Sunday, July 09, 2017

in a blizzard of new marketing ideas, i've tried several things. one was to enter the world of flash fiction. apparently flash fiction is anything between 500-1000 words although like "red dirt" i may have missed some of the essence of the definition. i figure, if i've been writing both short stories and haiku for several years, i ought to be able to combine the two, and make very short, very concise, short stories. my first, however, was rejected. i don't know if i can handle rejection, maybe that's why i self-publish in the first place.

but flash fiction was clearly made for the phone. people apparently call it up while they stand there looking cool, whipping out their phone in some public place, and maybe they read an entire story just as they stand there. i can make stories for that situation, i think. i might just need some practice.

then, a second idea, in cruising around i found a site that seemed ideally suited to me, the eastoftheweb short story site. it seems ideally suited to me because there are a lot of internationals coming to it looking for both entertainment, and learning english; this is my ideal market. they don't seem too picky, based on the stories i've already read, though one was excellent, the other had lots of grammar issues and downright inaccuracies. now actually my writing is strong on correct spelling, its/it's being correct and all that, that is not my weak point. but judging from my rejection, certainly i have some kind of weak points. perhaps it is utter failure to develop characters, i don't know. but this site does allow people to comment and maybe that will help me, if i get on there, and get me some exposure too. it can be done, i'm sure, and i can keep trying.

then by far one of the most interesting, is this kid who reads stories right onto the web, in his own project to have a successful, commercially viable youtube channel. he solicits stories, free, from authors like me, and promises to tell their source. unfortunately i submitted a story to him, and then never heard from him, and then lost his url; in fact, i don't even remember how i found out about him. he's out there in space somewhere, and doesn't turn up when you google "short story" and "youtube" together. like many young people, he had a penchant for fantasy and horror, neither of which i am rich in, but he seemed to have it together in some crucial ways, and i kind of wish that had come to something; perhaps it still will.

it is still basically irritating me that my son is making $250 a month on youtube, while i'm making basically squat, from all the hard writing and poetry i do. my wife says i shouldn't compare. but to some degree money is the world's reward for doing something the world really wants, and it's become obvious that the world wants youtubes more than, say, haiku, or even short stories in the written form. either that or maybe i just suck as a writer, which is always possible. i got lots of kudos and credit as a teacher, but the fact is, sometimes you write something, and everyone says it's good, but they're just saying that because they like you and want you to feel good about yourself. if you think about it, this is a shame, if in fact what is happening is they are leading you on and leading you to write a lot more, and give up a lot later than you probably should.

on the other hand, it's also entirely possible that the world wouldn't know good stories from bad, or even good haiku from bad, due to the fact that so many buckets of both are dumped on the endless sea of self-published dreck, and how is the cream supposed to rise to the top? the fact is, they can't even see it, don't read it, get sick of even picking up new stuff when it's so invariably bad. publishers used to put themselves in that position, the position of judge of limitless dreck, and for their pains they would get to be the ultimate decider of what got published and what didn't. now, anyone can publish, but there are no judges, so there's literally no way for people to know where to start.

i'm not really venting here; i have a genuine body of work and i'm a little mystified if it will ever amount to anything. six collections of short stories make about 120 stories, which are rapidly turning into flash fiction. three volumes of poetry, a thousand each, with a few unique ones before that which were not represented in those; that makes 3k. i kind of expected that the poetry would never sell; do people ever buy poetry, for any reason? i'm not sure. i think it's a carefully guarded secret that people never buy poetry, and therefore poets are simply people who desperately want to be considered poets, but basically have to find other ways of making a living, unless they can make a living teaching poetry. but that's hopelessly cynical, it's just that, as far as i can tell, what few people sell anything on the poetry front, must sell it only after they've died, and after a hundred years or so has allowed the cream to float to the top. in other words, there's almost no way to get any attention as a poet just by cranking it out. and the fact is, i'm uncomfortable with the image, the persona, the identity as a poet anyway. it's of no use to me; i would rather be known as a short story writer. i almost feel like drifting back to the realm of secrecy with the poetry.

they're coming out pretty well; i need about three a day to get a thousand in a year, and i pull it off, pretty much. if i miss a day i come back the next day and get six. if i'm in the mood, i write a few more and then slack off for a while. but i'll have my first hundred soon and the good news is, i have a kind of storehouse of knowledge for each state, plenty of material, when i'm not bound by time (as i'm not, this year). if i get a few more volumes of it out, i'll be happy. i want one that is entirely on history; the idea of that would be to have each haiku have not only a kigo (season clue), but also a geographical clue, and an era clue, or time clue. if i get good at it i can write hundreds, maybe a thousand. we'll see. that would be the 2019; i'm working on the 2018 now.

as for my other projects, some may fall by the wayside. there are 1) an esl reader, a reading workbook; 2) a novel about texas, to be called either trigger warning or texas hold 'em; 3) my original novel, about saint louis, called interference; and 4) my autobiography/memoirs - now this one has taken on a bit of urgency, as my wife has decided to write her memoirs, and in the process, has bought or collected about a dozen of them, including one on how to write them, and i think, has begun to actually type on it a little bit each day. i wouldn't have to necessarily be urgent about mine, which in a sense are almost done, but my strategy is simply to finish a first draft before i start hearing, reading, or experiencing any alternate ways of doing it. and so i've applied myself, a little, to finishing.

however two things hang me up. one is that my twenties, awkward and uncomfortable as they are, are quite boring as i admitted so little of all the wild stuff i did. i did nothing to make those years visual, dramatic, interesting, going anywhere, and in reviewing them, i recognize that. now i'm reading a very interesting book about the hippie-commune era, and i was right there, flailing around, trying to find community, trying to figure out the best way to live one's life, yet i didn't really put that in there, because, in its own way, it was just another failure, like a career that didn't work out. but i also see that, from the point of view of studying the 70's, and the largest back-to-the-land movement ever, that i was right in the middle of it (actually the tail end of it maybe), and therefore my insights might be of use to one who really tried to look at what was happening then. flailing around as i was, i had a lot in common with that whole movement, and i can very easily document that by writing about it clearly, if i can get it together. time is running out. look for publication, maybe, in the fall!

another hangup with that book is whether to simply publish it, or let people have a crack at it first. nah. my strategy, basically, is to not offend anyone, that way it won't matter. sometimes the truth offends them, but in that case, they have more problems than just me. after all, no one really buys my books, to speak of. and one guy, in a forum, once said, if you want to sell books, what are you doing writing short stories or memoirs? write something people want to read! or, another one said, the problem with short stories is, each one is about 300 pages too short to pay the bills.


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