Look at the date of this post. Now, look at the date of the post before it. See that lag time? That’s too fucking long. You can’t have a credible and popular blog site if you start having lag times between posts that are a month or more.
But that’s what’s started happening here at my Little Corner of the Universe.
Now, you gotta understand – the lag didn’t happen because I’ve lost enthusiasm for this particular aspect of my writing “portfolio”. Au contraire – I have ideas for posts all the time; I’m constantly thinking about writing material for you guys, my audience, the loves of my life. For instance: I have another couple of installments of A War Between States. I want to review several book offerings from my friends Collin Kelley, Jay Magidson, and Elaine Burroughs. I have heretofore unvoiced opinions on several games, several movies, and several beers. And don’t get me started on this Benghazi nonsense and Congress voting to end the 40-hour work week.
Truth be told, I don’t actually even lack new material. You can visit other places around the Web and see my presence there. Check out Scribd.com for some free story samples I posted which somehow became VERY popular. I also have a Facebook page for my novel at https://www.facebook.com/TheSurvivorOfSanGuillermo, as well as a web site for the same book. And I’m on Goodreads and Fictionaut.
Nah. The reason I’ve slacked on this web site for a couple of months is threefold, and has nothing to do with enthusiasm or lack of material.
First reason is obvious, if you know me: I don’t have enough time. Writing new material is time consuming, and I’m generating A LOT of new material these days, just not for this site. My novel, The Survivor of San Guillermo, is on the verge of getting published, and I have to work on editing it hard to make sure that happens. I also designed a board game based on a hot intellectual property, and it’s fairly text intensive. A major game publisher has agreed to take it on – IF we can score the license. Finally, fortune dictates that the economy is picking up a bit, so I have client work for the first time in months. When I started this web site about four years ago, my client work was dying off, San Guillermo was in a slough, and the board game was just an idea I had. Now, things are different. And though this web site’s content has suffered, I believe all these other changes are good.
That’s just the writing-related stuff which occupies my time. There’s also the work on my house, getting it ready to sell, and there’s dealing with the kids – they’re at an age where they require a lot of attention and help.
My next reason for not updating The Little Corner is that staying up to date with my Internet presence takes a toll. These days, unless you’re lucky – which I’m not – you have to maintain an almost constant presence on social media and among your target audience. Part of that IS this site, but it’s also Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and all those other places where you can find me. It’s called “micro-blogging” and I’m fairly proficient at it. But it takes time and energy.
The MAIN reason, though, that I’ve slacked with The Little Corner is way more complicated: it’s because my Wordpress overlay is out of date and I want to update it, but I’m scared to. My hosting service assures me that everything I’ve written is backed up on databases somewhere, and my web savvy friends say chances are updating the Wordpress on my site probably won’t cause any problems. But I’m not so sure. Shit’s never that easy. I have this sinking feeling that when I update Wordpress, it will create all sorts of compatibility issues, and that all that data simply won’t be readable. I envision the site coming out looking like a Microsoft Word doc that’s been opened in an incompatible word processing software – the words will be there, but so will a mish mash of odd symbols and wing dings. Things will become a jumbled mess. And I’m fairly certain several pictures will be lost.
Or not. But I’d wager on 50/50 odds.
“Well, Will,” you say. “Why don’t you just do a back-up of all your content on an external hard drive or something? Then you know you’ll still have it all.” To that I say YES!!! I believe I will! But… backing up four years of posts on a hard drive takes what, ladies and gentlemen? That’s right… time. And it’s tedious, repetitive work.
So… enough with the excuses about why my web site has been inactive. Instead, here’s where I make a transition and tell you about an exciting plan that stems from all this, and then invite you all to come back regularly to see how far my plan has gotten.
Should the Wordpress update in fact really erase my data or render it unreadable, or even if it doesn’t, I think I’m going to use the back-up as an opportunity to review and reboot my content. Here’s the thing: I have over FOUR years of material I’ve written for this site, and some of it is really great stuff. Also, over the years my audience has grown, and a lot of you simply haven’t seen some of the fantastically genius posts that appeared on The Little Corner a couple of years ago. It’s there – you can go looking right now if you want to. But with a reboot, I can bring it to the fore again, and you won’t have to work so hard.
For “old-timers”, it’ll be like visiting friends you haven’t seen in a while. You’ll be able to sit back and say, “Oh yeah. I remember that nonsense. Will Kenyon is a big dork.”
Of course I’ll write new posts, but by reusing some older ones, some of the pressure I put on myself every week to “write something” will be lifted. I see it as a win-win for all of us.
I’ll likely start the back-up next week. When THAT’S done, I’ll install the Wordpress update. Then we shall see.
Keep coming back. Don’t miss anything. M’kay?
Sometimes I get jealous of my gay writer friends. I think that compared to me at least, they have such a rich life - filled with things that I can never experience since my sexual orientation is NEVER called into question, never outlawed, and mostly never prosecuted. They have this whole world of things they can draw from to write about which I simply… lack.
Then I think about the things they have to put up with which make their lives so full and rich, and I decide I’m not so jealous after all.
Now, I don’t know if my friend Eric Sasson has been to all the places his characters visit in his short story collection Margins of Tolerance - although I know he’s well traveled. But if he’s been to even HALF of them, then I’m jealous once again, and not of his experience as a gay man, but of his experience as a world traveler. I’ve been a LOT of places, but now that I have two school-aged kids, I don’t get to go to far away places so much anymore.
What Eric has done with Margins of Tolerance is brilliant. He’s taken those two things I’m jealous about - his experience as a gay man and his experience as a traveler - and combined them into a rich and varied commentary on things which transcend ALL experience.
Two common threads run through each of the stories contained in this volume: the first is that every protagonist is a gay male. (I think that’s obvious from the things I’ve implied so far.) But if these stories focused solely on what it’s like to be gay, then I think it would be easy to dismiss Eric as a writer who’s found a comfortable niche - something to fall back on and rely on and repeat. I know some writers who happen to be minority, and who inhabit THAT personae in all of their writing - to the point that, even though I sympthasize with them and support them, I sometimes find their reliance on their status tiresome and uninventive.
Eric doesn’t do that. The SECOND thread which runs through Margins of Tolerance is how very DIFFERENT each story is. The protagonists are all wildly different - the only things they have in common are their gayness and their maleness. Other than that, they’re a different as anybody you can imagine.
The settings are also all different, ranging from a cheap hotel in Peru to a bar in St. Petersburg, Russia to a writers’ conference in Lake Tahoe. Eric has evidently visited many of these places, and if he hasn’t then he’s done his homework - he KNOWS these places in a profound and intimate way, and he uses them to great effect.
Not only are the characters and settings varied - even the style and language change from story to story. This is no small feat, I can tell you from my own experiments in changing style, voice, and cadence between stories. It’s very difficult to be tongue-in-cheek and sassy in one instance, then somber and melancholic in another. Many writers can’t pull off first person, and others revel in it. To see a single writer pull off such a variety of styles in such a small space is somewhat astounding.
Finally, the themes in Margins of Tolerance vary as well. I recently reviewed a book of short stories, that while enjoyable and worth reading, did dwell a lot on a number of contained and related themes. Margins of Tolerance defies that as much as it defies any other border. It’s a great irony and a triumph of sorts that this book, which sets itself up to be about the lines we as humans draw in the proverbial sand, crosses those lines again and again.
The power of Eric’s stories here are that each disparate piece - the characters, their situations, the setting, and the themes - are perfectly put together. Like a talented confectioner building the perfect cupcake from scratch, Eric somehow knows that THIS person experiencing THIS emotion and circumstance in THIS particular place will yield THIS transcendent message for the reader.
Some of these stories will disturb you - especially if you’re homophobic. Some of these stories will offend you. Some of these stories will make you cry, some will make you groan, some will make you shiver, and some will make you stand up and say “FUCK YEAH, that’s how it is!”
All of them will make you think - about your own person, about your own surroundings, and about the margins which you have established regarding your own tolerance.
And if you’re me, they’ll make you jealous.
If you read the post below this one, you’ll see all the stuff I was working on until last week. I say last week because that was when I got selected to serve on a jury for a trial that is still… going… on. Now, I’m not complaining - this is really interesting and fun, and it’ll no doubt provide fodder for future posts as well as knowledge for future pieces of fiction. But it’s my explanation, my EXCUSE if you wanna call it that, why those posts STILL haven’t gotten done.
We keep getting recesses, but they’re only 15 minutes at a time - so while I’ve been able to cobble together THIS post, I’m finding it hard to concentrate on longer, more involved things. And in the evenings when I get home, I’m still responsible for helping the kids with their homework, getting dinner together, and making sure baths and bedtimes are made on time.
Also, as many of you know from Twitter and Facebook last night, I spent a couple of hours with the Presidential debate.
Anyway, as cool as this particular jury duty is, I hope it’s over tomorrow or Friday. Shortly after that, I should get one of those posts I listed below finished for you.
I have another post right here. In fact, I have two. In fact, I have THREE.
But right now, they’re waiting on important components:
One piece has a bunch of photographs accompanying it, and those photographs require a whole lotta touch-ups. The piece is basically a diatribe in defense of my need for validation. Yeah, I need validation sometimes - don’t we all - but in the last couple of years it seems like I’m not getting anymore the level I desire. Then I look around me and… well, you’ll see. Once I get the photos all cropped and sized and color-treated as best I can, you’ll see.
For another piece, I need an audio bit from my good friend Barbara. I’ve had the next two sections of A War Between States finished for a couple of months now, but sometimes - like now - getting all the voice actor parts recorded for the podcast takes Herculian effort. I’m down to just Barbara on the latest installment, and I’ll have that done the DAY she doesn’t forget to come by after work and record for me.
Another piece requires me to finish my friend Eric Sasson’s short story collection, titled Margins of Tolerance. I have ONE MORE story to read, and then I’ll give it a review. Eric (and anybody else who’s reading this right now), I assure you that I love your stories. One or two hit so hard I cried. No shit.
But you’ll have to wait for my review of Eric’s book. You’ll have to wait a little while for all these upcoming posts, because components are missing and this week I have jury duty! But they’re coming, along with…
1) a possible piece on why recent episodes of How To Train Your Dragon are allegories for the war against science and alternative energy in the United States.
2) a review of my friend Collin Kelley’s short story collection, Kiss Shot.
3) a teaser about my upcoming novel, The Survivor of San Guillermo.
4) a shout out to the folks over at Hallowed Waste Press, who graciously opted to attach their name to my second set of short stories.
5) a possible diatribe about the 2012 election, depending on who wins and how he does it.
These are pending, but I felt like I had to come up with something for you right now. Right this minute. This teaser, this bookmark if you will, was the best I could come up with for now. It didn’t make sense to use my energy on concocting anything else, given all the stuff I already have planned.
Look for the rest later this week and/or month.
Two years ago I posted a thing about how I suck at vacations. I wrote it right after the family and I got back from an awesome trip to Disneyworld. Well, pretty much everything in that post is still true, and that’s why I’m writing this post today.
You see, I’m technically on vacation right now. Two days ago I drove 12 hours north to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to attend the World Boardgaming Championships. While I’m here doing what I LOVE doing, the kids and my wife are headed to the beach (we don’t actually have time this busy summer to vacation together - don’t say anything; we know it’s fucked up). I may or may not join them when I head back south - depends on how I feel. You know what I mean: it depends on whether I’m completely exhausted or not.
I’m having a fucking blast. I’m drinking great beer all day long that I bought from my buddy Eddie’s Ale Yeah! shop in Roswell, and I’m playing Twilight Imperium and a whole host of other games with Michael Buccheri, Matt Loter, Josh Look, Shellie and Al Rose, Bernie Frick, Wilson Knight, Rob Buccheri, Andy Waller, and a whole bunch of other people (you can see a few of them in the picture at the top.
Still, right this minute, I’m sitting at a Starbucks down the street from the host hotel, parked in front of my computer and logging time BECAUSE IF I DON’T DO THIS NOW I’ll be stressed out the rest of the week, beer and games and friends be damned. That’s how I am. I can’t help it. And it’s funny that all I have to do is write a short bit about writing a short bit, and I feel better.
There. I feel better.
My friends Rob and Elizabeth and I were chatting last Friday, and our conversation turned to a bit of merchandise that another friend of ours sells in his shop. Elizabeth and I had bought a couple of his items, and we were reading the “back matter” on the… well, the back. It was amusing, as it was supposed to be - and then I got to the glaring grammar/spelling error toward the bottom of the copy. My gut reaction - as it always is when I see stuff like this - was, “Sumbitch didn’t edit this enough. Sumbitch.” Then I thought, “Oh no,” because this is a product that our friend is likely to sell A LOT of, and to have a glaring error in the copy on the back is kind of embarrassing. Or at least it is in my mind.
Yeah, I know. I’m a Grammar Nazi - I get called that all the time. And yeah, I know - ninety percent of the people who see this thing won’t notice the error, and ninety percent who do notice the error won’t care. I know.
Still, I believe that if you are going to put forth a public face, or create a publicly consumed product like this, that you ought to put forth the best face or product you possibly can. Our friend can be somewhat excused because proper grammar isn’t really necessary to sell his product. But I see this sort of thing happening all over the place nowadays - I even see bad grammar in books by authors who are vastly more published than I am. And I’m not talking about just bad writing. I’m talking bad grammar. The absolute inability to put forth something comprehensible. There are LOTS of so-called writers who simply aren’t able to put together a decent story, but I still consider them writers because they can, at least, put together a reasonable sentence. And then there are those who call themselves writers who… can’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong - our friend’s error wasn’t that bad. It was the simple misuse of a homonym which is fairly commonly misused. Still, I think he could have and should have avoided the error.
Which brings me to the real point of this post. How could he have avoided the error?
It’s actually quite easy. He could have asked me to take a look at the copy before it went to press. I’m here. He knows what I do for a living. We’re friends. He could have asked, and I would have said yes, and his error would not now exist. Also, I might have tweaked a couple of the sentences in the copy and made the whole thing just a tad better. It was pretty good, and pretty funny, so I couldn’t have helped it that much. But better? Yes. Indeed.
Also, I probably wouldn’t have charged him, per se. You see, I have clients that I charge - people I don’t really know who give me the cold hard cash to edit or write their copy. I believe, however, that among friends a sort of barter system can work out - kind of a limited form of communism, wherein I do something for you and you do something in return for me. I have friends who are lawyers, computer geeks, designers, clothing and jewelry makers, artists, musicians, electricians, carpenters, lawn care maintenance guys, bartenders, chefs, chemists, and more. I have friends who sell things I love - beer, games, travel, books.
Already, I’ve tapped into a few of my friends’ skills and talents, and I’ve been very happy with the things they’ve done for me. Now I want to offer to return the favor - or to initiate a reciprocal relationship with a friend who needs me.
And don’t just assume you can do what I do. This may sound like a bit of hubris, but I’ve seen the results of people thinking they too can write well enough to get by, and I’m embarrassed for them. I don’t claim to be able rebuild a car engine or create a topnotch investment portfolio, so neither should you claim to be able to create a good marketing brochure or advertorial.
Basically, I think that if we paid better attention to what each of us did, and communicated more, we could probably work out any number of trades. Consider this, my friends, my offer to give you my writing and editing services in exchange for whatever we can work out. And of course, if all you can offer me is the cold hard cash, I’ll take that.
You don’t ever have to have something less than (nearly) perfect go out your door, at least wordly wise. Because I’m right here.
I WANNA WRITE!!!
And looky here - I’m squeezing a little wordsmithing in the cracks. Thing is, this is a quick knock off to keep the juices flowing and to fill space, and not a bona fide thousand word essay on phalluses, or a thousand words on my new novel, or a new poem, or even a three hundred word ad spot for a finnicky client.
I knew when summer hit and the kids started staying home from school every day that my overall productivity would go down. Kids need stuff like food and attention, and sometimes the reward for playing or talking with your kid is much more immediate and gratifying than churning out even the most satisfying blocks of copy you can possibly churn out.
Alas, though, it is not the children which have wrecked my productivity this week. The fault for THAT lies with my material possessions.
I tried to mow the grass today - the shear key, whatever the fuck that is, went funky, and the mower won’t stay on. I refuse to pay someone money to fix the damn thing - the repairs will likely cost more than buying a new mower - so I’m gonna take the engine apart myself when I have time (ha, ha). I’ve done it before; I can do it again. When I have the time.
Meanwhile, I borrowed my neighbor’s electric mower to finish the job. What a strange device that thing is. The cord on it was pretty annoying.
Besides the lawn mower, I have a leak somewhere in my washing machine and its adjoining pipes. I’ve narrowed it down - the leak is NOT in the 14-year-old machine itself, and that’s good news. The bad news is I can’t figure out WHERE the leak is. Tomorrow will see me under the house with a flashlight, checking the cold water pipes. There is also a possibility that the roof is leaking, and not the washing machine at all. What fun THAT will be.
Add to that the kids being home all day, which equals added distractions as well as extra housework, and you can understand why this little chunk of oh-woe-is-me is all that I’ve gotten written in the past couple of days.
That said, I DO have a lot of things in the pipeline for this site: two book reviews I intend to write, but that I want to write thoughtful reviews of; another War Between States podcast; an essay from my friend Caleb Wynn; and a summary of the latest several episodes of Table Top.
These things must wait, however. I have a leak to find.
It both surprises and pleases me that after three years of posting at least weekly to this site, I really haven’t run out of ideas. It’s helpful, I think, that I have so many varied and relatable interests that other people genuinely want to read about. I’ve written about politics, alcohol, movies, books, games, myself, writing, religion, music, parenthood, myself, TV, books, poetry, several of my friends, local Atlanta shit, philosophy, history, travel, myself, and… myself. People seem to want to read about it all, and I always have a new idea fomenting. To mix metaphors as thoroughly as any writer ever could: there’s plenty of water under the bridge, yet always something over the horizon.
Plus, there’s dick jokes.
One of my recent hairbrained notions was to let other people write posts for my site. I just stuck it out there a couple of weeks ago (dick joke), and already I have three or four people chomping at the bit (painful), wanting to share stuff that they think you, dear reader who comes to my site, would like to read about. I’ve already got a few submissions, and I’m looking forward to some really interesting tirades/observations/stories/histories/verbal porn from other quarters in the coming weeks.
Two things to say about these upcoming posts:
1) I don’t intend for them to supplant my own rants and raves. I’m gonna keep up my usual pace - in fact, I’ve got an interesting book review, an installment of A War Between States, a political tirade, some convivial nudity, and some interesting game session reports all in the pipeline. Plus some dick jokes.
2) I can already tell that some of the “guest” posts are gonna be of better quality and more interest to you, dear reader, than others. I promise you that I won’t subject you to utter crap - I’ll turn that away at the door and get unfriended on Facebook rather than subject you to shit. That is my solemn vow to you.
Still, there are going to be posts you’re gonna like more than others. If you don’t like a guest post, let me (us!) know. Then suck it up and move on. The next post veyr well might be more to your liking.
Also, you’ll always have me and the dick jokes.
Look for the first guest post tomorrow or Wednesday - the personal history of an erstwhile gamer, an old man reminiscing about the days of chits and hex paper, back before those damned kids started camping on his lawn.
I’ve been so busy this week preparing for this weekend that I haven’t found the time to post. But now I’m just sitting around waiting for my mom and my aunt to show up (they’re taking the kids this weekend for me), and I have a few minutes. So what the heck, I’ll make a quick post and tell you what I’m up to.
I’m going to Jordan*Con.
It’s a local con dedicated to the memory of fantasy writer Robert Jordan, whose Wheel of Time series is one of the most beloved franchises in recent fantasy history. Had he not bogged down his novels with repetition and unwieldy narrative around book 4 or so, and had he not… died… well, he’d likely be right up there with George R.R. Martin. We might be watching The Wheel of Time on HBO, along with Game of Thrones.
At Jordan*Con, I’ve been invited to do three writer panels - one on independent publishing, one on the advent of e-books, and one on self-marketing. If you know me, then you know I have a lot to say on all three subjects.
Aha! That’s the doorbell. They’re here.
They say that writing is a lonely profession, and “they” have a point. Although I wouldn’t say that I’m lonely per se when I’m writing - just that I’m alone. Even when I’m at my desk and I have children milling under my feet with their Matchbox cars and Legos. Even when I’m at a bar, esconced in a bar stool with pen and paper in hand. Wherever I am and whoever’s around, I’m typically alone in my head (and if I’m not then I can’t write, because of the distractions). But lonely? No.
Right now, alone, I have a number of projects working. I’ve started not one, not two, but three novels in the past months - and yes, two of them are coming along quite nicely. I also have a short story that I’ve been struggling with since October that’s almost done, and three longish poems that have seen a lot of false starts. I’m also editing a bunch of old stuff, I have my client work (although it’s becoming more and more scarce), and there’s this web site. A lot to keep me busy all by my lonesome.
I don’t think writing should exist in a vacuum, however. At least not my writing. To that end, I’m in the process of sending a bunch of my existing material off to various contests and publishers, all in the hopes that something I wrote will drift ashore someplace nice and be able to set up camp. It’s tough out there - there’s a lot of noise that you have to rise above, and there’s a certain level of resistance to outsiders, i.e. people who exist outside of academia and the “traditional” publishing industry. Sometimes I regret my decision to leave academia and New York. But I can’t go back, not really, not now.
To further get out of the vacuum of my own thoughts, I have you - my audience - and I have social media, which has transformed the world, for better or worse.
In recent months, I’ve also become a big fan of collaboration. Although I love writing - I need to write, kind of like I need to breathe - it’s something I have to do alone, and I don’t always want to be, or act, alone. So I’ve been working with others. As we speak, I have several collaborative irons in the fire.
1) I’ve handed over a bunch of my poetry to a musician friend of mine who’s going to use some of my work as lyrics for her songs.
2) I’ve begun working with a friend, Michael Collins, on a graphic novel - the idea for which I’ve had since 1992. Off and on, I’ve floundered around for an artist who could realize my story, and I think I’ve finally found my guy.
3) Michael’s also working on the graphics for a game I’ve designed. The game design itself is almost there, and to that end, it’s been a real pleasure playtesting it with a whole bunch of my friends: Jay, Jim, Mike, Kristoff, Pierre, Erekh, Brad, Rob, Jeff, Caleb, Eddie, Scott, Tony, Garand, Richard, Lyman, and especially Roberto Arguedas, who gave me a new direction to take the game when the old one was hitting a snag.
The trouble with this game is that it’s based on a popular property, so to make it the way I’d like to make it would require the acquisition of a specific license. I’m hoping to make the best game I can, and then to shop it to various gaming companies who might have the wherewithal to get that license. If that doesn’t happen, or if the game mechanic appeals to a smaller company who can’t afford the license, I suppose I’ll have to repurpose the game to an original story framework. I can do that. I have stories in my head.
4) I’m hitting the Con circuit - baby steps - doing panels with other writers on a variety of subjects. My first outing will be JordanCon here in Atlanta next month. Hopefully, I’ll score more such panels as the months go by.
5) I’m working with a friend who’s quietly trying to break into becoming a publisher. With the advent of ebooks and online marketing and distribution, his overhead is minimal, so he’s willing to take a chance on me. Already, he’s backing my collection of horror short stories, and he’s looking to add other “acts” to his repetoire.
6) With his help, and the help of my incredible editor, Beth, I’ll soon have a novel published in ebook format. I’m launching a web site in the next week or so to market the book, and I’m working with my wife, Aida, on the design and execution of that site.
7) I’ve engaged four artists to work with me on a portion of the novel’s site. What they’re going to do for me is a surprise. First, I’ll announce that the site is live, then I’ll tell you what they’re doing.
8) I’m still working with a whole cast of voice “talent” on my podcast novel, A War Between States, which you can experience/read by clicking on the navigation to it over there on the right.
9) Finally, and if I haven’t said it enough, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jason Snape, the artist and graphic designer who illustrated both of my short story collections. Jason, man, I have a brand, and it’s all thanks to you.
So you see, writing is an occupation that you have to do by yourself. Sometimes. But it’s never lonely.