Thursday, August 2, 2018

Guest Post by Angel Colon

Angel Luis Colón is a Derringer and Anthony Award shortlisted author. His published works include the titles: Pull & Pray, No Happy Endings, the Blacky Jaguar series of novellas, the short story anthology; Meat City on Fire (And Other Assorted Debacles), and the upcoming Hell Chose Me (2019).

His short fiction has appeared in multiple web and print publications including Thuglit, Literary Orphans, and Great Jones Street. He also hosts the podcast, the bastard title.

Keep up with him on Twitter via @GoshDarnMyLife

That’s the party line. What he puts on his website to show how badass he is. Those who know him know a genuinely funny person (as opposed to those who claim to be funny and only think they are) who always has a kind word for a fellow writer. It's been a while since he’s been on OBAAT and I hope it won’t be as long before he’s back.

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I don’t think I’m alone in experiencing that surge of doubt that comes with releasing a new work into the wild. The piece isn’t good enough, there’s a missed copy edit(s), or maybe I should have revised that finale one more time—the usual little grey clouds that pop up when you’re trying to celebrate getting work done.

Shit, I know for a fact I’m not alone in that feeling. I see that feeling all over my social media feeds. Some folks experience it worse than others and everyone has a different approach in dealing with that added stress.

I’ve read a few takes lately on the idea of the stress getting to a writer in a way that ends up
making the very process of creating miserable. Those writers broke down their arguments and have decided to lean towards quitting (or at least taking a break). The popular response seems to be questioning the writers’ commitment to the super serious craft of writing but really, what’s the fucking harm in letting your brain reset?

I’m not a fan of the romantic notion that some unseen force compels me to write; that I am a living Stephen J. Cannell stinger in action (sigh – that’s obscure and 80’s as fuck, here’s the LINK).

I say we should be allowed to breathe for a bit—even if that means “quitting”.

As writers, we need to be able to deal with truths. We’re too often consumed with building a platform or a façade and yes, I understand why: we want to succeed. I also understand we’re trained to believe that only grinding our fucking fingers to bloody stumps is the answer. That concept that hard work is proof of commitment—which, come on, how often do we roll our eyes at success stories we know aren’t as rooted in hard work as they are in dumb luck or nepotism?

Mental health is important. A toiling creator is not the creator of great things, no matter how much we romanticize bullshit myths about Hemingway or Van Gogh. We need to support each other in all those decisions that do not harm ourselves or others. If a writer is out there feeling this grind is doing self harm, then we need to grow a spine and offer our support. Yeah, maybe that isn’t conducive to a continued life of networking opportunities but that is being a decent human.

As corny as it sounds, I’m of the belief that we should strive to be decent humans, especially as writers. We chronicle pain and joy, we foster empathy for the good and the bad. To kick someone while their down because their current situation doesn’t align with yours? Come on, y’all. We’re not those kinds of assholes.

So, support the writers out there in the throes of doubt the same way you would those living it up on their success. Endeavor to lift everyone up as best you can. There is literally no downside to the people in your community succeeding on their own terms.

Look at that, and I bet you thought this was going to be all glum and stuff. Made it into rainbows and butterfly kisses.

Now go buy my book about family fucking each other over for money.


Dana King said...

Note to our younger readers: The device Mr. Cannell is shown with is referred to as a "typewriter."
Mechanical desktop typewriters, such as this Touchmaster Five, were long-time standards of government agencies, newsrooms, and offices
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical machine for writing characters similar to those produced by printer's movable type. Typically, a typewriter has an array of keys, and pressing one causes a different single character to be produced on the paper, by causing a ribbon with dried ink to be struck against the paper by a type element similar to the sorts used in movable type letterpress printing. Commonly a separate type element (called a typebar) corresponds to each key, but the mechanism may also use a single type element (such as a typeball) with a different portion of it used for each possible character.

You're welcome.

Elgin Bleecker said...

Dana – Thanks for hosting.
Angel – Thanks for guesting, and I hear you about the stress.
Also, Dana – I brought an old Smith-Corona to my child’s kindergarten class to show what it was like in the pre-personal-computer days. The kids looked at it like something from King Tut’s tomb.