Meta Post – The Big 100

Since the inception of the website, back in May of 2016, I’ve posted 100 blog posts. Every post so far has been at least 750 words (except for one post. I can’t remember for the life of me which one it was, but I was busy and the subject was pretty sparse to begin with). Now, I’m no accountant, but doing a little math shows that I’ve then written well over 75,000 words on the ol’ website here.

What that doesn’t include are the rejects that don’t get posted or that get erased. Combined with the 55,000 words I’ve written for my novel, a bunch of short stories, the writing prompts I did with the River Bottom Writers, well, I’ve written a lot last year. It’s a number, for sure. I’m going to be writing even more this year.

While I sit here and congratulate myself by patting myself on the back while researching information about removing a couple of ribs, there’s other things I have to mention when I talk about the craft of writing.

See, not only do I write a lot, I read a fair amount as well. Reading is a wonderful tool that allows me to look smarter than I actually am without really doing any work. I recently read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, where he talks about his job. Which is sitting down, thinking about a bunch of crazy stuff, then putting in down on paper. It was a fascinating read, especially since I’m not actually a huge fan of his work (I mean, I could be, I’ve just never read any of his stuff, besides the ‘On Writing’ book). One of the things that stuck out for me was he considered writing something he’d be doing anyways, even if he wasn’t a big name.

Now, this stuck out for me for a couple reasons. One, right now it costs me money to write on this site. Not a lot, mind you, but the space ain’t free. And two, the game has changed slightly. There’s a lot more people writing today than there was when Stephen started his journey. The market for paid writing is also a lot smaller. There was a number of magazines catering to his kind of stuff. There are websites that cater to it, for sure, but they pay a lot less than they did in the 70’s. Magazines and websites now hold contests instead of asking for submissions. The opportunities presented to authors today is less of a low-paying gig and more of a low paying chance to win.

I’m not complaining. I’m going to continue writing, even if I never get published, even if no one except a couple of close friends and family are reading. I’m alright with that, because writing gives me something I don’t have in real space, and that’s the ability to express myself. I’m pretty closed off in real life, and for whatever reason, the walls get torn down when I put myself behind a keyboard. It’s good for my mental health too, because I don’t bottle up everything inside and let it rot.

There are a few things I’ve learned along the way about writing, some wisdom I hope to pass to anyone who might be delving into the craft themselves this year.

Getting Published means you’ll need an editor, and editors cost money.

A lot of money. If you have a book you want someone to go over with a fine-tooth comb, expect to pay somewhere between $3000-$6000. Keep in mind, there’re a couple of types of editors. Paying someone to do developmental editing means they’ll be looking over the story structure and they won’t be necessarily be paying attention to the grammar. Every time they go over it, they’ll want more money. That means tighten you work up and get some beta readers (friends who read a lot) and get their input before you hand it off to someone. Editors are people with jobs, and people have jobs to make money. They’re not going to work for free.

It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

There’s this notion that writers sit in quiet rooms, working away at their novel, free of distractions. And that’s absolutely true. You need a quiet space to work in to write. If you want to get published, however, you’re going to have to meet some people, rub some elbows, make some connections. Join a writers group. Move to a bigger city. Don’t quit your day job. There are zero paths to success that don’t require you working with other people. If you don’t know how to socialize and network, then learn.

Ask yourself why you want to get published.

If it’s because you want money, look somewhere else. Seriously, there are so many better ways to make money. Same with fame and recognition. I learned a lot of things in 2016, but the bigger lesson I learned was this; there’s a good chance I’ll never be a successful writer, whereas success is defined by money and people telling me I’m awesome. Writing is just too saturated of a field. This is going to come across as silly, but what I’ve found is that being a writer isn’t something you do, it’s something you are. I mean, you still have to do it, you have to write, but if you’re writing without getting paid, that’s perfectly fine. I write because it makes me better at recognizing my own emotions, and it makes me a better story teller. If I could also get paid for it, that’d be awesome, but it could be a damn long time before any checks roll in.

People are going to tell you that you’re not a writer.

Or they’ll tell you that you’re not a real writer. Personally, I’ve never had someone tell me this, mostly because Mr. Charlton surrounds himself with only the best people. My solution is having business cards made out. Business cards seem to legitimize it, and they’re cheap to get.

To wrap it up, if you’re writing, or painting, or playing music, do it because it makes you a better, more interesting person. Don’t expect applause or money, because it often isn’t there. Sometimes the art itself is the reward.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Also the sex. People like banging artists. Known fact.

p.s.s. Next milestone is going to be 1000.

How the Kat Saved Festivus

You’re going to have to excuse me on my birthday. It’s going to get a little heavy in here.

Back when I was 23 (I think it was 23), I thought I had the worst birthday ever. I spent most of it by myself, my friends were all busy, my girlfriend wasn’t around, and there was no cake to be had. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own, and from then on, I decided that I would take complete control of my birthday. I was taking the reigns of the day I was born in my hands, and through that promise to myself, Festivus was born.

Every year since then, I would take the week off surrounding my birthday and celebrate however I wanted. I saw something I wanted? I’d buy it. A restaurant I want to eat at? Goddamn it I would eat there. The wine, beer, and scotch would flow. Some years I’d throw a party, where I’d have a bunch of people over and make food for everyone. One year I threw the famous ‘Reverse Surprise Party’, where I invited a bunch of friends out to a bar for unknown reasons, then told them it was my birthday, brought out hats for everyone and opened a bunch of gifts that I purchased for myself. All the gifts were labeled ‘To Me, From Me’. For years, my birthday was something I looked forward to more than any other holiday, simply because it meant I could be absolutely selfish for a week. I was certain that my birthday would always be an awesome one because I was in control and nothing could change that. Life occasionally has a wonderful way of throwing a wrench in your plans.

The worst birthday I ever had was my 30th birthday. I was surround by family and friends, and I was in Vancouver over at my uncle’s place. Unfortunately, my father’s funeral was the next day. On August 11th, 2013, my father passed away in Victoria. A couple hours later, I opened the gifts that he got me for my birthday. It was a surreal experience, one I’ll never forget.

Needless to say, since then my birthday has had my father’s death shadowing it. I have not really celebrated my birthday since. What used to be a week-long festival of selfishness turned into me wanting to hide away under my bed for a month. And, until very recently, I was about to write the whole birthday thing off completely.

Enter my girlfriend Kat. I was telling her about Festivus and how I used to celebrate my birthday before meeting her. She knew why I didn’t celebrate my birthday anymore, but because she’s awesome she decided to do something about it.

There’s only one gift I demand for my birthday from people if they’re so inclined to get me something. And that’s a macaroni card. A card decorated with macaroni. Or basically anything that you have to sit down and make. Write a poem, sing a song, or paint a picture. Something I can’t buy for myself. I have a box full of the cards I’ve gotten for my birthday over the years, and every once and a while I open that box and reminisce about birthdays past and the friends who’ve made me something.

Kat, knowing I’ve been kinda down in the dumps the last couple of days, went ahead and painted me a picture every day for the last five days. My dull office now has a wall full of art. Considering she’s finishing her degree in Fine Arts, they also happen to be great paintings! Here, I will show you some of the art I’ve gotten this week.


Day one: Unicorn and Narwhale


Day Two: Lonely Bird


Day Three: Scaredy Owl


Day Four: Chilling Crows


Day Five: Odin’s Raven

I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the past relationships I’ve had and the gifts I’ve received. But never has anyone taken as much time to pull me out a depressive funk as Kat has. If she hadn’t done this, there’s a good chance I would never have celebrated Festivus ever again. This week, it feels like my birthday again. So thank you very much Kathryn, I owe you dearly and I love you very much.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I still have to work today, which is the first time I’ve worked on my birthday in years. And I think it will also be the last time I work on my birthday.

p.s.s. Yes, there is clearly a theme going on in the paintings.

p.s.s.s. I’ll be taking Sunday off, because it’s going to be a taco fest here in the apartment! Beef tongue is ready to go!