The perpetual student

Fiction is a craft. A journey. I think we are all students of writing, because there is always something to learn. Through a lot of my posts I gave out a lot of tips and opinions, but I never stop learning either.

I don’t think that any good writer stops learning. There are always ways to improve. There are always different things to try. Perfection is something we chase but never catch. I’m going to keep learning, keep trying and keep writing. I hope that everyone who ever spent the time to read me does the same.

Seeya space cowboys…

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Mourn for the journalists

The people on the other side of fiction, those guys, yeah, they haven’t been doing so well lately. In a way, you could say that the book publishing industry has been suffering a very slow death at the hands of Americans that are too lazy to read now.

But the internet has called for the heads of the new industry now. As writers, I think we should be a concerned. As a journalism major, I’m very concerned. There is a never-ending debate about their future. A one Warren Buffet, pretty much the most celebrated CEO in America right now, said he wouldn’t invest a cent into the news industry, ouch.

Soon, there are going to be big markets with no newspaper to serve them. New England and San Fransisco are close. And so is my own Baltimore. Not a good feeling to be a writer and know other writers are being treated like this.

Let’s give a moment to the journalists out there. Professional writing isn’t such a hot skill these days. Keep your chins up.

Writers and design

Through my tenure writing this blog, I’ve dug my way around the internet trying to find useful and interesting websites that I would think other writers would appreciate. The one thing I can never seem to get over though, is the horrible, amateur looking designs that many of them employ.

I already picked on Pif and a few of the databases for being bad, but the more online literary magazine I try and read, the more annoyed I get at the bad design.

The Mad Hatter’s Review might just be one of the ugliest websites I have ever seen. I know they have good content. I’ve read stories that come out of it. I have heard people talk about it. But go ahead and try and subject yourself to that site and tell me how many stories you read.

La Petite Zine is another respected publication that looks like they put about five minutes of effort into designing their site. Then there’s Slope. I get it, it’s cute. Everything is on an angle. I don’t want to read things that are on an angle. Then you find out that the entire magazine is one really really long page. Hope you don’t have 56k!

It’s time for these editors to either learn some Dreamweaver, or pay someone to make a decent site for them. There is no excuse in 2009 to have a website that looks like that.

Blast from the past

I wasn’t always a smarty-pants know-it-all when it came to fiction. No no. I went through plenty of stages of learning, most of them trial and error, to get to a point where I felt comfortable about talking about fiction with some slight authority. And that is why it gives me great pleasure to present a public showing of the first short story I wrote way back when in my first creative writing class in college.

First I just have to fire up my old computer to get the file.

The old girl isnt doing to well.

The old girl isn't doing to well.

But that’s okay, I got what I needed. Enjoy:

So you think you’re funny?

There exists a plane on the internet where all things come together like a really complicated Megazord with autism. I’m of course talking about internet comedy. The lines of fiction and non-fiction are blurred considerably in the efforts of getting a laugh. I think it’s still worth mentioning here, because fiction does not always have to be so serious. Trust me, I’m looking for any opportunity I can get to make a smartass joke.

So that being said, here are a few sites that do a lot of writing and like to consider themselves funny.

Seanbaby

Hideous and confusing site, I know. But seriously one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Somewhere buried throughout the site are stories he co-wrote with his friends about ridiculous adventures they went on that may or may not be true. If you have the time to get into it (the articles are long) it’s totally worth it.

Cracked

All that’s left of the magazine that used to be a knock-off of “Mad.” Not only are they funny, but pretty damn interesting. Most of the articles are lists, usually full of unusual or interesting information you never knew before (with citation, so you know it’s fairly legit).

SomethingAwful

Former rulers of comedy on the internet, now pretty meh. They try to make fun of everything, movie and game reviews, new music, people on Youtube, whatever they can get. For actual funny stuff, look up the old pranks, the old fashion swat and some of the old stories hidden in their archives.

CollegeHumor

What started as a way for two friends to share funny stuff when they went to different colleges has turned into the new king of internet comedy. College students make their way to the site and homework never gets done. You have been warned.

I heard that a few years ago, the guy that writes this blog once tried his hand at being funny online. Wonder how that went.

Don’t be afraid of the workshop

One of the best ways to get valuable insight into your writing is to have it workshopped. I had the luxury of going through this during the creative writing classes I took in college.

For those not in school, there are community book stores and book groups that will hold workshops. I’m sure there are some forums out there where you can get that to happen (I tried to get it working on here, but no one wanted to submit.) One place that might be useful, though I haven’t spent much time looking through the community stuff, is scribd. That’s what I’ve been using whenever I post Word documents on here and it seems like a cool site worth checking out.

Now, the reason for my title. While I considered the workshops fortunate, some of my classmates showed immediate apprehension. They were nervous to let others read their stories, maybe of fear of people not liking them. Some people tend to have issues taking criticism. Whichever the reason, if you’re afraid of workshops, stop now. To truly be a great writer, you have to let others read you.

take a seat and join the discussion

take a seat and join the discussion

*People in picture might not be discussing fiction, but they totally should be.

Have you checked out…

…your local non-corporate bookstore? Many people go to Borders or Barnes & Nobles when they need a book. But there are plenty of private owned bookstores in every city that might offer more to it’s customers then just new releases and Starbucks.

Many will have extensive used books sections, with way more manageable prices compared to what B and B&N up there think they can charge you. They might even offer more community related activities, such as book clubs, workshops and reading sessions.

There happens to be one such place like that right in my Baltimore. They actually have everything I listed, and probably even more.

Or maybe, you like your books slightly more… Communist. Someone will have you covered.