I wrote a short piece for a holiday-themed contest on Chronicles. It’s like a Beowulf-themed retelling of Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. Check it out and other entries from talented writers!
First of all, I’ve recently set up a Fiverr account and I am now offering editing, proofreading, and beta reading services. You can read up on what I offer here: https://www.fiverr.com/drmatteri
Secondly, I plan on committing more time to this blog to write about the craft of writing. I will share insights into my own writing process, share more updates on projects I am working on, and maybe some reviews of books I am currently reading. I hope to have at least 2-3 posts per month to start with and go from there.
*UPDATE* I’m no longer on Fiverr, but still accepting clients for editing and proofreading services. More on that later.
It’s been a long time since my last post because I’ve been busy preparing for and traveling overseas for the very first time in my life. I went to Korea and the Philippines for a martial arts tournament and international diplomacy tour. I don’t want to turn this into a travel blog, so I’ll just say I had a great time and post a picture of me posing with a dragon because dragons are awesome.
I recently read this insightful article by Diane Laney Fitzpatrick from the blog “A Writer’s Path.” It explains how stepping away from your current writing project can be healthy because it allows you to recharge your creative batteries and see your own work with an impartial eye. This is sound advice because I’ve discovered that writing a novel is more intensive than writing a short story, so need a break and come back later to revise the plot, give more attention to personality conflicts, and include character interaction. I like to have multiple writing projects going on at once so that if I get burned out on a project or feel like I’ve hit a wall, then I can shift gears and write something else to keep me going. I put aside the draft of my novel and looked through my short stories that are still in progress and had fun playing with them again. If you’re a writer as well, then what do you like to do when you need to recharge your batteries?
by Diane Laney Fitzpatrick I know, it sounds like a lame excuse, doesn’t it? “It’s not that I’m not writing. It’s just that I’m thinking about my next chapter while I play this game of Solitaire on my phone. With Law and Order reruns playing in the background.” Those of us who have […]
Around late last November I was in my parent’s garage looking for a bucket to clean my car with, but was side-tracked by a stack of books sitting in a cardboard box. Anytime I’m near books I have a strong urge to hold them, look at the covers, flip through the pages, read the synopsis, and possibly add them to my reading list. When I sifted through this particular stack of books, I discovered four novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald: This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and The Last Tycoon. These are older editions published in the 1960s with sturdy, hard-bound covers and pages yellow with age and smelling like exotic spices. I forgot about my car and took these books up to my room to put on my nightstand to read. I’ve taught Gatsby in my English classes before and it’s always a joyous occasion because this story is so well-written and accessible. I spent the next three months reading this set of novels in the order they were published and came away with a greater appreciation of Fitzgerald’s style and learning that not everything he wrote excites me as much as Gatsby.
First of all, This Side of Paradise, which is Fitzgerald’s first novel, is about a young man from a wealthy family who goes to Princeton University and dabbles in literature while observing and commenting on the lives of post-World War I youth in America. For me, the novel often feels scattered and was a hard for me to get into because of Amory Blane’s arrogant, detached, and sometimes whiny personality. However, as I got further along, I started to appreciate the artistry behind the words and the insightful commentary on the lost generation of the 1920s. You can see ideas and characters that will become more focused and disciplined in his next novel, The Great Gatsby, which is by far a stronger novel. This one is worth a read if you are interested seeing how Fitzgerald’s writing evolved.
The second book I read was, of course, The Great Gatsby. This book is always a joy to read because of the interesting characters, well-developed plot, beautifully described setting, and the powerfully tragic ending.
The third book I read was Tender is the Night. This book is Fitzgerald’s most personal because it is based on his own struggles with alcoholism and his complicated marriage with his wife Zelda, who suffered from mental health issues. It’s about a psychologist who has an affair with an 18-year old actress in the French Riviera while his wife sits in a mental hospital he runs. As he pursues this affair, his life gradually goes into a downward spiral and turns him into an alcoholic. Many critics consider this his “best” novel, but this didn’t work for me because of the dense language, muddied plot, and disappointing ending. Halfway through the book I had to go online and read a synopsis to better understand what was going on and to try to appreciate the underlying premise of the book. I usually don’t do that when I read a book because I want to have that joy of discovery on my own, but this book became more of an endurance test. It was a chore to read and my least favorite of the four novels. However, my favorite part is when the protagonist, Dick, has an epic, drunken meltdown in the streets of Rome. He refuses to pay the full fare for a cab ride back to his hotel and gets into a fight with all of these Italian cab drivers, who drag him to a local police station. Dick is o drunk that he swings at a police officer and gets the crap beaten out of him before being hurled into a jail cell. I do not feel a ton of sympathy for Dick’s privileged behavior, so reading that passage was cathartic.
The final book I read in this set was The Last Tycoon. Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel is about the tragic life of Hollywood movie executive Monroe Stahr, who runs his film studio like a 19th century railroad tycoon while culture and politics threaten to change it forever. Stahr also tries to have a relationship with a woman who reminds him of his dead wife, but later discovers it is doomed to fail even though he can’t stop loving this woman. Fitzgerald tries to recapture the magic of The Great Gatsby in this novel, which made me sad knowing that he never got the chance to finish what could have been another great novel depicting an important part of history that influenced American life and culture. My copy of the book has a section at the end that includes all of Fitzgerald’s notes, outlines, and letters to editors showing what he had planned, which added to my enjoyment because I got to read his writing process and rationale behind the story.
Although I was disappointed by two of the four books, I’m still glad I made the time to read these novels. I believe I learned more about a classic American author and his works and developed a greater appreciation for his style.
2012 was a memorable year for me. It was the year I graduated from Cal State East Bay with a BA in English with an option in Creative Writing and it was the year when the world was supposed to end. However, according to the Mayans, the world wasn’t going to “end,” but instead go through a tremendous change. This change made itself apparent when Ray Bradbury passed away. I had recently published my first short story “The Rest Area,” and felt like I had taken the first step into a large and wonderful world. I was sad to hear of Bradbury’s passing, but I was also inspired to continue writing to honor his legacy by contributing to the world of speculative fiction.
Bradbury may be gone, but his vibrant prose and imaginative stories continue to inspire others and spur lively discussions on the nature of his work. Gabrielle Bellot, a staff writer for the Literary Hub, recently posted essay on how Bradbury’s optimism and pessimism go hand-in-hand throughout his stories. You can read her essay and other cool literary discussions here: http://lithub.com/on-the-dark-wondrous-optimism-of-ray-bradbury/
I attended CSU East Bay between 2010-2012 for my major in English with an option in creative writing. One of my favorite professors and writing mentors was Steve Gutierrez, who is a wonderful human being and a great creative writing teacher. I remember sitting in a circle with other classmates during his class in the Spring of 2012. We were taking turns reading our short fiction assignment and giving each other feedback. One of my classmates read her work aloud and then admitted that her “fiction” was actually a true story. She was afraid of “lying” to her readers. Steve smiled and said that all writers are professional liars. He then looked up at the rest of the class, smiled mischievously, and said “let’s hear our next liar.” Steve inspired me to improve as a fiction writer, exposed me to the wonderful world of Russian literature, and shook my hand when I told him about publishing my very first short story in an online journal.
Steve continues to write and recently published a deeply personal and moving confessional about his life as a man, as a writer, and the many flaws and joys of being human.