Strange People Approached Me on the Streets of Chicago

On my long, tiring, as-of-yet-fruitless search for steady employment, I submitted a writing sample to Cult of Americana. They’re a website that chronicles the amusing tales in ordinary American life. I think this submission was too morose to make their cut, but I still like how it turned out!

The Ramblers of Chicago

Nick Edinger

 

Loss of innocence has nothing to do with ignorance.

For two summers, I worked as a Ticket Sales Agent for a double decker bus company. I spent each workday selling guided tours of Chicago, shouting sales offers over the din of downtown traffic, calculating new ways to fend off boredom. It was a nice job, provided you applied sunscreen.

My mission as Ticket Sales Agent involved reaching out to pedestrians. Occasionally, pedestrians reached out to me. Of the many bizarre people I met in Chicago, here are three that changed my worldview in minutes.

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The New Mission of Word Salad Spinner

So, Nick, why do you want to be a writer?

I’ll admit, I forgot the answer for a while. That’s what’s weird about me. I find something I like, and then I kill it. Be it reading or swimming or theater, I take my passions and encode them in rigid formulas and mounting to-do lists. Then, when you take away the to-do lists in my life, it’s like you took my personality with them.

Continue reading “The New Mission of Word Salad Spinner”

Update 6/18/17: What the hell am I even doing here?

So, Nick, why do you want to be a writer?
I’ve always struggled with that question. At least, I’ve struggled with putting my answer into words. That’s because, when you look deep down, I have selfish reasons to desire my name in print. I want to help my self-esteem. I want to realize personal ambition.
But those are poor excuses for why anyone should care about my writing, or why I should bother.
I’ve been researching how to build a better blog and how to improve my web outreach. A few days ago, I downloaded some podcasts hosted by entrepreneurs. I listened to the first two recordings on my list. I found them helpful, cheery, insightful, and, above all, disgusting. There’s something slimy about those online hustlers you find when you reach down and examine them. It’s like finding a rat in your toilet. These “web gurus” seem so… solipsistic. Phony. It’s like they don’t even care what they’re selling, as long as the numbers on their screens are big and black.
That disgust for the web gurus also applies to what I’ve found in myself. I sat down yesterday to write another set of Glimmer Train reviews, only to find myself struggling with one question: “Who gives a fuck?” Only one person’s answer matters in that writing question: me. It’s an answer that helped me write through much darker times than this. And, right now, I can’t justify why my writing deserves to take up space in such an overstuffed world.
Jennifer Garam, in discussing “How To Keep Writing When No One Gives A Shit,” advises that writers find a higher purpose for their art besides personal glory. Otherwise, a writer will burn out. It’s amazing I went this far without a burnout.
I might still add to this blog on occasion. I hope to continue Two Candidates Walk Into A Bar regardless. And I’ll keep sharing other good blogs I find. But until I have a concrete answer to the question on the top of this post (and, ideally, until I find a proper job to work in), I’ll be on hiatus. The Mission Statement section of Word Salad Spinner will change for the better.
Until I can provide a satisfying answer to the question “Why do you want to be a writer?” I will be on hiatus.

Five Writers On ChapterBuzz Who Don’t Suck

This is why I have trouble sharing my work.

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On the last Trudge-Along Tuesday, I promised you I’d find five ChapterBuzz authors to recommend. I imagined that the change-of-pace would provide a nice recharge for me. I also thought that Sherlock Season 4 would be good, so what the hell do I know.

 

I’ll give the authors of ChapterBuzz this: all their novel chapters are better than any episode of Sherlock Season 4 (though not as deliriously, deliciously, hilariously bad as Sherlock Season 4). For each author I list below, there were three others I examined on ChapterBuzz before sighing and giving up. No first draft is good. That’s a given for writers. And that’s the obstacle you have to overcome when you share your first draft with the world.

 

Here are five authors who made a first draft for a novel and actually compelled me to read more after today. They’re ranked from most okay to most good. For the majority of these authors, I only read a chapter or so. Since my reading strategy involved giving up the moment I lost interest, all these authors did manage to hold the attention of a critical, capricious grump for longer than 5 minutes.

  Continue reading “Five Writers On ChapterBuzz Who Don’t Suck”

Rejection #3

I achieved a key aspiration today.
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Why yes, I WOULD like to clarify how I moved the goalposts. You see, I tend to get obsessive while I wait for submission feedback. When I sent over my short story “I Am A Mountain (y estoy hundiendome)” to Crazy Horse, they told me I could expect a reply at the beginning of June. At first, I pushed aside the whole competition to focus on school. As my time freed up and I lost steam on my current writing projects, I kept checking their submission site like it was Twitter after the president sends a more-inscrutable-than-usual tweet. I checked my submissions page daily, a full month before I could expect to hear from the magazine. This is normal for me. It’s damn near covfefe. 
 
So the last week was abnormal in a good way. With writing a novel and studying up on becoming a better blogger, I lost track of my submission until Crazy Horse sent me an email. The rejection came with a sense of relief. I could move on.
 
And move on I will. I’ll update the Mission Statement in a couple of days with a list of more concrete, immediate goals. I didn’t get too discouraged by this rejection. But the best way to avoid discouragement would be to send so many submissions that there’s always a story awaiting acceptance. Perhaps I’ll keep live updates for you on my story submissions. Or even create a betting pool! Living like a writer means enjoying the pursuit more than the catch. If vigor be the soul of art… game on.
 
In the meantime, for all you aspiring writers, keep in mind the boy who had to keep on rockin’ until he made it to the top…
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