This is a guest post by Caleb J Ross (also known as Caleb Ross, to people who hate Js) as part of his Stranger Will Tour for Strange blog tour. He will be guest-posting beginning with the release of his novel Stranger Will in March 2011 to the release of his second novel, I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin and novella, As a Machine and Parts, in November 2011. If you have connections to a lit blog of any type, professional journal or personal site, please contact him. To be a groupie and follow this tour, subscribe to the Caleb J Ross blog RSS feed. Follow him on Twitter: @calebjross.com. Friend him on Facebook: Facebook.com/rosscaleb
Gather ‘round and let old man Caleb tell you about a time, long, long ago, when a slight yarn titled “Petty Injuries” was published on the since-defunct webzine, Dogmatika. These were simpler times, when iPods came in only twelve varieties and Tweets were for the birds. This was a time of transition in my young life, from college parties to desk jockey, from infinite optimism to nagging pessimism. I had no fiction published anywhere. Bread cost $1.37. This was June of 2006.
I had been submitting fiction for a few years, mostly terrible stories to higher-than-I-deserved-profile publications. Think of stories with vague metaphorical titles (“Just One of the Ants” or “Growing Birds”) sent to print publications with the words “review” or “literary” in their names, back when “review” and “literary” connoted substance. I was happy with those stories then. But I’m much happier with them now.
Not having to defend those sorry attempts these years later is a blessing, for sure. “Just One of the Ants” was about a boy, a stolen wallet, a hospital room, and a parade. I can’t remember how those things all came together. “Growing Birds” was about a rural upstart porn studio that grew and sold vegetables at a local farmer’s market to seed their erotic business venture…I’m not kidding.
Dogmatika, brought to my attention by writer-man Christopher Dwyer, was one of the first online lit mags that I really took to. Word-for-word, some of the best fiction I’ve read online appeared there. I made a decision that I was going to write something that Dogmatika could not say no to. I wrote “Petty Injuries,” and as of a couple years ago, when Dogmatika unfortunately stopped producing, it remained one of my most viewed online stories. Most importantly, though, I never felt the need to defend the story. Not once. It was good. It still is good. I am unbelievably proud to be able to say that.
The moral here, for all writers, is to be confident in what you produce. With the zero start-up costs for blogs and the constantly growing forum for writers, anyone can have any story posted somewhere online. But to have something posted that even years later still makes you proud is something else entirely. I know that ten, fifteen years from now, Stranger Will, my book about abortion or book about parenting, however it should be phrased, will be something I am just as proud of then as I am now.