Never Become a Writer

As children, we’re often interrogated by well-meaning adults with the question: What do you want to do when you grow up? For adults, this comes across as an innocuous question with an entertaining response from children, but from the perspective of the child, it can often feel like we’re on trial.

“Order in the court! Order I say… Now, the defendant will answer the question. What do you want to do when you grow up?”

How is any kid realistically supposed to respond to that? When I was young, I could scarcely choose between a plain Hershey’s chocolate bar and one with almonds (I still waffle between the two). Suddenly we’re cornered and asked to make a lifetime commitment to a career choice? Before I’ve even started Middle School? Yikes!

I’ve spent decades soul searching and after many self-help books, failed career attempts, a nervous breakdown (or two) I’ve finally answered that question. I want to be a writer. Whew! Better late than never, right?

So, filled with relief and joy, I announced to the world that I finally had the answer to the question that has plagued so many of us. In return, what I received was less than the triumphant exaltations I had expected. Rather, my choice was met with scorn and derision by friends and family.

“You want to do what? Are you crazy?”

“Well, no I don’t think so. I just love to write and I think I’m pretty good and it’s something that doesn’t bore me to tears or make me sick to my stomach when I think about doing it day after day so… No, I’m not crazy. I want to write.”

“Sigh… Why can’t you just get a REAL job?”

Sound familiar?

I spent decades of my life doing all kinds of things. I delivered pizzas, worked at banks, fashioned fake deer heads for a taxidermy supply shop, assembled automobiles in a General Motors plant, managed rent-to-own stores, took copious amounts of abuse at the front desk of a resort hotel, helped those with injuries restore their bodies to good health, and took more abuse on the telephone assisting folks with their employee benefits. None of the jobs paid very well and none of them lit the flames of passion within me. They were jobs and I was a drone bee and it was made clear that I was to do the bidding of my employer overlords without complaint or question and I would tolerate it. This was to be my life.

Except that I knew that it wasn’t to be my life. I knew that life had more to offer me and I had more to offer to the world. I just didn’t know what it was.

Except… that deep down, I did know. I’d loved writing since I was a teen and fantasized about becoming the next Stephen King. I even fantasized that I would one day meet him, show him my work and he’d praise me as the new literary genius of our time. In fact, I did meet him on a few occasions and he was delightful and friendly, but he never had an inkling that I was (and still am) an aspiring writer. (That’s another story, anyway)

I held back seriously entertaining the notion that I could write for a living because even my teenage brain grasped, at least on a rudimentary level, how challenging and competitive the market is. I had little faith in my abilities and assumed that all of the “real” writers of the world would scoff at my impertinence for believing I could join their esteemed ranks.

Now that I’ve elected my new dream/goal/profession, I’ve come to understand with growing clarity how right I was about the competition and the challenges. It’s tough. It’s tough, but it is not impossible.

So yes, I’ll read the books and take the classes and practice, practice, practice. I’ll make my lists and charts and submit my work and enter the contests and practice, practice, practice. I’ll network and market and practice, practice, practice. Because no matter what anyone else says, I’ve answered that question and I believe it with all my heart.

What do I want to do when I grown up?

I want to be a writer.

And now sit back and enjoy some pretty sappy, emotional stuff: Lyrics to The Impossible Dream from Man of LaMancha. :)

To dream … the impossible dream …
To fight … the unbeatable foe …
To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
To run … where the brave dare not go …
To right … the unrightable wrong …
To love … pure and chaste from afar …
To try … when your arms are too weary …
To reach … the unreachable star …

This is my quest, to follow that star …
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …
To fight for the right, without question or pause …
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause …

And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I’m laid to my rest …
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach … the unreachable star …


I Am NOT a Wordsmith

Drive with caution, artist at work

Drive with caution, artist at work

For someone that has profusely expressed his longing to write professionally, it might seem a bit odd for me to declare that I am not a wordsmith. In truth, I used to love that term. I found it to be a rather pithy and clever expression. Who wouldn’t want to think of themselves as a refined craftsman?

My change in attitude came from a friend and co-worker. This is a man for whom I have great respect. He’s highly intelligent, (although, like me, fails to live up to his potential), clever and wickedly funny. (He hails from the Boston area originally so I think it’s required that I use the term “wicked” in his description.)

While sitting at work, pretending to be busy (a worthwhile skill practiced by so many), we inevitably began a discussion about writing as a career. He expressed his dislike for the term “wordsmith”. In fact, I think his actual comment was “I fucking HATE that word! It’s so pretentious.”

Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared for that bit of sarcastic insight and while I neither submitted an agreement or disagreement, inwardly I felt just a touch offended.

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My 100th Post!

100 post

Ok, so for many bloggers, this isn’t really a big deal. A great number of blogs I follow have long passed this milestone but hey, this is my little victory, so I’m going to enjoy it.

This landmark post for my blog comes just a few days from the one year anniversary for Dumasaphobic Diatribes. (Feb. 10th) While I started out with the lofty ambition of writing 3-5 posts a week, I have fallen short of that in recent months. In my defense, my energy has been spent crafting fiction for my other blog, The Well of Fiction. (I published my 100th story “Being in the Right Place at the Wrong Time” today as well. Nice timing, huh?)

I began this journey a year ago with the aspirations of a novice writer who wanted find out if my dreams of writing professionally were achievable or if the voice of fear and doubt in my head had been right all along. I’m happy to say that while I’m still not making money with my writing (sigh), I’ve made great strides in discovering my talents and rousing the creative mind within. I now know that I have the talent and the drive to go to the next level.

I plan to continue this blog as an outlet for all of my personal thoughts and ideas that I cannot package into my fiction, but I don’t expect that my contributions will be as frequent as my short stories on my other blog and I’m ok with that. I’m compelled towards verbal expression in all forms, but fiction has become my mistress and she demands so much of my time. I’m sure I’ll pop in over here to the wild side now and then to vent, share, vent some more, entertain, infuriate and utterly confuse my readers.

Thank you to all who have come along for the ride and have either chosen to follow this blog or just wandered in and stayed long enough to read a post. I hope I can keep providing you all with something worth reading.

So if it’s alright with you, I’m going to take a moment and enjoy a small celebration of my accomplishments.

100th post

Yay me!

Ok, enough of that self-indulgent crap. Back to work, writer boy!


No More Crying For the Dead

Crying for the dead

I’m done writing stories about dead people. More precisely, the teary-eyed, reflecting-on-those-that-we’ve-lost stories. When I began my journey as a writer ages ago (or maybe about six months, whatever), I was quick to jump on that bandwagon. I wrote short stories like The Broken Bell, His Weekly Visit and A Hard Road to Walk. Fellow bloggers were kind enough to like the posts and even make a few remarks about the sentimentality of the pieces and at the time, I felt pretty good about writing them.

Having grown SOOO much over the past few months (Warning: The author’s ego is starting to inflate. Keep a distance of at least 500 feet.) and having read SOOO many other short stories that use the same jaded theme, I’ve decided that while those stories may give the reader a momentary “Awww” feeling, they are without substance and most are unremarkable. To me, they are a quick and easy way out of a writing assignment. Rather than putting forth real effort to devise and develop an actual story with a Character, a Journey and a Twist, those stories are the equivalent of My Dog Ate My Homework. Or perhaps, My Adorable, Loyal Dog Ate My Homework And Then Tragically Died And I Miss Him.

It’s not difficult to cobble together a soulful lament about a lost love,  family member or friend. Heck, if I can do it, anyone can (and they do). And yes, everyone can relate, but honestly, it’s just too easy to fall back on the pain of loss instead of demonstrating real creativity and originality. It’s cheating.

I know I need to constantly push myself as a writer and I’m trying to eliminate the shortcuts and escape routes that I’ve taken. It’s not that I don’t like sad stories. I just don’t want to write them. At least not the kind that rely entirely on reflections of grief to move the story along. I can do better.

Of course, Death is a popular character in literature. Many famous authors (some of whom are also decent writers) have built careers on the shoulders of the Reaper and that’s fine. I love Poe. I love King. I love Lovecraft (that last one is just fun to say, isn’t it?) and I have no intention of abandoning my horror fiction, but that’s entirely different.  There will still be plenty of death and terror and suffering in my writing but loving memories of the dearly departed will stay in the grave.

In closing, I would like to lovingly reflect on those stories I wrote that are now gone forever. Writing them brought such joy and now that they’re gone, there are days when all I can do is gaze out the window and recall times gone by. Life is hard. Letting go is harder. *Sniff* Goodbye old friends. (Teardrop falls)

See you on the other side. (Choked cry… Violin music fades in. Picture fades to black.)


The Joy of Blogging


When I began blogging several months ago, I approached each post as though it were a self-contained piece of work, like product on an assembly line. A better analogy might be that I wrote like every blog post were an English assignment from my college days and I sat at my laptop, fingers stretched and ready to tickle the keys, prepared to crank out another “A+” paper. (I maintained a pretty decent GPA during college). I did this, in part, because I wanted to use this blog to showcase my writing styles and talent for potential employers. This was to be my electronic portfolio. I wrote humor, editorials, articles on science and technology and a lot of other miscellaneous pieces.

I still write those kinds of posts, but I’ve found that lately I’m pulled towards just writing about myself and my own thoughts on life and allowing these posts to flow organically together. I think I’d forgotten that blogging originally started as electronic journals where folks shared their inner thoughts with no purpose other than to get their ideas out of their heads and into a physical space. Journaling has been around for a long time, but only with the invention of the internet did the concept of sharing these thoughts with the world become popular. It was a novel idea. I, with a click of a button, can get a glimpse inside the mind of a perfect stranger and experience their perspective.

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And Then What Happens?


As I may have mentioned in the past, I’ve not written a lot of fiction. In my early days (translation: back in the stone age when I was in high school) I dabbled with poetry and short stories and essentially produced a small pile of crap. My conclusion: I suck at writing fiction. Years later, I started spending a lot (too much) of my time online in chat forums and inadvertently began honing my writing skills as I engaged in the utterly useless, but thoroughly enjoyable art of internet fighting. At first I cut my teeth on learning how to properly “flame” a person, which is basically a way of creatively insulting the character of someone I’ve never met. From there I drew on the essay skills I first encountered in my sophomore English class and later developed in several college courses. I used these essay writing skills to craft logical and nearly indefensible arguments against the many trolls online that, I’m quite sure, were very impressed that I could draft a five paragraph response as to why I actually didn’t suck donkey nuts.

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5 Proven Ways to Write a Popular Blog Post!

The secrets of success lie within. Come inside and take a look.

The secrets of success lie within. Come inside and take a look.

I’ve been blogging for nearly 3 1/2 months now so I think that qualifies me as an expert in this field. In fact, what I’ve learned from the internet is that you are what you say you are. Truth, experience, knowledge… none of those things really matter. The Power of Publishing is all the validation we need. I Am Blogger, Hear Me Roar!

With that in mind I’d like to share with you a few of my secret tips for writing successful blog posts. These are posts that people will find and read in huge quantities.

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Why Are You Reading This?

Hmm... What to put in here?

Hmm… What to put in here?

I’ve really come to love blogging. For years I’ve had all kinds of strange thoughts running around in my head, like a big party where all the guests are patients at a mental institution. I’ve had to keep them all locked up inside this mental bunker I call my brain. But blogging has allowed me to let these thoughts run free on the world and now that they’re out there terrorizing others, they tend to leave me alone.

What? Oh yeah, sorry about that. I’m sure they’ll calm down eventually.

Or not.

I’ve also begun to understand that blogging is a process of discovery. To borrow a very well placed analogy from the movie “Shrek“, I am like an ogre… wait, no that’s not right. Advance that forward a bit. I am like an onion (ok, here we are). I have layers. And the more I blog, the more layers I peel back and the more I discover about myself. For example, I learned just the other day that contrary to a long-held belief of mine, I am actually not Spiderman’s alter ego, Peter Parker. Huh. Who knew?

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I Love Grammar?


When I finally decided to commit myself to the journey of becoming a writer, I knew that sooner or later I would have to face my old nemesis: Grammar. In high school, this was always the part of English class I hated the most. I was a good speller, I could keep on top of punctuation most of the time, but identifying parts of speech, dissecting sentences, learning the difference between nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives and the seemingly endless conjugations of verbs drove me crazy. I had to make sure my participle wasn’t dangling and to keep my tenses matching. Regrettably, I can’t say I ever fully understood the detailed structure of words in my native tongue.

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The Spark


I don’t know where it lives. I don’t really know what calls it to me. I just know that when it comes, magic happens. I speak of the spark of creativity that fills my head and finds its way into my words. All writers and poets and painters and sculptors know the spark. It comes in a flash, almost a blaze and burns hot while it’s here and then it disappears. While it burns, and the raw, molten idea is fresh and malleable, the artist must work quickly. We forge it into existence using our tools. Words, paint, clay, they are all the same. That spark is life and it is truth and we simply give it form. I believe I am nothing more than its servant, existing as a conduit from its world into ours. Capturing it within us is like catching fireflies in a jar.

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