2008: The Year in Review

December 31, 2008

Well, another year has come and gone, so it’s time for my first year in review blog, which I plan on making an ongoing tradition. The first thing that comes to mind this year is the presidential election, which has brought about a historic change in this country, and hopefully, when new President Barack Obama is sworn in on January 20th, will mean bettering foreign relations that have been so terribly damaged by the past eight hellish years under the worst, most incompetent leader I’ve ever seen, George W. Bush. It’s like waking up from a nightmare, but W’s reign was all too real. Obama has a lot to deal with. Obviously the tough economic times are a top concern for most of the nation, except for the very rich, who won’t be effected much, and the very poor, like me. That, of course, is the other big story of this year; the economic collapse, that, apparently, has not reached its lowest point yet. Supposedly, things will get worse before they get better. It’s depressing, but like I’ve talked about on the site before, I’ve been struggling every month to pay the rent for the past five years. Sure, it sucks that lots of other people have lost their jobs and have fallen on hard times, but hey, welcome to my world, bitches. I know poverty intimately, and since misery loves company, I’m not exactly losing tears over everyone else’s plight.

As for me, personally, I lived the first seven and a half months of 2008 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before moving to North Myrtle Beach with my girlfriend in mid-August, where I’ve been since. If you want to know why we did it, all I can say is it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve lived in five different states in the past five years. I lived in L.A. and New York, and I loved both of them. It was due to lack of money that I left, as both of them are very expensive, if you didn’t know. I spent some time in Cincinnati, my home town, while trying to figure out what to do with myself, and I moved back to Pittsburgh because I wanted to be with my girlfriend and she wasn’t ready to leave the area yet. When our leases expired midway through this past year, we looked at other possibilities, settling on Myrtle Beach, as I recall, because it’s warm, the beach is nearby, and because, while it’s the South, it’s not the deep South, like Mississippi or Alabama. It was also something different, a part of the country where neither of us had lived before. We tried something new, and, like most times when we try something new, it backfired. I’ve spoken on the blog about the lack of transportation. That’s the biggest problem, first and foremost. Since neither of us owns a car, it’s been next to impossible getting around, and the job options here are extremely limited. Then, of course, there’s the people. It may not be the deep South, but it’s the South, and it’s a Red State, with everything that goes along with that: religion, NASCAR, a distinct lack of dental hygiene, and pro-lifers. I hate nearly everyone I’ve come into contact with around here, and if you happen to be reading this and you’re from the area, and if I’ve offended you, good. You’re what’s wrong with America today.

So come June 30th, when our lease is up, Megan and I will be moving on. Where we’ll be going, I honestly don’t know. At the top of both of our lists is New York City. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be. It has everything I like and hardly anything I don’t. There’s music, food, culture, and a bubbling fondue pot of every kind of people you can imagine, and I’m absolutely in love with it. It also presents great opportunities for a writer, like myself, and a crafter, like Megan. That being said, it’s terribly expensive. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to scrape the money together in the next six months to get there. We’re looking at other options; Baltimore, Charlotte, Richmond, Raleigh-Durham and others are on the table, but one thing we’re in total agreement on is that we need to get back to a major city, because, without transportation, for us non car owners, a resort community like Myrtle Beach with no buses, trains, or other mass transit has been an unmitigated disaster. Also, it would be great to be somewhere that has museums again. Not a whole lot of those around here.

The new year 2009 opens with a lot of unanswered questions for me. In order to punch our ticket back into New York, realistically, something will probably have to change in between now and then. I’ll need to land a deal for one of my two novels, or win a writing contest with a major cash prize, or Megan will have to get a couple of big wholesale accounts for her products. How likely is any of that? Again, I’m not sure. I can say this much for myself, at least. I was holding out hope that I might cash in with my entry into Narrative Magazine’s Fall Fiction contest, which had several sizable cash prizes. A couple of days ago they announced the winners, however, and my name was not among them. As far as the novels go, over the past few months I sent inquiries to all 119 agents and agencies on the AARP website who represent fiction writers. I did it in alphabetical order and just went right down the list. Since then, I’ve received a string of steady rejections letters and emails. I don’t know if my luck will change as far as that goes. With writing, as with many other professions where you’re producing a product that you’re trying to market, connections count for a lot. Without them, you’re trying to get your foot in the door based solely on the merit of whatever it is you’re producing, and, while I do have faith in my writing, that extra boost of knowing somebody on the inside would definitely help. I don’t have that, so I’m doing it all on my own. I did just finish a project that I’ve been working on for the past eight or nine months, a comic book that I wrote, with help from Pittsburgh artist Jesse Renfrew, a friend of mine. He approached me with the project and I wrote it for him, and after he cranked out the first five penciled and inked pages of the first issue, and a mock up of the cover, I added a cover letter and a synopsis and we sent it to Image Comics. We thought Image might be a good fit for this particular story. Image usually responds within a month, and it’s been a couple of weeks, so I’ve had all my fingers crossed awaiting a reply. I’ve written two novels and a screenplay, and I’ve yet to find a place for any of them. Will the comic book be my first major success as a writer? Stay tuned. I know I will be.

As far as other writing success in the year 2008, I’ve actually had more published in this calender year than at any other time in my fledgling career. I recorded a total of five new publishing credits, including a pair of stories appearing in the online ‘zine Farmhouse, a story appearing in the lit mag Expressions Journal, the second time my work has been featured there, a story in the online ‘zine Freight Train, and a piece of erotica published in the online ‘zine Bare Back. For those who were wondering, I didn’t receive any money for any of that, just the publishing credits. Still, it’s been my best year by far, maybe due in part to my being aggressive and sending out more material for consideration than ever before, maybe due to the quality of my writing improving. Maybe both. In any case, I do take some comfort in that, and also in the fact that I’ll be having another piece of erotica published next month in Bare Back, and a story published in the online ‘zine Kaleidoscopic Resonance, also next month, the first time my work has appeared there. I’m starting off ’09 hot, and hopefully that trend will continue. My new year’s resolution is this: in 2009, more publishing credits would be great, but I am resolved to actually get paid for something that I wrote. I’m tired of writing for free. I want to put that education to use with some monetary dividends, finally. It’s sure as hell been a long time coming.

I guess the only other thing I want to talk about as far as 2008 goes is my writing more here on the blog, and trying to make the website more accessible. I’ll be honest. I have no idea how many people read this blog, other than friends and family. I don’t know how many people are referred here by the bios I always make the publications add, the ones who have featured my work. Maybe a few, maybe none. I was reluctant to become a “personal” blogger, and talk about the more intimate details of my life. I equated it, in a way, to public masturbation, and I still do. I don’t like doing it, but I think I understand the importance of it, so it’s something I’ve been coming to terms with. But I’m going to do something now, and if there really is anybody out there reading this, maybe you’ll help me out, because listen…I need you. Each and every one of you. Understand, I’m never going to stop writing. I don’t really have a choice in that. I’m compelled to do it, so even if I never get anything else published, and even if I’m never paid for anything I write, I’m going to keep at it. And since I’ve yet to figure out how to support myself in a way, other than writing, which allows me to live in a lifestyle where I’m doing anything but scraping by month to month, this is my plea: help me. If you have any suggestions as to where I can send my work, if you know of anybody who needs to hire a freelance writer, or if you’re a fellow writer who is either struggling like me or has achieved success and has some suggestions, please, please, contact me here on the website. Or, alternatively, even if you don’t have any suggestions or work ideas for me, just post a comment and let me know you’re out there. Part of what I find so objectionable about blogging is that it feels like when I post something I’m just shooting it off into a black hole. I don’t know if a handful of people are reading it, or a lot of people, or no one. Let me know. If you agree with one of my tangents, let me know, or if you disagree. If you read one of my movie reviews and you saw that movie too, let me know what you thought about it. If you think I’m a pompous asshole and I’m doomed for failure, let me know that. Just make your voices heard. That’s all I ask. Direct people to the sight. If you have suggestions on how I can make it better or other things you want to see here, let me know. Seriously. Anything to increase traffic.

I guess that’s it for now. I have to go the grocery store and buy some cheap alcohol for tonight, so Megan and I can ring in the New Year, and say goodbye to a decidedly sub-par 2008. What will ’09 hold? Triumph? Failure? I can’t predict that, and I can’t predict where I’m going to be a year from now either. But a special message for anyone reading this, and for anyone who keeps checking back in to hear what I have to say: thank you. You got on the bandwagon early. One more thing: look for my newest volume of collected works, The Great Divide, to be posted on the website later in ’09. As usual, it will feature an assortment of shorter works from the past couple of years, including some never before seen bonus material. Happy New Year, everyone. Keep on truckin’.

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