Attention Public: This is the Last Post Until April 2014

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Dear America,

There comes a time in every bloggers’ experience when their lives get busy. No, I’m not quitting blogging, as it’s been great practice for my writing. And usually posting once a week is not that demanding. But I got a busy schedule in the next month and I think I’ll take a blogging break. A lot of blogs simply stop leaving a void with their readers. So I thought I’d let everyone know that I’m going to take a break for a few months. I definitely don’t want to stop blogging forever, so I’ll make it a priority to restart in April.

My main reason is that I’m moving apartments. I’m moving to Rockaway Beach, and I’ll be able to walk to work. I’m horrible at moving, and I’ve lived at the same place for over seven years. I got to organize for the move. I am going to pay for movers, so at least I won’t have to rent a truck and so forth. But I need to clean like crazy, toss a lot of crap out, and get everything ready for the movers. Once moved I’ll need to evaluate what I need at my new apartment, and my sister told me she would help with that.

I’m excited about my move, but I need to focus to do the transition well. Moving will take time and planning. Also with a little healthy obsessing maybe I’ll come up with cool ideas for my apartment. I’m sure everything with the move will come out fine, but right now I should focus on the move, and not worry about posting blogs. Overall I’m really excited about moving down in the Rockaways, and I’m sure it will be a positive change in my life. I also scored a rad apartment on a seventh floor with views of the ocean and bay.

My second reason for taking a blogging break is that I’m plowing through the process of typing up my novel. I’ve typed 38 chapters out of 64 chapters. In the next few weeks if I type a chapter most nights I can complete it soon. I think typing it all out so I can actually revise my work is a priority right now with my writing. I’ll feel a relief when it’s all typed, and not just a notebook filled with my horrible chicken scratch handwriting. So with my spare time I should type up chapters and not blog entries.

I blog on my own time without getting paid for it so really I don’t need to give reasons for taking a break. But I appreciate my family, friends, and people I don’t know that read my blog, and wanted to make it clear that mallisonwhat will be back!

Never die!

Matt Allison

(Special Originator of mallisonwhat nonentity.)

’77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Regected…’ an Informative Book On the Publishing Process

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photo-72Over about a month I read the book 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected: and How to be sure it won’t happen again by Mike Nappa. I read a few chapters here and there taking my time with it. I don’t think it’s necessary to memorize the various reasons but to take away from this book a lot of little tidbits about the book industry. After reading this book my knowledge of the publishing process is much better.

Mike Nappa has kind of a pessimistic tone, but sometimes a bitter food is easier to swallow if you’re told it’s bitter before hand. If you want the information sugar coated look to another writing book, but the fact is by percentages successfully getting published is a difficult thing to accomplish.

Early on the author states one reason for rejection is the writing is lousy. He makes a good point that everyone who attempts writing thinks they can get published. Nappa states that if someone in adult life picks up a sport in a short period they have no delusions of going pro. Writing is a craft that takes time to cultivate. However since anyone literate can write to some degree a lot of submissions agents and publishers get probably are below the standards. I still have some of my writing from college and my early twenties. If I finished that novel attempt in college, there is no way I could have gotten that published. But over a decade now of pursuing writing I have improved. I take this rejection reason as maybe I’ve put more time in than a lot of new writers, and that’s good.

Nappa’s book also opened up my eyes to how a writer needs to be ready when they submit to an agent or publisher. I imagined that if an agent or publisher accepted a manuscript they did the back work, and the writer simply gets a check. In reality it’s a process, and the more research the author does the better that author stands. A target audience is not a vague thing. The author needs to articulate who could potential buy the book to an exact number if possible. So for my novel draft I’d have to say there are two million adult skaters in the United States. Also fifty percent of adults in the United States watch or read porn (I made this up.) Therefore my target audience of skateboarders obsessed with porn may have a million potential readers in this country alone. My guess is I need to work on better logic for my potential target audience.

On a similar note, the author has to have a clue how to promote his or her own book. Things like what authors, magazines, or celebrities should advance copies be sent. What organizations or companies would market the book? What famous books are comparable? What sets this book apart from others in the genre? Basically I learned from this book 77 Reasons… that getting a book published is not solely from the merit of the work, but a business approach is necessary by the author.

Also, I’ve been on the fence about self-publishing as I read a few books recently I liked that went that route. This book strongly suggests not to self publish, and too much self-publishing can hurt future chances at publication.  I’m going to do that with my current draft. I’ll get it ready to send out to agents after I make it my best. But after maybe twenty rejections I’ll put this novel in a drawer and move on. The best thing I learned from finishing my first draft is that I can write more, and this is not my only novel idea by any means.

Late in the book, the author breaks down some the cash advances for publishing.  Apparently ten grand is a really good advance for a debut author. The advance is based on the projection that it sells at least a certain number of copies. If I was able to sell my book, and I got ten grand my life would not change much. The author, Nappa, goes even further that in most cases the advance is the only money the author receives unless it becomes successful, and the odds are it won’t be successful.  Even though I want fame and fortune, I have to realize that’s not a true incentive to writing. More than likely I’ll need my day job as a librarian even if I’m lucky enough to get published.

In the afterward to 77 Reasons the author does say he was pessimistic with this book to be truthful, but for those writers with a drive will persevere regardless of all the doubters.

5 Random Thoughts I’ve Had This Week

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1779273_10151949217721915_1049200951_nInstead of taking the time to choose a blog topic, develop my idea in an article format, and attempt a near publishable piece I’m going to take the easy route in tonight’s blog. Shorter is better, and sound bites trump a full interview 9.9 times out of ten. So here are 5 (the blogisphere loves stupid lists) random thoughts I’ve had this week. Remember it’s all about me, and dear reader I’m not sure what you’ll gain from this post.

1. –After around two weeks of not skateboarding, I start having vivid dreams of skateboarding. It’s always sunny, and I’m always amped in these dreams. The riding in these dreams is smooth, effortless, and more like floating than actual skateboarding. Yet at some point I notice something wrong. I pick up the skateboard and I can twist the deck around like a wet towel. Or the deck is an empty pizza box, or hundreds of wet spaghetti noodles tied together. What can it mean that the skateboards in my dreams are not the standard street shapes of the actual skateboards I ride?

I have no clue other than skateboarding is on my mind. I had one of these dreams Saturday night, and skated unusually well on Sunday considering time off from winter blues. If you dream it, even in an abstract way, you should do it!

2.–Usually I’m cold hearted when celebrities die or especially OD. But I was truly surprised by Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death because most of the movies I’ve seen with his acting in it impressed me. Apparently he had drug issues twenty years ago, and obviously it came back to him. So since his death I’ve thought about drugs.  Even though I think people make their own decisions and drugs should be legal I’ve given myself guidelines. I never did heroin, cocaine, meth, or any of the hard stuff.  I’ve always stood firm on what I would not do. I think the world of alcohol and marijuana is really the only inebriation needed by humans. I advise everyone to avoid the hard stuff. That said nothing should be consumed daily, if you do any drugs daily or in excess that is a problem. Lastly on this I believe that most who used drugs can overcome their addictions before it’s too late, read Life by Keith Richards for his interesting take on addiction.

3.– One commercial on the Super bowl had a grizzly bear behind a coffee shop counter. Recently I’ve seen commercials with giant sized babies. There no longer seems to be a connection to the image on a commercial and the product being sold.  Growing up in the 1990’s there were a lot of people that did acid. Now they are all at an age were they work full time. I gander to say a lot of the acid heads of the 1990’s now work in advertising.

dry ice4.– For a genre workshop a few years ago I read a book called Dry Ice by Bill Evans. The premise is that a multi billion corporation and the United States government control the weather. So if they want to get rid of a dictator an earthquake swallows up that dictator’s compound. I enjoyed this book. New York City has had a mostly cold winter. I’m okay with making the weather for Super Bowl Sunday 50 degrees because I could skate and therefore personally benefitted from the warmth. But did they really have to turn the cold switch back on to give us even more snow?

5.– I had a junk food relapse today, with not one but two sodas consumed. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’ll start this diet. I want to eat less meat, and I decided on limiting myself to only three meat meals a week. One will be beef, one chicken or pork, and the last fish. That is much better than meat for both lunch and dinner every day. My sister said that my almost 3-year-old nephew gravitates toward chicken nuggets, and junk food. My sister did not say this, and I thought of this later, but maybe it is childlike of me to still eat so much junk food. It’s time to man-up and put a priority on what I eat. Other than limiting meat, I’m going to try for three fruits a day, and more vegetables. I also plan to get a few nutrition, cooking, and general health books from my library system.

Perhaps the reader learned something from these random thoughts, if nothing else that I’m a good daydreamer!

‘The Wolf on Wall Street’ is Thought Provoking If You Let It Be

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On high quality journalist websites like msn and yahoo I started to see a few weeks ago write ups of Scorsese’s new film ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ I saw highlighted in the headliners words like controversial and excess.  For me I decided I had to see it. In a country where everything is out in the open I thought how can anything be controversial.  One of my older facebook friends posted that he and his wife walked out within thirty minutes because of the excess and gluttony. After watching it on my vacation I do agree it is pushing some boundaries and years ago it might have gotten that weird NC-17 rating. In this entry instead of a straightforward review I’m going to explain a few reasons why it’s pissing people off, but also why it’s a good freaking film.

In 2014 everyone gets a hug, and differences in people are accepted more than ever before.  Overall I think the politically correct environment is a positive thing. People should not have to be subjected to bullying and abusive talk from his or her peers. A lot of people reminisce about the late 1980’s as if it was a good time. Granted I was in middle school, and perhaps at an awkward age anyway, but people were jerks to each other. I remember being with groups of kids my age at the mall, and all the group would do was make fun of people walking by for the way they looked. To me there was a mentality to gang up on the weak. Watching ‘The Wolf on Wall Street’ I think it was the whole time period, not just my middle school in Baltimore County.

To me the honesty of how cutthroat the 1980’s were is hard to accept with today’s expectations of how people treat each other. An interesting parallel to this movie would be how the Wall Street dudes that cashed in before the 2008 crash acted in their excess. My guess the Wall Street dudes of the 2000’s had their drugs and whores behind closed doors, and not while on the clock.  In the 2000’s and today every firm has a sexual harassment policy. That’s a good thing, and I think this movie showing workers without boundaries acting like animals is so far from today’s work environment.

People were prejudice and inclusive in the 1980’s. In the eighth grade someone asked our history teacher if the United States was ready for a black president, the teacher said no.  Twenty odd years our society has improved, enough people are tolerant to judge people on the individual, not on race or gender. In the 1990’s as a teenager my friends and I kind of joked about the politically correct stuff that was suddenly big in our schools. Improvement was made on a huge level the 1990’s, after the Rodney King riots. Education reformers and others made that push because things did get ridiculous.  So that’s why in the scene in ‘The Wolf on Wall Street’ where they have a business meeting to discuss throwing midgets at a bulls eye target as if the midgets were animals the viewer kind of cringes. Also early on when they shave a woman’s head in front of the whole office giving her ten thousand dollars it comes off as an ugly bullying by today’s standards.

My other big reason that this movie is pissing people off is it’s about Wall Street. These bandits led by Leonardo Dicaprio’s character are not concerned about their client’s financial future, but only with their commission. The Dicaprio character (I don’t think the character names even really matter in this film) likes drugs, whores, and excess. Since the 2008 Wall Street crash, a lot of people really don’t like the idea of greed in the finance sector.  They have no morals, and depleted a lot of savings accounts to fuel their egos. I know everyone now is supposed to hate the one percent in this country.  Everyone agrees the economic inequality is horrendous and everyone should be able to have a decent living. I agree that that in general the poverty rate is too high when it hovers nationwide about twenty percent. But I don’t agree that it’s the fault of all rich people.  Everyone points at finance people as rich people. But there are athletes, entertainers, writers, lawyers, doctors, and all sorts of people that fall into that one percent. A lot of them made it from being skilled and good at what they do. Hopefully one day I’ll sell a book and be rich too.  The dreams of excess and being rich are engrained in the American dream. There is nothing wrong about fantasizing about being on a yacht with all your friends and thirty beautiful whores. That’s why I think people should chill out with not liking this movie for the excess. Why not let people fantasize a little bit. And even though we all supposedly hate the one percent right now, we all really want to be in that one percent at the same time.

Overall, I recommend ‘The Wolf on Wall Street,’ even though it may not make the viewer feel warm and fuzzy. A long time ago I read Requiem for a Dream and it gave me a perspective. I will never do heroin but was gripped by the story, and that story stayed with me.  Same for this movie ‘The Wolf on Wall Street,’ I’ve never done cocaine, queloids, and several other things in this film. After viewing it I was not happy or ecstatic, but I’m still thinking about it a week later

Don’t Judge Any Physically Active Person, Especially Adults!

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People who spend time on the computer love rants. The more hostile, and mean spirited the better.  One proves his or her point through aggression. As long as the word count doesn’t go over 500 words, people want to visualize the writer foaming at the mouth. Here at mallisonwhat, I don’t rant and rage. Even though I’m a mellow dude, here is my attempt to squash any opinion that differs from my own.

I hate the American opinion that somehow adults have to be at a certain expert level in their chosen physical activity. When America has an obesity problem, I truly believe the underlining snarky judgment keeps some from playing sports. Being advanced athletically takes time, practice, and patience.  The majority of people that play sports are not even capable of playing at a professional level. Adults with careers, and varying responsibilities simply don’t have enough time to acquire a very advanced level.

The world regards professional athletes with a lot of respect because they are exceptional.  Some people are so distorted by watching pro quality sports that they don’t value the amateurs and hobbyists.  I love skateboarding as a fan and a participant, but I think a lot of my friends don’t understand my obsession with it. Since I’m not throwing myself down ten stair rails, blasting ten foot airs on vert, or even ollieing super high some don’t see the point.

If any inactive couch potato judged me for wasting my time skating, I believe that person is the problem. Judgmental pricks that think adults can only do exercise adequate for one’s age need to broaden their viewpoint.

People need to keep moving which is more possible if they became passionate about the activity they do. How many gym memberships go unused in this country? I’m happy for all the gym rats that are in phenomenal shape from their consistently planned out and executed workouts each week. Exercise for general fitness is a good thing and something I myself should do more of. But humans are not cookie cutter as far as what motivates or intrigues them. I skateboarded as a kid, and enjoy it as an adult. I think most adults could go back to their childhood activities. Most cities have soccer, softball, and basketball leagues. Yoga is a popular activity too.  With running one can try to beat their best times every weekend. There are limitless choices for sports, and every person could find at least one.

My driving home point with this rant is that being active in sports benefits people of all ages. Sports as opposed to general fitness are dynamic because one can progress. With skating, I can always try to do the tricks I know better or differently, and there are endless amounts of tricks to tinker with. Getting better at one’s chosen sport is a great life motivator and builds confidence. So for people who judge adults participating in sports stop being jealous and get in the game, any game.

 

Great Screening of Short Film ‘Ten Men Talk New York.’

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(Here is the link to buy this film for 5 bucks, http://simonjheath.vhx.tv/ )

On January 10th Simon Heath privately screened his new documentary ‘Ten Men Talk New York.’  Joseph Grazi hosted the event at the Norword on West 14th street. I never been to the Norword before, but the private club has the interior of a mid 19th century mansion according to their website. There are five floors and multiple rooms with a bar on each floor. All over the club there is artistic flare that to me gave the appearance of decadence. I mean that in a good way. Getting there a little early I saw more and more of the NYC skate community come in for the film.

While standing in line for my second thirteen-dollar amoretto sour someone announced the film would start and those watching should go up to the fifth floor. Skipping the drink I went to the screening room. I got a seat but it ended up being standing room only. Rick Sulz from NY Skateboarding, Ray Llanos from skate chronicles, and the young skater who does clips for Vice was there. I saw a lot of more familiar faces too, and the room was loud before the film started.

Simon’s film interviews these ten men: Alex Corporan, Clayton Patterson, Erick Colon, Ernesto Sutton, JF Vergel, JR Cronheim, Jim Moore, Keith Masco, Sam Parks, Michael Houghton, Gizmo Collado and Peter Pabon. I know the director Simon Heath through skateboarding.  Of the people interviewed I know Alex Corporan, Erick Colon, Ernesto Sutton, JR Cronheim, Jim Moore, Sam Parks, Gizmo Collado, and Peter Pabon all through skateboarding. They talk of love, sex, death, old New York, new New York, and more.

I enjoyed this film, and seeing my friends talk on screen was cool. For each of the skaters I know I could envision longer interviews, and they all have more stories. Big Jim has a lot of stories about skating the LES in the eighties, and skate sponsorship back then. JR and Gizzy could be comedians if they chose to be. Erick is funny as hell too. Peter is an accomplished photographer. Ernesto is charismatic and cool. Alex does so much for NYC skating, and welcomes people in. Sam gives me dating advice regularly, and is super fun to skate with. Seeing this film confirmed to me that I’m lucky to be part of the Old Bastards NYC skate crew.

All the interviewees I do not know made interesting points. They are Clayton Patterson, JF Vergel, Keith Masco, and Michael Houghton. They diversified the participants making the film work. Without spoiling too much Clayton Patterson stated a problem with NYC today is people because of rent spend more time working than time on their creative pursuits, and up until the 1990’s creative people could do their own thing in this city. After the screening there were some positively crafted questions that immediately conveyed to me the film was well received.

A few nights after the opening I talked to Simon who was happy with the screening and he felt it resonated with the audience. Simon’s main goal was to highlight the interviewees voice and he respects all of them.  Simon also said about his film, “it prompts discussion, afterwards people wanted to debate their opinion.” I have to agree. Right after the screening I was sitting with JR Conheim and our friend Jacob Koehler. We talked about Mr. Patterson’s statement about creative people can’t be creative because you need a career to live here. JR told me he has friends in Philadelphia who can skate or work on their art a lot more hours per week because of cheap rent. I enjoyed myself at the screening and would have stayed longer if I didn’t have work the next day. If you ever get an invite to something at the Norword, you should definitely accept that invite and go.

I bought the film on Simon’s site for five dollars. I watched it twice now and I believe it does merit multiple viewings. Simon also said his goal is to get many people to watch it so the ten men can have their voices heard.

On January 23rd, next Thursday there is public screening of the film ‘Ten Men Talk New York’ at ArtNow Gallery on 528 West 28th street at 7 pm. Hope to see you there!

(Again, here’s the link to buy the film. http://simonjheath.vhx.tv/ )

The First Draft Done, and Chapter Headings Art a Success!

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the end

303540 4243454649505152535455565758596061626364I’m glad to announce that I’ve completed the first draft of my novel. Again, I think this article from writer’s digest helped me immensely. Here’s the link:  http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/5-simple-steps-to-a-first-draft . Instead of 90 days I completed it within a 4-month period. Each chapter was written in one sitting and most of the time I wrote in the evenings.  There are a total of 64 chapters. Since I wrote no more than a chapter a day, it’s easy to see that over a 120 day period I averaged writing at least every other night.

Blogging once a week for four years, probably helped me set up a routine like this. I’m convinced that is the secret of writing long works, the more regular the better. I don’t think I’ve ever written so regularly over an extended period like this. I’m 36 and I have been an aspiring writer since I was a college student, but this is my first time completing a novel. And the great thing is I’m confident I can do more.

If my skateboard dystopian erotic exploitation novel is not marketable I can go back to the drawing board and think of something else. The Writer’s Digest article digest suggestion to plow through it, and allow the first draft to be not your best writing is essential.  On at least two previous novel attempts I wrote up about 50 to 100 pages, then decided to type it up and revise it.  Soon after very rushed revisions I sent it to friends for their opinion. After a few weeks the fire was gone, and quickly months past then longer with no additional work on those novel attempts. So plowing through it with self-imposed deadlines worked this time round.

Today I typed up the first chapter, and it was not torture. So I think taking the time to handwrite it helped my creative process, and typing it up will be easy enough. But if I did the first draft typing I would be too tempted to revise it before finishing it.  With writing, there is something unique, that people can use a lot of different techniques in their process. But what matters is the end product that you submit for publication or self publish. What matters is what you give people to read.  Some people do a few revisions, and some do hundreds of revisions. Finding a technique that worked for me is the reason I completed the first draft. Now I’m going to try to revise it as best I can before I show people. I don’t want to simply type it up hastily and email twenty of my closest friends and family before it’s the best I can make it.  Several years ago I would do very little for revision. For this work I want to go through at least 5 major drafts, and then read the whole thing out loud to myself before I share it. At this point this is too much a part of me to be sloppy with it, and in the past I’ve sent people sloppy writing.

Lastly, while I wrote out the first draft, I got into drawing chapter headings at the beginning of each chapter. If the chapter heading was in the middle of a page, I gave it two college ruled lines. When the chapter heading was at the top of the page, I could make the art larger. About half way through on chapter 30, I shared the art on instagram and facebook. To my delight I got lots of positive feedback from friends on the social media sites. Several people said they want to read my novel.  Sharing these chapter headings turned to a fun way to motivate myself from the positive feedback from my friends. I posted all the chapter headings art on this post, on the thumbnails click on an individual picture to make it larger if any catch your eye!

I don’t know how long the process will take to get my novel ready to share, but I know at some point I will try for publication. I even got my pen name ready!