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FXXK WRITING: DO IT—TWELVE LESSONS FROM TWENTY YEARS IN THE ARTS [LESSON 4: BE GRATEFUL]

September 2019  marks the twentieth anniversary of Jay’s decision to become a writer. His gift to you all this celebratory year is DO IT – Twelve hard lessons on learning by failing, succeeding by accident, never giving up, and saying FXXK WRITING all at the same time. You’re welcome!

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In the wake of the recent news about ChiZine Publications, I decided to terminate my book contract with said publisher. Normally, an author cancelling a contract is not good news, but here it was the right decision. So, given the time of year, I thought I’d share some moments of gratitude over the past twenty years of being a professional writer. Chronological, no less!

  1. 1999 – I had the guts to fight my fears and try writing, even though I was ten different kinds of awful.
  2. 2000 – Grateful to the handful of people who read my drek and saw a glimmer of something good while the rejections mounted and I garnered about two sales… then nothing for two years (ouch).
  3. 2001 – All the fun rejections I could from magazines in my self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), which I collected like baseball cards, prizing the ones that actually had information on them I could use!
  4. 2002 –  Finding authors like Joe Lansdale, Gary Braunbeck, Norm Partridge, and more, convincing me I could be a horror writer, and finishing my first abysmal horror novel, Chains of Bone, which remains buried in a friend’s basement somewhere in southern Ontario. 
  5. 2003 – Writing the very first story that I thought had my voice, called “Blood and Sawdust,” about a fat vampire and an abused kid who became friends. 
  6. 2004 – Created a short story about where RPG characters go when they are no longer used and then getting it sold to an Australian SF mag with a bizarre multi-tiered editorial process.
  7. 2005 – Accepted to the Odyssey Writing Workshop and getting six weeks to improve my craft, make life-long friends, and meet such outstanding mentors like Steve and Melanie Tem.
  8. 2006 – Sold a bunch of short stories, had a minor rep as “the guy who often writes about pro wrestling.”
  9. 2007 – I was a PhD student with seven part-time jobs, did my first international research trip, and ran an alumni week for Odyssey grads while also attempting to write a short story a week for a year… Great times, but the cost was depression and burnout.
  10. 2008 – Kept chugging away at short stories.
  11. 2009 – Turned my short story “Blood and Sawdust” into a novel. 
  12. 2010 – Met Norm Partridge, author of Dark Harvest and a great short story writer, and went to many bad movies together.
  13. 2011- Nancy Kilpatrick blurbed my indie novel A Triumph for Sakura.
  14. 2012 – Grateful I was told I’d do well writing a thriller with a female lead; though after completion was told by the same person, “How can I sell a thriller with a female lead? Men read thrillers.”
  15. 2013 – Survived unemployment, end of marriage, and death of mother.
  16. 2014 – Largely gave up on writing, minus an indulgent novella called The King of Saturday Morning, but came soooo close to selling at least three comic book series!
  17. 2015 – Visited the Philippines and the UK thanks to a research fellowship for a history book.
  18. 2016 – Contracted to write The Brimstone Files.
  19. 2017 – Hex-Rated released to good press and sales.
  20. 2018 – Black Lotus Kiss released to less press and less sales, though I worked with a wonderful editor and love the book more than the debut.
  21. 2019 – Completed a crime thriller about the world of pro wrestling, agent jazzed about it, and finishing a novel about the hell of being a historian in Silicon Valley.

And I am just getting started.

Jason S. Ridler

Jason RidlerJason S. Ridler is a writer, historian, and actor. He is the author of The Brimstone Files, and his latest historical work Mavericks of War was called a “visceral read that is also an important piece of scholarship” by Pulitzer-Prize winner Richard Rhodes. He is a Teaching Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and teaches creative writing at Google, Youtube, and for private clients.

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