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Success, By Way Of Failure

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Categories: Aegis Studios, Rejections, Writing, Tags: , , , , , , ,

Disclaimer: The following post contains intentionally vague (ha-ha, get it?) references to people and companies. All names have been excluded to protect privacy and professionalism. Enjoy!

Last week, I was solicited by an interactive entertainment company for a 42,000-word writing project. They asked me to provide them with a quote for services, in addition to samples of my writing. I put together what seemed (to me) to be a reasonable quote based on info I gathered, and provided the requested writing samples from some of the writing I did for the Aegis Studios RPG book, Virulence.
 
I did not get the job.
 
I did, however, get a rejection letter. It came in the form of an email, and while it praised my work as “professional and something [they] feel would work well,” it also informed me they’d decided to go with another writer.
 
I understand completely. I’m also not upset in the slightest.
 
First, I understand why an established company would be hesitant to hire on a fairly novice writer. The project would have been written in screenplay format, as most video games are. Though the screenplay format is (seemingly) not difficult to adapt to, I have no prior experience with it, other than reading how it’s constructed.

Second, I’m actually quite pleased that I was even solicited. How could I be upset about getting rejected for a job I didn’t even inquire about? The fact is, until last week, I didn’t even know this gig was out there. So, I’m honored I was considered, delighted that my work was well-received, and encouraged that I am “someone that [they] would definitely consider for any future opportunities.”

Of course, the phrases I’ve quoted (which are directly from the rejection email) could be platitudes. Then again, what motivation would a professional design director have for blowing smoke up my ass? He could have just as easily told me “sorry, but after careful consideration, we’ve decided to go with someone else. Thanks for your time.” I will operate under the assumption that this guy was sincere, and that I’ve made a contact that could lead to some seriously fun, seriously paid work in the future.

So, thanks for my first official rejection letter as a serious writer. I’m sure it won’t be my last. Rejection letters, it seems, are like lovers to writers: you will probably have a few over the course of your life, but you’ll never forget your first. This failure, like the failure of my first serious romance, is actually a success, because it means I explored my horizons and expanded my knowledge of life. Something that makes you a better person cannot be a failure, but merely a setback at most.

OK, enough waxing philosophic: time to get back to work.
 
Time to get back to writing.

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New Poem: “The Soft, Cool Blanket of Night”

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Categories: Poetry, Writing, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For the record, I love ancient Greek literature/ mythology. I read Oedipus Rex for what has to be at least the twentieth time the other day. I started reading it again mostly because I wanted to double-check the spelling of “Tiresias,” but once I started, I had to finish the story. Of course, I knew what was coming, but watching the tragedy unfold, seeing the inevitability of it, is what makes the story great.

For your reading pleasure, I present a poem that features some Greek mythological references. I hope you enjoy it. As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

The Soft, Cool Blanket of Night

wrap me in the soft, cool blanket of night.
 
waning,
the moon peers down at me
like the heavy-lidded eye of some cyclops.
 
and if I be lost like poor Odysseus,
cloak me in the soft, warm wool of night.
 
and if my eyes fail me like old Tiresias,
stitch the cloth with the needles of the king,
and wrap me in the soft, cool wisdom of night.
 
and if the trees reach out for me
like the souls of the dead,
blanket me in the soft, cool mists of the Styx.
 
wrap me in the soft, cool blanket of night.

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The Silver Lining

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Categories: Blackhawks, Geek Stuff, Health, Hockey, Writing, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The last few days I’ve been dealing with a malfunctioning car and a brief but intense illness. It’s been less than pleasant. Add the Chicago Blackhawks playing like crap in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and losing all my phone numbers and email addresses in Address Book (and thus my iPhone too), and this week looks pretty bad on paper.

There’s a silver lining though: another page in my novel finished. It’s been slow going, and I could probably find more time to write, but I feel good about the words. Do I think this novel will be sellable? Probably not. But it will be written, and that’s more important to me.

So, to anyone out there who thinks they can write a book: do it. There’s no better advice on writing than that. You will suck at first. You will get better if you try. That’s all.

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New Poem: “This Land Is My Land”

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Categories: Poetry, Rant, Shadowrun, Writing, Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s a new poem for  everyone. I’m in no way qualified to write this poem, as I am not a Native American. I do, however, believe that the natives of North America have been dealt one of the worst hands in history. Their systematic slaughter by waves of white immigrants has been hollowed out of the history books and replaced with the “Maize; you call it ‘corn'” bullshit we get fed in grade school.
 
I apologize if some of the language I’ve used offends you. It’s my hope that, by using such abrasive terms, I’ll get your attention and you’ll think about what it means to be any color but red in America.
 
For the record, I do not advocate a native uprising, a la Shadowrun, but Indians deserve better than fucking casinos and firewater. Your comments are welcome, unless they’re hateful, bigoted ignorance.
 
This Land Is My Land
 
Niggers and spics,

kikes and Micks

(don’t forget the krauts and deggos, too)

live on land that belongs to you.

 

If your skin is red,

you’re better off dead

than deal with this sordid affair.

No one told you caveat venditor, “Let the seller beware.”

 
You trusted the limeys and frogs to boot:

they used that foot to grind you to soot.

Ashes and soot of once-proud nations:

now there’s strife in tribal relations.

 
Anima spirits, totems, and tools:

the white man has played you for fools.

Soon, painted faces gather in band,

proudly declaring, “This land is my land.”

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Sometimes Writing Sucks

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Categories: Writing, Tags: , , ,

Now that I’ve finished the outline for my first novel, I’ve realized that I hate the main character. Stanley Laroche is a douchebag. Stanley Laroche is an asshole. If Stanley Laroche were an ice cream flavor, he’d be pralines and dick (thanks for that one, Mike Myers!)

But I have to tell Stanley’s story anyway. Even though I hate him, I made him. I owe it to him to let the world know what an absolute scumbag-fuckface-turd he is. To do otherwise would be to abort a ten-year-old.

Sometimes, as a writer, you have to tell a story you don’t like. Sometimes a character is so vile that you have second thoughts about bringing them into the world. Sometimes you question yourself, wondering how you could have created such a monster.

Paging Dr. Frankenstein…

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Céad Mílle Fáilte

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Categories: Holidays, St. Patty's Day, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Now put down the dyed-green beer and listen up.

There was a time in my life when I would get bent out of shape at the idea of the green beer, corned beef and cabbage, and asinine “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” pins. That time has since passed.

In 2004, I had the distinct pleasure of going to Ireland with my blushing bride for our honeymoon. It was probably one of the happiest weeks of my life. We had a week of B&B vouchers, a rental car with unlimited miles, and no plans but to see where the road would take us. The narrow, winding roads took us to a beautiful old cemetery (or twelve) and  cows grazing in the ruins of some ancient building or another. The roundabouts lead us to the weight of history and the lightness of a fair pint of Harp. The path we chose crossed with Ute, the super friendly German tourist, and Anne and Michael, lovely proprietors of the Gables B&B. The stops on the road were at Gaby’s in Killarney (home of the most delicious seafood I’ve ever had in my entire life) and some God-forsaken hotel in Kilkenny (where we were served “a selection of local farm cheeses.” I can only assume the local farm was located in Hell.) We ate and drank and breathed Ireland for a week on the wing.

And while a week was not nearly enough, I felt a connection to that place that has not faded in the past five-some years. Hell, the people there all look like I look and have names like my name. More than my surname or big head, though, is a feeling of kindred spirit. You see, the Irish take the good with the bad and smile all the while. Irish history is full of examples of this mentality; dance a jig at your best friend’s wake, for he’d surely dance one at yours.

And as much as the faux-Irishness of the American St. Patrick’s Day pains me sometimes, I do so enjoy the holiday. Because for every green-beer swilling wannabe hooligan drowned in hops and yeast, another chap is getting his first taste of Yeats. For every nasty plate of corned beef and cabbage, somewhere else is served a proper shepherd’s pie. As Murphy, from the movie Boondock Saints, put it, “…it’s St. Patty’s Day, everyone’s Irish tonight.” So put on your silly pin and your green clothes if you must. Hell, if you’re cute, I may even French you ’cause you’re Irish!

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In Bloom

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Categories: Family, Randomness, Tags: , ,

The weather in northern Illinois was simply beautiful today, so I took some time off work and headed home to spend some time with the family. I tried feebly to take a bit of a nap too, but could not fall asleep. I did get to spend some time playing and being silly with my daughter, however. That was really the best part of my day. I wish I had more moments like those, but the long commute I pull means I have far less time with my little girl than I would like. I hope when she gets older she understands why I wasn’t around very much. I hope she understands that I love her more than life itself. I hope she’s happier for the life I’ve been able to provide for her than not.

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Status Report

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Categories: Angst & Wrath, Blackhawks, Family, Gaming, Hockey, Poetry, Shadowrun, Writing, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been a while since I posted something, so I thought it would be prudent to put together a quick update on what’s going on in my life right now.

The Olympics are over. I’m quite happy with Team USA’s performance in hockey. Both the men’s and women’s teams medaled, which is excellent. The men, especially, should be proud of their performance. For  a team that no one thought would make it to the medals round to go to the gold game and then force overtime on the Canadian team is quite exceptional. The real superstar of Olympic hockey is not Sidney Crosby with his reputation saving, national hero overtime goal, however: it’s Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks. In seven games, he racked up an impressive eight points (seven of them on assists) and had a plus/ minus of plus-9. He also lead Team Canada in faceoffs won, “winning just under 65 percent of his draws,” according to the Fighting Sioux website. Wow! I’m sure glad that he’s a Blackhawk.

I have managed reduce my weight to 215, a net loss of five pounds from my starting weight. I’ve also gone down one notch on my belt just the other day. Slowly but surely I’m making progress on my weight loss goal. It’s not happening as quickly as I might like, but I am making progress, so I’m happy.

My daughter has to wear glasses now. She’s only two years old. They seem to be helping a lot and she doesn’t fuss with them much, so I guess it could be worse. Her eye still wanders a bit, usually when she’s tired, but she goes back to the ophthalmologist in a few months. I’m sure her current pair of glasses will not be her last. Thankfully, we paid less than $40 for them, so if she does need another pair (or two!) before the end of the year it’s no big deal.

My debut poetry book, Angst & Wrath, is published with about as much success as I’d envisioned it would have. Thanks to those of you who like me enough to buy a book of poetry. Let’s face it: America is not the culturally enlightened Mecca that, say, France is. I’m well aware that poetry is dead and that any asshat with a word processor can spew out a book of shitty poems. That’s OK though: I published the book for me.

On a related note, I’ve finished writing my first children’s book. The project is now in my wife’s very talented hands. It’s short and simple and will be beautiful once Tiffanie is done with her part of it. We’re planning on self-publishing for now, though I may be interested in shopping it around to some agents too. The title of the book is “You Can’t Tickle A Goldfish” and should be released later this year or early next year.

Thanks to a scheduling change, I am once again participating in a regular role-playing game session. I have become a full-time player in Alex Rodriguez’s Shadowrun 4th Edition game. Aside from a few minor issues, it’s been going great. I’m honestly just happy to be back at the table, rolling dice like the good old days.

That’s about it for current events in my life. My friend Dan Sehr, who’s in the Air Force, is leaving in a few days for an extended overseas tour. He’s been back in town on leave the last few weeks and it’s been great to see him again. I wish him the best of luck and hope he comes back safe and secure. We all appreciate what you do, Dan. Thanks for standing up and doing what’s right.

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Go For The Gold

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Categories: Hockey, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was asked at work last Friday what my thoughts were on Olympic hockey by my boss. Looking at what I told her, it seemed like I might have made some good points. With that in mind, here is what I told my boss about medals in men’s hockey in Vancouver:

I have to go with Team Canada for the gold. Having Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith together on D is huge. Plus having Marty Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury in goal is just amazing. Those three are all in the top 10 goalies in the NHL. Throw Toews and Sidney Crosby in on offense and I don’t know how the rest of the world will stand a chance.

That being said, I hope Team USA takes the silver at least. They look really good too: Patrick Kane is (obviously) great and the D-men are a pretty impressive bunch too. Goaltending is going to be a weak spot for Team USA though.

Team Russia is the favorite for gold according to the sports bookies. I have to think that if Team USA takes silver, Russia will get bronze without a doubt. They’re solid in goaltending and defense, but the real story is offense. Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins is great and Alex Ovechkin is explosive.

In a perfect world, I’d like to see
USA – gold, Canada – silver, and Russia – bronze.

I think it will probably look more like
Canada – gold, Russia – silver, and USA – bronze.

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St. Valentine’s Day Poem

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Categories: Angst & Wrath, Poetry, Valentine's Day, Tags: , , , ,

In honor of Valentine’s Day this Sunday, I thought I would share one of my love poems with you. You can find this piece and over three dozen other poems in my chapbook, Angst and Wrath. You can buy a print or electronic copy of Angst and Wrath from my Lulu store for under fifteen bucks. What a deal!

I Think Of You

When I’m afraid,

I think of you.

When I’m alone,

I think of you.

When I’m frustrated,

I think of you.

I think of you

and your loving embrace.

I think of you

when I leave this place.

I think of you

and your pretty face.

When I’m sad,

I think of you.

When I’m being bad,

I think of you.

When I’m glad,

I think of you.

I think of you

when we play.

I think of you

every night and day.

I think of you

and my problems go away.

No matter what I say or do

I think of you.

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