Random Thoughts

The (Bleak) Future of University Quarterlies.

This is something of interest for writers of all genres who are looking for venues for publication. Check out this informative essay on the future of university based quarterly lit mags on the Inside Higher Ed site. Warning - this is not the most uplifting take on this subject.


What I’ve Been Doing…

Over the last several weeks, after a short self-pitying slump about inspiration/ambition and all the other things writers find to complain about, I've hit a nice groove. As usual, I’m swinging between poetry and fiction, editing-wise and writing-wise.

These days I’m editing The Alter Ego Project chapbook (again) for submission to some contests, and also tinkering with a couple of stories. Once those are done I’ll turn to working on what I’ve tentatively dubbed The Field Guide project, a prose poem/narrative-in-verse of sorts. To say more than that now would jinx it.

Flame: Writing & Working Out

For me writing is a lot like exercise. If it hurts, that means it's working, and in the end it always produces positive results.

This analogy is bolstered by the fact that when I’m successfully sticking to my workout regimen, I concurrently do a better job of consistently writing as well. It’s as if the discipline and dedication required for fitness unconsciously bleeds into the creative realm of my life. Or maybe staying in good physical shape also helps my mind become fit, and provides me with focus when I sit down to write.

Does anyone else think there’s a correlation between personal fitness and creative endeavors?

Flame: “How We Write About Love”

Happy Corporate Sponsored Synthetic Romance for Profit Day. Believe me…I'm not anti-love, but I am against the systematic pimping of love to spike revenues for no truly logical reason during mid-February.

On this Valentine’s Day, here are some keen observations on how we write about love, from Daniel Jones, who edits the “Modern Love” column for The New York Times. Enjoy.


Spark: Find a Balance Between the Internet and Life

Bloggers get a plate as Jane Friedman provides some food for thought: “10 Resolutions for a Saner Internet—and Life.”

This piece vividly describes the balance many people seek between the lure of the internet and the pull of our creative endeavors. It is easy to struggle with determining how much time and energy to dedicate to social media, blogs, web surfing, et al. Maybe this article could provide a kickstart for finding your own personal blueprint to an equilibrium between the net and the real world.

Brief Update.

My life has gotten too busy, how about yours? And money’s tight, of course, so I can’t turn down overtime and opportunities at the day job. Writing endeavors have to move over for a little while during weeks like these. So here I sit, constantly seeing things I’d love to spend more time doing and unable to make it happen.

Now I understand why poets and writers are always talking about retreats and colonies and such. One of these days I’m going to apply for one of those things. I’ll put that on my to-do list. Oh look, that makes it number 1,482...

Submission Addiction.

The only news is that I fear I have become addicted to sending poems and stories out. I've been doing it almost every day. I took special joy in sending out a number of print submissions. The downside to all this is that I haven't been writing as much as I probably should.

As in the past, I have rediscovered a bunch of poems and stories that I forgot about after writing. Some of those are getting slapped around a bit and then put into envelopes or emails and shipped away. Hopefully this all results in a lot of future posts about my work being published in journals. A man can dream…


As for resolutions and such nonsense…

…they feel redundant, superfluous, and somewhat synthetic. Pretty much the same rigamarole every year, and some years I’m a bit more successful with orchestrating the charade than others. Resolutions are for losers, work is for winners.

Nonetheless, I’d like to blog more, read more books, take more pictures, keep up with my ambitious workout plan. Drink more water (in excess). Drink more good wine and beer (in moderation, of course). Write more, as always. Go on more walks. Streamline and organize my life.

I say let’s clear out 2014, and may 2015 be more of the good stuff and far less of the bad. Do you agree?

If I blogged more often, then I wouldn't need to do these long catch up posts...

So long time no update and I’ve been a bad, bad blogger.

But much has been afoot in the sea beneath the blog, the current under the silence. For instance:

  • Several chapbooks are nearly ready for submission. One may have enough momentum to become a full-length manuscript, depending on my attention span.
  • Two prose poems from one of the aforementioned chapbooks (tentatively titled The Alter Ego Handbook) were published in 2014 at burntdistrict. burntdistrict is a journal of contemporary poetry published by the editors of Spark Wheel Press. This is the 3rd time I’ve had work published by the journal, and Volume 3, Issue 2 is awesome – and I’m not saying that because my two trivial poems are in there. It’s truly a great read.
  • Three poems were finalists for 2014 Atlantis Award at the poet’s billow. You can read them here. No money, but it was great to be in the running for the award and to have my writing published on the poet’s billow website. Thanks to all involved with this award.
  • My poem Only the Moon Knows You’re Signing the Blues won first place in the 2014 Lebanon Poets’ Society Free Verse Poetry Contest.
  • I have many short stories in various states of construction. I’ll be finishing and revising them soon to get them ready for submittal. I have caught the fiction bug again. Who knows, maybe a novel is rattling inside of me?
  • I haven’t given up on my poetry manuscript The Blues Almanac. But I’m no longer letting that book not being published (yet) subliminally cause me to be creatively constipated. I’m partway into writing what will be my next poetry book, although the concept hasn’t fully bloomed yet. I’m looking forward to seeing where 2015 takes this potential book and the rest of my writing.

Broken record, but I’m going to be better at blogging and updates in the new year. If anything, it is another extension of my writing…and I definitely need the practice.

Happy New Year!

Becoming a Nonbeliever

I no longer believe in extremes, in boozing until vomiting or betting it all on a long-shot.   

I no longer believe in loitering on the sidelines while the world buzzes about.  After all, what good has ever happened to an innocent bystander? 

I no longer believe that I need to reinvent my cool to meet your preconceived notions.  Even if my jeans and/or shirt are tragically out of style, I am a bad enough motherfucker to wear them with swagger.  Believe that. 

I no longer believe the night in the pool hall really happened, when I was sucker punched for the first time in this life.  Therefore, I no longer believe in turning the other cheek, despite scripture or common sense.  Always swing first, lest you end up on the ground with a swollen lip and blood taunting your taste buds. 

I no longer believe in the corny parables people blindly apply to life.  A penny saved may be a penny earned, but not after taxes.  Is a false positive a true negative?  Depends on what you believe, I guess.

I no longer believe that history only winks and nudges at the truth; even when it’s hidden, reality ultimately tells its shitty story with the brashness of a raised middle finger.  Or a swift kick to the groin. You get the point. 

I no longer believe in a politician’s phony version of peace, since it always involves infinitely more warfare and death than any peace I would envision.  I no longer believe in weapons of mass destruction – oh wait, I never did believe in them, or their existence.  Does that mean I no longer believe in America, or that America has digressed beyond belief?  Do you believe I’m unpatriotic for asking?  Do I care? 

I no longer believe that life forces you to grow up eventually; there are too many immature deadbeats for that to be true.  

I no longer believe there’s an athlete who doesn’t cheat.  And who can blame them?  Look at their salaries. 

I no longer believe that all people are evil, yet I don’t open my front door for just anybody.  In fact, I double check the locks every night.  That’s because I pretty much no longer believe humans don’t know how to be human, or humane. 

I no longer believe that on the day I was born my father smiled, because he was a poker-faced individual who never showed joy, even when his son brought home straight A’s or sank a mid-range jump shot.  I no longer believe that I won’t eventually become him, if I haven’t already, jaded toward a world that expects us all to believe in the make-believe it passes off as gospel.

That silence you hear…

…is the sound of me working. Seriously. The lack of posts on this blog is not an indication of a lack of writing activity, for sure.

I will have upcoming work in publications that I failed to previously mention on here, in print in burntdistrict and online in the Bare Root Review.

In addition, I earned third place finishes in both the Art Affair Poetry Contest and the Burning the Midnight Oil Poetry Contest – no publication, but a little cash always soothes the soul.

I wrestled my inner procrastination demons in a cage match. I won and am now back on pace with a decent writing work rate in the past month. This has been partially sponsored by a new manuscript idea that I hope will lead to the promised land of publication and not another dead end.

I also have big plans to revamp this blog.

All I need to do is execute. Which means not more hiatuses, no more wandering focus.

That’s all for now. Be good.

"Writer's Block" by Brother Ali.

Tight track. Brother Ali describes it perfectly in this song:

Sometimes I don’t write a lot
I know some folks call that writer’s block
I just call it my process
It comes out when it’s ready to, I guess

I don’t wanna let nobody down, so
Here’s some new shit, you tell me how it sounds
I ain’t tryin’ to be difficult or no shit
It just hurts too bad to try and force it...

Four things I want to blog about…

(1) I’m trying to post more on this site in 2012. Two posts in three days is a relative uptick in blog activity, or blogtivity (if I have permission to create another brainless web-based word like everyone else seems to do). I’m writing more in order to work my way out of a funk. Even though it’s not exactly creative writing, blog posts are a form of textual healing that might get me to the doorstep of where I need to be in terms of inspiration. At least that’s my theory.

(2) My prose poem The Inherent Discontent of Objects made a fashionable appearance in Clare Literary Journal Volume 12, Fall 2011. Clareis publication that is a joint effort between students and faculty in the Visual Art and English Departments at Cardinal Stritch University. I am happy to have the chance to contribute to this issue, alongside a host of talented writers and poets.

(3) My poem Bad Luck Sings the Blues took second place in the 2011 Burning the Midnight Oil Poetry Contest.No publication, but cash and encouragement are positive things. A big thanks to Amy Harke-Moore over at The Write Helper for deeming my work worthy of commendation.

(4) My prose-poem chapbook manuscript A Condensed History of Anger, with Footnotes was a finalist for the Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest, but did not win the big prize and will not be published. Nonetheless, I am encouraged that it made it to the final round, and I’m determined to find a home for this manuscript in the New Year.

That’s all for now. Be good.

It’s been awhile since I posted, or 5 things that I want you to know

(1) My poem Excerpts from the Guide to Modern Survival has gathered some praise. It was a runner-up in the 2010 Princemere Poetry Contest, and earned honorable mention in the 9th Annual Saturday Writers One Page Poem Contest. I appreciate the love.

(2) My flash fiction piece Hush and poems Waning and Life is a Series of One-Hit Wonders will appear in Talking Stick 20. The Talking Stickis a Minnesotan collaboration of poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction, and is a publication of the nonprofit organization, The Jackpine Writers' Bloc. You can go to their website to find out more about how the Talking Stick started and what the group does. In addition, Hush received an honorable mention nod amongst the fiction entries this year, and Waning earned first place honors in poetry. I am flattered by all this; big thanks to the judges and editors.

(3) So far my full-length poetry manuscript, The Blues Almanac, has been rejected by no less than twenty publishers. I am hopeful though. This is a good book & I believe in it.

(4) I wrote two prose poems last week, and created some random scribbled thoughts this week. I think my writer’s block might be over. My work rate was almost nil since mid-January, so my creative side was struggling. Glad to be back on the horse.

(5) The weather in Minnesota stinks, except for today, but I am working too hard at the day job to enjoy the rare occurrence of sunshine outside. My inner Florida Evans is screaming, “Damn, damn, damn.”


It's a blog that occasionally rises out of the silent mist then vanishes into the vapor again. Or maybe it's the blogger himself who's pops up, then disappears for an eternity. Perhaps I am secretly the subject of folklore. Sigh – there really is no really mythical reason to why I’ve been gone. My internet and router were ackinafool for awhile, but that all has been fixed. Therefore I’ll be back posting soon – I have some interesting news and notes, but I want to spread it out instead of committing an info dump. Be good, and I’ll be back soon to blab about my recent poetry contest win and some upcoming publications and other random thoughts.