A New Interlude

Hello, everyone. It has been a while.
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So where have you been?
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Hustling!
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Oh god, that sounds awful. I can’t believe I said that. Let’s try again.

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Lending Libraries

I love ‘em! More than that, lending libraries provide a great excuse for introverted readers to get outdoors. I enjoy walking as exercise, especially outside during such a lovely summer. But when you spend an hour and a half of your weekdays walking around the same town, you get bored faster than you get fit. The best way to exercise is to give yourself a goal.

 

So when I walk, I find as many lending libraries as I can. For the uninformed, here’s how they work. A lending library looks like a little house on a post. They’re often found in front lawns. Inside those little houses, you’ll find various books of unpredictable quality. The policy is simple: if you take a book, you must leave a book. It’s the perfect way for you to clean out your old books without stress, and to find new books without money. It is acceptable for you to take out a Margaret Atwood novel and replace it with a children’s picture book (but if you do, you’re probably the type who puts a basket of those complimentary saltine crackers in your purse).

 

Each time I found a lending library in my hometown (or in Iowa), I took a picture. 3 months and 15 lost pounds later, here are some of the best!

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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.

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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.

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