation device. These are just a few of my observations regarding the "4th Annual Writer's Workshop" (whose organization shall remain nameless) to protect the innocent and the not-so innocent. My views in no way reflect the merit of the attendees, and I apologize in advance for this lopsided precis.

The moderator, an author of several books, currently works as a "life coach" and part-time agent/editor. His presentation was a confusing summary of the genres he liked and didn't like. The prepared lecture, littered with trite euphemisms, and tired expressions that "everybody uses" was predictable and uninspiring. Phraseology such as "spontaneous combustion" "make no mistake" and using the words "like" and "drama" as a verb and a noun at the end of every other sentence lacked an interesting and intelligent use of the English language.

Seconds before half of the participants had exited the classroom, he decided to praise a few of the attendees by reading their writing samples in a fake Shakespearean accent. I listened peevishly as he read a gritty, character driven selection, written by a retired farmer from Sugar Ditch, Mississippi. While this brilliantly crafted narrative was deflowered by the ostentatious moderator, the few remaining dumb asses (myself included) didn't dare budge. We were altogether intrigued by this guy's effusive theatrics. Humbly, he concluded his lecture by passing a collection plate. Everybody shifted their butts, gathered their belongings, and when he wasn't looking we bolted for the door.

Disillusioned, I went home, and wracked-up everything I hated most about the workshop. From the cliches, meaningless rhetoric, people with Master's Degrees in Creative Writing, to the network marketers hosting the workshop trying to sell soap and market their "professional services" to unsuspecting authors. As the mental flatulence ejected from the seat of my pea-sized brain, I felt as confused as a duck wearing rubber gloves and wool socks in the middle of a sandstorm.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's a Blog Eat Blog World

In my quest to save the literary arts community, I've discovered two very exciting websites for the Independent Writer. Whether your writing style is lyrical, erotic, political, fictional, biographical or satirical, you'll be sure to find a a strait-jacket and a warm body-bag at the following Indie Publishers: Soft Skull Press and Melville House Publishing

As one who grizzles at the dust jackets of corny, hokum milk-toast emanating from the butt-holes of mainstream publishing; my faith in literary art has been thoroughly revived. After placing my "baby" into the loving arms of Melville House, I finally feel I'm Home. Melville House has a simple credo. they want to see the whole thing and they want more than anything, "to let the work speak for itself". I also like their dark humor and utterly hostile stance toward talentless literary agents, and half-dead, barely alive publishers. So, if you are an illustrator or writer in the throes of finding a publisher; or you possess an artistic style that is not easily encapsulated in a one paragraph synopsis, I urge you to visit their websites. As Naked Ape would say: You'll like what you see and you will be satisfied.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Basking in The Laptop of Luxury

After receiving a recent influx of invitations to "make money completing surveys" I wondered if anybody has ever profited from this enterprise. One of my team members earned 30.00 from writing a few articles on the internet, but other than that, I have yet to meet these fire breathing entrepreneurs getting rich for "their answers to whether they use 1 or 2 ply toilet tissue. Granted, I have always been a skeptic at heart. Trust but verify. But how do you verify the value of an online survey?

People are not created equal. Some individuals have generated a passive income (which is the ultimate form of wealth) completing online surveys, while the latter develop red eyes, stiff necks and tired hands. I know this, because I completed one of those "short surveys" last night. And like the morning after a hangover, backwards pants a lost shoe and a dead cell phone; the answers I seek to augmenting my income will not be found in this sector of the transnational e-conomy. Because what I've learned from this experience, is that submitting wasted time, energy and opportunity for a "chance" to win a 25.00 gift card is fruitless. And no matter how compelling the enticement, such efforts are not exactly the true path to basking in the laptop of luxury.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blog Hype

Wanting to remain true to my core beliefs and the heart of why I write (not how or what I write) I found myself vacillating between pure hype and random entertainment. Since hype and entertainment are not always mutually exclusive, I feel it is my duty to give fair-market value for what you see on the site "When Ugly Was In."

Our code of conduct is simple: We will not con, beg, or manipulate you to view our blog. Will will not promote products that we would not, or have not used ourselves. We will not strain your eyes and cause your head to ache from the unsightly glare of neon banner ads. Nor will we instruct you to do things we know nothing about. We will not ask you to remove the hard-drive from your computer, or suggest you run it through your local Car Wash. We will not confuse you, tease you, insult you or tell you to scream in the Wal-Mart parking lot for 2 hours. We will not tell you to take a gun and rob an elected official. We will not give you the cure to athlete's foot, Internet Dating, Copy Cat Bloggers, or stubborn Malware. We will not make phony claims or try to appear perfect and/or intelligent by lecturing you about WHAT YOU NEED TO DO Ala Dr. Phil style. But what we will do is try to inform, entertain, and hopefully enlighten you in some small way. That is our mission and though far from accomplished, it is the thing we aim to do. For if we can do that from this tiny blog spot, we know that you know, we have done a very good thing.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We write because we Blog or We Blog because We write

I am constantly amazed that so many talented writers are able to co-exist in the Blogosphere. Unfortunately, many of these burgeoning novelists, poets, and essayists have become lost in the technological sea of many. After a brief discussion with a group of fellow writers, we've come to the conclusion that the publishing industry is in dire need of a 9-11 makeover.

Had it been up to the mainstream publishing industry, we would not have seen the likes of such successful authors, e.g. J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series, whose manuscript was tossed onto a "reject" pile. After an editor's assistant began reading it, she convinced her boss and other colleagues of Ms. Rowling's talent. The "rest" as it is often said, "history".

Writing is a soulful exercise, and done best when the truth is told, no matter how painful it is to the writer or reader. The drama coach at my high school once referred to writing as "sweet agony". An English teacher later said, "the best writers are merely self-conscious actors". I have learned in life, everything we do...whatever it may be, is just an acting job. We all play minor parts in the movie that is our life. Whatever we magnify, good or bad, comes back to us in Dolby stereo. The world outside of us is a reflection of the world inside of us. So let me see it. Just a peek. I promise not to tell a soul. Besides. I think you are as beautiful as yellow snow on a hot summer's day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Comedy Writing

I once heard a stand-up comedian (perhaps every comedian who's ever made it big) say that NOBODY can be truly funny without tragedy, personal foibles, and a non-existent self-esteem. When people laugh at us (the sad clowns that we are) what a power surge it is to our grim little psyche! The ability to make people laugh is far more physically and emotionally gratifying than a high colonic, winning POWERBALL, and waking up to a naked ape.

All people are not funny. Some are just ironic. Others sarcastic. And there are people who insist they can make you laugh by telling "jokes" that barely deserve a polite simper. Of course we can extend this observation to stand-up comics who can only resort to using "EXPLETIVE/DELETE" WORDS at the end of every sentence. That isn't funny. That's 4th grade. So thank you for allowing me to stand-up on my soap box, future comedy writers. I must be on my way. 5th grade is calling, and if I don't register for classes soon, 4th grade will be put on my permanent record. Again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

14 Long Days

I've been hiding in a virtual writing cave incommunicado since August 4th, 2008. I received two emails from literary agents who indicated they were either "too busy" or "not a match" to consider my current novel. With nothing too lose but sweat equity, stiff wrists, and finger cramps, I decided to "revamp" several chapters. Wow. I'm absolutely enthralled with the direction my novel has taken with a few minor tweaks!

After locating a reputable "Indie Publisher," I was encouraged to learn the Editor is currently seeking satire/humor twists! The rejection slips gave me the impetus to do some serious editorial work. My belief, is that one closed door gives me ample time to find another that is partially open. During my reprieve, I took a moment to reflect. I listened to a podcast by the imminently wealthy author Jack Cantfield. He was rejected by 144 publishers and agents before he landed a deal with the National Enquirer. Now he's the best selling author of the Chicken Soup for The Soul series with a MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS! Talk about a Cash Cow!