Arsenal of Words

The Writing of Arthur Klepchukov

Category: Writing

How Loathing Travel, Public Transit, a Tuscan Residency, 24 Rejections, and a Writing Conference Led to My First Published Short Story

What happens when a luggage thief picks the wrong target on the early-morning airport train? Dive into the mind of a snarky antagonist in “A Damn Fine Town,” my first short story publication, available now in Down & Out: The Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 4.

What amount of effort went into getting “A Damn Fine Town” published?

  • 1,600 words
  • 5 drafts
  • 26 submissions
  • 24 rejections, 4 encouraging rejections
  • 1 withdrawal

These are grueling numbers compared to how lucky I’ve been in earning relatively quick flash fiction publications.

I share blog posts like these because every story has a different journey. So if you’re in the doldrums between drafts or facing another rejection, may this encourage you. This process has taught me that publication is always more than one step away. Read on about this story’s journey and you may find what will get you over the next hump.

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How a College Freewriting Prompt and Being Woken by a Downtown Songbird Led to My Shortest Publications

Small bird perched on wire in the city

Small bird perched on wire in the city

A brief conversation with a lone songbird in San Francisco. A vulnerable state before free fall. I explore these ideas in my latest flash fiction publications “Dawnsong” and “lying is the girl” out now in KYSO Flash, Issue 10 (Fall 2018).

What amount of effort went into getting these two stories published?

My statistics for “Dawnsong”:

  • 100 words
  • 1 draft (I know, I know, I’m surprised too)
  • 10 submissions
  • 6 rejections, 1 encouraging rejection
  • 3 withdrawals

My statistics for “lying is the girl”:

  • 100 words
  • 3 drafts
  • 6 submissions
  • 4 rejections, 2 encouraging rejections
  • 1 withdrawal

These are lucky numbers, especially given just one draft of “Dawnsong” and the small number of submissions of “lying is the girl.” Read on about my process.

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How Writing and Submitting Short Stories Improved My Novel

Why should a novel writer devote precious writing time to short stories? After five novel drafts, two years of submitting shorter fiction, and seven publications, here are my reasons.

  • Do Something With All Those Ideas
  • Understand the Impact of Every Edit
  • Feel A Sense of Completion More Often
  • Practice Finding Comps
  • Strengthen Your Query Letters
  • Give More Than One Story A Chance

Read my guest post over at The Spun Yarn for how and why I juggle multiple projects, even when one is something as ambitious as a novel draft.

Read: how writing stories helps my novel.

“Reading Willow” Published in The Common

Reading-Willow

What expectations transcend distance and life changes? I explore that in under 400 words in my latest flash fiction publication, “Reading Willow” in The Common.

What amount of effort went into getting “Reading Willow” published?

  • 2 drafts
  • 5 submissions
  • 2 rejections
  • 2 withdrawals

These are lucky numbers, especially given that this story didn’t earn any encouraging rejections. Read on about my process.

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“Why I Write” Published in Fiction Southeast

“Why I Write” is a brief reflection that earned me the Kevin Smokler Scholarship to the 2016 San Francisco Writers Conference. Today it takes on a second life over at Fiction Southeast, as part of their Why I Write series.

Why do you write? Read my answer in just 250 words over at Fiction Southeast.

Chris Tusa, the Editor, was quick and easy to work with! Though this piece was accepted almost eight months ago, I appreciated the follow-up email announcing it’s publication—on a holiday no less!

Fiction Southeast is also open to submissions in numerous categories.

“bleedin’ peach” Published in KYSO Flash

a red peach

Photo by Charles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦 on Unsplash

What can a newborn teach his father about shaving? To find out, read my latest flash fiction publication, “bleedin’ peach” in KYSO Flash.

What amount of effort went into getting “bleedin’ peach” published?

  • 3 drafts
  • 2 submissions
  • 1 encouraging rejection

These were exceptionally small, lucky numbers. I have stories that are approaching 30 submissions, so it’s lovely to experience quick publication magic in this case.

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Starting Shut Up & Write! D.C. Meetup

I’ve attended and hosted Shut Up & Write(!) meetups in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2013. Shut Up & Write(!) is a powerful concept. Whereas most casual writing events are focused on socializing, we get together and write. Our meetups are free and open to everyone. There’s no obligation to share or network; just do the work.

Shut Up & Write at Mo Joes

A few writing friends in Berkeley.

I’ve missed the writing community I left in San Francisco. But the Maryland suburbs by D.C. have their own creative charms. I’m reaching out to a local arts center, attending nearby writing meetups, and exploring what The Writer’s Center in Bethesda has to offer.

But there’s no Shut Up & Write(!) here. So I’m starting one.

I reached back out to my Bay Area friends, Cat and Rennie, the masterminds behind the concept. They were happy to help set up a new meetup group. As of this post, there are already 39 members. We have the first location happy to host us—the lovely Barking Mad Cafe in Gaithersburg (right next to a Little Free Library, no less). I’m eager to grow our writing community here.

barking-mad-pano

A glimpse of where I’ll be shutting up & writing for the first D.C. area meetup.

Are you in the D.C. area or know someone who is? I’ll be hosting the inaugural meetup near me in two days (Feb. 22) and then every foreseeable Thursday. Let’s make words together.

“Rivet Here” Published in Necessary Fiction

Rosie the Riveter - We Can Do It! poster

I’m proud to share my first online publication, the 500-word flash fiction “Rivet Here” in Necessary Fiction. This story is about a new kind of relationship that blossoms in a small town when all the men leave for World War II.

What amount of effort went into getting “Rivet Here” published?

  • 4 drafts
  • 15 submissions
  • 11 rejections, 3 encouraging
  • 3 withdrawals

Keep reading for the details and some reading recommendations.

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The Cost of Accomplishment

What do you focus on when you make New Year’s resolutions or broader goals? I tend to fixate on what I’ll gain. It’s less motivating to acknowledge what you’ll have to give up to make those gains, but it’s just as crucial. Consider all your goals. If they are to become accomplishments, they have to happen in some order. Order implies priority. Priority implies a few things first. What won’t make it over the finish line?

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My anti-resumé.

Speaking of sharing rejections, check out this anti-resumé.

monica byrne

landscape2

Within an hour of our IndieGogo campaign meeting its goal, I got a call telling me I’d been awarded a North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship. It’s a huge, huge honor. It’s also the fourth time I’ve applied for it, and to me, that’s part of why it’s an honor.

A couple years ago I was having dinner with a playwright, Bekah Brunstetter, and her director David Shmidt Chapman. We talked about how rejection is just part of the landscape for all beginning artists, no matter how talented or hardworking they might be or how successful they might appear. David said he’d love to publish his “anti-résumé” someday—a list of all the things he didn’t get.

Ever since, I’ve wanted to publish my own. So I’ve gone through the last six years’ worth of spreadsheets in both prose and playwriting, to literary journals, workshops, conferences, theaters, graduate schools, play…

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How I Won NaNoWriMo in My First (and Last?) Attempt

NaNo-calendar

Last November I wrote over 50,000 words of a new novel and won my first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Are you on the fence about participating this year? Do you have the same skeptical reaction I did every year? Let this post provide catharsis for your worries and guidance for making a decision on how to spend this November. Read on for my strategy for winning (e.g. writing 50,000 words by Nov. 30) and a reflection on what I would and wouldn’t repeat.

Read the full post on Writer Unboxed

128 Submissions, 93 Rejections, 1st Publication

Today, my submissions journey reaches the next step! I started submitting stories to contests and literary journals over two years ago, founded a critique group, curated a submissions calendar, and wrote contest roundups for Writer Unboxed. But this week and with this email, I achieved my next goal:

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How I Declared Myself a ‘Rejection Expert,’ and Other Stories of Creative Reframing

Given my 78 submissions and 57 rejections this year, I found this timely reminder about the power of reframing.

The Rejection Survival Guide

I had a conversation with a friend recently where she told me that my whole “self-doubt demon” personification thing doesn’t really speak to her. She said it feels shallow, almost cutesy, and not like real coping.

It made me realize that if that’s all I was doing–personifying the voice of doubt in my head and making light of it–it probably wouldn’t work that well for me, either. There’s something deeper that has to happen.

Getting Comfortable with Failure

In my first post on Rejection Survival Guide, I wrote the following (emphasis from now):

I know what it’s like to be in the trenches. I’ve been there. I’m still there. I may be there forever. So I’m getting comfortable, setting up shop, and mapping this place out for those of you who haven’t gotten to know this place like I have.

And in my post for The Artist Unleashed

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Make Money with Your Fiction: Tips for Publication

A thoughtful take on short story submissions with specific cover letter advice.

I Just Want To Write!

affiliate-link-png

make-money

If you choose to work as a freelance writer, most of your work will be commissioned and dictated by other people. It still beats the hell out of other jobs, believe me, but the job sets inherent boundaries. You have to write content relevant to a client’s blog. You have to turn the client’s words into a coherent post, article, or book. If you choose to take the entirely traditional route and only pitch stories to magazines, you have far more control over the subject of your writing, but you probably aren’t pitching fiction or poetry. If you are, please tell me in the comments where and how you’re doing that because I would love to know.

Essentially, as a freelancer, your bread and butter comes from nonfiction pieces driven by the needs of a client. But there’s a high likelihood that if you’re a writer by trade, you also…

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My Short Story Submissions Calendar

How do you know where to submit your enthusiastically crafted, thoughtfully critiqued, and carefully revised short stories? I’ve recently started down this journey toward publication and thought it would be helpful to share my submissions calendar, a curated list of contest deadlines and calls for submission. These are opportunities I believe are at least worth considering for your short story submissions (and in many cases poetry and creative nonfiction). Some are regional to the San Francisco Bay Area but most are not.

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Why I Write

The following is my winning entry to the Kevin Smokler Scholarship for the 2016 San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC). The conference began yesterday and I’ve already gleaned a lot from a first day of connecting with insightful writers, editors, and agents! A huge thanks to Kevin Smokler for sponsoring the scholarship and SFWC’s Barbara Santos for sharing the great news.


 

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Listen to LitQuake 2015’s The Art of the Novel

Last month I attended LitQuake 2015’s excellent panel, The Art of the Novel. Thanks to Alex Green for moderating Cristina GarcíaBruce BaumanAlexis Landau, and Tiffany Baker. This panel was the same format as my previous post, The Art of the Short Story.

Interesting questions posed to the panelists:

  • How do you know an idea is a book?
  • Why are synopses so hard? How do they compare to outlines?
  • Are the character voices you hear simply your voice?
  • Where does the research end and the art begin?
  • Do your characters process what you’re trying to process?

Listen to the audio of the panel below.

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LitQuake 2015: The Art of the Short Story

This weekend I attended LitQuake 2015’s excellent panel, The Art of the Short Story. Thanks to Mark Peterson for moderating Jodi Angel, Tom Barbash, Grant Faulkner, and Siamak Vossoughi. This is a summary of my largely paraphrased notes.

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Why I Shut Up & Write

Where are you at 10:00am sharp on Saturday mornings? Sleeping in? Waking up? Waiting for brunch? I’m usually grabbing a seat at Mo Joe’s Cafe for a Shut Up & Write! marathon. To make it on time, I have to wake up before 8 in sleepy San Francisco to catch a just-shy-of-9 train that whisks me away to Berkeley and a spot at Mo Joe’s. Why do I bother? That first check-in.

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Worldcon 2015 Highlights

Last week, I took a pair of trains from San Francisco, CA to Spokane, WA, for Worldcon / Sasquan, my first big writing con. Two local writing friends spearheaded the trip and I jumped on an opportunity to have another scenic journey and soak up what I could!

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