Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 24, 1991

Two albums that have been pivotal to my life came out on the very same day, my ninth birthday, 25 years ago today. While it's true that I would not discover them for maybe a few more years, they eventually became pivotal in my life, both as an appreciator of music and a wannabe musician/songwriter. Probably even as a writer, too.

I was always kind of into music anyways, because I was always sort of just surrounded by it, and I loved Disney and Don Bluth movies. When dad wasn't home, I would sometimes run around the house and sing the songs from the movies, sometimes at the top of my lungs, to the detriment of my siblings and my mom. However, both of my parents and my older brother all listened to music a lot, too. While we also watched plenty of TV, the stereo, on average, was on way more often.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Nirvana's Nevermind, as it was to many, was a revelation. For one thing, I was a geeky, overly sensitive kid, and, finally, after years of taking shit from assholes, I had found an outlet for my angst. There was also this sudden injection of testosterone and whatever other hormones that probably also made it necessary, and this album, and soon this genre of music, seemed to fulfill my need on a level that I had not previously experienced with any other music, or anything else, to that point in my life.

It may not have been the first album or the first band that drew my attention, but when it hit me, when I really listened to it the first time, it became one of the most important in life. Soon, others would join it.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

I was older yet when I discovered the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magic. I had heard songs from it many times as my brother listened to it and the radio played "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge" on heavy rotation, but it was another one that suddenly just made sense to me one day, and in a language I was just beginning to understand: as a bass guitarist.

At the age of 13, with money saved from my allowance from recycling pop and beer cans, I bought a 3/4 scale Kramer bass guitar from my brother. He had bought it and owned it for a while but never really played it, and decided to sell it, and I was the only one willing to pay what he was asking for it. It was cherry red all over, including the neck and the head stock, shiny, and cheaply-yet-sturdily made, and not until I had the vocabulary from playing it did the Red Hot Chili Peppers make sense to me.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

As far as I was concerned, Flea was just the greatest musician on the planet. It would take a few years before I was able to play anything remotely resembling anything by him, but I eventually taught myself how to play "Give It Away" pretty adequately.

Now, however many years later, when I listen to these two albums, although I don't get the same rush that I once did, I still sort of experience the memory of the rush. I can only image what it must have been like for those people in those bands, and how great it must have felt when they were making that music at that time, and I wonder if maybe they had gone through similar sorts of things to create these sounds, songs, albums that I have so identified with over my life.

Created by Gabe Gott.

As an artist, I appreciate the difficulty, and really, luck, that it sometimes takes to find the thing that others identify with about you. It is something that I have sought through my writing for years. and I finally feel like I might be getting close, but only time will tell. That's probably why I listen to music by bands like Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I write, because it helps me find and convert, then focus that energy in a way that makes my writing more powerful.

Maybe, if I am lucky, I can help even just one other person go through a difficult period in his/her life the way those bands and those albums did for me. That's why I do this, and why I will continue to do this. That, and my ego, of course.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Evolution of an Idea

In the summer of 2014, I took a flash fiction writing workshop as my final class of grad school. I needed the credits to graduate, and I wanted to go out on a class I would enjoy with an instructor I really liked. At the time, I knew that it would likely be my last class as a student (that has so far remained true), and I thought it would be fun, and certainly not difficult, as I enjoy writing fiction, but I didn't think that the class would impact me to make flash fiction the focus of my creativity for any length of time.

However, here I am, two years later, with multiple short shorts published online and in print, and in the process of putting out not one but two flash fiction chapbooks. The first one is actually out now (see last week's posts) and the second one has yet to be given a specific release date---although, I am shooting for early next year, possibly January. The idea to do these chapbooks actually came during the class when I was putting together my final portfolio. The title of the second, Dispatches from the Information Age, came directly from that project, and quite a few of the stories in it did as well, albeit many of them have been edited and/or rewritten.

Dispatches from the Information Age will not only contain many of the stories from that class, but all of my stories that have been published over the past two years, and many more along those same lines, which I think is my future direction as a writer. Fast-paced, weird, angry, and (hopefully) humorous, it can be described as what would happen if Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury got together with the members of Monty Python and wrote a flash fiction chapbook. At least, that is the aesthetic I am going for with it.

In order to accurately reflect this aesthetic, I have carefully considered the cover art, and it has evolved over the development of the project. At first, I was going to have my brother design it, but then I started playing around with a few ideas, and came up with a couple of my own.

These were meant to be stand-ins while my brother worked on his idea, but I liked the direction I was going, and decided to continue working on it. After all, I have designed all of my other covers, and while not many writers can really do that effectively (at least according to the advice blogs I read), I think it is something that I have actually turned into a strength.

This week, I finally realized the one that I had been seeing in my mind's eye, but couldn't quite capture, and of all of the ideas I've had, it fits the best with the contents of the collection:

A good friend and confidant described it as "Warhol for the 21st century," and I could easily refer to the set of stories as a form of pop art, so it fits. I am really trying to capture the absurdity of life in our culture today, and I think that anyone who sees this cover will be able to gather that.

This direction, while my natural inclination as a fan of satire, science fiction and dark humor, and my calling as a dissident intellectual and highly educated poor person, it also came in part from the reaction to these stories by my classmates and my professor, who only encouraged me further down this path.

Before that class, I spent my time working on a novel, and several short stories, but nothing has really connected for me in the same way as flash fiction. It just goes to show that you never know the direction you are going to take as an artist, and sometimes, you just have to go where life takes you, and trust your instincts.

While my writing will not exclusively take the form of flash fiction, it is a form that I really enjoy exploring, and I will continue to do for a long time to come. It has all of the elements that I enjoy about writing: it's fun and challenging, I can be poetic and experimental, and people actually sometimes take the time to read what I write. Additionally, as more and more of our culture is absorbed and transformed by the internet, it is a growing and popular form for fiction, as people have much shorter attention spans, and there are more places to publish it and fans for it than ever.

If you are faithful to the process, what you're working on might turn into something great, but hopefully, at the very least, you will have fun with it. That is the most important part.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Space... The Final Frontier

Now that "The Ever-Present Moment" is out, I can focus my creative attention on my next chapbook, "Dispatches from the Information Age," which I would like to publish in the next six months.

Another stand-in for the cover.

I soon hope to have a more concrete idea of when it will come out, but it is being held up for a good reason---namely so that the journals that are going to publish or are thinking about publishing stories from the collection are able to do so (since they have first rights).

Two more stories from it are going to be published in October, and there is one more I am waiting to hear about. It has been six months, so maybe I should reach out and find out for sure that they have rejected it.

The journal in question only stopped accepting submissions in May, and I submitted my story for the Fall 2016 issue, so I should be hearing soon. It only publishes annually, so they don't move as fast as the quarterly or monthly people, and they have a Submittable, so they should at least mark it as rejected (or accepted) when (or if) they do reject (or accept) it.

Courtesy of

I have also been thinking about submitting to a few select journals one or two more of the stories from "Dispatches," just to see what happens. You never know. The likelihood is that they will get rejected, but it is not definite. After all, sometimes I am surprised, and my stories don't get rejected. It happens, and there is no way to know until you send them out.

It does take some thick skin, but everyone gets rejected. The writers that "make it" are the ones that keep trying, and keep sending stuff out until they make a name for themselves, and journals start asking them for stuff. I don't know if that will ever happen for me, but I can dream, right?

In the meantime, I  also have to decide for sure on whether or not to continue writing the novel I have been writing. Part of me really wants to ditch it and start on something that more accurately reflects where I am and where I want to go as a writer. While I like literary fiction, I see myself writing more sci-fi and absurd, satirical stories, which seems to be what draws people to me the most.

My current novel is interesting, but no one really reads literature anymore, and those that do could give two shits about my writing, so why would I bother continuing to cater to a market that has no interest in my writing? It doesn't make much sense.

Plus, if I abandon literature and pursue the direction I have been going, I will be building on the audience I have already been building on with the stories that I have thus far gotten published.

Courtesy of Pixabay.

Except for the very first one five years ago, every story that I have written that has been published by others has dealt with topics such as alternate dimensions, Reagan clone invasions, time travel, and distant alien races taking over the galaxy. The next two that are going to be published are about Bigfoot and electronic devices coming alive, so it only continues.

I would rather write for people who want to read what I am writing, and I have always been a fan of sci-fi and the like. While Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury are two of my favorite writers, I am not the best read in this area---however, that can easily change.

So maybe "The Ever-Present Moment" will be my farewell to that style of writing. It's been real, but it hasn't been that fun (overall), and I want to have fun with it and lay off the serious shit for a while.

It sounds like I have already made up my mind. Maybe I have. I guess there is only one way to find out.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Available Now!

The Ever-Present Moment

$5.50 Print | $0.99 eBook
ISBN-10: 1534992529 
ISBN-13: 978-1534992528

Through the nine stories collected in this flash fiction chapbook, Akron, Ohio, author Gabe Gott explores what it means to live in the moment. Featuring “Brakes,” “Catharsis,” and “Priorities.”