Life’s A Blog And Then You Die by Kevin Lynn Helmick

My editing schedule has me behind the eight ball somewhat on reading for pleasure, and subsequent reviews, but one of the books hovering at the top of the stack waiting for review is The Rain King by Kevin Lynn Helmick. I adored Kevin’s novella Driving Alone, and didn’t want him to have to wait for my review in order to give him a platform to help get the word out about his newest release. Hence, Kevin’s very honest guest post today about what blogging can feel like from the perspective of a writer still trying to make their figurative bones.

Kevin Lynn HelmickNot a big blogger. I have one of my own, but I rarely post anything on it. I think for me it’s mostly a place to vent and bitch my frustrations, which is why I avoid it altogether. And self-promotion—that fucking god-awful masturbatory necessity we little-known writers need to gain Google presence and get some attention to our soon to be doomed into nonexistence novels and short stories. Here today, gone tomorrow. Oh well.

Of course you have “the ranters,” the keepers of all that’s right and wrong with writing, publishing, editing, and how to do this, how to do that. Those fuckers love seeing themselves write, and none seem to have a best-selling anything. But every now and then their heads swell with praise from their followers—their 600 sheeple—and their mouths get big enough for a big ol’ boot to fit in…and they do; they choke on it once in awhile. But they’re only blogs, and there’s a safe distance between a fist and black eye there.

I say, what’s so wrong with getting a shiner when your mouth gets out of hand? It’s how we used to learn our social graces. I’ve seen a well-followed blog get too many, ‘Oh, yer so right, couldn’t have said better, once again, yer the greatest,’ and pow, out of nowhere, they decide they can do no wrong and they spew out an opinion so stupid, and so negative, that might involve another—who’s just a little bit better informed on whatever subject, and maybe they have ten times the followers—and, rabid bunch they can be, the fists start flying.

Wait. I kinda feel like I’m doing that now. Actually the only thing that gets flying are words, and that’s too bad. Usually the dumbass who started it shuts right up and publicly reports that they refuse to read their counterpoint rebuttal, their deserved E-shiner. Internet shiners come in the form of insults and attacks on the other’s writing. Which stings a bit, but doesn’t teach us much. Not like a good old fashioned fist in the face. Those are hard to say, ‘No, I won’t lower myself’ to.

But what of it? It passes soon enough, and everyone is on to the next and latest end of the world or whatever drama that pops up.

Enough of that side of it. We have blogs, man. Bloooogs. I have a blog, you have a blog. You do have a blog, right? Of course you do. But like mine, it probably sucks. I like the E-zines, or E-mags, or whatever you call them. These are the good blogs. Yeah, they’re still blogs, but blogs by people who know how to hot rod a blog into their own little magazine.

These are domains where the creators can be CEO, editor, creative director, designer and King Shit of all that goes in and out. Fucking A, right. And some good ones I’m talking about even look like magazines. They don’t just have Mr. King Shit blabbing about, because this King Shit is smart enough to know he ain’t that cool. In fact, you might have to do some research on some of these sites to even find Mr. King Shit. It’s not about him and his stupid opinions, entirely, or openly at least, and he knows it.

Mr. Shit is cleverer than that.

Mr. Shit has a staff. A staff of busy little talented fairy interns, collecting and gathering fresh and interesting content from the hottest, current writers, artists, photographers, and musicians, as well as the next ones coming around. It’s about entertainment. I like these, and the ones that are well managed stick around and earn a little respect. They get good writers to contribute.

And then we have blogs by book reviewers. I’m sure there’s plenty of other kind of blogs, but these are the ones, this one in particular, that bring us together. Maybe. I don’t know yet at the point I’m writing this if it will ever get to you.

I’ll admit I don’t fully understand what motives a book reviewer. They get to read a lot of free books, I suppose. But it seems to me a time consuming, thankless, payless endeavor. Actually, I think I just defined what I do as a writer. I know some reviewers get paid more than I do, and I have a royalty statement to prove it: blog tour, $500.00. Ouch.

I’ve even asked my buddies at Booked Podcast, “Why in the hell do you do this?” To which their reply has always been a bit vague. It’s the same reason I write books: I can’t help it. It’s a compulsion, a defect, a disease. We don’t fucking know, so don’t ask, is the real answer.

But as a writer, I am thankful for book reviewers. They let people who want to know about books what they think is good or bad, even my books sometimes. I honestly read very few reviews other than my own. If a writer says they don’t read their reviews they’re probably lying. And I don’t think I’ve read a book based a review. A suggestion from somebody I know, sure. But I still like the reviews, want them, have convinced myself that I need them. As writers, I think they keep us going. They let us know we’re not just screaming into the void, that we did something right, or even more helpful, something wrong. I’m especially fond of reviews from readers though. The non-professional reviews have a kind of simple charm that tells me that something I wrote was worth their time to write it out and tell their friends without pay or prodding from me or the publisher.

Driving Alone by Kevin Lynn HelmickI’m getting all teary eyed now.

Not really. But thank you very much for all the reviews—the good ones anyway. Fuck you very much for the bad ones—you’re all sick and have something wrong with you.

Just kidding. I get more out of bad ones than I do good ones. Really.

But writing blogs, review blogs… A couple of years ago I wrote a novella called Driving Alone that Elizabeth reviewed favorably. Not only did she give it a good review, but I noticed in my pathetically needy self-Googling that the review spread much further than her blog. It was all over the place, and I’m sure my then publisher made a few bucks off of it.

Early in 2014 I released Driving Alone and Other Tales from the Outside. That same novella, with few changes, accompanied by several short stories, some published in a few of those mag-blogs and in print anthologies like Noir at the Bar 2 and Booked. I also threw in handful of never before published new ones. I didn’t promote that edition much. I don’t know why, I just didn’t feel like it. Actually I know why; I was busy wrapping up the next novel and I just wanted to make Driving Alone available to anyone who wanted a short story collection from me.

My novel in waiting at the time was The Rain King, a weird, contemporary, unconventional western that isn’t really like a western at all. It is out now. So based on the widespread attention that Elizabeth had gotten for Driving Alone, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind taking a look. She said she would if she had time, but that I was welcome to write a guest blog in the meantime. Now, I think we’ve gathered up to this point how I feel about blogging. Maybe I haven’t expressed enough how I feel about me blogging, but I have a hard time gathering my journalistic thoughts enough to convince myself that I have anything in that capacity to say worth reading, sharing or adding. I don’t want to write about my own work, or myself, and I don’t want to bitch about anything, and that’s what me blogging always sounds like. So I let this offer sit maybe a little too long before getting around to it. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the offer; I do, especially from such a well-respected reviewer as Elizabeth. I’m just not a big blogger, or reader of blogs.

So anyway, I’d already written a blog before this one. It was basically me handing over a short story out of the new Driving Alone collection, along with a couple of paragraphs about who I am, the new novel The Rain King, yada yada. I let it sit, thinking It wasn’t enough, that it was like pussing out. I don’t like to puss out, and I don’t like to give up, so it sat.

Rain King by Kevin Lynn HelmickLast night we started watching the first season of Californication. You’re familiar with it if you’re writer, I’ll bet. It’s mildly entertaining, although entirely unrealistic and unrelatable—for this writer anyway. A realistic show about a real writer would probably be a snoozefest. I get that. So I just sat back and enjoyed the chuckles and chaos. That was until Hank gets roped into being a blogger for an L.A. online magazine by his agent. He’s not a writer anymore, he thinks (I like the way they never use the word author. Hank always refers to himself as a writer, and so do I) but a goddamn blogger. And he’s good at it, but he loathes it—something lower than snail shit in his somewhat lyrically snobbish mind. And even though it’s venting, it’s ranting, ’cause Hank if nothing else is a venter and a ranter, he’s at least writing again whether he wants to call it that or not. So this episode I paid closer attention, pulling in inspiration from anywhere I could, and in my infinite bad judgment I woke up, sat down this morning and penned a blog about blogging.

I mean, what else could I do? Everybody’s doing it, everybody has one. For a lot of us a writer’s proof of life is a blog, a guest blog, a blog spot…that’s it.

For a writer and new release, life’s a blog and then you die.

The end.

So, yeah, I have a new book out. More people will probably read this blog though, and that’s cool. But if you want, I have few other books out there you can also find if you look hard enough.

I’m Kevin Lynn Helmick, and I’m a writer. A novelist. I don’t do many shorts or non-fiction. I’m just not built for sprinting and I’m not much interested in opinions, especially my own. And you can probably see now why I don’t do much blogging.

But I do know an opportunity when I see it, and so try to take advantage of it. I appreciate it, Elizabeth, and appreciate you guys reading it. And I will be checking back for comments.

All the best,
Kevin Lynn Helmick

The Rain King is available from Heartland Press (ISBN: 978-0692235829).

Kevin Lynn Helmick, the author of such works as The Lost Creek Journal, Clovis Point, Sebastian Cross, Heartland Gothic, and Driving Alone, was born in December 1963, in Fort Madison IA. He now lives in the Chain O Lakes, near Chicago IL, and is known for gritty dialogue, accomplished, fast-paced prose with complex themes and characters that challenge the reader with moral subjects of race, prejudice, organized religion and political correctness. His contemporary western noir, The Rain King, is now available.
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4 Comments

  • kevin Helmick

    September 30, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    Hey, thanks for the comments. Yep, I’d rather be working on a novel than pretty much anything else, but once I found the door for this little piece, I hit it running, and enjoyed the hell out of writing it.

    Thanks for stopping by.
    And don’t forget to write.

    Kevin

  • Lucius

    September 30, 2014 - 6:57 pm

    Appreciate the post Kevin. Didn’t realize the self promotion thing could be such a slog, but I guess a writer would rather be, well, writing, yeah? Will give your books a go in exchange for such honesty about the process. Keep at it!

  • Charles Wingfield

    September 30, 2014 - 1:44 pm

    Funny (ironic, not haha) how the proliferation of blogs has actually made it so there’s more pressure on writers these days when it comes to promotion, not less.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      September 30, 2014 - 2:12 pm

      Indeed. And even when an author does make the effort to promote and interact via blogs and social media, things can sometimes go horribly wrong…as several recent kerfuffles have all too painfully demonstrated.

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