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Scroll Down To Skip The Whining by Ray Printer Friendly

If you're a regular reader, you might assume that I write about pretty much everything that goes on in my life, no matter how disturbing, boring, or humiliating. That is actually not the case. There are lots of boring things that I don't write about. About the only disturbing and humiliating thing I haven't written about was that time I lost a bet with a zookeeper about having a bigger penis than a gorilla and had to jack off an ostrich. That's one family reunion I'd really like to forget.

My point is, I spare you all from quite a bit of mundane bullshit that is my life. Which is why you didn't know that I have been contemplating giving up on this writing nonsense.

Here's the deal: writing has always been my thing. When I was a kid, I wrote stories in sticker books. I made up fake newspapers for the family. I sent letters to Hustler.

A lot of people say they write as a form of therapy. For me, it always went beyond that. Writing is what kept me from choking people to death in the grocery store. Or burning down the world.

Writing was what I did when I was scared or angry or sad. It was what I did when I was happy or excited or bored or indifferent. It was what I did.

Writing is one of the few natural talents I have (the others are snorting Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and drunk-dialing). It has saved me from myself on more than one occasion, and I like to think that maybe it has helped to save others on occasion, as well.

But it kind of stopped being that. It started being just another thing that I had to do, another chore, another job.

I never really suffered from writer's block until last fall. I was taking a pile of classes, and every spare thought I had went into school stuff. And for the first time that I can remember, the ideas stopped coming.

You see, I used to always have ideas. They didn't always work as stories, but I always had something to start with, something to work with. And then one day I didn't. I'd sit down to write, and there would be nothing. Just the white page, just the time passing, and then I'd have to force myself to go to bed.

Failing at writing is not something I take very well. I don't mean failing to impress others with my writing. You can like what I do or hate it or ignore it or whatever--that's up to you, and it doesn't matter to me when I sit down at my desk and double-click the word processing icon. But when I sit down to a white page and stand up three hours later with that same white page, that's rough.

So I had my first dose of writer's block, and it gradually got better. Blah, blah, blah, time passed, whatever.

A couple months ago, it got hard again. I was going to work, rushing to school, and then getting home at night with the task of writing looming above. Had to write, had to have something to post. Believe it or not, there are a few people who complain when I don't post regularly. Sure, they generally skip over the shit I do post, but you take away that option, they bitch and moan like I've pissed in their glove compartment. Again.

Also--and you have the choice to believe this or not, too--I kind of take The Strangelands seriously. I want to draw in readers, and I want to keep them. I want to entertain them and keep them coming back for more.

So I'd get home, and I'd try to write, and I'd have nothin'. Or I'd end up with something that was too lousy to post, even around here. And it got me to thinking.

About how much time I spent on writing. About how nothing was happening with it--financially or personally. I looked back over my stuff and was unimpressed. Or embarrassed.

I realized that I was wasting my time, I was never going to be able to do this as a living, and there wasn't enough time for it otherwise. Every time I sit down to write, there are a hundred other things I could be doing, that I should be doing.

And I thought, "Screw it. I'm done."

It scared me, and it made me lonely, but it also felt strangely freeing. Analogy time: You're driving across a bridge when you suddenly lose control of your car. You try and try to get things back in order, you're manipulating the wheel, pumping the brakes, you're freaking out. And then you go over the side--it's all over now, all out of your control. You aren't enjoying it at all, but you don't have to try anymore, right? You're done, it's out of your hands.

Probably not the best analogy, but it's the first one that popped into my head. I was done, and I didn't have to think about it anymore.

I didn't make a big deal out of it, because I didn't want it to seem like a cry for attention, "Appreciate me, or I'm taking my ball and going home!" I think I only mentioned it as a comment to a comment. No big deal. I just stopped writing.

But then I got an email from an internet friend. Also a writer, she explained that she knew how frustrating it can get, and asked me to think it over a little bit longer. So I did.

I decided that I've been doing this shit too long to just quit. This sounds cheesy as hell, but I thought that since my writing has saved me so many times, I should at least try to save it before putting it away.

When I say "try to save it," I mean try to make something happen with it revenue-wise. I know it's stupid to write strictly for financial gain...sacrilegious, kind of. But sometimes the almighty dollar is the only thing that can buy you more time to do what you need to do, right?

So I made out a plan. It isn't a good plan, or a stable plan. It probably won't be a successful plan. But it's a plan, and that means at least I'm trying. Step one in my plan: making little booklets out of some of my short stories.

I figured I'd pick out a few short stories, make them into little books, and drop them off in various coffee shops, book stores, whatever--that's what this entire post was going to be about, until I went off on a poor-me tangent.

I wanted to get my name out there, maybe catch someone's eye. I don't know. Like I said, it's not a very good plan. The next step is to get a whole bunch of rats, and shave them and tattoo my name on them, and then release them into the city.

No such thing as bad publicity, right?

Anyway, here are the booklets I've made so far:


The Envelope, which can be found here, if you're unfortunate enough not to get a little booklet.

Envelopes are a lot like a hot girl's legs--they're better when they're open, and they're fun to lick.

Here it is opened. And with the flash turned on, because my apartment is too dark.


You can read this one over here.

Did you see that thing I said about envelopes on one of those above links? The same goes for book covers.

When it's open, you can tell it says "Options" instead of "Dptions."

So…sorry about dumping out all that shit about quitting writing. In my defense, I was waiting for water to freeze so I'd have ice cubes to put in my gin. Yep, I'm Mr. Fancypants with my iced gin. Be jealous.

Later, kids.

posted 9/13/09

Entered By Anonymous From Unknown
2009-09-13 08:33:25

So, how can we help you with this endeavor? Can we order your booklets by the case and distribute them to the far corners of the world? Is there information in the booklets on how to purchase your larger volumes? And what's wrong with dptions? They can be very useful in certain quarters, you know. Really.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2009-09-13 15:01:11

Well, it's a bit more costly than I originally thought, so there won't be cases of them just yet. I'm working on ways to make the printing more cost effective but right now, it's more of a trial and error thing. And yes, there is information on the inside cover explaining that the story is part of a collection, and a line like, "to read more by this author, visit www.thestrangelands.com." I forgot to specifically add that here's where they could find links to buy the books, but like I said--it's still trial and error at this point. As far as helping--do any of you guys know a good rat tattooist?

Entered By Denis Muwonge From Kampala
2009-09-14 06:40:55

Nice idea, by the way you might start small like that and end up being bigger than life.....lol

Entered By Jesse From Austin
2009-09-14 16:02:59

You've got the stuff, Ray. I'll keep an eye out for any kind of publishing hook-ups. You've never tried your hand at screenplays, have you?

Entered By Devon From New England
2009-09-14 22:49:37

I apologize for blaming the victim, but this is all your own fault. You make it too damn easy to take advantage of you. I offer myself up as an example. I admit it: I like your stuff. In addition to keeping up with this website, I have read (i) your original Portly Boy novel, which I enjoyed tremendously; (ii) Not Quite Hate, which I admired, even if it wasn't quite to my tastes; (iii) Eat Me, which I think is truly inspired, and ultimately touching, zombie fiction (even if all the characters' voices are a bit similar; good to see that snarkiness lasts in the face of the collapse of civilization); and (iv) perhaps most pathetically, an "ebook" I assembled myself from the postings on your site of Portly Boy chapters 38-69 so I could conveniently read them on my e-reader (this one I'm actually now in the process of reading). I downloaded all of the above for free (in the cases of the first three, from the ebook editions you made available on Lulu). Sure, I could have done the "honorable" or "decent" thing and actually paid for a paperback or two. But of course I didn't. Because, you know, you made it available for free. So ... thanks. (OK, now I feel guilty. I guess I should go buy a Strangelands t-shirt or something.)

Entered By Devon From New England
2009-09-15 00:00:38

Hmmm...the above actually came across much more obnoxious than I had intended. I meant to convey my honest gratitude for all of the hours of enjoyment you've given me. I meant to put on a knowing veneer like I thought you were foolish for giving away your works for free, while subtly winking in recognition that there are several very good reasons for doing so, such as growing an audience and the satisfaction of having your work read. Most of all, I wanted to give a word of encouragement. Instead I was kind of a dick. Sorry about that. (But I still acknowledge I should buy a t-shirt or something, assuming you actually make any money off those.)

Entered By Karen From Indiana
2009-09-15 02:59:43

I know it's difficult to get published. I "watched" DadGoneMad.com get a book deal, and he explained how that worked - it didn't sound easy. I had a friend, a poet, who put out booklets (another, more elegant word for them, I'm sure) at Powell's bookstore in Portland. Maybe there are local bookstores where you live that allow that? I think you're talented, but it might take some time? And maybe a separate blog, so you separate yourself from the other writers on here? Hell, I don't know. I do know you won't make money off of us, no matter what we hope for you. It won't happen that way. You'll kind of have to sell your soul to the publishing industry... which now that I think about it, you might not have one to sell. That could be a problem. But hey, good luck! I'm rooting for ya'!

Entered By Ray From Austin
2009-09-16 01:02:46

Uhk. I came back to delete this whiny-ass post, and it has more comments than any other post this month. Dammit. Denis--I'm not holding my breath, but that would be nice. Jesse--thanks, buddy. I've tried screenplays once or twice, but I suck at writing them. Also, I'm lazy at writing them. Devon--your first rant didn't sound that obnoxious to me, and actually, you made a good point about giving everything away for free. I always intended to start charging for the Lulu ebooks, but I didn't know anyone was actually downloading them, so never went through the trouble. I always worked with the hope that I would get a lot of readers, and once I had a loyal fan base, I could begin charging. Time to switch up my plan, I guess. Karen--I've already dropped a pile of booklets at one of the bookstores here, and hopefully I'll get some more out this weekend. And I have a great soul, it's like nine inches long, drives the women wild. A soul's another word for dildo, right?

Entered By Ray From Austin
2009-09-16 01:04:33

And thank you all for your support and for continuing to read my stuff. It is greatly appreciated, and I can't thank you enough...without taking off my pants.

Entered By Ganessa From New York
2009-09-21 04:17:14

So I just read this post and thought I should chime in and mention that although I haven't been here in quite a bit of time I'm drawn back because you're a very talented writer and I knew I would find something either, interesting, entertaining, or relatable here. Which I did. It always gets tough and I'm sure you know all about that but keep in mind that even though you might not reach a large group of people you still affect a group. I just bought Eat Me from Lulu, happy now? :) And I promise to come back alllllll the time and leave you super lame comments and refer others to do so as well.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2009-09-22 01:54:15

Good to have you back, G. I'll look forward to your super-lame comments.

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