Posts tagged ‘writers’

Monday, June 10, 2013

Reflection and Appreciation

by Steven E.A.
Three years ago I was picked up at a Korean airport in the middle of a rainstorm. My friends Kate and Chaz had already been there for a year and they took us on a combination bus and taxi ride to their apartment. The lights in Busan shone red and orange and yellow and reflected like glowing shadows off the glossy water glazed streets. I knew then what it must be like to be illiterate, the words nothing more than geometric dashes. The taxi’s window was streaked and speckled with rain as I watched the passing buildings and people. There was more of everything. Advertisements, people, cars, and even the apartment complexes were put together en masse along the mountains’ edges like rows of giant legos. I kept thinking to myself that if I were ever to navigate this city on my own, that in itself would be a miracle.

Now I find myself in anticipation mode. Korea has been a fabulous home to me. The experiences and lessons will stay with me for the rest of my life. But now I’m headed back to my home country, and not just for a short visit, for an indefinite amount of time. My wife and I have already sold and gotten rid of a large amount of what we’ve collected over the years. We’ve been cleaning, organizing and packing our suitcases. Anytime Kimmy and I go out, we look at our surroundings fully aware that this could be our last time seeing this area or trying that type of food. America calls to us like an old, favorite sweater you’ve discovered buried in the attic. Just the sight of it reminds us of all we’ve missed and forgotten the last trio of years.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting Trustworthy Input

by Steven E.A.
During my university years, a writing instructor made certain to drive home the point that it’s extremely important to find someone you trust to read your work. Luckily for me, I married that person. Kimmy is not one to shy away from a harsh critique. After finishing a novel shortly after college, I printed it off and loaned it to anyone who would take it. My wife (then girlfriend) was one of those unlucky victims of my coma-inducing writing. I had to prod and prod her to read it, and since I was wearing some pretty blinding pride goggles, it took me much longer than it should have to realize she didn’t like it. No, no–she hated it. If I had covered it in gasoline and set it ablaze, I imagine she’d have applauded, her hand claps fanning the flames. That novel has become the Voldemort of our household. It is the novel whose name we do not speak, and in those rare moments when it is spoken, Kimmy lets loose an audible groan to remind me of my malfeasance.
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Surpassing Self Satisfaction

by Steven E.A.
My students call me a fashion terrorist, but I’d like to disagree. Open up my wardrobe and you’ll see primarily earth tones. I’m huge fan of navy blue, brown, and gray. I know what I like, and I stick to it. Am I fashionable to others? Probably not. But I’d much rather feel comfortable in what I’ve picked out than what a magazine tells me would properly accent my eye color. The same goes for most other things in my life, too. I like a wide array of music: hip-hop, dubstep, instrumental, folk, indie, and even 90s music if I’m feeling nasty. I love everything Stanley Kubrick touched. Kathleen Graber is my favorite poet. Deadpool is my favorite comic book character. All of these come together to form a rich amalgamation of Steven soup, and, since I’m an aspiring writer, these influences come out in my writing. And just like everything else, I know what I like when it comes to my writing, but in this instance, it definitely matters what others think. Writing can’t be just what its author likes. It has to be more.
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Monday, May 6, 2013

The Old Man and the Sea of Self-Doubt

by Steven E.A.
I’ve not often considered myself a fan of Hemingway, but a few years ago I decided to give The Old Man and the Sea a try. It wasn’t especially exciting, but it did evoke nostalgic memories from my childhood of fishing on lazy summer afternoons with my father. Shortly after finishing, I sat down at my computer to write a short story that harkened to those memories, but fast forward about two years and a 117,000 word novel has now sprouted from my fingertips. It’s the novel I’ve wanted to write for years. As I look over some of my old work, I see influences rooted throughout. But now that I have finished a readable draft, I’m plagued by the question, Is it any good at all?
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Catching Up with Poetry

by Steven E.A.
Grass stood in patches and small tufts, like the patchy beard of the Earth. As a fourth grader, I sat and fidgeted, but soon the small movements of insects caught my attention, and I imagined them a story. We’d been instructed to sit outside and observe nature, taking mental notes to serve as inspiration for a poem. Mine was inspired by ants, and dealt with a horrible mishap during a picnic in which a grape smashed and killed a particularly bold ant that had snuck onto the blanket to steal some food. With it came a crayon drawing depicting the event, the ants legs frayed outward from underneath the fruity boulder. My mother liked it so much that she’s kept it to this day in her small treasure box of memories that’s stored beneath our living room couch.

In seventh grade, I left a girl for someone new, effectively breaking her heart in the process. But due to the tumultuous state of middle school romances, I soon wanted her back. To apologize and win her heart, I penned a long sappy note full of regret. I can still see it scribbled in ink, folded neatly into a scare, with her name scrawled on the top. But before I gave it to her I had a (girl) friend of mine read it. She held it to her chest after she finished and said, “You should be a poet.” And if there’s one thing I know for certain it’s that seventh grade girls are experts on what makes excellent poetry. With my ego inflated, I passed the note off to the broken hearted girl, we made amends, and had a very solid, three-month long middle school romance. It was magical.

Monday, March 25, 2013

English Major Confessions: Editing

by Steven E.A.
I have fond memories from my college years sitting at the student union in a group with our books spread open over the table. We chatted as we took notes and sipped our coffees. Since I was an English major, I’d not use a textbook, but would instead be bent over a novel, using a highlighter or notecards to mark a selection. It was never here that I was asked the question that I knew, in the back of my mind, would eventually be asked. It was always somewhere in passing, such as on a walk through campus or passing by each other in the dining hall.

“Could you edit my paper?”

“Sure,” I would say with a smile, but I wasn’t excited about it. I had my own papers to write and books to read, and looking at a report on a subject about which I knew very little, would be time consuming if I wanted to do a good job. But there was something even worse: the prospect that the paper would be so bad that it needed an entire rewrite. Because if that happened, not only was I going to have to tell them that their writing was no good, but I was also going to have to spend a lot more time helping out than I’d like to.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Drudgery in Fiction

by Neil Fein
Fiction may be the glamor child of writing, but it too has elements that are, kindly, drudgery. Fortunately, help is at hand: Questions dealing with topics like research and summarizing plots and character information have been asked and answered over on Writers.stackexchange.com, and their answers can help make these chores a bit easier.

Writers is a pro and enthusiast Q&A site built by users. Instead of wading through a lot of random discussion to get to the good stuff, the best answers are always voted to the top.

Monday, March 18, 2013

What Makes a Successful Writer?

by Steven E.A.
My wife, Kimmy, and I spend a lot of time at a small, independent coffee shop in the heart of Busan called Hipster Coffee. We’re the only foreigners who frequent the place, and we’ve come to know the owners on a first name basis. It’s a great little place to spend the afternoon writing, reading, or just hanging out. I’m often considered the writer in the family, but Kimmy can do it too, and she’s a natural. In fourth grade she wrote her own children’s book called Egbert’s Stuffy Nose about an elephant with nasal congestion, and it was so well-crafted that her teacher thought she’d plagiarized it.

I’ve told her before that she was born with natural writing ability. I swear that if I had her skills, I’d have penned a novel worthy of publication by now. My first two were disasters, my third was a NaNoWriMo exercise, and finally, my fourth and nearly finished, has been a laborious two and a half year process, which I can only hope is well-received by the readers I soon hope to enlist. Of course, she denies that she’s any good, but that’s just not the case. I can pick up a piece of hers and it’s clear, concise, and reveals a woman well in touch with what motivates others’ actions.

Monday, March 11, 2013

On Procrastination and Zombies

by Steven E.A.
The beginning of the school year in Korea starts in March, so last week, the daily grind officially began. I did very little. And by “little” I mean I gave every class a near impossible to solve word search. It kept them occupied while I played Plants vs. Zombies on my iPad. Oh yeah, ESL at it’s finest right there. But that means this week I’ve got something like twenty-five classes to plan for and here I am on a Sunday and haven’t really even started.
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Monday, March 4, 2013

What We Can Learn About Self-Publishing From the Indie Music Model

by Steven E.A.
After last week’s piece on the Nose regarding self-publishing, my friend and I had one of our classic Facebook battles. This happens frequently and is more a result of our love of debating masterfully than it is of deeply held convictions. We once debated whether or not diamonds were organic during an entire shift at Borders, the now defunct bookstore that was run by twelve year olds in suits. I conceded defeat just a few weeks ago.

My friend argued that self publishing will be the future of books and the reason it’s currently problematic is because “it’s still looked down upon by people in power.” He went on to mention that self-made music broke the traditional label model and part of the reason it was fought against was because it gave power to the artists. He said that self-publishing is still new enough that we haven’t embraced it, but that as we develop technologies that enable better book browsing and purchasing, self-publishing books will be just as successful as the indie music revolution.

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