Weekly Update – “Here’s Our Next Contestant”

Weekly Update – “Here’s Our Next Contestant”

The momentum I built up last week did well to serve me this week, especially since I woke up a few mornings feeling entirely awful and plagued with migraine headaches. Despite these ailments, I still trudged on, though admittedly not at an early enough hour like I hoped. I’m very proud with myself that I’ve kept up with my daily flash fiction posts on Twitter and have also done a few more page edits on my novel, My Personable Demon.

Now, one of the downsides of being a “starving-artist” is that you’re pretty much piss-poor. Until I find some more patrons or find a publisher for my book, I have to find a way to make money with my writing. That said, I did some searching on Tuesday for writing grants and contests.

Poets & Writers is a wonderful source for both and then some. Surprisingly, there were a few short-story contests whose submission deadlines were yesterday. I settled on entering 3 of the contests, as each one averaged a $30 entry fee, and I also scrupulously made sure my submitted manuscripts met their criteria for submission.

Most contests ask for things like page numbers to be included and your name NOT to be included anywhere in your manuscripts, but some also have extra criteria to follow: a maximum and/or minimum word count for short stories; a cover page; miscellaneous document formatting; etc. One of the contests even stated that if the short stories were less than 1,500 words, I could submit up to three as one entry, as long as each one was under the specified word amount. From there, they would judge each separately. This is why you have to be very carefully with understanding everything a contest asks for. If the judges see at least one of asked criteria isn’t met, even if you’re story reads like Hemingway, you’ll be disqualified. Take the time and read the rules. Wouldn’t you kick yourself if you found your work was refused due to not double spacing? Worst yet, you’re out the $30 dollars.

Of course, just because I entered three contests doesn’t mean I’m a sure winner. One of the contests proudly announced that they were up to 691 entries so far. With those numbers, my odds are fairly-slim. But, how else will you know if you’re going to win if you’re not willing to play? That’s what writing for a living ultimately hinges on. When you’re trying to sell your book to publishers or your short story to a magazine, there’s always going to be the chance that you’ll get rejected. More often than not, you will get rejected. Better yet, entering contests help to keep your writing skills sharp, as they motivate you to create more fresh work.

In my opinion, it’s those that continue to submit their work, both learning from the rejections and refuse to stop that will ultimately win out.


Creative Momentum

Creative Momentum

This post is part of a weekly update I will be making consistently available to my patrons on Patreon. I will still post some updates here to my blog from time to time, but will most likely be focusing on the flash fictions and short stories predominantly. If you want to see what I’ve been working on lately, check out my Patreon page at http://www.Patreon.com/NicholasEskey.

One positive thing can be said about forcing yourself to work; it creates momentum.

It’s not the same as forcing yourself out of bed and on your way to the typical 9-5 job; not to me, anyway. With writing, the eventual temporary curse is doubt. Doubt of your work’s value, doubt that you can write anything good again, doubt that it all matters. Consistently writing, namely creative writing, builds a momentum that propels you forward, often breaking the brick walls of doubt and writer’s block that seemingly jump onto the tracks. An eventual and wonderful side-effect of this momentum is walking up, eager to jump back behind the keyboard and get back to creating. Fuck doubt.

The best I can equate it to is the same kind of high gym rats get after a good workout session. The first few workouts, or probably more accurately the first few dozen, will feel like Hell, leaving one drained and asking themselves: Why did I want to do this again? But then, it gets better.

I’m quite happy with the momentum that I’ve built this week. It allowed me to get up first thing yesterday morning and get straight to work on a flash fiction idea that had been eating at me for a couple days, after which I then went right back to working on my novel. Momentum makes you hungry for more.

The flash fiction I wrote is called When You Don’t Learn. It’s a sci-fi work that plays with feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. Flash fiction works for this type of story, as the cap on words already makes the story a microcosm compared to short stories. It’ll post both on my blog (Typesetboogaloo.com) and Patreon page (Patreon.com/NicholasEskey).

As for my novel, My Personable Demon, I’m still reworking the very first chapter. Subsequent re-readings always come up with more “flaws” that I need to address before I am thoroughly satisfied and can move on. It’s true that the real work comes in the editing process.

Otherwise, I’ve also been investing a sizeable amount of energy into the YouTube channel my friends and I created; Call of the Nerd. Overall, it’s a silly labor, but still fun all the while. As of right now, it has us playing video games and capturing our reactions. I hope to someday soon get into producing skits. For now, I do all the editing and posting of the videos on Call of the Nerd, so I’ve felt pulled every which way this week with work. Yet again, it’s wonderful as it has both given me a break from writing, while still feeding my creative momentum.

The weekend will really be the test of whether I can keep this movement going. Lend your well wishes in that I still can propel forward with the speed of a flying spaghetti monster. Don’t give way to doubt. Fuck it.



It’s not easy to be another person’s rock. It’s a great deal of responsibility. Here’s a whole other living, breathing person now to worry about; someone who is depending on you. Now, imagine having to be their rock, even when you yourself are on unsure, bumpy waters.

I know I’m fortunate compared to some others. I do. When the winds kick up and the waters of life kick my ass, I have a supportive family and a guaranteed place to lay my head at night. Oh, and a cat. Most importantly, a cat. He’s terrific.

My boyfriend, now he’s a different tale. He had a life before me. A novel concept, I know, that there’s life before someone starts to date you. He had the “American dream” sort of life. He had a husband, a house, a well-paying job and friends. He was quite content with that life. Most would be. Then, just like that, job gone, husband dead of cancer, and house taken by the husband’s surviving family. This is the person who I am became that rock for.

Life is scary when you’re adrift at sea. I get it. Especially when you’re use to safe harbors. Your feet are on firmly planted on land and life is grand. Then, without warning, a storm approaches and tears and your boat away. You somehow survive the torrential winds and rains with your boat intact. But, where is my harbor? Where is everything familiar and safe? It’s gone, and instead of comfort, there is now fear; fear and uncertainty. Again, I get it.

What I also get, after being in a relationship with him, is how that storm of change and uncertainty also changes you in turn. It can harden you like a seasoned sailor or transform you into the sort of person who would drink salt water out of desperation. Either way, you will be broken during the journey. The difference is if you have the strength and will power to build yourself back up. I fell in love with the salt water drinker.

What I don’t get are the lengths one will take to achieve some semblance of safety, without really any thought of safety for who they’re hitching themselves to. Did you notice me because of my quaint charms, or because I appear to be seemingly better compared to the flakes and junkies you’ve come to know? Did my relative stability impress you, or did it remind you that you’re not getting any older? I’ve thought about all of those things, thought about them all as I tried to assure myself I’m not being used; that he does love me deep down, but can’t stop himself. Surprise! I can’t handle your baggage and mine too. I can’t keep finding out that you never really got off the drugs you ran to and that you sleep with other people just to get those drugs. “I don’t love any of them,” won’t make things better. Something’s got to give or else we’re both going down, baby.

Lastly, I also get that at this point I’m doing this to myself. But, I can’t cast off his anchor. I just don’t have the strength to fight anymore. I’m choking on the salt water and I can’t stop myself. The last time I confronted him, he said he wanted to kill himself. Ultimately, I couldn’t live with myself if he did. Is it so bad, though, that part of me doesn’t care? I know that he’s all talk. I’ve seen and heard it all time and again. Still, there’s a fed up, tired part of me, numb from the cold water that is just willing to hand him over a knife and just say, “Prove it. Do it. Cut yourself away from me.”

What kind of rock does that make me? What kind of person have I become where a part of me welcomes the icy waters?

Even Small Escapes Can Fuel Creative Dreams

It’s not often these days that I get a chance to say “Adios, muchacho!” to what I see as humdrum. Not often that I can leave my “yes sirs” or “no ma’ams” at the door and dress myself in my “that’s so cools” and “what the fucks.” Not often that I can leave my work uniform, my “monkey suit”, in the darkness of the closet, imagining that it will randomly obtain consciousness if I were to let it stay there for too long.

Life is funny in that we are told to enjoy it to the last, but yet we often have to do unenjoyable things in order to keep that life going. To the next person in retail or customer service who tells me with an earnest smile that they “love what they do,” I’ll love the Hell out of their face with my fist.

Perhaps I’m just being too impatient. I’ll graduate someday and then pursue my writing fully. It is hard though to find time now for my own personal writing when I not only have to keep a full-time job, not to mention having to read hundreds of pages a week for my English class and cram my head with French vocabulary to fulfill my required language credits. The prospects of getting my Bachelor’s next summer seems like an eternity away. At least I’m doing my best to keep my writing skills somewhat sharp with the reporting I do for The Beat (a comic and popular media news blog I contribute to).

That blog is actually why I was able to get away recently and immerse myself in the nerd culture of WonderCon, a convention run by the same people behind the well-known San Diego Comic-Con. I had a fantastic time; Walking the sales floor, reviewing and writing up panels for the blog, forgetting that I live on a budget and buying more books than that of my monthly food allowance. Life’s pressures seemed temporarily lessened. It wasn’t that I felt liberated by “acting a dork,” but more instead had the honor of mingling with other like-minded people and was able to “ride-the-wave” of this same “like-mindedness.” Others who enjoy comics, reading, collecting. I loved strolling the rows of “artists alley” and seeing all the art that was created with painstaking care (though I felt guilty that I couldn’t help everyone of them out with a purchase).

The highlight was when I had the surprise and delight of running into someone that I knew, though to be honest I knew quite a few people there. It was unexpected none-the-less. He and I used to teach martial arts in the same organization and always saw each other at tournaments. A very fit individual and my same age, he was there promoting his third fantasy book. I didn’t even know he was a fellow writer! We talked of his works, the series that was projected to be nine-books total, and of my works, the three rough-drafts of different novels that I hadn’t yet the courage to reread and edit. Of course, I had to support him and buy his three books (there went more food money). I was excited for him. He was living the dream, the writer dream that I wanted. My excitement wasn’t just for him though; This encounter rekindled my “writing-fire.” The old adage is still ringing in my head as I write this entry: “If he can do it, so can I!”

We exchanged information (I really wish I hadn’t forgotten my business cards at home) and promised to talk later. I even got his editor’s contact information, who was also there, and promised I’d contact her when at least one of my drafts was worthy to be seen by strangers.

Of course, I had to eventually come home and liberate my waiting suit from the closet. “I knew you’d be back,” I could almost hear the sentient garment say. Yeah, it’ll be a while still before I can just hang it up for good, where in its new sentience its thoughts will eventually drift onto greater-philosophical imaginings. Someday, that door won’t open again, and then you’ll have all the time in the world, buddy. “Will I dream?”, it will say from some raggedy seem, but no one will hear. Just the dark.

But of course, that’s some time away still. Regardless of that fact, my brief escape from the atmosphere was nice. You really can’t tell when something can give a nice jolt to your creative dreams; you just need to give it a chance.


New Year, new… me?

New Year, new… me?

It seems like the same routine every year: I resolve to write more, namely on this blog, resolve to work out more, resolve to live more. And I do so, strongly for perhaps a couple good months until I eventually fall off the edge like Wile E Coyote on that same old cliff that is life’s complications.

Don’t let me lead you to believe 2016 ended entirely poorly for me. There was a lot of positive things that went my way. In the face of fear that I would lose my primary, full-time job, I actually was able to keep it and see a slight raise. I had to leave the martial arts teaching job that I loved because my physical and mental health were at jeopardy, but now both of those are getting back in line again. The cherry on top is that I participated in November’s National Novel Writing Month with my “beastie-besty” Victoria and we both beat the 50,000 word deadline in 30 days!

Now just a couple weeks into 2017, I’m left with a feeling of accomplishment; Things are well at work, I just had a wonderful visit to the kung-fu school that I left, I’m so far doing well in my Spring semester at school, I’m well into editing the rough-draft from NaNoWriMo… things just seem to be getting back on track.

What should that mean then for the rest of 2017? Normally the new year is supposed to signify new beginnings. I don’t see that for myself. Instead, I see getting back to basics. Sure, I’m resolved to travel more. I want to see the sequoias. Since this is the 10-year anniversary of when I went to Japan, I want to go back. But I also see more than that. I see continuing the trend that I finally got a hold of at the end of 2016. I see avoiding all the mistakes and pitfalls that I dealt with in the year prior. There is indeed new growth, but they are from seeds that have been well planted before, and they are also from the cuttings made to dead limbs that were choking everything else around them.

I am hopeful. Ultimately, that’s the best start one could ask to have.



I’m sitting inside a local coffee shop with big picture-windows that look out onto the main-street. The morning light struggles against the fog, succeeding in a diffused illumination against the black-tarred street and the red bricks of the surrounding downtown buildings, as if everything was under the glow of a giant soft-light box. The trees that line the sidewalks sway back and forth, their green leaves invaded by the quickening march of oranges and reds. As I sit here plopped in front of my computer screen, I can’t help but stare out the window and watch the people walking by. “People-watching” has always been a hobby for my family. Today, there appears to be more cars than actual people.

The same can be said about the inside of this coffee shop. Okay, maybe there aren’t any cars lounging about in here, enjoying a nice cup of warmed motor-oil as they gossip about the Henderson car 2 miles down the road which rather recently received a very disrespectable pink paint-job. Instead of a multitude of people crowding in about this time for their morning cups of coffee, dispelling the weight of the weekend placed on their sobering heads on this now Monday morning, there are perhaps a collected dozen strangers milling about. Strangers to me that is, for they all seem to know one another. Greeting the barista or each other with friendly “hallos” and “how ya doins?” Things amble here. There is no impatience, no “fast-paced.” This isn’t the San Diego I know. This is Virginia. Salem to be exact.

Salem, Virginia is a small, independent-city situated in the Shenandoah valley, but was originally founded in 1802 as a town. Like much of the surrounding Roanoke county, Salem is steeped in rich natural beauty, while still celebrating its “ever-living” history. Nature, history, and people, none in conflict but all in co-existence. Local businesses line the streets. Roanoke college thrives here. It’s a city that lives in every respect.

How did I get here? Flatly, I needed to get away. I needed to get away from the monotony of San Diego living, as crazy of a statement as that sounds like. I felt stuck there. I needed to see how somewhere so far removed from my hometown functioned. Someplace with a different mindset and a drastically different past. And no, a “Disneyland getaway” wasn’t going to cut it. Nothing fabricated as to be a “safe-little-bubble” for tourists to be blissfully removed from reality where they can wonder if the $40 stuffed-animal that was made in Taiwan for $1 is a good value. I didn’t want an escape from reality, just the reality I had known all my life.

Virginia is so much different, but all in the best ways. I’ve done the touristy things; I’ve seen the small “roadside attractions.” I’ve taken just enough pictures to make my local tour guide cringe every time I lift my camera. No, I didn’t move. I’ll be back in San Diego soon, hopefully much recharged and with a different perspective of things. I’ll talk in length about some of the sights I’ve seen in another entry. For now, I’m just sitting here in this small coffee shop, watching the people and cars amble by. A customer somewhere behind me is saying, “Well it’s my birthday. I’m forty-five.” The barista at the counter squeals. “It is?! Happy, happy biiiiirthday! Happy, happy biiiiiiiiiirthday……”

Revealing the Art

Revealing the Art

One thing I’ve learned from my experiences so far is that writing just doesn’t “happen”. The whole romantic idea of sitting down at a keyboard, or your preferred writing medium, and just flowing with words isn’t real. If anything, you’re at the mercy of the literary spirits. Sorry. Your mental bubble is undoubtedly burst. How will you ever go on in life?

The famous artist Michelangelo once said in regards to one of his sculptures, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Writing I would have to say is quite similar. The work can’t be forced into the world, but rather the artist must quiet their minds and listen for the voices of their characters to make themselves known. Sometimes they will speak louder than avalanches, facilitating a torrent of words to paper. Other times they will be shy, silent as the grave. In these instances, you almost feel like a medium at a séance pleading for your characters to do something as simple as issue the smallest of whispers. Once this is done, it’ll become easier to coax the others into existence.

If you poke and prod beyond their liking, they’ll rebel and leave you in unnerving silence. Even worse, you might get the equivalent of writer’s diarrhea, where to your horror you’ll find what resembles utter, unequivocal crap.

So far, not only do we then find the process less romantic than we originally idealized, as well as more time consuming and tedious, but it also can be extremely nerve racking. Once the words have finally been divinely revealed, you’ll undoubtedly have a moment of clarity akin to when Dr. Frankenstein first looked on his monster with horror, repulsed by his ungodly work. A story is never ready to serve without a little mending. No matter how awesome of a writer you think you are, it’ll take a number of re-reads and editing until the words are arranged in a fashion that isn’t gibberish.

Years ago I was introduced to a wonderful poem by Anne Bradstreet. Her poem speaks about the relationship of an author with their book, and the feelings they have towards it. Because I feel it would be a disservice to “hack” the poem into a sample size, I present it to you in its entirety.

The Author to Her Book

By Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,

Who after birth did’st by my side remain,

Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true

Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view;

Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,

Where errors were not lessened (all may judge)

At thy return my blushing was not small,

My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,

I cast thee by as one unfit for light,

Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;

Yet being mine own, at length affection would

They blemishes amend, if so I could:

I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,

And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.

I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,

Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;

In better dress to trim thee was my mind,

But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.

In this array, ‘mongst vulgars mayst thou roam

In critics hands, beware thou dost not come;

And take thy way where yet thou art not known,

If for they father askt, say, thou hadst none:

And for thy mother, she alas is poor,

Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

Bradstreet’s poem speaks about her work, in this case either a book of poems or stories, given to her friends for review. In perhaps their poor judgement, or themselves being too kind in their critique, forwarded her work for outside criticisms, unknownst to Mrs. Bradstreet from what the poem implies. Upon its return with criticism, she was greatly embarrassed. Instead of trashing her book, having spent a great deal of energy on it already, she takes a little more to fix its flaws to the best of her abilities, though she herself admits she’s ill equipped in her writing tools to fashion it just the way she would like it. Never before have I read a creative description of a writer and their work that both was entertaining and true at the same time.

What should be taken out of all my ramblings is that writing is a labor of love. Often times there is no other reward than the satisfaction you get on making something that at least one other person may enjoy. Like any craft, it takes times to hone, hammering away at the dull blade of a novice until it becomes the sharp sword of one with experience. The process itself isn’t all roses and butterflies, but often times harsh reality. It’ll test you and make you question whether or not you’ve chosen to pursue the right endeavor. The finished product may also create more doubt, making you want to throw it out the window, sell your typewriter, make origami of your writing paper, and take a 9 to 5 job.

But in the end, when all the doubt is exhausted and the stars align, you’ll find yourself face to face with what you’ve been striving for; this child that was hidden in the paper and the ink, the writer’s blocks and the long sleepless nights, the doubt and self-loathing, and hopefully what you’ll see will make it all worth it.