Hi. My name is Kerry Lipp I’m a nerdish ladies man and I write mostly horror under the name Kerry G.S. Lipp. Nice to meet you. HorrorTree is extending its branches and roots and on top of the awesome job they already do of showcasing all of the open horror markets they are introducing a few columns on writing. I volunteered the split second I realized this opportunity and here I am. I hope I can stick around for a while.
I don’t want to bore you with personal details, I’m sure enough of those will come out in future blogs, but I’ll give you a little bit of background and how I came to the point I’m at now, taking writing seriously. Calling it my third job, I’m that serious about it.
In 2008 I graduated from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio with a master’s degree in English Literature. I spent all of my electives taking creative writing courses and was fortunate to study under author Brady Allen. His first collection, “Back Roads and Frontal Lobes” just came out and it is well worth your time. Check him out.
Anyway, I wrote some decent stories in those days, but it wasn’t really because I wanted to. It was because I had to. I wanted to graduate and my favorite electives were creative writing. In the three years after my graduation, without the grade gun to my head, I wrote exactly 3 stories. Not so good for someone wanting to be a writer. I had to face a hard truth that I didn’t really WANT TO OR HAVE TO be a writer.
Now I feel that way. I both want to and have to write.
It was the reading that drove me to it. I read novel after novel, all types of genres and authors and finally one day in April of 2012, I was halfway through a novel (I won’t name names) and slammed it shut. Told myself I would start writing again then and there, and I did. Told myself that I wouldn’t read another novel until I published my first short story. Instead, I would limit myself to ONLY reading short stories. Reading the market is just about the best thing an aspiring writer can do, besides, you know, um actually effing write.
I didn’t quite keep my promise to myself, but I came pretty close. I hadn’t read a short story in years and I loved coming back to them. I bought every anthology and author collection I could get my hands on. This led to my discovery of collections by Joe Landsdale, Brian Keene, Elizabeth Massie, and Jeff Strand, as well as many others and some absolutely delightful anthologies.
I started writing again. My first good session was about 14 hours straight, on the front porch, killing an ipod battery and multiple laptop batteries, and damn near a case of beer. I wrote two stories in those 14 hours and after heavy revision, I’m happy to say that they will both find print in 2013. I found the markets to submit to on HorrorTree, and I can’t thank HorrorTree enough for what it does.
When I was fresh out of grad school, and this is probably a lie, but who knows; I could never find markets to send my work, it was discouraging. HorrorTree along with some validation from publishers actually buying my stories has thrown gas on the fire that almost flickered out over those three years. Now it’s burning hot and bright and I couldn’t be happier. In the last nine months I’ve written 25 stories, sold 7, and I’m waiting to hear back from about 10. And 3 or 4 are desperate need of chainsaw revision. This is an exciting time for me.
I still struggle though. My biggest hangup is that it’s still so hard for me to put the books down and start writing my own stories. I struggle with it all the time and I’m still more addicted to reading than I am for writing. Plus, my parents gave me a Kindle for Christmas. This did not help one bit. Great news for small press horror. Awful news for my free time and my bank account.
I know the reason. It’s easier to read than it is to write, plain and simple. The best advice I have to aspiring authors who really want to get serious, it to TRY, and damn it’s hard, to put the books down for an hour a day and start mashing on that keyboard. Don’t wait. You can do it. If books aren’t your vice, then dump the Xbox controller or the Pawn Stars marathon or whatever it is. You can free up at least an hour in your day. Do it.
Don’t know what to write? Start surfing HorrorTree. There’s all kinds of stuff here. Set yourself a couple deadlines. If an open themed antho is too overwhelming, pick a themed one, try something crazy. Have fun with it. Try and make yourself laugh, make yourself cry, or try and gross yourself out. It is possible!
With all of that said, I think that there are two non-fiction books every aspiring writer should read. There are probably more, but these are the two that have benefitted me the most and I preach them to everyone.
The first is exactly what you’d expect: “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. If you want to be a writer and haven’t read this book, I’m not convinced you want to be a writer. I think I’ve read the text version 3 times and listen to the audio version close to 20. It’s magic. I don’t agree with everything Mr. King says, but there is some killer stuff in there about process, setting goals, what to write and how to write it. There’s also a good deal in there about his quest to become a writer. He wasn’t always “the” Stephen King. He was a starving artist just like you, living in desperation while he honed his craft. Remembering that, and seeing that, and seeing that he didn’t just pop up out of nowhere is educational and inspirational. Buy the book. Read it. More than once.
The second is probably not at all what you’d expect but it sure is brilliant. The second book on my must read list for aspiring authors is “The 50th Law” by Robert Greene and 50 Cent. Yes, the rapper. This book is pure motivation and almost everything applies to writers. I’ve listened to the audio three times, and it’s changed my life every time. The two strongest chapters are about turning “shit into sugar” something every writer should be doing. And “confronting your mortality” something else every writer should be doing, but sadly isn’t. How many times have you told yourself “I’ll write it tomorrow?” or “I’ll write it after the game?” or whatever. The way mortality is presented in “The 50th Law” will have you blowing off everything in your life, except what you’re passionate about, and if you want to be a writer, this is good news for your word count.
Put the books down, but read these two before you start writing. It’ll help, I promise.
This is a new feature at the HorrorTree and I’m not exactly sure what it will lead to. I’ve got some ideas for posts and some things I’d like to write about include writing process, generating ideas, editing, discipline, submitting, getting accepted, getting rejected, making friends, marketing, and a million others. I’m also interested in what you want to read in the column. So let us know.
Keep reading, keep writing, and keep it real,
About the Author (Author Profile)
Kerry G.S. Lipp is a wannabe writer working hard to drop the wanna be part. He teaches English at a community college by evening and works as a civilian on a military base by night, and usually sleeps during the day. He’s not a big fan of the sun. His stories are currently available in the anthologies Lucha Gore and Under The Knife and several more will follow in 2013. His parents have started reading his stories and it appears that he is now out of the will. Follow him on Twitter @kerrylipp. You can read his short ‘Smoke’ at SNM Magazine.