Tag Archives: creative writing

Published: In Print or Online (A Meditation)

I struggle a little everyday with something.

It’s something that in the Grand Scheme of It All isn’t worth struggling with. You might say after reading this “Trig, look to the future, man!” and you’d be 1,000% right! Maybe it’s my five years studying to get a BA in creative writing, plus another two years at Brooklyn College earning my Master’s in writing poetry (’cause you need an MFA to write poetry), but whenever I get something published, it’s still a bigger deal to me when it’s published in print versus online.

Some of my proudest moments in print publication.

Some of my proudest moments in print publication.

Perhaps it’s as if by publishing a poem of mine in a print publication like the dozens I have on my shelves, someone is saying that my work is worth paying money to impress onto a page for sale at brick and mortar Barnes and Nobles across the country. Or maybe it’s that’s some editor sitting behind piles and piles of unsolicited manuscripts has sifted through the sop to discover a bioluminescent fish miles below the surface of Poetry and New Yorker verse which lighted on a treasure chest filled not with doubloons but a single sheet of poetry preserved until that deep-diving editor happened upon it.

But why would that be important? Why should it be important?

I find myself asking this question a lot lately. I recently got word from The Good Men Project that my poem “At Closing Time” is up on their site. And that’s awesome! What’s more awesome is that it’s not the first poem I’ve had published on this site; my classic spoken word piece “Old ’89” and “The Naked Kiss” which I’d written after watching Samuel Fuller’s 1964 classic of the same name, were also published at The Good Men Project. But after having it printed in Iodine Poetry Journal –– my favorite print magazine of poetry –– having “At Closing Time” –– my favorite poem I’ve ever written –– online didn’t feel as much of a big deal as it should have. Same for “Old ’89,” which was first published in Harpur Palate, Volume 8, Issue 1). But I was pretty stoked when “The Naked Kiss” was published online, partially because I never actually submitted that poem to any print publications.

Here’s the thing: I look at my aforementioned bookshelf where I keep journals like Iodine Poetry JournalConcho River ReviewThe Chaffin Journal, and the many others (I had to get up for a moment and walk to that shelf to look up the names of them all), and I wonder to myself: Who else has a copy of these wonderful print publications featuring my poems, and the poetry of talented other poets and writers like me? Truth be told, it’s not many. Probably some of the more hardcore poetry aficionados, maybe? Certainly a few Ph.Ded professors who actually still have subscriptions to Poetry Salzburg and Pennsylvania English. When you get a piece published in print, the best you can do to share is snap a pic of the cover or even the piece itself and post it to Instragram, then send folks to where they have to pay $8 to $12 for a copy of the magazine or journal. In today’s world, that’s two too many steps to ask of people.

A great image chosen by The Good Men Project to capture "At Closing Time."

A great image chosen by The Good Men Project to capture “At Closing Time.”

But online? Having something published online opens us writers up to an audience of infinite potential readers. With the click of a share button, I (and you) can send my poem to Twitter, Facebook, heck, even Pinterest if you know how to really use it, and possibly uncover more readers than you ever thought you could –– if the piece is quality enough to stand out from the countless others being shared every day.

I will say, though, that the Activia ad a mere inch below my heartrending closing of “At Closing Time” does spoil the catharsis slightly for me –– hopefully it won’t spoil it for you.

You don’t get that in print, either.

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What do you think about publishing in print versus online?

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What Exactly Is a “Hipster Noir,” You Ask?

Well, I’m happy to report that I’m finally able to tell you all what exactly a “hipster noir” is, now that I’ve finished the brief synopsis of my very first supernatural, metaphysical mystery novel.

What started out as a series of comic character sketches back in May of 2013 during my morning commute to work somehow took form and became my very first 60,000-word novel by January of 2014. I had been calling it Hipster Noir, mainly because my main character, a private eye named Sebastian Holden, was inspired by a noired-up fellow I saw while waiting for a table at Otto in NYC. He was dressed like an old school detective, complete with trench coat and matching hat. The only thing that struck me as off-kilter was his great bushy beard, straight out of a day trip to Williamsburg (or, these days, Jersey City).

If Fred McMurray here had a grizzly beard, he'd be a dead ringer for Sebastian Holden, P.I..

If m’man Fred McMurray here had a grizzly beard, he’d be a dead ringer for Sebastian Holden, P.I..

After a bit of crowdsourcing for a more proper subtitle for the actual story being told, I settled on a title that I think captures the mood, tone and quirky flare of Hipster Noir –– The Muddled Mystery of the Murdered Muse. Special thanks to my Twitter pals @ABOVEtheLine, @fuegopazzo, and @peacepumpkinpic for some amazing suggestions and brainstormings on Twitter.

And now, here’s the official “Story in Brief” lifted from the proposal I’ve been putting together:

Blending nuances of noir with geek subculture in a supernatural, metaphysical mystery, Hipster Noir introduces us to the queerest holistic detective since Dirk Gently –– Sebastian Holden, P.I., a Jersey City hipster whose host of fine-honed skills helps him crack even the most cryptic of cases, like “The Muddled Mystery of the Murdered Muse.” When muse for hire Annie Hathaway is murdered, the fuzz quickly pins the rap on her spoken word-spouting boyfriend in Williamsburg. But Sebastian’s trusty gut instinct tells him there’s more to this mystery than meets even his third eye, and he thrusts himself head-first into a bizarre Universe teeming with vampire cabals, orange-blooded androids from tomorrow, and a haunted beach house that holds a dark secret, which just might be the key to solving Sebastian’s most perplexing case yet.

With a sundry cast of unconventional champions and supernatural scoundrels that includes a suicidal vampire, a world-jumping monkey-spanker, Death, and The Devil himself, plus boatloads of Bogartian banter and enough esoteric references to superheroes, indie flicks, and Castlevania to sink your battleship, The Muddled Mystery of the Murdered Muse will prove a hell of a whodunit that will scramble minds, steal hearts, and leave its readers eagerly anticipating further misadventures of the strangest P.I. this or any Universe has probably never heard of.

What do you think? Sound like something you’d be interested in reading?

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“Where Do You Find the Time?” Six Steps to a More Productive Life

The other day, my very good friend Troy sent me a message on Facebook, and in it he asked me (and this isn’t the first time he’s asked this) how I manage to find time to do all the things I do.

As many of you know, I’m a bit of a Renaissance man when it comes to the arts. I’m a published poet who plays a decent hand at DIY filmmaker, with one solid feature-length screenplay written and ready to shoot, plus another in 1st draft mode, and who’s now trying to squeeze an original graphic story into the comic book arena. Oh, and I’m also the author of an upcoming book Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, and that ushers in a whole slew of new titles, from guest blogger to crowdfunding consultant. And I also try to maintain a solid standing as a loving boyfriend and responsible kitty daddy who occasionally enjoys some time at the café or bar with my closest friends, actors, writers, and acquaintances from Facebook, the real world, and beyond.

Sheesh! Now that I wrote all that, I actually do quite a bit, don’t I? So how do I manage to do it all? Well, here are six steps that I live by, which may ensure a rich journey onto a more productive path in life:

Land yourself a job that doesn’t get in the way I’ve been very fortunate (at least for the past ten years) to have an occupation that doesn’t interfere with my writing and filmmaking endeavors –– freelance professor. I teach at an average of three universities across as many counties in my home state of New Jersey, putting in a max of fifteen hours a week and raking in enough coin to cover rent, car insurance, student loans, and cell phone expenses, plus a little extra for food shopping and an occasional dinner with my girlfriend Marinell. The more responsibilities we have at the office, the more money we’ll receive, but it’ll be at the expense of our free time.

Don’t follow what’s on TV When I was a kid, I followed a lot of TV, as outlined in a prior blog post. That was enough to last a lifetime. Today, you won’t catch me waiting with uncurbed enthusiasm for the next season of Mad Men the way I’d once hurry through my homework to stake it up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These days, if I catch any shows at all, it’s usually a quick rerun of Big Bang Theory, an episode of Toy Hunter, or the occasional webisode of The Booth at the End on Hulu. Anything else, like The Walking Dead, I’ll catch up with on Netflix a few months later. How can I live without TV, you ask? Easy: I can’t afford it. And when we can’t afford TV, the only station we can tune to is the Productivity Network, Channel 247.

This was before the “Rabbit Ear” revolution, so my signal-less 23″ tube TV isn’t so outdated.

Use guilt to your advantage Like yin and yang, pleasure and guilt coexist in everyone’s lives. Whenever I have too much of a good time, guilt starts to creep up my spine, and I’m immediately pulled back into my realm of intense productivity. That’s really the secret of how I’m able to do so much in the course of a single day –– I’ll feel guilty if I don’t, and I don’t like the feeling guilt produces. If I sit around looking at LOLCats for longer than five minutes in the course of a week, I feel like I’ve wasted much more than that in the course of my life. We’ve only got so much time to do all the things we want to do in this life, so we should spend the bulk of our time doing them.

Plan your day everyday, and never deviate I plan out each day the night before on small sheets of paper or an occasional napkin from my neighborhood café. Once I get up the next morning, and after I stretch, work out, eat breakfast, and shower, I turn on my computer and start red penning each item on the day’s “To Do” list. If I get to the bottom and they’re not all Xed out, guilt sets in. But if I do (and I always do), I’m free to enjoy whatever else I want to do with the remainder of my day. Notes like this can keep us organized enough to get through the things we need to do so we can do some of the things we want to do. (More on needs and wants shortly.)

Red Xed and ready for the evening ahead.

Choose your significant other wisely Have I mentioned how fortunate I am? One of the most wonderful things that’s ever happened to me was meeting Marinell. She understands my writer’s needs and has been super-humanly supportive of me for the past seven years. That said, and since healthy relationships are a necessity to almost everyone, if you want to remain productive, you should choose your significant other wisely. And while it’s true that we can’t help who we fall in love with, if we love ourselves enough to see whether or not he or she is a help or a hindrance to our creative or productive lives, we can make the proper choice to stay in or opt out of a particular relationship if it gets in the way of that productivity.

Understand the difference between need and want I tend to do only what’s necessary in all things, from my eating habits to my writing regimen. I only travel when I need to. For me, writing and telling stories are as essential as food, shelter, and clothing. What I need is time to write, submit pitches, revise screenplays, and create new ideas. Everything else is want, and while it’s nice to get the things we want, it’s more important to focus on the things we need; and when we get what we need, we can more fully appreciate all those things we want when we finally get them and see them for what they are: gravy on our meat loaf instead of honey on already frosted cake.

There are lots more tips that I have, from avoiding Words with Friends to doing one’s laundry once every three months, but perhaps those can be divulged in a later post or in an ebook I’m tossing around in my head, tentatively titled The Martlet’s Guide to a More Productive Life. Let’s see if these tips prove helpful (and if I can find the time to write it!)

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What are some tips YOU can offer that might help keep people on the path to a more productive lifestyle? Share them in the Comments section.

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