Wednesday, 18 April 2012

about writing by benjamin king/rollerfink


I'm just going to jot down some random thoughts about writing. And me. I feel like if it was a movie Owen Wilson would be me and a dumb monkey would be my writing.

I write everything directly in blogger. Oh you should check out my blog if you don't know about it. That's where I put my stories. Yes I still use blogger. I am too old for tumblr. I started one but didn't really get how to use it so it's nothing.

Anyway, I only write when I feel inspired to write. I never sit down and think oh I should write a story. Sometimes I will go months without writing and sometimes I will write three stories in a day. It stays fun this way. I never want to make it a chore.

Usually the first line or two will just pop into my head and I will bandy the words around in my mind until I get to my computer and see how the rest plays out. Sometimes I feel strongly about a specific theme and that will be enough to get the words rolling. It usually takes me about two hours to write a story (almost all of them are very short). When it is done I hit publish and then read it through to check for typos etc. Sometimes I'll do a minor edit at that point but after that I very rarely go back and edit. Most of my stories are babies that come into the world and I accept them for who they are. I love them even if they are not perfect.

Then I twitter and facebook a link and check my stat counter for the next couple of days to see how many hits I get. I love to see comments on my stories but people don't comment much these days.

When people ask me what I write about, which is pretty rare, I tell them death and loneliness. That's funny but it's also a bit true. Even though I am neither dead nor lonely. In fact my writing is very much not autobiographical, even though much of it is in the first person. The truth is I am very happy in my life. I married my first girlfriend and am still in love with her and I love my kids and it's all pretty good really. When I write I like to invent characters and inhabit their minds and write the story out from there. I guess I just find death and loneliness interesting. My dad died when I was 8 and my wife had cancer pretty bad when I was about 28 (I'm 40 now) so I guess death and thinking about death is a part of me.

I really hate submitting stories for publication. I used to submit about one thing a year and it would get rejected but this past year I submitted about 20 things and had about five or six accepted. It's nice to be accepted but it does not balance out the feeling of rejection. I don't think I will submit anything for a while. Maybe go back to my one a year policy. I prefer to contribute to projects that my friends are working on rather than trying to get into some lit journal that I never read anyway.

I am mainly a stay at home dad these days (it's great) but my career is also writing. I still work a tiny bit (about four or five hours a week). I write marketing materials and business proposals for a company in Connecticut (I worked in their office when I lived there). I'm pretty good at it but it does not interest me the way it used to. The company is struggling a bit so that may not last anyway.

Ultimately I would love to write a novel even though I recently read that writers don't make money anymore apart from the mega writers like Steven King or JKR. Now that my kids are getting older (6 and 3) I am getting a bit more time so maybe I can make it happen.

It is a bit tough for me to reconcile some of my writing with the fact that I am a dad. Like if I write a story about vaginas or handjobs etc. I don't know what to do about that. I don't want to not write a story that I think is funny or great in case it offends but I also don't want me kids to think I am some kind of deviant. I don't know, I'm a good dad.

Whoops that was a bit long. I should have started off with "Dear diary;"

Sunday, 1 April 2012

So I guess I put off/forgot about writing this for two months

Writing about writing is hard. I often think that people think that since I write I should be able to express myself well. In my opinion, the truth is the opposite. I think that most writers write because they have trouble expressing themselves in conversation. I write because I live inside my head and it is easier to get out the stuff from in there when I am by myself, without anyone staring at me. I have never been good at making jokes spontaneously. I used to rap. I was awful at the actual rapping: the flow, the breath control, the enunciation, the swag. I was even worse at freestyling. The one thing I think I was any good at was writing the lyrics themselves.

At first I mimicked my favourite rappers. I learned various techniques from them. I ticked off the various skills. Punchlines. Metaphors. Multisyllable rhymes. Internal rhyme schemes. Blah blah blah. It took a long time for me to begin writing verses about anything but how amazing I was a rapping. It was when I stopped boasting about how skilled I was that I realised how skilled I wasn't and started writing things other than raps.

Of course the timeline isn't that simple. I was trying to be a writer at various times before then. When I was nine I wrote the fourth Harry Potter book before JK Rowling did. When I was a little older I wrote the first page of an epic fantasy novel and then never returned to it. I wrote various stories and poems that I thought were fantastic and my parents encouraged. Blah blah blah I guess writing has always been a thing for me whatever.

Now I think about writing every day. I think about novels, and novellas, and stories, and poems, and chapbooks, and collections that I want to write and the intricacies of all of these. I think about my career. I think about collaborations. I spend a lot more time thinking about writing than I do actually writing. I also spend a lot more time thinking about reading than I do actually reading. I read reviews and blog posts about books and built detailed ideas about the books without having read them. I often find myself disappointed when I read a book because it fails to live up to the version of it I created in my mind. I am certainly more often influenced by these dream versions of books that I create than their paper and ink relations. As I said earlier, I live inside my head blah blah blah