Arsenal of Words

The Writing of Arthur Klepchukov

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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Fall 2017 Writing Contest Roundup for Writer Unboxed

Where will you submit your fiction from now through Thanksgiving? See my latest contest roundup for Writer Unboxed.

I love that my reasons to submit criteria is growing. These helps evaluate any particular opportunity beyond the surface level of who am I submitting to, do they accept simultaneous submissions, and how expensive is it?

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Summer 2017 Writing Contest Roundup for Writer Unboxed

My Spring roundup of fiction contests for Writer Unboxed was well-received and now I’m excited to be a regular contributor! Here’s the Summer 2017 edition of writing contests worth your time to see you through Labor Day.

I found the majority of these opportunities through Poets & Writers and Submittable’s Discover. In the past I’ve also enjoyed the Calls for Submissions over at New Pages and The Review Review, the monthly newsletter from Literistic, and Submishmash Weekly. Where do you look for contests worth applying to?

Fiction Contest Roundup for Writer Unboxed

I’m excited to share my recent guest post for Writer Unboxed:
Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time (April, May, June Edition)

It includes upcoming opportunities for flash, short stories, and novels for emerging and established writers. If you enjoy it, let me know and this could become a regular thing!

Recent Submissions and Rejections

Submissions

I was inspired by and proud of the following:

  1. I submitted “The Price of Chivalry,” which I read at Lit Camp’s Basement Series, to the Kenyon Review’s 2017 Short Fiction Contest. It’s not a simultaneous submission, but it felt right after the response the story got at the reading and an excellent critique and revision of the latest draft.
    How do you know when a piece is ready? Leave me a comment.
  2. The Iowa Review received the last draft of “Nevernight,” after the wonderful metafiction story “Outliving Kafka” by Ariel Dorfman in their Fall 2016 issue. May it find its way to the final judge, Amelia Gray.
  3. Speaking of prestigious judges, Lauren Groff is the final judge for Electric Literature’s 2017 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize. I sent off the latest draft of a new flash story called “Rivet Here” with the poignant stories from Lauren Groff’s earlier collection “Delicate Edible Birds.”
    Which writer-judges do you admire?
  4. Epiphany was incredibly kind to send me a sample of last year’s winners for their Spring Contest in Fiction because I didn’t have time to buy and receive a print issue before the contest deadline. They’ll be reading “WINC-FM,” in the vein of the raw and realistic style of last year’s “The Radiance Of Sharing” by Jack Austin.
    Have a story of literary journal kindness? Leave a comment!

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The Best of the 2017 San Francisco Writers Conference (#SFWC17)

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After my second year at the San Francisco Writers Conference, I have lots of ideas and insights for where to take both of my novels, how to revise my pitch, and which agents to query next. But in the mean time, here are my conference highlights condensed to a few tweets. Happy to elaborate and start a conversation in the comments!

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Rejection from Glimmer Train

Rejection 5 on my journey to 50 submissions in 2017 came from Glimmer Train’s Family Matters Contest. 50 day response time. All four of my rejections from Glimmer Train are in the 50-60 day range so I appreciate their consistency and responsiveness!

Dear Arthur,

We really like reading November/December Family Matters contest submissions because of the many views they offer about the intimacy and challenges and importance of family. “WINC-FM” did not place this time, but it was a good story, and we’re glad to have read it—thank you!

Warm regards,

Susan & Linda
Glimmer Train Press

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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!

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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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Rejection from The Missouri Review

Rejection 1 on my journey to 50 submissions in 2017 came from The Missouri Review’s 2016 Fiction Contest. 100 day response time. 

The lack of personalization doesn’t feel great, but I see that more often with contests than open submissions. I appreciate them including all the winners and finalists in the email rather than making me click through or hunt them down on the web site.

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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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faith n’ flickers

Listen to me read this poem in the embedded player below or on SoundCloud:

 

he lay there
gasping for the numb to end
his was an unfelt pain
all in his head — er, heart
that’s what these romantics swear by
their cardiovascular deity
but I took pity on him nonetheless

his red carnivore gravity
thrusting up and out
believing it could warm infinite sky
believing every spark must rhyme
and life is but a matter of
finding other halves
ignoring that some flickers fan a flame
that feeds on sympathy & naiveté — but
he bared himself regardless
hoping that girls like me
were wrong

and even laying here
shattered by another blonde
he fed the earth with lyrics of his blood
the starless sky with breathless faith
melted eyes begging to not be in vain

this — is how a nonbeliever negates herself
in the presence of expiring chance
with a lipstick bandaid
to heal his hunger for affection
bred by one acid kiss
from another inspired miss

Replenished Purr

another soul / napping on you guarantees / you will feel more loved

a melted art

Once upon a Cold, we painted with
our Breath, drawing grand designs with Frost.
We thought the Ice would last
all season, comfort of our white Chrysalis
wrapping Crystal dreams.
We antici-
pated  each  coming  day
like a Snowflake waits
for infinite friends to follow
it’s unique descent.
We didn’t fear starry hours
or burned out sky
because even that
was Bright.
And one morning whispers with a
drip. drip.
delicate palaces rush into consciousness.
new chrysalis cries
as every brick of what we built
becomes a warmer, wetter winter tear.
collapsing towers, liquid architectures dancing
deep in ear canals, all flowing castles of the fall.
Tall empires all return to sea level.
farewell, foundations.
goodbye, stuck moments.
take care, cold friends.
hello, invisible breath.
now fleeing into pavement rivers,
moving as if only motion was alive,
sunlit course corrections,
shifting midstream to not die.
but I weep for our grand designs,
no solace in the warm survival of their parts,
impermanence courts chaos
in what’s left
of a pair
of frozen hearts.

Maidan Morning

From my personal journal, February 1, 2014:

The barricades on Hrushevsky Street, the site of one of the worst battles of the Maidan (as of February 1, 2014). The black clusters in the distance on the far left, are Berkut behind their shields.

The barricades on Hrushevsky Street, the site of one of the worst battles of the Maidan (as of February 1, 2014). The black clusters in the distance on the far left, are Berkut behind their shields.

Seeing Maidan in person left me in a state of mild awe. How can so many souls come from near and far, gather, organize, donate, protest, fight, break, bleed, die, and wake up to do it again and again for months? There must be something here, something about these folks with a sacrificial focus. I would not believe the sheer mass and force of this effort unless I took in every street with my own eyes, smelled the barrel fires on the winter wind, tasted the smoke of recent battles, heard the whispers of the hurt, or touched the weapons used against those who stood here, in the face of faceless oppression. Danger be damned, I regret not coming here earlier. All the parts of me that sat in that airport on the other side of the Atlantic and hesitated to board my flight melted away. I wish I went at the start of this trip instead of the very last day.

I felt things today I’ve never felt before.

I’m proud of these people. All of them. I’ve never felt sympathy or anything particularly positive about nationalism, patriotism, living in any of the dozens of places I’ve lived, or even being on any kind of team. Today, I got my first taste of what gets others so fired up about a shared idea. I felt what holds them together. Today, I stood in the middle of something vastly bigger and more important than myself, a witness to a change more important than any I’ve experienced and that will affect many more people than I can ever know. And this wasn’t an abstract political idea, or something frivolous and fleeting like a sports game, or imagined like a film or a painting or a book or a startup spreadsheet or university research project. These weren’t curated images on the news. The effects were immediate and real. I could see it in the faces of the grandmas handing out free meals, the men younger than me in half-winter, half-battle gear patrolling every barricade and the entrances of every conquered building, in the spray painted fervor on the signs and the shields and the banners and the doors masking the downtown materialism, in the crass caricatures and beautiful pieces of art being painted in front of me, steps away from where protesters died, in freezing winter temperatures, in the hands of the inspired, who refuse to leave in spirit and in body.

All of this stirred faith in the power of a commoner exercising a fundamentally defiant right to say: Enough. It’s time for change. I left Ukraine at eight-and-a-half years old and grew up with a healthy skepticism of all things Soviet and post-Soviet. I believed that the Slavic people of my birthplace were an inexcusably tough and unpleasantly cold, uncaring people. I am proud to be so gloriously wrong. I am proud to glimpse at a place I feared, that almost made me cancel this trip, and open my heart to it’s wonder and woe. I am proud to have faith that change is not only possible but inevitable, because that is the will of the wronged. Now, I am proud to share a heritage, a history, a spark, no matter how tiny or distant or morphed by Americana with these people, my people. Today, for the first time in my nomadic life, I’m proud to say: I am a Ukrainian. However brief, I stood with my people and I belonged.

This is not my fight. I realize that all this passion may be the sentimental first impressions of a naive boy lucky enough to grow up sheltered in middle class America. But whatever it may be, I had to share this day. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the family friend who gave me a two hour walking tour of every major place of protest. She was there every step of the way since November 22, 2013 when this started and wouldn’t let me explore alone. At the end of our time, I put every dollar in my pocket in her purse and said, “for Maidan.” What was supposed to be a thoughtless wedding gift to my sister before I learned she was marrying into wealth became the first donation of my life. It felt subpar to what I considered donating: a missed return flight and an indefinite stay in this dangerously inspiring place. Wherever this takes me, however idealistic this may all seem, I never want to forget how my heart beat differently on the Maidan as I read signs like: “The will of Ukraine or death” and “better a coward on the Maidan than a coward behind the TV.”

Some things you have to experience in person. So find the courage to take a risk. You may be stunned at how moved you are by a solemn civilian soldier with a bleeding cheek, snowflakes on his steady breath, the smell of burnt tires rising from his feet, defending his idea of tomorrow.

Remains of weapons used against the Ukrainian protesters on the Maidan: rubber and metal bullets, concussion and stun grenades wrapped in shrapnel-to-be, and skin-splitting rounds for maximum blood loss.

Remains of weapons used against the Ukrainian protesters on the Maidan: rubber and metal bullets, concussion and stun grenades wrapped in shrapnel-to-be, and skin-splitting rounds for maximum blood loss.

Some people can't help but create amidst all the destruction. The outpouring of art, including this painting-in-progress at subzero temperatures, was stunning.

Some people can’t help but create amidst all the destruction. The outpouring of art, including this painting-in-progress at subzero temperatures, was stunning.