Arsenal of Words

The Writing of Arthur Klepchukov

Tag: inspiration

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 Byproducts Became My First Nonfiction Publications

I didn’t expect to get another acceptance for publication so soon after my very first acceptance, but now I have two to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

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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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Color Me Synesthesia (audio)

Here’s a recording of a poem I published a month ago, Color Me Synesthesia:

(If you don’t see anything above, listen to the track on SoundCloud.)

before, I was but a pencil line
_______________, simple little stroke,
lacking even a squiggle but you
you traced me well, gave me depth & Definition
a flair of ink, a dash of curve~ discovered
fingerprints with graphite, the shade of skin
with lead of many shades of gray,
revised my irises until they
were circles perfect, filled the lashes black
until they could.blink.perception, molded my cheeks
in the sculpture of touched joy or bliss,
trimmed my hair into a shapes of soft,
kissed grayscale lips until breath dribbled deep
inside and I learned to sing, tickled my ears
until they began to touchWords, danced by my nose until
   inhaling became a new addiction,
crosshatched an outline of a heart,
and looked beyond the eyes until/blinking/wasn’t/necessary.
And then I tasted color.
It warmed my skin until a sunburn was seductive.
Red seeped in and seduced my bloodstream,
pumping passion to the corners of existence.
Spilled blue all over my jeans. Flung yellow
at my skin to make orange orbs that shrunk into
peach pores covered in light brown forests of “oh”.
I heard every hue. And touched invisible.
Turned up the volume until I saw green waves of sound.
Showered me with lights until I tasted purple.
Danced with scent into a real dream.
Morphed my background to a limitless canvas. Created new dimensions to
raise me
from
the page. Invented time. so I could. slow down. and smell
memory. We peeked at infinity
the day you started to color me in.

Haikubes, again

Haikubes are a small collection of blocks you can use to write haiku. You can roll two inspiration dice and write on that theme. I played around with these last month and dug them out again tonight. Here’s what I came up with when I rolled [ die 1 ] and [ die 2 ]:

[ a reflection on ] [ my work life ]
(programming or writing late into the night)

[ a vision for ] [ my family ]

 


Color Me Synesthesia

before, I was but a pencil line
_______________, simple little stroke,
lacking even a squiggle but you
you traced me well, gave me depth & Definition
a flair of ink, a dash of curve~ discovered
fingerprints with graphite, the shade of skin
with lead of many shades of gray,
revised my irises until they
were circles perfect, filled the lashes black
until they could.blink.perception, molded my cheeks
in the sculpture of touched joy or bliss,
trimmed my hair into a shapes of soft,
kissed grayscale lips until breath dribbled deep
inside and I learned to sing, tickled my ears
until they began to touchWords, danced by my nose until
  inhaling became a new addiction,
crosshatched an outline of a heart,
and looked beyond the eyes until/blinking/wasn’t/necessary.
And then I tasted color.
It warmed my skin until a sunburn was seductive.
Red seeped in and seduced my bloodstream,
pumping passion to the corners of existence.
Spilled blue all over my jeans. Flung yellow
at my skin to make orange orbs that shrunk into
peach pores covered in light brown forests of “oh”.
I heard every hue. And touched invisible.
Turned up the volume until I saw green waves of sound.
Showered me with lights until I tasted purple.
Danced with scent into a real dream.
Morphed my background to a limitless canvas. Created new dimensions to
raise me
from
the page. Invented time. so I could. slow down. and smell
memory. We peeked at infinity
the day you started to color me in.

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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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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