So, you’ve been writing for how long exactly, and what got you started in the first place?
I started writing as a child because I was forever making up stories. I wrote pretty consistently through high school, then took a couple decades off. I grew up surrounded by books and was instilled with a love of classic literature from a very young age. I remember reading the Bantam Dual Language version of Canterbury Tales in first or second grade; Middle English on the left page, Modern English on the right. I always loved how poetic verse rolled off the tongue. That’s probably what landed me in poetry, though a lot of mine are designed to be more jarring than the classics.
What would you say is your primary fuel when in the midst of a writing project? For example, I thrive off of audiobooks and the sounds of thunderstorms. Do you have something that helps you get through slumps and over hurdles?
My primary writing fuel is music. I love almost all sorts and can never seem to write without it. I have noticed that the tone of the music bleeds into my writing, so I try to tailor my song list to my intended outcomes. I wrote to Miles Davis, Bauhaus, AWOL Nation, Vivaldi, Max Richter, Big Something, and Muddy Waters last week. The other thing I use to get over hurdles is beta readers. If I feel stuck on a line or a section of prose, I finish the piece as best I can and send it on. The feedback from good betas is invaluable and I couldn’t clean up my writing as well without it.
If you had a secret to writing that you were willing to share with someone starting out, what would it be?
Man, I wish I knew the secret to writing! All I can suggest is to write. A lot. Then write some more. Writing is like any other skill; it takes practice and study.I’m a binge writer because my muse is a bitch like that, so if I can’t write and I don’t have an abundance of editing, I read. I read books on writing and literary criticism. I pleasure read all genres and edit in my head as I go. I practice writing in different styles and I line edit my own work like crazy. Six or seven rounds is normal for me before it goes to an editor.
So, what is your preferred medium? Prose or poetry? And why?
Prose or poetry. I’ve been asking myself a lot lately which I prefer. They are so different, it’s akin to choosing ice cream or steak. I love the immediacy of poetry and it comes more naturally to me. However, it’s a raw form. There is no room for wasted words or even syllables. It’s also very personal when done with intent and leaves nothing to hide behind. Prose to me is a wonderful change from poetry to write. It has space and time to use all the words necessary to make a point or paint a scene and I love having characters to use as a buffer. But prose has its own difficulties as well. I require a lot more beta reading of my prose because I tend to carry over the brevity of poetry into my prose and have to pay attention to flesh things out as much as is really needed.
You have a book in the works, as I understand it; why not tell us a bit about it?
I do have a book in the works! It’s a dark poetry collection titled “Entropic Theory” and will be out May 27th from Stitched Smile Publications. It’s eighty-plus pages comprising over forty poems I wrote in the last year or so. The book is filled with a bit of everything, with themes of loss, depression, love, horror, relationships, nature, and darkness bleeding through. Some are rhyming poems, as I enjoy taking simple forms and using them to delve into deeper things, and others are free verse and experimental. There are horror poems (of course), as well as many of a more personal nature, with some lighter pieces every so often. One beta reader commented that it reads like a collection of really good Linkin Park lyrics. I like that, though that certainly wasn’t the intent. But, in terms of depth and tone, I think it might be fairly apt.
Now, as some may know, you are also an editor. Tell us how you happened upon this career path, if you could?
Yes, I am an editor. I never intended editing as a career path, but I have always been the guy everyone brings their papers to for clean up prior to submission. When I finished up my Masters in English, I honestly had no idea what to do with it. I saw a publisher looking for interns posted on the university job board and decided to give it a try. I absolutely love it! Now, I edit primarily horror, but have freelanced across the board, all the way to nonfiction. To be a part of the process for an author is a huge honor and I learn as much from them than they do from me, for sure.
As both an editor and an author/poet, what would say is something up-and-coming writers need to watch for when writing? What is a common error you experience with new authors?
As an editor, the main thing I see from newer authors is lack of editing on their part prior to submission. Remember, once that manuscript is sent, it is all the prospective publisher knows about you. By taking the time to properly prepare your manuscript, exactly as stipulated in the call, you are presenting yourself as a professional. I have seen terrific stories get passed over for publication because the writing required too much editing to go to print. Editing is expensive. Every hour the author spends refining a piece is two hours less an editor needs to spend editing it, sending it back, and then finalizing it. If, like me, you don’t just bleed clean copy, take the time to really tear into your piece and clean it up before you send it. Error-wise, the biggest things I see are tense shifts, head hopping, and contradictory information. As an editor, if the author describes something in the first chapter, I expect that description to carry through the story and I will notice a couple hundred pages later if the stairs on the right are now on the left. So will readers. As far as head hopping and tense shifts, all I can suggest is to pick a tense and write the entire piece in it and resist the urge to jump into different character’s bodies as a narrator. When you’re in third person omniscient just try to remember the narrator is separate from the story.
Without naming anyone, have you had some negative experiences as an editor or writer? Those can truly shape how we perceive our world in the publishing industry. Could you share with us what happened?
I have been so blessed in this industry. I honestly haven’t had many negative experiences. Sure, as an editor I’ve had more than my share of difficult authors, but I don’t always consider it a negative. As an author myself, I completely understand the feelings that come up when someone is bleeding red ink all over my baby. It took me time to understand that editors and beta readers are helping me, not judging me. Now, I’m thankful to have people who refuse to let me put out work that isn’t at its best. Also, I have my share of rejections as an author and poet, but none have been overly rude. I understand that I write in a very small genre and my style or voice may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so I don’t generally get offended.
Tell us of something exceptional that happened in the industry that changed you for the better, if you could.
My entire experience in this genre and community has been exceptional! I’ve been fortunate to work with Stitched Smile Publications and have become a better editor, poet, and author because of it. I’ve also been lucky enough to become friends with some authors and poets I really admire and to have some of them as my beta readers and editors (thanks, David Court and M.F. Wahl). I belong to several different writing and poetry groups and they have all been nothing but supportive and encouraging. Plus, the entire stable of poets and authors from Stitched Smile motivates, inspires, and teaches me every day. Man, I have it good!
So, what would you say is a challenge being a rising author in this industry?
The biggest challenge to me as an author is marketing. Like many creative people, and certainly many editors, reaching out to readers through any medium that isn’t my writing is very difficult. Both writers and editors tend to be fairly solitary in their pursuits and editors are used to being in the background, so it is unnatural to me to put myself, my name, and my work out there to convince readers to give it a try. But, this is a crowded field and marketing is a must, so I get on with it. It does no good being proud of the work you have done if no one knows how to find it. Also, my muse. My muse is a challenge; but aren’t they all?
A snip from the collected poetry of Lance Fling, Entropic Theory, which will be released May 27th ,2018, through Stitched Smile Publications. KLeep an eye out!
A Game of Inches
The small bones crack and shatter
beneath your war machine.
The sticking mud becomes blood red,
as entrails paint the scene.
The wasping of machine guns
like senseless killing drones,
down shattered lives the killing drives,
to beats not quite our own.
The screaming of the dying
backdrops the grisly play.
Of burnt limbs set to flying,
the skin an ashen gray.
Rocket’s glare brings contrast
between the raging lights,
of ideas whose lives have passed,
beyond our wrongs or rights.
The mud is growing thicker
churned up by the tanks.
The tracer rounds they flicker,
tearing through my ranks.
A battle over inches
has cost so many lives,
buried in our trenches,
our prospects take a dive.
The clouds scream out in violence
crying rain dumps down.
It’s hard to tell my good guys,
from your bad ones on the ground.
Our uniforms are soiled
everything turns brown,
the ground for which we toiled,
Is threatening to drown.
My bland retorts are hollow
pointed towards the ground.
A gesture you don’t follow,
as you shoot another round.
And drag me down into the mud
your favorite place to play,
you always did fight dirty,
this war is here to stay.
No side will surrender
we cling to precious inch.
And tear ourselves asunder,
but you don’t even flinch.
As molten metal flying
strikes and digs me deep,
all finished but the crying,
over wounds we hope to keep.
We marshal all our forces
pieces on the board.
Call on all our sources,
send in the screaming horde.
With air support and battle plans
we both act as if we’ll win,
we call in friends and both our clans,
and on our maps, we pin-
the ground of gains we think we’ve made
though neither side prevails.
Your captured soldiers not for trade,
my coffin lids are nailed.
And dragged up through the muck
of sodden, tear-soaked fields,
now on display for better luck,
that one of us will yield.