Factinate Articles

As I previously mentioned I returned to writing articles for Factinate for a brief period, and have one of my latest ones posted below. I have done eight in total if I am not mistaken, but some of the ones submitted can take a bit of time to be posted. I am not sure if I will continue with the endeavour for that much longer, but I will share the pieces I do.

While I find some of the facts interesting and definitely like making some money on the side, the site does have an emphasis on humour in its articles, which is not my strong suit. I’ll be back to editing Alive: Part II soon, but I will likely start writing Hazard before then.

Factinate articles before (will add more in as they are published):

24 Precious Facts About Gollum

25 Sarcastic Facts About Ryan Reynolds

 

Blogs= “Previously Published”

As I mentioned in my last post, I am now working on trying to get an extended version of The Doctor published, likely in a magazine. As writers, a lot of conventional wisdom tells us to create a blog so that we can try to build an audience for ourselves and so that we simply exercise our writing muscles. What a lot of the conventional wisdom does not tell you is that posting early versions or excerpts of your work can make publishing outlets consider it “previously published”. This principle can apply if you have a blog with millions of readers, or a blog with virtually none.

The simple presence of a page with a work that matches something else in title, in part or in whole, is enough to disqualify you from publication. I had this experience before with The Artifice. I created an article, and received a list of suggested edits. At the time, The Artifice’s own guidelines said the article would not be published once a certain amount of edits were suggested. So I simply posted the article on my site since I didn’t hear anything back for a few days.

The day after I post the article on my site the editor emails me to advise that my article was in queue for publication and now cannot be published since it is already published on my site, since Google searches and SEO will lead people to my site instead of theirs. So, forgetting The Artifice’s idiotic editing system and lack of clear communication, I couldn’t get my article published on a site with thousands of readers, because I posted it on a site that doesn’t even have one hundred.

Now I may run into the same system with The Doctor because a shorter version of it has already been posted on my site. A lot of my short poetry pieces end up fueling ideas for my longer works, such as my Alive series coming from the series of poems I posted on this site. I think it makes sense for ideas to develop this way and it is counter intuitive for small steps like this to be punished. It is ridiculously tough to approach a literary agent about a novel with no previously published work (“previously published” meaning having a real writer’s credit in something other than my own blog). So I write on my blog, practicing and developing ideas. Then the fully formed idea is rejected because its predecessor is alive on this blog.

Next Publishing Mission

Earlier this year, I committed myself to finishing my fourth book, Alive: Part II and a short story entitled The Swap.

Alive: Part II is about 3/4 complete, and The Swap is now complete.

Instead of trying to get any of my books published for the moment, I want to pursue publication for The Swap. I have submitted it to two magazines so far, with one of those submissions ultimately being a waste. I made the mistake of assuming the manuscript format was similar to what is accepted for novel submissions (you can laugh at my mistake) but short story ones are a different creature entirely. I am pretty sure the editor of the magazine didn’t bother reading the story before he rejected it, and I can’t blame him.

There aren’t that many magazines that accept science-fiction stories of my story’s length so I don’t have that many outlets to submit to. I am hoping that one of the less than 10 options I have works out, but the odds of that are very slim.

If the short story submissions don’t work out I’ll likely post it here and then try to gain some traction online through other outlets. Trying to publish a book without any previous publishing experience is almost impossible so I figure that having a real publishing credit under my belt can help (marginally) when I continue that search.

Achievement

We all want to achieve something special,

Do something that will be remembered long after we’re gone,

In our minds,

We’re the next Steve Jobs,

The next Stephen King,

The next Spielberg,

The next Picasso,

Isn’t this the case for just about everyone?

No one grows up wanting to flip burgers,

Or deal with whiny, angry customers all day,

Yet we need people to fill those roles,

As a Pixar character once said, “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”

We can’t have a society where everyone gets what they want out of life,

The people who are at the top are often there because they are catering to some unfulfilled need or desire in the people below them,

The best creams to moisturize and get ride of acne,

The best clothes to compliment their body,

The best pill for losing weight,

The best advice to get out of the rut they are in,

I am a victim of the last one,

Devouring whatever is dished out by people who don’t identify as self-help gurus,

But serve the same purpose,

Maybe I am just another pawn,

Shelling out what little money I have,

Reading, studying, applying,

And hoping my investment pays off,

I remember attending a Writer’s Conference years ago,

Seeing people twice or three times my age still working at their dream,

It was admirable in one sense,

But also disheartening,

Will I be another person stuck in an unfulfilling day job?

Continuing to work towards something more,

And possibly never getting what I truly want?

Starting my “Commonplace Book”

Ryan Holiday is one of my favourite authors, penning books such as The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy. His blog and his books introduced me to the concept of stoic optimism, which I try to apply to my daily life as much as possible.

While reading through his blog I came across a post discussing a “commonplace book“, a single repository of all the info collected from reading. For the past year I have read more non-fiction, while also marking pages of interest. The pages of interest sometimes apply to anecdotes or random facts but sometimes they are simply quotes or pieces of advice I want to remember. I realized (too late) that all this reading wasn’t resulting in as much retention or action as I hoped. Due to this, I wanted to try starting my own commonplace book.

The commonplace book is something I have put off for a while now, and as Holiday says in the linked post, the longer you put it off the harder it is to start. It is intimidating to look at all the books and marked pages I have, and know I have to transcribe them now. Holiday uses 4×6 index cards and categorizes them by themes e.g writing, books, education. I was tempted just to type out my notes, but I do remember all the lessons The Shallows taught me, analyzing how writing helps retention. This is part of the reason I never used a laptop to take notes in college.

Although the scope of this project makes me want to just type everything out, I want to try committing to writing everything instead. As time goes on, storage may be an issue, and maybe at some later time I’ll decide to just type everything out. For now, I want to stick to writing it out. I have already copied over notes from three books, and have decided I will try to do more on saturday. Afterwards, I will try to add notes from at least one new book every week. Trying to copy everything over at one time is an intimidating project, and I don’t want the dread of taking that project on to dissuade me from doing anything.

Aside from retention, writing out the notes also forces me to be more selective with what I transcribe. I can make quick references to anecdotes (e.g. Mastery, page 30) but I only choose to write out the words that will give me the most value if I skim through my commonplace book.

A New Venture- Factinate

Update: Late last year I met up with a friend who works for Factinate. He was gracious enough to offer me a position as a writer for the site, compiling listicles. The gig doesn’t dictate an amount of articles per week/month etc. and I am excited to try to get something published online, aside from my own blog. The factinate articles will either be pop-culture related or general research articles, which span a variety of topics ranging from history, politics, geography etc.

These topics and the site as a whole may not align directly with my creative writing interests but it is still an opportunity that I am thankful for.

I will repost any of my factinate articles to this site, but I do also recommend checking out the site since there are a lot of interesting articles (they’re not paying me to say that).

 

Memory Slave

I have been working on my fourth book, Alive: Part II, on and off the for the past six months. The past few months have seen more progress and I am not about 40,000 words in. However, I have now reached a part in the story where I am trying to decide where I will take the story next. More brainstorming and a clearer idea of my goal for my characters will give me a better sense of the path I want them to take. With that in mind, I took a break from writing that book but I didn’t want to avoid writing altogether. Along with the grandma piece I posted last, I wanted to delve deeper into a concept that has been on my mind for the past few weeks.

****

Memory Slave

She couldn’t remember how she got here, but she wasn’t supposed to. Her name, her place of birth, her family, were all lost to her. Sometimes she came close to remembering, seeing slivers of her past life cut through the memories forced on her. Those slivers, whether good or bad, were hers and she cherished them for seconds at a time. There were other memories drowning her real ones, parasites controlling their host.

The parasites were injected by people whose faces remained hidden: Doctors experimenting on a lab rat. There were no windows, no night and day. The lights in her room always shut off at some point during the day, announcing her bedtime. Yet days still lost their meaning without dates or the seasons. She measured time with her memories, counting the moments between a new one being added.

She knew the memories weren’t really hers, but they were the only complete ones she had. She was still attached to hundreds, feeling all of the pain that was forced on her. Her mind was a bounty of misery and insecurities. Some people wanted to be rid of the memories that crippled their lives in some way: the unrequited love, the betrayal by a friend. Others were hiding from something truly traumatic, trying to erase violence they did to others or violence inflicted on them.

These memories were a gateway to pain, but they were also a gateway into the mind of the hosts. She knew their friends, their neighbourhoods and sometimes she even saw their faces. She knew their class, their race, their sexual orientation. These central parts of their identity were an anchor for most of the memories in her mind. Most of the memories were tied to something private that became public.

There was another class of memories, usually reserved for the wealthier hosts. They had the luxury of purging the most trivial things from their mind. One rude encounter was reason enough to remove a memory. Funny enough, they were usually the bully in these encounters.

She couldn’t remember truly meeting anyone. The masked doctors were her only gateway to the outside world. She tried to speak to them, but they never responded. She started with threats, hundreds of memories ago. Her will became weaker with each memory and soon enough she longed to simply hear one of them greet her, or answer if she asked them how they were doing.

She now had to accept that she was only a tool. No different than a hammer that a worker used and unceremoniously disregarded. There was a time when she thought she must have done something to deserve such a fate. Perhaps this was some sort of prison sentence? Time erased that thought from her mind. What was the point of punishment if you didn’t know what it was for? Was there some sort of lottery to pick the lucky winners? Was she just one of many selected from a certain area?

The white walls seemed to mock her. Promising answers beyond, but unwilling to yield. Some unseen force pinned her to the floor before the doctors came in. A distinctive hum always accompanied the increased gravity, as if some giant machine came to life beneath her. The doctors arrived, ignored her words and injected the latest memory. When they left they made sure to open the door just wide enough to squeeze through, preventing her from seeing anything beyond. When the door opened, no other sounds crept through. Wherever she was, it was soundproof and isolated.

There was another world out there, where she could find friends, family and happiness. She wanted to see that world again, to see herself. Her room had a small shower and sink, but no mirror and no reflective surfaces of any kind. She knew her skin was dark brown and that her hair was black, a contrast to everything around her. Her nose was broad, her lips full, and her knowledge of herself died there.

The remnants of her past life didn’t reveal anything more. She saw an older woman’s face, with dark skin like her own, perhaps her mother. She saw a small red bricked house, surrounded by cracked sidewalk and weeds. Perhaps her home. There was no way to truly tell that these memories were hers, she only assumed they were because they weren’t tied to something negative.

She heard the humming this time before she was pinned. Her pacing came to a halt as her feet stayed rooted to the ground. The pressure on her knees forced her to kneel, planting her hands on the ground as well. Her cot was to her right, looking like it was on the verge of imploding. The springs were squealing in protest, almost constricting one another by the time the doctors entered.

The gravity didn’t affect them, allowing them to move swiftly to either side of her. White pants, white shirts, white surgical masks. Their clothes almost seemed to glow under the light. She had to keep her head facing the floor, trying to turn it was too painful. The syringe came from the doctor to her left, piercing a spot just above her right ear. The memory wouldn’t come to her immediately, it would take some time. She guessed it usually took a few hours, but there was no way for her to be sure.

The doctor’s footsteps were almost drowned out by the hum as they left the room. Her face was nearly pinned to the floor by the time the gravity subsided, causing her to nearly jump off the ground with the force of her exertion. There were usually at least three light outs before another memory was injected, and she knew that she guessed that she carried hundreds now, some fresh and others lurking beneath the surface. It seemed like almost a year may have passed, but she never got used to the enhanced gravity. It was as if they increased its strength a little more with each visit.

The Black Hole of Social Media

I reached out to a former professor for advice on developing a career in writing and one of her main pieces of advice was to avoid social media as much as possible, it “eats time like acid”. This was something I started to accept months ago. I would open up YouTube with the intention of watching one video and end up spending 10+ minutes travelling down the black hole of related videos. I would open up Instagram with the intention of posting to my accounts and leaving, and end up spending another 10+ minutes scrolling through one account or page after another.

I began using Instagram within the past year in an attempt to build my following but I am not sure if it has been as helpful as I hoped. Twitter already taught me that people can like or even retweet your content without really engaging with it e.g. clicking a link and reading a blog post. I worry that the same thing is happening with Instagram. I have a small following but I know those followers and likes are not worth anything when it comes to them reading the content I create on this blog.

Part of the issue is that there are so many accounts and so many people wanting to gain their following. I try to engage with the small group of people who regularly like my content and checking in on 15+ accounts daily can still eat up a lot of time. As I complain about my need to return a favour I can understand why it can be difficult to go to someone’s site and become a regular visitor, even if you want to.

I have considered deleting my Instagram accounts but I am wondering if I need them simply because it looks good to have them. One day when I (hopefully) get an agent, will she see my lack of an Instagram account as a disadvantage for my marketability. At that point will a few hundred followers be better than none? Maybe it will be worth it then but right now all I truly see is a drain of data. I blame myself for the lost time since it is my attention span that causes the issue.

I have now made a resolution to spend my time on the bus either writing or reading. No more listening to music and I will allow myself ten minutes to post to my two accounts. The current book I’m working on, “Alive: Part II” began with a short poem I wrote and I hope to generate some more roots while I spend time travelling to a place I hope to escape soon.

Alive: Part II Progress

For any newer readers, you may not know that I have written three books, which I am still trying to get published. This blog was created as part of my effort to build an online platform and further hone writing skills through my blog posts. My most recent book is Alive, a werewolf story. I have always loved fantasy tales and it was exciting to craft my own. With Alive complete I began working on the second and final part of the series.

I completed a few thousand words of Part II but regret to say that I haven’t touched it in almost a month now. Work, where I have done most of my writing over the past year, has become much busier and my life outside of work has become much busier as well as I take on more responsibilities, such as looking for a new place. Along with some part-time work, the gym, guitar etc. it has been tough to find time or energy to write. However, I don’t want to keep embracing excuses. I’ll get back to writing by this end of the week, with my goal of 5oo words a day. Originally I wanted the book to be completed by September but now I will have to settle for completing it by end of the year.

Then the work of editing and continuing to seek publication for my other work will continue. I contacted ten agents about part I but have received no responses so it looks like I am back to square one in my journey to getting published. It can be disheartening, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse to quit either. I have now accepted it won’t come quickly. I used to think I’d be published by the time I was twenty-five but now I can accept it might not happen until I’m fourty. It’s a long climb, but I’m looking forward to it.

Darkness

These next few months are going to be busy as I take on more part-time work but I’m still committed to posting three times a day. If you haven’t already, check out my film and tv comics channel @moviegrapevine, or my writing channel @wmoviegrapevine.

This piece follows from my continued resolution to write more poetry pieces. It is my attempted distillation of all the negativity and worries that I’m trying to cut out of my life. This piece is also takes lines from my most recent post to @wmoviegrapevine.

The Darkness

I can sense happiness now,

Ebbing and flowing with the words and actions of those around you,

Being pulled along like a dog on a leash,

When your walkers vanish,

Or show their true colours,

I’ll be back to lead you down a different path,

I know you’ll let me in,

You always do when the outside world lets you down,

Let me whisper to you again,

Tell you how your hard work will never pay off,

How you’ll decay in a cubicle,

Never living your dreams,

Let me tell you how you’ll always be lonely,

Your friends are all leaving you,

Other cities call to them,

Or maybe you have more competition,

Girlfriends, wives, children,

The things you know you won’t have anytime soon,

Don’t you wonder why?

Can you really blame it all on them?

Their poor taste?

Or is it just that you lack something that appeals to them?

What is it exactly?

Don’t you want me to tell you?