Arsenal of Words

The Writing of Arthur Klepchukov

Category: Writing

Funnel

The only sound was the creaking of the escalator. The platform was sparsely populated for a late Monday afternoon in September. Everyone was looking for tomorrow with quiet eyes. But me. I gazed away from where the train would emerge, not caring when it would come because I couldn’t control it.

A short guy in a tattered sweater descended on the escalator. He wore old shades and looked like Christian Slater in some forgotten 90s flick in the back row of a video store. Stubble all the more pronounced in the afternoon sun squeezing through the rusty, unwashed windows. I checked my chin for a five o’clock shadow. Still clean shaven.

A voluptuous lady in a summer dress stared back at me, wondering if I was staring at her breasts. I wasn’t. Just looking for signs of life. Heart beating under dark dress shirt.

A homeless man wandered around, scanning the ground for shimmering value. Eyes skimmed my polished shoes. Nothing in my pockets that I felt like sharing. Couldn’t save him. Or vice versa.

The train came. Vomited a few souls and then swallowed ours. Dusk faded on the dancing landscape past the windows. The airport was loud, or so I imagined at the sight of planes. Ticket check. Pocket check. Weapons check. And up. And down. Arrived at my first funeral and wondered how much longer I’d be traveling.

I’m Not a Writer, I Write

The question “Are you a writer?” always makes me uncomfortable. Some days I don’t write. Does that mean I’m not a writer on those days? Where does the expectation of writing every day come from? Did I find it true for myself? Did I unconsciously assume it as part of some vague notion of what a writer is? What benefit have I derived from that expectation? From saying “I’m a writer?” At this point, I usually scoff in frustration at this black hole of semantics, philosophy, and identity and settle for the simplest answer that makes the most sense: I write. And I write, without worrying about what I am.

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My Experience with a PRWeb Press Release

By this point, my press release for blinks of awe boils down to:

  • 30,011 impressions – how many times my press release appeared somewhere PRWeb can track
    (10,000 is average)
  • 4,965 media deliveries – media outlets that received my press release
  • 2,790 Google results for my headline:
    “New Life Given to Old Art Form With Blinks of Awe for iPad”
  • 506 reads – on PRWeb.com
    (a few hundred is average)
  • 30 interactions – downloads, link clicks, etc. on PRWeb.com
  • 4 online pickups – sites that syndicated my press release
    (4-10 is average)

I had a lengthy call with a person from PRWeb that walked me through the results. That’s how I got most of the information about averages and a clearer explanation of what each number meant. They also called to offer help with writing my first release but I had already submitted it by that point. I was happy about their high-touch approach for a beginner like me.

Frankly, I don’t feel great about the results. According to PRWeb, my high number of impressions and big names appearing in the media deliveries list1 mean I had something newsworthy and reasonably well-written. Apparently not every press release gets forwarded to places like the New York Times. But the bottom line is the press release got limited pick up (the biggest being Yahoo! News) and those 30,000 impressions ultimately had very little effect on book sales. I’m happy to hear your feedback and entertain ideas for why that may be in the comments.

Naturally, PRWeb tried to upsell me to a plan that will let me continue pushing out press releases but I’m not sure that’s the best use of my time or resources given these initial results. I’m glad I tried the PR route but I’ll be looking for other ways to spread the word and make a bigger impression.


1New York Times, Bloomberg, Time, The Washington Post, Yahoo!, Wired, and TechCrunch, among others.

Why You Should Be Recording Your Poetry

I hate voice recording. It’s time-consuming, error-prone, frustrating, requires a range of skills, and is easily ruined by fickle technology. That sounds just like voice recording’s  ugly cousin – video editing. But as much as I hate it, I’ve found voice recording to be an increasingly valuable and necessary part of my process of writing poetry.

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What Else Can a Poem Be?

The following snippet of Jack Morgan’s review of blinks of awe brings up some fun questions:

…it’s hard to judge his poetry by itself because it isn’t. Are we going to start judging poetry like we do films and plays, where every job is criticized on its own merit? Should I take the sound production on its own and talk about that? We get a lot of new questions from work like this, which might be why Klepchukov made it in the first place.

Jack is referring to the unique qualities of the poetry in blinks of awe: the book lets you see my visual representation of each poem and lets you hear how I feel each poem should sound. How do you judge poetry by itself when other elements are involved? More importantly, do you even have to?

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I’m Now a (Self-)Published Poet

blinks of awe cover

I’m so thrilled to type these words: blinks of awe, my first poetry book, has just been published in 32 countries!

Blinks of awe is an interactive book of poetry, or as I prefer to call it, a poetry experience. It’s only available on the iPad but when you first open it, you’ll see why. There’s no boring, black, left-aligned, serif text on a tidy white page here. Traditional poetry isn’t boring; it just doesn’t leverage what’s possible today. I’ve pushed the technology further than I’ve ever seen in a poetry book so that the medium truly complements the content. In the future, I plan to write more about iBooks Author, the main tool that made this book (and the textbook I designed earlier this year) possible. But in the mean time, I need your help!

This project began as a “wouldn’t-that-be-neat” idea on a late January weekend. What I thought I’d throw together in two days and nights ended up taking two months. In the process, I learned a lot about self-publishing ebooks, from formats to ISBNs to imprints to copyrights to pricing to working with Apple. I learned the joy and exquisite pain of trying to record your own voice, from replicating the way it sounds in your head to how it sounds on various kinds of speakers. I pushed my vocal limits and made voice recording part of my editing process. I went through numerous design iterations of every single poem. I leveraged my best personal photos, my pencil and digital artwork, and royalty free photography to put together designs that I’m damn proud of. To keep myself motivated, I started a Seinfeld calendar with six friends and worked on blinks of awe every single day for 55 straight days. And now seeing it published just made it all worth it.

I have little experience in marketing. But I know that if I don’t try everything I can to share this book, all this hard work and wonderful, late-night inspiration will be for naught. So take a chance on something new. I think you’ll be surprised.

Buy blinks of awe in the iBookstore.

The Medium of First Drafts Doesn’t Matter

I was recently seduced by a typewriter. It happened while I was watching Finding Forrester. The typewriter came on screen and it intrigued me the way a record player or an old computer might. Something inside me said, this is how they did it before for years and years. No sexy, overpriced multitasking machine with tweets, browser tabs, chats, games, and a thousand other lovely modern distractions. Just the keys, the pages, and me. I could almost feel my fingertips resting on the loud and ancient keyboard. I pictured setting up a new writing area in my apartment somewhere in a comfortable corner by a window overlooking the foggy hills. How many more drafts could I finish if I just had this dandy distraction-free machine?

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Haikubes

Haikubes are a small collection of blocks you can use to write haiku. You can roll two inspiration dice and write on that theme. My friend Jay Marie and I recently played around with these. Here’s what I came up with when I rolled [ die 1 ] and [ die 2 ]:

[ a vision for ] [ our world ]

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The Data Hiding Inside Ebooks

I recently met with one of the founders of a startup pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in ebooks. We discussed what impact more technology and better insight into reader behavior would have on publishing. Could books be more like web sites or apps in that regard? Would that be a better experience for readers, writers, and publishers?

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blinks of awe themes: romantic antics

Until recently, I believed being in love was my purpose in life. That’s why the last chapter of blinks of awe, “a lonely heart,” is last. It’s one of the ways I’ve been consciously de-emphasizing this once omnipotent force. But being last is not just an act of defiant neglect. It’s also the writer’s last chance to drive his or her point home, to leave a mark, to get one step closer to immortality.

Love is a powerful way to find purpose in your life. Even the mildly reciprocal can instantly convince you that everything is worth it. Those gentle places of your heart are intoxicating to visit. The raw feelings are addictive and more memorable than scars. What else do you need to justify your very breath if not the way she looks at you and how that makes you feel?

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blinks of awe themes: losing youth

It’s hard to write about the poems in the third chapter of blinks of awe, th’ Lost & Young, without getting lost in thought about the people who inspired them. One endured one of the ghastliest things anyone could experience and went on to rebuild and build. Another isn’t here anymore. Another is still growing up so it’s too early to judge the effects of her youth.

Being young is fascinating because of the moments when we start to lose it. The adult world doesn’t wait until you’re old enough or strong enough, mentally or physically, before it pulls you in. No kids make it out of adolescence whole. They walk with young scars, whether badges of survival or self-inflicted. No one asks you to grow up. Time rolls on, and the world puts you in that difficult position.

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blinks of awe themes: the in-between

It’s fitting that “tiny anomalies” is the shortest chapter in blinks of awe because it refers to largely forgotten parts of life. When picking poems for blinks of awe, I tried to group them together thematically and emotionally. Most poems carried many feelings and suggested very clear categories but soon something else snuck up on me. I first came across it when I realized Chaos & Cappuccinos simply didn’t fit in any of the other chapters. I scribbled “off-beat” in the margin until I found a better name: the in-between.

The majority of life happens between moments we remember. Everything else, every coffee sip, every brisk walk, all the moments between places and phone calls and everywhere you’re going, ends up almost entirely forgotten. My mind gently glosses over all the hours I spend here until nostalgia rushes in to remind me that quite a bit of time has passed. All of those times you lived through but hardly remember? That’s the in-between.

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blinks of awe themes: nostalgia

“preDawn”, the first chapter of blinks of awe, touches on traveling, inspiration, the deep corners of the night, and nostalgia. Though the latter is only directly referenced in two of the seven poems, it drives the other topics and ideas in its own unique way.

Nostalgia has been a pet topic of mine for years. I moved over a dozen times before finishing college. That taught me how to connect and disconnect but not how to forget. My first novel is very much a nostalgia story. But before I was ready to write about it at book length, I explored those constant fields of change through poetry.

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What exactly is a poetry experience?

Roughly a week ago I submitted my first collection of poetry to Apple’s iBookstore. As I eagerly check the submission site for the book’s status several times a day, I reflect on what brought me here. How does someone who never imagined releasing anything other than a traditionally published novel end up self-publishing an interactive collection of poetry, exclusively for the iPad? Why poetry? Why just the iPad? What exactly is this poetry experience I’ve been pushing since I started the project?

I have a confession to make. I hardly read any poetry. I’m not going to come up with a convincing excuse. I’m just going to shake things up and make more people read more poetry, period. How? The iPad. Yes, the same iPad full of endless videos, high definition games, elegant news readers, and a thousand other distractions. Of all the apps that raced through your mind when I mentioned the iPad, I doubt iBooks was one of them. But I’ll change that too.

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