W. P. Johnson

The Road to Publication VII.

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2017 at 8:02 am

I no longer have any agent.

Ah, the bandage has been pulled. And what a painful one it was.

I could go into all the details, the minutia, but the long and short of it is that I was very unhappy with the provisional representation I had received by an agency I shall keep nameless for reasons giving them the benefit of the doubt. In the nearly six months I had been with them, there were no revision notes, no interest in my other work, and no plans on where to send the book. Maybe I would’ve been proven wrong, but I was starting to lose respect for myself and could no longer continue the relationship to the extent I had started looking for new representation before even officially ending the old relationship. There were a few bites, some so goddamn close I could taste the “yes”.  In the end, it was passes, all claiming that while they loved “X”, they couldn’t quite get behind “Y”.

It hurt. It hurt because I had spent so much time with these characters, I don’t want to believe they’re not going to see the light of day. Maybe, someday, they will (there are, after all, a few publishers I can pitch directly when they open for submissions). But for now, I’m no longer pitching A Song For John to agents and have started a new book.

There is alot I can say about the process of starting another book after having finished and unsuccessfully pitched a completed novel, but I don’t know if it’s helpful. Truth is, it’s simply what every writer says- you don’t sell your first book. And like most writers, I convinced myself I was the exception to the rule only to learn that the rule is law. You don’t sell you’re first goddamn book. You just don’t.

Joe Hill, whose work I truly admire, talked at length about not selling his first book. He asked his mother, ‘what do I do now?’ to which she said, ‘write another book’. I ask myself a similar question. “What do you want to do?” And yes, it’s the same corny trick used on Micheal Scott in The Office when he is debating whether or not he wants to stay with Jan. So I ask myself out loud, “what do you want to do?” and keep responding, “I want to write for a living”. I want to create. I want to tell stories. And while I know it’s a hard road, I’m learning to find balance, to not let failure poison my daily life. I’m learning to enjoy writing for the sake of writing and validating the act of writing by its own merit regardless of what becomes of my work. No story or book is a failure if it leads to something that does work. Even my wife said to me, “write another book, if this is what you want to do”.

As to the new book- I’m trying a different approach to avoid writing another bloated 200K epic. For starters, I’m outlining the fuck out of it by writing it as a script first. This has proven very helpful in keeping it brief, and after less than two months, I’ve managed a tidy draft of the new book’s “outline”, what I’m tentatively calling The Magnificent. It’s about a woman whose father commits suicide under strange circumstances, after which she begins to experience unusual dreams and night terrors. Her husband believes it’s demonic possession, that this may be what prompted her father to commit suicide. Being an atheist, she doesn’t quite buy it, but then she’s recorded saying and doing things she doesn’t remember, her husband convinced this isn’t just a case of bad sleep.

Well, I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil it. It’s a horror/thriller mash up, and I think it’s pretty goddamn good. I know it’s been fun as hell writing, and maybe, after everything is said and done, it’s exactly what I needed. It’s certainly helped in moving on.

Other than that, the collection of short stories is coming up sometime next spring/summer (christ, I keep forgetting that exists). I’m writing short stories here and there, tinkering away at some film ideas, and will probably begin a draft of the novel this winter in hopes of finishing it by Spring/Summer. With a tight outline, I think I can probably finish a draft within 3 months. In fact, I’ve debated taking a week in the Spring to see if I can lock myself in a hotel room and write it all out in one shot, likely with the assistance of caffeine and whiskey. But that is something that will come to pass when it does.

Until then, here’s to being scary.

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Drink Up

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2017 at 7:25 pm

I’m hungover.

I mean, I am painfully, skull crackingly, sit down to pee and cry, vomitingly, perhaps even dangerously hungover, so much so that I am googling whether or not it’s possible to die from a hangover. Unfortunately it is not.

My tolerance ain’t what it used to be and in recent months I’ve dropped a few pounds, making it even harder to slam back shots and beers like I did when I was in my twenties (I mean, how the hell did I drink so much back then?). But I sort of knew what I was getting into. I went out to meet a friend of mine, ubering there as to not risk driving later, with every intention of getting kind of lit because I hadn’t done it in such a long time and started to feel like maybe I was missing out on something or losing my edge only to find out that whatever I may have missed out on probably happened during the eventual black out I experienced and if I ever had any edge to begin with, what remained was lost in the uber ride home. Thankfully I had my wallet and phone on me. But not the capacity to hold my lunch, nor any kind of mental capacity to express whatever horror I was experiencing as I moaned and screamed at midnight and was thrust into a cold shower by my wife to somehow sober me up and freeze the crazy out of me. The cat was afraid of me the next morning, but don’t worry, we’re cool now.

Still… it was fun. I hadn’t really cut lose in a long time and it was good to see my friend and just bullshit and catch up. Plus, I had given myself a reason to drink, which is that of having finished a pilot episode for a show idea called “Train Tracks” (you might remember the short story with the same name). Prior to that I had finished a full length feature for Dream Dress and will know soon whether or not it’ll make the first round of cuts for a horror script contest. So, what the hell- drink up.

Just not today. Today, I take shots of Gatorade.

In other random news, the novella of Dream Dress is selling okay for a self published novella (about 3-4 copies a month) and occasionally there’s a spike in the sales rank, which tells me someone just bought a copy. I’m hoping it starts to pick up some more steam soon and gain some kind of popularity amongst lolitas who inspired the story to begin with, but these things take time. After all,  as far as I know, I’ve written the only lolita based horror story in existence, so unless every lolita hates horror and spiders, I think it’ll start to find a small audience and hopefully that same audience will follow me to The Eight Eyes That Watch You Die when it’s finally published next year. I just hope all those lolitas don’t mind the lack of ruffles in my other stories.

The pilot for Train Tracks has been submitted to screencraft for notes, and I think it’s some of my best script writing so far and sets the stage for a lot of great storytelling. After I write another chapter for Possessed, I’m going to take a crack at another feature, then another pilot. Screenwriting has been very rewarding and oddly more fun than regular writing. I don’t think it’s something I’ll give up any time soon.

My provisional agent has yet to respond with revision notes, but like the ground swell of sales for my novella- these things take time. I’ll admit it though- I’m nervous. Not that I won’t ever receive revision notes, but that the agent won’t really like the book in its current form. Or maybe the notes won’t be that great. What the hell do I know? This is my first rodeo after all.

But then again, maybe the revision notes will show up today and they’ll be wonderful and exciting, and maybe he’ll already have a few publishers he’s talking to that he’d like to pitch to, maybe the script for Dream Dress will sell, and maybe Train Tracks will be the reason I get hired as a staff writer on a show, and maybe this and maybe that. So many maybes. The thing that I really think though is that had I not worked so hard and pushed myself for so long, I wouldn’t even be considering the potential for any of these possibilities. Imagine that? Not even thinking that something good might come of my work because I didn’t do it. The twenty year old me probably thought about that alot as he drank the night away and slept in every morning instead of writing because the task of it seemed too daunting and the excuses too vast. But not anymore. Now I sit down and I get my ass to work because I love it. I don’t have to work towards it. I’m already there.

If that hasn’t earned a drink or two, I don’t know what will.

Until next time, here’s to being scary.

No More Devil’s Advocate

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 at 12:49 pm

On May 13th, 2017, White Nationalist Richard Spencer led a group of demonstrators in Charlotte Virginia to protest the removal of a monument of Robert E. Lee. You know… the general who fought on the Confederate side of the American Civil War, which, despite whatever arguments could be made by contrarian history dorks that it wasn’t “about slavery”, I tend to think that, like World War II and Hitler’s intentions with European Jews, the South wasn’t exactly planning on doing anything pleasant with their slaves in the event that they actually won the fucking thing.

I digress. The pictures of the aforementioned demonstration was a weird scene, coupled with Spencer’s own denial of being a bigot. Who could forget one particular interview promptly ended by a punch to the face, where he stated that the KKK didn’t really like him all that much? It’s weird because, beyond whatever thrill there is to be had by really pissing off Social Justice Warriors (hate speech is also free speech guys), I can’t comprehend why anyone would admire the South’s battle to secede given the circumstances. Especially when the admiration is coupled with a denial of bigotry, that the Confederate Flag isn’t a symbol of hate, blah blah blah. I mean, technically speaking, the Nazi symbol is a ancient Indian symbol for peace… or something.

Who gives a fuck, it’s not that anymore and neither is the confederate flag a symbol of whatever passive aggressive nonsense shit kickers want to flaunt in the face of people who probably have legit reasons to be uncomfortable when they see a pick up truck with the stars and bars haul ass out of a bar parking lot while a dude tosses used shotgun shells on the side of the road like cigarette butts.

When Trump was elected, I tried to play devil’s advocate. Not because I thought there would be good, rational, reasons to elect him. I just wanted to try and understand why someone would vote for a person like that, just like I wanted to try and understand why someone like Richard Spencer would think it was a affront to his whiteness to take down a monument of General E. Lee, and that the alt-right was not a “movement of hate”. Sure, there are moments when trigger warnings and Berkeley-esque outbreaks are obnoxious, when social justice warriors pile on the latest outrage like so many flies on unintentional sharts. And while I wish these same people displayed a little more forgiveness towards those unfortunate enough to catch the spot light during their unwanted public moment of shame, the judgment at least makes sense to me on some basic level.

When Trump was elected, I argued with myself that the reason he had/has supporters is because social issues lost all their weight the further you traveled into “Trump Country”. Who cares where a transgender person uses the bathroom if there’s no jobs? Who gives a flying fuck about racial profiling when an entire industry is collapsing around you? These people would argue, “we need food, not laws protecting net neutrality”. Outside of Philadelphia in “Pennsyltucky” the only thing that matters is, “when is the manufacturing plant opening again, when and how are all the jobs going to come back?”.

But here we are,  more than a hundred days into Trump’s presidency, more than a hundred days of the alt-right openly stating their demands that they be allowed to exist as a presence in our society. And you know what? I don’t care why someone voted for this guy or why someone would protest the removal of a confederate monument. I don’t care if the air conditioner factory closed in Ohio. I don’t care if migrants are sneaking through the Mexico/Texas border. If these are the reasons why you ignored all the negative bullshit about Trump and chalked it up to him just “saying it like it is”, if, at this point, you still like the guy and feel like he’s doing a good job, if, at this point, you still don’t think there’s something weird going on with his connections to Russia, or his refusal to release tax returns… then you are a fucking idiot. And I really do mean that. You, Trump supporter, at this point in the game, are a fool. And this is coming from a guy who is super cynical about the news and finds them almost as gross and disgusting as Trump does. This is coming from a guy who begrudgingly “stood with her” for lack of a better choice. This is coming from a guy who really wanted to find a rational reason for why someone would advocate for this shit. But I think it’s clear at this point that the Devil is not evil, he’s just a fucking idiot.

But, hey, that’s kind of the catch-22 of America’s freedom. We all have the right to be as stupid as we want to be. So thank god for spell-check and pass the ammunition.

Until then, here’s to being scary.