First off, I want to thank everyone who submitted a drabble. Confirmation emails have been sent out. Stu and I are excited to read them over the weekend and hopefully we’ll have the results by next Saturday. This is, however, the writing industry, and while I don’t anticipate any hiccups, I’ve been doing this long enough to realize that Murphy’s Law has its sniper scope permanently on publishing. Thanks for your interest.

We might even do this again? Probably.

Today I want to talk about something that bugs me. I understand it to a degree, but I also understand the ways to eradicate the argument. Here it is.

Quite often people say they want to be writers but they don’t read or write. I used to be one of these people. That pisses me off. You ask them why they don’t and the answer is always the same. “I don’t have time.” I hear you, I really do, but I don’t believe that shit.

Get over it. I know people are busy, we all are, we all have lives, families, friends, jobs, commitments, hobbies etc. Dividing your time up with everything surrounding you fighting for your attention is borderline impossible, I get that. The writing is on your own time, I can’t help you much with that, although I can tell you that Stu, the guy who runs HorrorTree, (in case you’re wondering who this mysterious “Stu” I keep referring to is) writes on his cell phone while commuting home from work. That’s hardcore. Not while he’s driving. Dude is busier than anyone I know and still finds time to produce. That is cool. Follow his example.

But this isn’t about writing time, this is about reading time. As SK says in On Writing, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write,” or something along those lines. I’d look it up, but I’m up against a deadline.

I’m going to offer you alternatives. The answer is audio. We live in an amazing age. Audio books and podcasts, while very easy to get a hold of, are still NOWHERE near as ubiquitous as they should be. Most of you have a smart phone or an ipod or both. With those tools, you are literally exposed to an infinite amount of information.

If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, give it a try. It may sound weird, or intimidating or boring. It’s not and it gives you a chance to read when reading isn’t an option. Just don’t listen to them in bed, that’s unfair to the book.

On top of teaching, I work a labor job, close to 40 hours a week. Sometimes that job involves me alone, in a room cleaning different machines for 8-10 hours. I’d be in a rubber room after a few months if it wasn’t for audiobooks.

At first, like everyone else, I just listened to music. And it was cool. But how many times can you listen to the same fucking songs? I LOVE metal and still do but I can’t do any kind of music 40 hours a week every week for months into years. That’s psycho shit. And don’t get me started on the crap they play on the radio. Same 20 songs over and over and over.

I took a chance and finally checked out audiobooks. I fell in love. I urge you to try them if you haven’t, and if you tried them and hated them, try them again, maybe a different title.

With this job I had, 8 hours or so a night I got through King’s entire Dark Tower series in 2.5 months. Maybe less, it was a while ago, I can’t remember. Same thing with Harry Potter. And hanging my head, yes, even the Twilight series. Don’t look at me like that, I try to read widely. Side note I quit after the third book and full disclosure, didn’t mind the first one at all.

I was so nuts about audiobooks that I’d actually get excited about going to work. I remember clocking in early when 11/22/63 came out and working while listening to the Joe Ledger series by Jonathon Maberry got me as excited and working hard as any metal song would have. And listening to books by James Patterson? Man, the way those are produced it’s like listening to a fucking movie. Check it out.

These audiobooks had me reading at least double the amount of books I read per year. It also led me to books that I would’ve never read on my own simply because they were easy to find in audio form. This led me to discovering The 50th Law, The Hunger Games (way before anyone else) and even 50 Shades. And I did it all while I was working! I got paid to read. And I did a better job and was in a better mood for it. Win for me, win for my employer. Fuck yeah! I realize that this isn’t an option for a lot of people, but if it is for you, turn off the music and check out the audiobooks! It will change your life.

Recently, I’ve been moved out of that isolated area. I have to talk to people now. It’s a real fucking bummer. But I can still listen to my headphones in short bursts. I discovered that an audio novel is possible, but it’s frustrating having to start and stop and only getting through an hour or two of a 40 hour book per night.

I needed to find an alternative.

Enter podcasts.

If you’ve never checked out a podcast, get off your ass and do it. A majority of them run close to an hour. Perfect for listening in short bursts while exercising, driving, cleaning, whenever. They are free. At least most of them are. The ones I listen to are free. And guess what? They have podcasts out there dedicated to the craft of writing. Check out Writing Excuses or my favorite, the Self-Publishing Podcast. Those three guys are not only hysterical, but they offer a lot of valuable information about the craft of writing and marketing and everything in between. As I’m preparing my own collection for self-publication, I’m reaping the benefits of the free information they share with me and laughing my ass off while I do so.

If horror fiction is more your thing, there are several horror fiction podcasts. Most of these podcasts will give you a short story or two a week. Perfect. Not only do you get to enjoy a story which is usually pretty good, but at the same time you are also *gasp* reading the market! You can get a feel for what they accept and maybe, just maybe you can send in a story and instead of print, hear a professional voice actor reading your story for tens of thousands of people. Holy shit. Let that sink in.

I’ll take it a step farther (further? I’m an English teacher and I don’t know the difference. Who cares?) Usually these podcasts use current stories, stuff from the last few years, and you’ll run into some big names like Joe Landsdale, Tim Waggoner and Laird Barron. Sometimes you’ll run into completely unknown names who blow you away.

THIS IS WHO YOU WANT TO BE. Unless you’re a big name reading this. In that case thank you for the stories!

And sometimes, they’ll read classics. Short horror tales written one, maybe even two hundred years ago. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t care much for the classics. I know I should blah blah blah, but I’m a much more here and now kind of person. However, when these old stories are part of the podcast for the week and this is what I’ve got, I listen and learn and enjoy. It’s a cool way to expose a young gun to the old school. Give it a spin.

I don’t listen to all of them all the time, but here are my favorite horror fiction podcasts: Tales to Terrify, Pseudopod, Nightmare Magazine, and Dark Dreams. I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I’ve discovered thus far. All quality audio with quality stories. Check ‘em out. Listen, and if you got something that fits, submit.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m still pretty green when it comes to podcasts, but I see the potential. I’ve you got any podcasts, fiction or otherwise that you think I should check out, drop me a line over at [email protected] I love trying new things, that’s why I have so many ex-girlfriends.

PS: someone inquired as to how it was going with the waitress I wrote about in the rejection blog a couple weeks ago. The answer is: not good. But as with publishing, sometimes you get it direct and blunt and to your face and sometimes they make you wait and bleed to death.

Laugh, learn and move on. Only way to play this crazy game we call life.

Keep reading, keep writing, and keep it real,

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About Kerry Lipp

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.

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