Six Hundred Sixty Six Bottles of Blood on the Wall: The Loop
Usually I only lie to my students, my parents, girls and myself, but last week I lied to you readers and I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me.
Last week I said that my biggest sin as a writer was being too repetitive. That was a lie, and I’m sorry.
But it was pretty close to the truth.
When I’m actually sitting down, at my keyboard and mashing the keys into what occasionally resembles a story, repetition (if you don’t include swearing too much) is by far my worst sin.
But I identify myself as a writer even when I’m not writing and a writer not writing is the worst sin a so called writer commits.
Don’t look all innocent. You do it, I know you do. You’re reading this now, aren’t you? Yeah and I’m writing it. Neither one of us is working on our stories now are we? The crow calling the raven black.
But it’s okay to take a break right?
Honest answer: not really. And before you ask or point a finger, I’ll openly admit that I’m a hypocrite.
Reading about and talking about writing, while it can be therapeutic and beneficial still isn’t actually writing. Simple as that. And here I am, yelling at you while I’m writing about writing. That probably makes me king of the hypocrites. I’m cool with that, been called a lot worse, by a student, in a full classroom. I thought it was funny.
I lied about my biggest sin, but I’m not lying now. Wanting to write, overbrainstorming, reading about and talking about writing, isn’t writing. The only time you are writing is when you are sitting there writing.
Sounds simple right? It is, but few people get it.
I have two jobs. Between those two jobs I work well over 40, hell, probably 60 hours a week. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m also single with a minimal commute, and zero commitments. Forget all the girls who will be blowing up my phone as they read this, but go with me here please.
If Stephen King saw the life I live at my age and my WANTING to be a writer compared to what he’d been through to get there, he’d beat the snot out of me.
And he should. He wrote on a typewriter and didn’t even have a phone.
I work my butt off for what I have and my passion has yet to pay for it, but it will.
Most people in my life let it go when I say “I’m not writing today” or “I tried but it wasn’t happening.” And I understand why they do, but they shouldn’t. Name another job out there that you can just punch out and head home “because you weren’t feeling it.” Usually making this decision after about 10 minutes. Not cool bro.
I think my editor and my mom are catching on but they should be pushing me even harder than they already are. They will probably both read this, and I hope they both hit me harder.
But it’s hard enough already for me to put the books down and start writing my own stories. Don’t get me started on email and Facebook and everything else.
I use both as a writer and I use them well, but, I sure let them use me too.
I call them The Loop. Have you ever experienced The Loop? The Loop is ebola. It will eat you alive.
Let me define The Loop.
You’re a writer. You write. Congrats, have a cookie. You keep writing. You reread your stories. You don’t think they are that bad. You edit them and then, finally you take the plunge. You submit them. Congratulations! Good luck!
You get a truckload of rejections. Don’t take it personally; check the blog from the last two weeks for some insight.
Fast forward a couple months or a year and finally, God or editors or both must be drunk or the broken clock of your writing skills finally hit the right time because you finally sold your first story. Congratulations again! This truly is a milestone and you deserve to enjoy it.
A couple months after that, you’ve sold 4 or 5 more. You are starting to make friends. You are starting to understand the business and the craft. Reading stories isn’t the same anymore. You are selling almost everything you write. Maybe you’ve even started your own Facebook or Twitter page. Hell, even both. I have. Check ‘em out. (@kerrylipp and new world horror – Kerry G.S. Lipp on Facebook)
And let me tell you, you are teasing the shark. Daring him to bite your face off and chew it and savor it in front of your dying eyes.
The hungry shark is unapologetic. So is The Loop.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the power of social media, it can benefit you greatly, but it can also tape your eyeballs open and tie you to a chair and make you watch while it murders your free time. The power of social media can destroy you.
This is what happened to me and I hope it hasn’t happened to you. I’m fighting my way through, but if you can avoid this, do it at all costs.
I fell into The Loop.
The Loop is the social media that you access. And since we live in such a here and now time, without moderation, The Loop will eat you alive.
I’ve probably told you this already, but I’ve got about 10 stories circulating right now. I could hear back from any of them with acceptance or rejection at any point in time. And in my experience, I’ve received rejections and acceptances round the clock.
Guess what that means?
I’m weak and I check my email every ten minutes. This is not okay. If I’m reading a book, every couple pages, grab phone, open email, check. I even check my spam folder with my heart in my throat even though it’s almost always pills of some sort. (I would’ve just said dick pills, but my mom’s been reading these) I’m gonna go gray before I hit 30 (10 months) like this. Don’t do it.
I do it when I write too, which is unforgivable.
Oh wow, I’m in a groove, I just wrote an awesome scene, and instead of using that momentum to drive the next scene, let me pause and check my email to see if anyone told me that my last story sucked. Or rarely, that it is good enough to find a home in their book.
The Loop isn’t just your email. If you’re anything like me, and I swear to God I’ll break this habit in the next month, you post about your writing to Facebook. Good for you. You should. Post it and move on.
Oh….what? You want to know what people think about it? Fine. You better check. Nothing? Ok. While you were checking that maybe you got an email? Nope. Ok, maybe someone Tweeted you? Nope. It’s been almost a minute, let’s head back to Facebook and start again.
This is The Loop and it’s a curse. It’s a distraction that will eat hours of your reading and writing time.
Social media is so fluid and updates so fast that you can literally get something up to the second. Avoid this notion at all costs. This is the trap that I’ve fallen into and it doesn’t affect just my writing time, but everything else. Your likes and comments and responses will be there when you get a chance to check them. Don’t build your life around it. This is something that’s hurt me for a long time and I’ve finally realized it and I’m fighting it. I hope it doesn’t happen to you.
But it happened to me and I wanted to let you know that if it’s happening to you, you’re not alone. We have to break the cycle. Murder The Loop.
Notice I haven’t even mentioned my own dealings with my newly created fan page. Nor have I touched on the conversations solely via Facebook message that I have with my web designer and my editor. Sometimes they go on for hours. No disrespect to either of them and I LOVE talking to them, and they help me so much, but talking about writing isn’t writing.
It feels good. I won’t lie. There is nothing better than talking about one of your stories to someone who likes it. God, that’s a great feeling. Hopeful and validating, but the more time you spend talking the less time you spend writing another one.
I’m not stupid, this blog, my editor, my shockingly up to 22 fans and my web designer all want interaction and I WANT THEM TO WANT IT. And all of those people are important to me. I don’t want to come off as arrogant or a prude and I want to build a relationship with readers and the tech age we live in provides the perfect avenues to do so.
But have to keep it in check.
I need to get over checking my email and talking too much about writing when I should be writing. You might need that piece of advice too.
Any ideas on shattering that pesky Loop are welcome. Send ideas to [email protected]. And we’ll see what we can do. Thank you!
Have a great weekend and limit you’re social media time Saturday and Sunday. See what happens. I’m going to…
Keep reading, keep writing and keep it real,
- About the Author
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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.