Hell Yeah! Great Article. Hel-lo!

I came across this article. To exercise all of my "cover my ass" stuff, I will say that I first saw this article on

It's also known as "Backspace". It is an article written by A.S. King. You can read the article on www.bksp/content/view/161/1/

The Writer's Middle Finger (How to grow it, groom it, love it, and stretch it) by A.S. King
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Last winter, I hit a bump. A big bump. I forgot why I write.

Here’s the relevant backstory. I wrote seven novels over twelve years before I found an agent. It was nearly fourteen years before I eventually sold a book. What I want to write about today is what I possess, and what many of you possess, that makes us continue writing and investing ourselves for such long stretches of time without the so-called ‘success’ of publication.

This winter, when I came down to my office day after day with a big empty nothing where the novelist in me used to be, unable to pinpoint why I even have an office, I considered these things. How did I get here? Why did I want this so much? And how do I get it back?

How Did I Get Here?

By the time I’d written a few books, and submitted them, and had them rejected, I’d learned to overcome the frustrating, heart breaking road I was on. Frankly, I learned to write with my middle finger up. I’d had it with the changing fads I never fit into. I didn’t want to do what the how-to books told me to do. I didn’t aim or outline. I didn’t learn a formula for fiction. I didn’t read the right books for pleasure. I didn’t join internet writing groups. I stayed away from advice and articles and books about writing. This wasn’t about selling. It was about learning. So I wrote – what I wanted to write – with my middle finger extended.

Sheer stubbornness. It’s how I got this far. (I bet it’s how you got this far, too.) How else does a person write for years in the land of continuous NO?

But then the YES came.

And you can’t give YES the middle finger.

Why Did I Want This So Much?

I’m not sure if this happens to every writer who finally sells a book, but I felt a massive pressure to hurry up and write another one to sell. In my case, The Dust of 100 Dogs sold as YA, so I knew I wanted to write another edgy YA. That’s where I was this winter, when I hit the bump.

I’d trudge down to the desk, in hopes of inspiration. I’d write openings and more openings. I’d wade through pages of notes, or unfinished manuscripts. Or – God love me – I even revisited the novel that we shopped first and never sold. I realized that this – the writing the next book thing – was the hardest part of writing. And yet, it’s the whole reason we started to write, right? To…keep writing? I found myself in the oddest position. I’d sold a book, which was wonderful, but now I had to sit myself down and write the next book, which was no easier than the last ones I’d written. Actually it was harder, due to non-existent inspiration, total lack of purpose, and a growing awareness of ‘my career.’ (Though, since I don’t believe in writer’s block, I did manage a few shorts, which helped keep me sane.)

Then, something great happened.

In late February, I was skimming the internet for sites with tips for writers and I found so many of them teeming with awful, limiting advice! One should always write in a particular tense and never use certain POVs, and never use certain words (big ones) and should also always name their character Dirk or Sally, because they are so-called ‘strong’ names.

I’m sure it’s true, to some degree, that to sell in certain arenas, a book has to closely resemble all books that came before it, but the idea that there are strict rules in this way, in any genre, was simply ridiculous to me. And invigorating. Because finding advice so poor reminded me that I needed to find my middle finger again to write another book.

Tell me what tense to write my book in? (See it going up?)
You say I can’t write in second person? (You see it don’t you?)
Tell me what to name my characters? (Dirk sees it.)
Don’t use big words? (Can you visualize me hoisting my medial dactyl?)

Suddenly, I remembered why I wanted this. I wanted this because I wanted to write books. I wanted this because I wanted to write books I would love to read, even if nobody else did. I love books that much. I love the process that much. My process – void of Dirks and Sallys, sometimes in multiple tenses, often from several points of view, occasionally requiring a dictionary. It may not follow all the so-called rules, but it’s mine.

(Books are like snowflakes. I want to make a blizzard.)

And How Do I Get it Back?

On my birthday in early March, I drove through my old hometown on an errand. This is still a complete novelty for me, because I never thought I’d move back to the US, let alone anywhere near my hometown. It makes me oddly chirpy. I relax, or something, when I’m there. I passed a place I used to work. A story setting came to me, and a theme. Two characters formed in my head on the bypass home. Later that day, I pulled over into a church parking lot and jotted down the plot idea.

Four weeks later, I was done with the 60k first draft.

After spending January and February staring at the screen, wondering where the novelist in me had gone, without warning, I was me again. Because I remembered to exercise my middle finger and allowed myself to write in frowned-upon tenses, in four points of view, covering bizarre and awkward YA subject matter, while incorporating enormous words as part of the plot. What started out as a boring drive across town to buy organic rice ended in this multi-colored stack of scribbled-on paper here on my desk.

I May Still Fail

The book may not sell. Every one of us shares the murky long game this business offers, no matter what kind of books we write and no matter how many we sell. But I’m starting to see this as a good thing. Without something to rebel against, to make me explore my own fears and deep corners, I am uninspired. Without boundaries to push, or hurdles to clear, I grow lazy. Without something to flip the bird at, I’m bored.

So it’s good for us to read bad advice and get rejection letters and endure the next distant relative who asks, “Have you sold a book yet?” with that mocking smirk on his face. It’s good for us to toil in the land of NO. It’s fuel for the bubbling pit of stubbornness and crazy determination we need to do our job long enough to finally succeed. It is the perfect environment to grow and groom your writer’s middle finger.

The trick is, no matter where you are in your journey, to remember to stretch it.

This blog originally appeared at mystic-lit.


A.S. King’s short fiction has appeared in a lot of great journals and has been nominated for awards. Her first young adult novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was published by Flux in February 2009 and was an Indie Next List pick for teens and has been nominated for YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults. The novel she wrote about in this article, Ignore Vera Dietz, is due in Fall 2010 from Knopf.

There are so many angles I could go with this article, and what it means to me, but I wouldn't dare tread on the wonderful words of A.S. King (I love the picture, you rebel). I will make it a point to read your words and make it a bigger point to look for your following work.

Finger UP!

DJ AM and the Senator from Massachusetts

Two people in the public eye have died this week. They couldn't be more apart from historical significance but they both affected me more than I ever thought possible.

One - Senator Kennedy.

(political ideology)
Left -------Right.

Senator Kennedy ---------------- Erik

I have always respected him more than any other liberal. There was just something about him. There was just something about him that made me feel more confident in Government. This, "confident in Government" is, of course, anti everything I believe, so I guess he succeeded. Thank you, sir.

Two - DJ AM



I don't know enough about him to try to give you a history of this man, but I knew he was a musical artist, spinning records, making music for a living. I also know he survived a horrible accident recently where other people in the crash died.

He was removed from this earth after a drug overdose. Without reading further into the story, I immediately thought that he was just another artist who committed suicide. Thinking about the recent accident where he was one of a few that survived, I thought he couldn't handle it (whatever "it" meant to him).

Regardless, he was an artist. He got paid for his artistry. We will never know if his overdose was caused by drug mismanagement or if he purposely meant to kill himself. That intrigues me. Was it because he couldn't handle being one of the few that survived the crash or was it because he couldn't handle everything that's included with being a famous person (because of art)?

Is it a coincidence that, as I write this, my computer's music player (on 'shuffle' with over a thousand songs) that I land on a song by Alice in Chains where the lead singer, Layne Staley, also died by overdosing on drugs? I'm sure it's just coincidence.

I may never read anything from, or about, the two of these men ever again. I may listen to something DJ AM produced, but I will never know it. There will be dozens of books written about Senator Kennedy that I will never read. All I know is that I cried after hearing about both of these men's deaths.


Thank you for writing

I recently got my very first comment on one of my blog postings. I have been doing this since January of this year, so this is big.

Thank you, Desiree. This is a milestone for me.

When I become a paid writer (keep typing my name on IMDB), I won't forget you.

(That sounds egotistical, but what the hell.)

My Boy Interrupted

I watched the documentary,"Boy Interrupted" again. It is about a thirteen year old boy that committed suicide. He was diagnosed with a severe case of depression. The thing that caught a hold of me, waking me up at night, is that he was creative. He wrote his own plays and, excuse me, an extraordinary suicide note. He was more creative (felt more) than the normal person.

I wrote a screenplay, before seeing this movie, about a boy that was put on drugs after his mother's death (He may have caused it). The theme of the screenplay was that he discovered his imagination after being placed on mind altering drugs.

As I go about re-writing the screenplay, I cannot be more influenced by this kids life. I think this young kid opened up my character. He resurrected him. In a way, I think I was meant to see this documentary to better understand the character I wrote. I'm ashamed of this, but inspiration comes in all forms. I may become a better writer because of this kid's death.

This is not the first time an artist has been influenced by other people's lives. Obviously. I may never be paid for this screenplay. Or, I may be influenced enough to write an amazing story, channeling this kid's life, therefore, giving me a pass in the line of the million of screenwriters ahead of me that are close to seeing their dream come true.

I can see him walking up to me in my dream and leading me to write an amazing screenplay that can actually sell. I can also see him laughing, as he says, "You just don't get it. I gave you a way in, a gift. I won't forgive you."

This an artist's attempt to be bigger than an actual person's life. It's not egotistical. It's about taking anything that influences our creativity.

Artists, including writers, draw things from their own experiences, what they see, and what they read. We are not able to disregard the biggest, or even the smallest details of human existence.

In a small, but painful way, I thank my brother for giving up on me. I have been able to look through blurry, tearful eyes and shaking hands, to write stories that make me feel.

"The Boy Interrupted" made me fee as well. I only wish I can channel his loss, to creating characters that others (and I mean publishers or anybody connected to making films) will find worth the chance.


Fortune Cookies

I was lucky enough to get two fortunes out of one cookie. I would like to share.

#1 - Focus on your long-term goal (see almost every other posting on this blog). Your wish will be granted next year.

Are you kidding me? Next year? It's like August already. Can I look for my new house in L.A now? Should I hire an agent, pay him, or her money I haven't earned yet? This is fan-f'ing-tastic!! I'm going to be a screenwriter.


After doing several cartwheels, flipping off every patron in my favorite Chinese food restaurant, including the bluetooth lady (see my prior blog posting), telling them that they can screw off because I'd be a screenwriter soon, setting meetings with the top talent in Hollywood, driving cars like you see on Entourage, earning several thousand dollars almost immediately, I get my second fortune.

#2 - Boats and water are in you future.

Okay. No problem. I'll just swim or catch a ferry to L.A. I live in Portland, Oregon. I'm sure it'll be a short trip. As long as I carry my notebook and my laptop in one hand and a couple days worth of underwear in the other, I'll be fine.

Fuck No! I hate water. I even hate the idea of boats floating on water even more. With all the money in the world I'd still have to get to L.A by land.

As I listen to the song, Helpless (seriously!) by Neil Young, I realize that's it's almost three a.m and I have to be at work, at a job that I really don't like, in less than four hours.

I guess I'm fortunate to have a job.

The Girl that found Bluetooth

Hiding the earpiece under her long hair as she walked around the bar, it seemed like she was talking to herself. To me it seemed like she enjoyed her conversation with herself so much that she'd rather share the experience with every one that came into an earshot of her voice. I was wrong.

She bought her bluetooth on the way to the bar. She was able to drink, play video poker, and smoke cigarettes without holding a phone to her ear. She told the person on the other end her every move.

"Should I take a smoke break?"

"Should I double down, right here?"

Knowing the person on the other end could only afford a cordless phone, she had a smile bigger than her four of a kind.

Later, to the bartender, she whispered her drink order. I assume it was because she was listening to someone on the other end, trying not to disturb him or her.

She ordered two drinks. One for her, and...


Darn you English

When I first got the idea of pursuing writing as a career, I wanted to be a screenwriter. During that process of learning as much as I could about writing for the screen, as well as actually writing screenplays, I dabbled in the short story. I even wrote what some would consider a novel, or close to it. I continue to write in long hand, ignoring screenwriting. I've had a lot of fun writing in long hand but, after reading stuff that I thought was grammatically correct, I realize that I might be over my head. My first thought is that this whole thing is all about story. Telling stories. The second thought is that I should just write, no matter what style of writing I'm doing. As long as I'm writing, I'm telling stories. Enough said.

The problem with all of this is that I can't switch back and forth from "novel" writing to screenwriting. I have ignored and have, basically, stalled my progress in screenwriting just to pursue writing stories in long hand. The biggest obstacle with writing in two different styles is that writing in two different forms has a different skill set. I used to think I could switch back and forth. I have realized that you cannot do that. You must choose. I know that choosing one direction over the other is going to cause more pain and suffering. I can't hide from the frustration of creating a screenplay that can sell, with a story written in long hand, thinking that maybe I may have a better chance at getting paid for my writing if I keep writing in long hand.

Here's the dilemma - I can't do both. If I continue to postpone screenwriting, I lose valuable time learning the craft that I spent so much time working on before I started with the short story/novel writing thing.

If I choose to write stories in long hand, I will have to spend way too much time on the whole grammar thing. The biggest frustration I have with writing is that I spend way too much time on editing and grammar - not the story. I used to think that I understood where commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, and hyphens went. After writing 100,000+ words (not counting screenplays) in the last year or so, I have become increasingly frustrated in figuring out if I'm being grammatically correct. After reading my stuff, I know that if I continue to pursue writing in long hand, I will have to go back to school. I will have to learn, or re-learn more grammar. This is not fun - nor should it (should I use a semicolon, a comma, or a dash? Should I have gone with the period before, or after the word "it"?) - Is it okay to have three symbols in a row? Should I have used italics instead of quotation marks? From what I remember [comma after remember?], I can't use a semicolon because there should be two independent sentences before and after a semicolon. Fuck that!!!!!)

Screenwriting it is.

Erik -

Finish the story your writing and get back to screenwriting. You're enjoying your movies, if you're watching them, way too much. Go back to dissecting scenes, thinking about story structure, dialogue, and all that other stuff.

Good. Done. Period.

(The coolest thing about screenwriting is that you can ignore many rules and get away with it. The problem with screenwriting is that it's much easier to get published, therefore, get paid if you write: Novels, short stories, articles, blogs, etc...)

I think I used the colon properly there. "Colon properly there" doesn't sound right. No, wait. It should be colon properly there.


Find the lost ones

I just finished watching the documentary, "Boy Interrupted". It's about a 15 year old that committed suicide. I always thought people died off camera. As I watched this movie, I saw a kid, at the current age of my youngest nephew, video taped, like father's do in today's world, following him through almost every year of his life, eventually, onto a picture of his son's computer, sitting on his made bed, where he typed his suicide note. I even saw the window, from his point of view, where he jumped out of - to his death.

I started writing about how far technology has advanced to where we can follow almost every person's life, if they are so lucky to have loved ones that wish to follow them.

Fuck that! This is my point...

Don't take for granted that the person you love will be there next year, or when you get around to realizing how important they are to you. Don't throw away their words you see on screen. They mean more than you know.

The movie ended on his funeral. I knew he would die. I also knew he died for a reason. The reason was because he felt things deeper than others do. What he said and did, meant more to him than you would realize. Some people don't act on their thoughts the way others do. Even with drugs, Evan died, knowing that what he did, didn't matter to others the way it did to him.

I will write this one last note about Evan. Evan wrote songs. Evan wrote stage plays. Evan acted as a director with his friends, in his plays. Evan was creative.

Don't take words for just words. There is a reason behind the words of every artist (yes, writers are artists [even unpublished ones]). Don't disregard the things you see on the page, or computer screen, as meaningless blah, blah. Words have a purpose.

Back to Evan...

I have memories of my brother. Unfortunately, I don't have the video to prove it. Evan's younger brother can see his brother smile at him whenever he wants. Pictures are a lot of laughs, pretending like you remember, but video says so much more. If I saw a picture of me and my brother, I would recognize him for being someone that mattered back then. If I saw a video of him right now, I would see him as some guy that got in the way.

I guess this was all about me.


Dr. Suess

The common theme, running through most of my blog postings, is that people don't comment on what I write.

Thanks to Dr. Seuss, I have accepted this fact.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

PJ and my writing

I posted a video of Pearl Jam's Alive on my facebook page. This got me thinking of how much this band has influenced my writing.

Writers are artists. Each and every screenplay, novel, or short story, is done to bring some sort of emotion out of the reader. Whatever has influenced the artist is being thrown out to you, through their craft. You, as a buyer, are willing participants into what makes that artist do what they do. Each buyer of art has bought a piece of that artist's sole. (It sounds hokey, but it's true.)

In everything I do, artistically, Pearl Jam is there. Their music, and every emotion connected to it, comes to me and through these fingers, that are typing right now. I have cried, punched my fists into the hair, danced to their music, and I even had sex while listening to their music.

If a person can shed tears, for over 17 years, every time they hear a certain song, it must have had an influence on anything they do after that. Since I write stories everyday, I can't ignore their importance.