Steinbeck

East of Eden should be recognized as The Great American Novel (yes, that’s capitalized). More than Moby Dick or Huckleberry Finn, more than The Great Gatsby or The Catcher in the Rye, or Steinbeck’s other great novel The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden gives an expansive view of american life in a way that no other piece of literature has; spanning generations, from the civil war to world war I, it follows the families Trask and Hamilton, while paralleling the story of Genesis in more ways than one.

Happy Birthday John Steinbeck.

New writing tip

With my fictional characters in development, I’ve begun a new trick. For one week, or two, or three, or until I get bored, I will keep a daily journal from the perspective of my characters. This means I will need to keep four journals, which could quickly turn me into a schizophrenic (not to imply I’m not already), so if I start forgetting my own name, don’t worry.

Thank you for not believing.

Stop Promoting Fifty Shades Of Grey!

And now for my own round of promoting a story with no artistic or literary value:

For the record, I wasn’t even remotely interested in reading or seeing Fifty Shades Of Grey until everyone started bitching about it on faceboob. All I had heard was that Salmon Rushdie said that it was the worst written prose that had ever been published and it made Twilight look like War and Peace, and I said “Say no more, that’s all I need to know.”

People like to complain. And I’m not criticizing; I love to complain about things. But when lots of different people complain about the same thing over and over again, it just makes me curious. Curious about what it is that has everyone so wound up. And why is it that no one can stop talking about a movie they claim to hate even though they probably will never see it, instead of talking about a movie being released that’s, I don’t know, GOOD??

All this makes me think of the commercial during the super bowl that I can’t get enough of: Budweiser tries to take a shot at the craft beer industry, which inadvertently gives craft beer the type of promotion they never could’ve gotten on their own.

From what I can tell, apart from glorifying sexually abusive relationships, the main characteristic of Fifty Shades is that THE STORY SUCKS! I have not heard a single review that said it was well written, had any artistic quality, or was worth the publicity it has gotten. It should never have been published or filmed, but with all the publicity surrounding it came the opportunity for large amounts of money making. And by publicity, yes, I mean everyone complaining about it.

In conclusion; I have a piece of advise for people who don’t want Fifty Shades Of Grey to receive the publicity it doesn’t deserve. DON’T TALK ABOUT IT!

Thank you for not believing.

I’M GETTING PUBLISHED…

… in the most obscure literary journal in the country, BUT STILL.

First day of fiction writing class, Michael our teacher looks at me and says “Congratulations on your poetry.” I have no clue what he’s talking about. “Oh, one of your poems got accepted to Plains Paradox” (Front Range’s student journal). As usual, I stoically did nothing, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I’M NOT EXCITED, AS EVIDENCED BY MY USE OF LARGE CAPITAL LETTERS.

I’ve been banned by the blog police from posting anything here that I’ll publish, so here’s the drawing that went in tandem with the poem. The text of the poem is written into the lines of the drawing. HAH! LOOPHOLES!Entropy Bonus points to anyone who can read this, more bonus points to anyone who has the slightest clue as to where it starts and ends.

The Nine-Hour Signing Line

If I made a list of famous people in the world that I even come close to obsessing over, I could probably count that list on one hand.

As a writer, nobody has had a bigger influence on me than Neil Gaiman. And not a lot of writers in todays world achieve ‘rock star’ status, but Neil is one. So when I heard that, to promote his new short story collection Trigger Warning, he would be doing an exclusive signing at which ever independent bookstore could sell the most copies of his novel The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, I never imagined that Old Firehouse Books in nearby Fort Collins Colorado would be the winner, out of all the indie bookstores, in all the cities, in all the country.

Surprise! They did.

Now this is no release of a new Star Wars movie, and people weren’t lining up 9 hours before the event started… oh, hang on; they did. The signing started at 4 in the afternoon, the line was already taking up 5 blocks of downtown Fort Collins, and I waited until well past 1 AM. And since it was a nice day that day, I was wearing short sleeves. Hah! Joke’s on you Dylan! As soon as the sun went down (and stayed down) it was… … cold. Waiting for that long in the cold can mess with a persons state of mind. At first I, and my new comrades in survival, were thrilled at the prospect of meeting Neil. But by the end, we just wanted it all to end.

What was once Delight had now turned to Delirium.

But the big question: what about the man himself? What does one say when meeting one’s heroes? “Mr Gaiman, as a writer you are my biggest influence, and it is an honor and a privilege to be in your presence, and I realize that after almost 10 hours and what ended up being over 2000 people you are unlikely to remember anything I say, but I simply had to say it.” In my head I came up with many variations of how to say this, and a great deal of other off-topic things I could say to him. But I have never been good at instigating conversation in any situation, even with people I know personally and in times when I’m not delirious with sleep deprivation and dehydration.

So in the end, I said nothing to him. A move (or lack thereof) that I will likely regret for awhile. But in retrospect, it seems likely that, given my delirium, I would’ve regretted anything I did come up with to say more.

Discomfort, both physically or otherwise, can often cause the most interesting stories. And in the future, I will still be willing to suffer great physical discomfort for the chance to meet Neil Gaiman.

Thank you for not believing.

There are very few things I enjoy more than complaining about how much other people suck at their jobs.

Two weeks ago I submitted a short story, “Stereotypes,” to a journal called The Fiction Desk. Their response time to a submission, they say, can be up to three months, but if I pay a voluntary fee of $2 to help with expenses they will expedite their response time to two weeks. I figure that $2 is hardly a balance between life and bankruptcy for me, so I pay. Yesterday they write to say that they can’t read the file and please resubmit. Naturally I am annoyed.

In retrospect, it might have occurred to me that nobody is capable of reading anything but a microsoft word document, which I don’t have, but I find problems that are actually my fault easier to deal with when I assume that everyone else screwed up.

Thank you for not believing.

Sleep Is Overrated

I must be slipping in my old age. Time was I could stay awake for thirty six hours straight and not feel it, but now I try and simply stay awake at 6 in the morning to write a few paragraphs and all I can think about is wanting to sleep.

Also I question the quality of the writing, but there’s a time, a place, and a mindset for editing; and it’s usually not 6 AM, lying on the couch, drinking absinthe. Whatever the quality of the writing turns out to be will be touch-and-go, it could be anything, but that’s why we edit in the first place, or rather second place. Things are never perfect the first time around.

Thank you for not believing.