Category Archives: Writing on Writing

Accidental News & Other Stories

When I first started this blog a year and a half ago, my goal was to inspire other writers by writing about writing and offering advice, tips and strategies. In the past few months, I’ve been incredibly busy with numerous projects, and saw my blog evolve into a sort of scrapbook about my own writing (and producing) life. I hope, by recounting my projects, I can convince even one person to follow their own writing path and strive to make their dreams a reality.

While I still have more advice to offer, they will come in due time. For now, I enjoy sharing my accomplishments, goals and fears with others and hope something can be taken away from my own experiences.  It’s hard out there for a pimp writer, so it is important to set goals and work hard to achieve them, never doubting ourselves along the way. Seeing what other writers have accomplished certainly helps. As writers, we know that writing cannot be forced, no matter how often we’re told to write even if we don’t feel like it. In my opinion, a writer should never force something that isn’t there, but when the muse does strike, they need to embrace it.

Here’s some quick advice before I dedicate an entire blog (in the far future) to a specific aspect of writing: During the writing process, use every method possible to get your writing out there and share it with others. Criticism Feedback will do nothing but help improve what is already there. The world is a wealth of information and there are more resources out there than ever. Join a writer’s group and use the feedback to improve your work. You’ll come out a stronger writer and gain followers in the process.

And now, some news: Tonight, I prepare to premiere my short film, Le Chapeau, at the Bungalow Club in Hollywood. We’ve been editing since May, producing a website version and numerous different cuts of the project. It is finally done and ready to screen to the public in the pre-festival premiere. A creative work is always a long process, but sticking with it can be incredibly rewarding. Even when you feel like giving up, DON’T. You’ll kick yourself later and the pain just isn’t worth it.

There’s more exciting news to come about Le Chapeau and other projects, which I will share soon. Until then, here’s a quick clip of the film.

Write on!

The Accidental Blogger

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And the title goes to…

To recap:

After a few false starts and a couple of failed attempts, I began work on my first novel as part of National Novel Writing Month in November 2010. In no way did I complete the manuscript in a month’s time, as was the goal of the event, but I faced my fears about writing the novel and gave it a nice start.

The premise is a simple one and I’ve been wanting to write it for a few years now. I’d envisioned it in my head as a screenplay so delving into novel writing with the story was a nice and unexpected challenge. In my head, I’ve always called the story  ‘Crazy Sue,’ no matter which method of writing  I use to tell it. The plot is a fictionalized account of  my last year as an undergraduate, living with a needy and unstable roommate my best friend and I would refer to as “Crazy.” The title was nailed into my head as being permanent, so imagine my surprise when said best friend suggested “One Year Lease” as a better option.  I thought she loved the original title; we’d been referring to it as that for years so I was taken aback and hurt at the prospect of changing it. I decided to settle the matter the adult way and created a survey for this site asking my readers to choose the better title. Of course, I was sure ‘Crazy Sue’ would win, hands down, so I wasn’t worried. The title held a special place in my heart and there was no way I could sacrifice it. My readers would surely agree.

Turns out, I was wrong. The winner of the title survey was not my own, but my friend’s: One Year Lease. So, with resistance, I tried to refer to my novel with the new title. It was difficult at first, but  now, it’s grown on me and I love it even more than I loved ‘Crazy Sue.’

The new title, I feel, will allow me to branch out and tell a different kind of story: a story of two friends trying to survive their final year of college, instead of focusing on their situation with a roommate from hell, which can serve as a subplot. The new title will allow me to tell the story I initially wanted to, without the reader having a preconceived notion of what ‘crazy’ means.

I’m excited to see where this novel takes me. I have so many I want to write. Let this be a fantastic start.

Until next time,

The Accidental Blogger

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The Writing Workshop for Dummies

Today I celebrate the publication of my pedagogy paper, The Writing Workshop for Dummies: how the new teacher can mentor first-time writing students, which was recently published by the University of Gloucestershire. I wrote it a few of years ago, during my Creative Writing MFA program at National University, and slightly revised it based on notes from the University.

The paper was one of seven selected and is also available online. It can be read here.

Feedback, as always, is welcome and appreciated. Enjoy!

The Accidental Blogger

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NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is over

Well folks, it’s official: National Novel Writing Month ended on November 30th. I was off to a great start, but by Day 4, things began to waver. First came a weekend job in Las Vegas, grading papers, family obligations and the biggest hurdle of all: my partner was offered a job in Oregon, which meant packing up our apartment and being without furniture for a week. Then came the actual drive to Oregon, moving things in, buying things we left behind or lost, trying to explore an unfamiliar city, etc. Before I knew it, November was over and my novel was only in its beginning stages.

I did not let that deter me, however, because the important thing is that I started my first novel. With a draft of four chapters (and a prologue) complete, I can move forward and keep writing. Although I did not win NaNoWriMo by finishing the novel, at least it’s off to a great start and I have something to build on for the months to come.

Oregon is a different experience from LA, and although I am only here until the 13th of December to help the hubby settle in, now that I can finally breathe, I hope to resume the novel and write as much as I can before my journey back to California. The fact that it actually feels like Winter here will be a true inspiration, I’m sure.

To anyone who didn’t finish, keep writing away. The start is all that matters; the rest will come easily. Don’t give up.

Write on!

The Accidental Blogger

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NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) officially begins!

It’s November 1st and for writers across the country, that means National Novel Writing Month has officially begun. I’m excited to have begun my first novel, and this is both harder and easier than I thought. I am the kind of writer who proofreads as he writes, but it’s nice to write with no inhibitions. I like letting the words flow without worrying that they aren’t strong or good enough. There’s always time to edit, revise, and rework after the month is over.

This is a fantastic challenge for a first-time novelist like myself, and I am excited to see where the month takes me. I hope I finish my novel by the 30th. It would be an amazing accomplishment.

Stay tuned,

The Accidental Blogger

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National Novel Writing Month (November)

As I get ready to begin work on my first novel, I’m realizing how crucial it is to set goals and receive support. And there is no better way to do that than to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which begins on November 1st.

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2009, there were over 165,000 participants. More than 30,000 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by the web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Still confused? Just visit the How NaNoWriMo Works page!

So what do you say? Will you join me in completing a novel in one month’s time? If you’re up for the challenge and decide to sign up, make sure to add me as a writing buddy. Username: Sgureghian

So start thinking of some ideas, and write on!

The Accidental Blogger

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Submitting writing for a fee

I am usually very skeptical when submitting my writing for a fee. Of course I understand that small and independent presses need to somehow make money to stay in business, but it seems a bit ridiculous to pay a reading fee, unless it’s a small total ($2-$5).  Why not just require purchase of the literary journal for each author whose writing is accepted?

I had bad luck with one such press and became a bit skeptical after my experience. I don’t want to name the press, but I will, because I feel cheated and want to warn others to be wary. A few months back, I submitted my fiction chapbook to the Black River Chapbook Competition for Black Lawrence Press. They’re one of few publications who hold fiction chapbook contests so I did not mind paying the submission fee. My money was received through Paypal quickly, but my submission was never confirmed. When I emailed Black Lawrence, they ignored me. Twice. I tried to add their page on Facebook. Denied. I thought it was a mistake so I sent a nice message and requested them again. Denied. I felt sad, angry, and cheated. So many thoughts went through my head. Was my writing so horrible that they have blacklisted me for life? I felt rejected, worthless, and it really made me doubt myself as a writer. During all this, I received a mass email from Black Lawrence asking all submitters to buy previous editions of their chapbooks. Anyone who does will have a better chance of being published with them, the email subtly implied. After the way I was treated, I refused to give any more money to Black Lawrence. It was obvious the way they conducted themselves and it was not for me. I will stay away from them in the future and will warn others to do the same.

Around the same time, I submitted to the 79th Annual  Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. I had all but forgotten about it when I received an email that my short story, Three Little Words, had placed in the Genre competition. I was ecstatic. If Writer’s Digest recognized my work out of the thousands and thousands being submitted, I must be doing something right. The next day, I received another email. My story, Lies My Mother Told Me: A Semi-true Story in 10 Parts, had placed even hired in the Mainstream/Literary fiction category. I felt on top of the world. It made me realize that sometimes it does pay to submit for a fee, but it’s important to be cautious when doing so.

Always research the press/magazine/organization before submitting. Read reviews and check for others who might have been scammed. Of course, that’s not always effective.  I couldn’t find any negative feedback about Black Lawrence, so I felt safe submitting to them. I will be careful in the future. Also remember to never pay a fee that’s higher than $50. Even that amount is a bit excessive. The higher the reading fee, the more likely it’s a scam.  Submit cautiously.

P.S.  Writer’s Digest has some upcoming competitions. Check them out and submit your best work. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Until next time,

The Accidental Blogger

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