Friday, June 8, 2012

Tweetle Dum, Tweetle Dee

So, when I'm not trying desperately to finish writing the various stories I've started, I work for humor site and occasionally publish work on I like writing humor, and I like short form, so I've started a Twitter to spread some of my wit around. Get at me at @JoeOliveto1.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another Dimension

It's difficult to finish writing projects when you've got so many ideas in your head and what feels like not enough time to get them down on paper. But, as always, if they really matter to you, you'll find a way, so I keep on plugging away at these stories in my mind, hoping that one they'll all see fruition. And, surveying those stories, I've come to realize something that should have been apparent to me earlier: The Twilight Zone may be my greatest source of inspiration. Aside from family, friends, and life, that is.

I'm certain that countless fiction writers have taken their cue from this series, and I know for a fact that more words have been written on its impact than I could read in a year, but having grown up on the show and having been turned on to great writers like Richard Matheson because of it, I have to say something about it. Sure, it was great because, thinly-veiled though they may have been, its episodes were allegories, and not just diverting shock pieces. Sure, it showcased a genre of television that too often gets overlooked; two genres, in fact, if you consider the nearly defunct anthology format a genre.

But when I sit down to write a story and realize that there's a little bid of Rod Serling's voice in the narration, it's also because The Twilight Zone had a playfulness to the storytelling. There was always a sense that the writer wasn't going to show his cards until the last second, and even if the so-called "surprise" ending was reasonably predictable, the storyteller had enough control over his material to make the payoff put a grin on your face, if not a dropped jaw.

I can't say I specifically aim for that effect, but when I feel as though one of my stories will achieve it, I feel that spark to write grow just a little brighter. So many writers, directors, and artists in general seem to create work entirely for themselves, and while that's not the worst way to go about creating something -- it sure beats using a focus group to dictate your work -- there's something to be said for thinking about your audience during the process. Every great episode of The Twilight Zone (and there are so many) feels like it was created with the audience in mind.

The results speak for themselves.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Almost there. . .

Wow, it's been a long time since I've updated this. That might be a bad thing, but seeing as I've been using that time to get some writing done (and keep up with my studies, and grade papers, and plan lessons, and teach), I think it's understandable. The good news is, after neglecting it for too long, I've returned to one of the YA novels I was writing and am just about halfway done with it. This is the most progress I've ever made on a novel I was writing; as far as I'm concerned, there's no turning back now. I've got the plot completely figured out, I know my audience, and most importantly, I like this novel. It's the first part of what will probably be a trilogy (and seeing as the number three is thematically significant to this novel, that would make sense), and I'm very interesed to see where these characters go.

It's exciting, making progress, and I hope that my enthusiasm continues to grow. Anyone who knows me knows that it's not easy to get me excited about something, but when you do, it's obvious. I love telling stories, and although I don't know whether or not people will end up purchasing my novel, I hope they do, and not purely for economic reasons. Having spent enough time on this project to be emotionally invested in it, I think that it has something to offer to readers. Maybe that's just a little bit of entertainment, but as a pop culture addict, I can say that there's nothing wrong with mere entertainment.

What I really want, though, is some motivation to keep writing, to keep doing what I love to do. I've got plenty of potential stories lurking in my mind, and if readers show me that they like what I have to say, I think it would be a lot of fun to share them.

Anyway, I've got more writing to do, so I have to cut this short, but I plan on posting my "I finished my first novel ever!" blog soon enough.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On this Harvest Moon. . .

Harvest, my first foray into self-publishing my fiction, is now available in the Kindle store. I first wrote this story as a sophomore in college for my creative writing course. In fact, I'd actually been working on something else, an old-school gothic tale. I struggled to with the language on that one, trying to find a slow, methodical tone, something that took its time but culminated in true terror. The story had potential, but I needed to take a break and get some inspiration, so I stepped away from the computer, grabbed a collection of H.P. Lovecraft's work, and sat down to read "The Rats in the Walls," one I had always managed to overlook in the past.

Thankfully, I picked the right story. Not because it sparked my imagination, but because if I hadn't read that one at that time, I might have ended up being accused of plagiarism. Although our stories led to different climaxes, everything else about "The Rats in the Walls" was so similar to what I'd been working on that I simply couldn't return to it.

With only a couple of days left to turn in the assignment, I opened up a new MS Word document, lit a candle, put on some rain sound effects to block out any other noise, and hunched over my laptop. Taking a deep breath, I began typing, hoping that the literature gods would give me something with which to work.

The result was the first draft of Harvest. Although not exactly a perfect story -- I didn't feel as though the thoughtful middle sections lived up to the (hopefully) sinister beginning and ending that bookended them -- I liked it; having no time to plan it out, I had the pleasure of discovering the plot as I was writing it, and I always meant to revisit it, to give it the treatment it deserved.

Now seemed as good a time as any. Hearing Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" on the radio moments before I pulled into my driveway with the intention of heading inside and working on a writing project certainly helped.

As usual, I'm not completely satisfied with the work, but I doubt I'll ever be with anything I write; it's just not my nature.Still, I hope readers enjoy it. If you happen to read it, please leave me some feedback in the comments section. It always helps.

Until then, peace out.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Let's Give This a Try. . .

Greetings, and welcome to my blog. What makes my blog different from all the others? Well, I'm not sure yet, but that's (supposedly) half the fun.

First things first: who am I? Ignoring the vaguely philisophical ramifications of that question, I can tell you that I am a twenty-something graduate student and Teaching Assistant at a major state university. I earn extra cash as a freelance writer. It's decent money, but when I was a third-grader penning Star Wars rip-offs, I didn't imagine that my future career as a writer would involve writing SEI-optimized articles and the like. Fiction is calling me back, and it's time to answer the call.

See, thanks to self-publishing, I'm approaching fiction-writing with renewed vigor. Instead of studying the industry and devoting at least a year of my life to a novel that an agent might pick up, I can write whatever I want to write and send it out into the world to see what readers think.

Currently, I am working on three projects (although more than a few "best tips for aspiring novelists" articles advise against it). The first is a conspiracy thriller about a small-town newspaper editor who discovers that his friend's suicide may have actually been a murder perpetrated by a covert agency covering its tracks. The second, my stab at serious science-fiction, takes place in a dystopian future, where genetically engineered humans serve as artists and entertainers. When one of them, a popular music star, is found dead in his hotel room, a police investigation leads to some shocking revelations about the role these "people" play in society. The third is a young adult novel. It is still more of an idea than anything else, but I know that it will fuse my love of the Smashing Pumpkins, my memories of teen angst, and my constant suspicion that small towns are far scarier than they may seem.

All of them are books about which I am very excited. I'm looking forward to sharing them with readers, and I hope this blog gives you an opportunity to follow my progress and provide me with feedback. I will update it at least once every week as I move forward with my work. Thanks for the support.