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Leo X. Robertson

News of my latest publications, events, and episodes of the Losing the Plot podcast!

New Short Story, out with Horror Sleaze Trash!

Head to Horror Sleaze Trash’s site to read WE TOUCHED A REAL DINOSAUR! (NOT CLICKBAIT)!

Super proud of this one and happy that a home exists for that trademark Robertson snark ;)!!

Cheers for reading!

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New Losing the Plot, with author Kenneth W. Cain!

Kenneth W. Cain is the author of the novella “A Season in Hell” and the short story collection “Darker Days.” He also edited the anthology “Tales from the Lake vol. 5.” All three books are forthcoming with Crystal Lake Publishing.

We talk about helping other writers in the community, writing that next great story and the joys of making characters suffer!

Site

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, has a new album out! Check out “MARS HALL” at Captain Crook Records!

 

Fake Interview: GG Allin

Gnome Appreciation Society

RockyVGGAllinHello everybody, if you could give me a moment as I’m gonna have to put down a tarp for today’s guest as he is well know for his…..loose fluids…..ok that should do.  Right it is my pleasure to introduce the greatest nutcase to have briefly lived on this here planet….GG ALLIN!!!  Who you say?  Check out his performance here:

 

Q1. Alright mate, you seem to be already covered in blood and we’ve only done the intro so far.  Care to explain how you got in this state?

How did I get in this state?!

Did you seriously just—

How did I get in this state?

How did SOCIETY get in this state, m*****f***** if you can’t handle the way I look you all shoulda thought of that before you made me what I am!

Look at the state of the world, man. Every day a quarter million people are…

View original post 778 more words

A quality checklist for writers

I’ve read a lot of fiction, written a lot of it too, and I’ve also given/conducted podcast interviews.

As a result of these endeavours, I came up with a checklist to identify areas in which I can improve. I thought you’d find it useful too!

  1. Is this entertaining/interesting? If not, what purpose does it serve? (I don’t know if there is another valid purpose, but I doubt it!)
  2. Am I expressing what I truly believe or is it rather what I want to be read/heard stating that I believe? (Often different.)
  3. And to that end, if I find myself giving impassioned exhortations about global/social issues, how much of a personal stake do I have in these debates? Have I any real-world examples of when this issue affected me, or am I just setting up straw men—in someone else’s battleground?

Here’s an example: look at most of that Count Dankula guy’s videos.

He became embroiled in a free speech argument that’s super important—but as for his content, so much of it is riding trends rather than original opinions. In which case, what does he add to any of these conversations but their regurgitation in a Scottish accent? Is that really how he’s supposed to use his time? Is that the best he can do?

Or look at this video by (conservative vlogger?) Theryn Meyer, where she has realised the consequences, for her soul and that of others, of bandwagon-riding.

The point is: What is bothering YOU, not someone else? What is closest to home?

The idea, of formulating your own opinions and observing your environment (starting locally) with scrutiny, is daunting—but exactly how else would you describe your task?

  1. Am I outright stating something I read elsewhere? In which case I should cite the reference, unless I have added something to it or rephrased it in a way that I would express. If you don’t have your own way of adding to a particular conversation, that’s okay—life is so big, and we’re all learning always—as long as you admit it. In other words: Whereof I cannot speak, thereof am I silent? (Wittgenstein 😉 )
  2. To that end, on occasions when I am implored to offer a comment on a particular issue, do I find myself resorting to the same arguments from a small number of books I read/things I heard too long ago? These are then the most pressing areas of weakness to work on next (if they are also areas of interest.)
  3. Am I capable of writing as if no one is reading/ speaking as if no one is listening? In other words, can I face/present pure ME?!

If this seems odd, or even scary, here’s the caveat: The inherent bias here, if you can call it that, is my interest in you and your work—not in what anyone else wants you/your work to be. Not even what I would want it to be, but what it actually IS.

I unashamedly hope you develop in yourself sensors that pick up when any of these questions are relevant. Ask them and rectify any instance wherever the answer doesn’t satisfy you.

I hope the benefit to your immortal soul is so great that it trumps your desire to satisfy the demands of a large audience or market forces.

Here’s an example of that:

Charlie Kaufman is an unabashed favourite of mine.

(Before I continue, we can use this admission as an example of how to comply to the checklist: “How does this standard white guy choice represent YOU, Leo? Aren’t you violating your own rules?”

To that I would answer: I will risk being seen as cliché because I’m assured of how his work relates to me personally—therefore maybe it doesn’t outwardly appear a non-cliched choice but it meets my own criteria, so I’m satisfied and that’s fine. Plus, he’s part of a healthy artistic diet of others, a mix from a sufficiently large pool, which looks like no one else’s.

That’s all I’m asking you to think about with this checklist. Maybe you won’t end up changing anything about your speech/writing etc. You probably won’t in most instances—even so, an internal quality check will make you/your work/your assertions stronger.)

Anyway, his last film, “Anomalisa”, didn’t make its money back—which doesn’t surprise me too much, unfortunately. By most standards, it’s weird and dark and perhaps too depressing. Even so, what you can say about that film and few others is, “I’ve never experienced that before and now I can’t get it out my head.”

Off the top of my head, here are some other writers who, appear to fulfil these criteria: Sheila Heti, Clarice Lispector, Philip Roth, Vladimir Nabokov. I could go on and on and on! But whatever you might want to say about them, what they all have in common is that I know their names and they were at the forefront of my brain when pressed for the names of originals.

And that’s what I want for you—because that’s what you’re supposed to be.

I’ve said this before: if your goal as a writer, as a human being, is to be the next Stephen King, get in line. Your ticket is #20345. (With ticket #1? Stephen King himself. He’s still the current Stephen King. With ticket #2 is his son, and both of them combined are far more than enough for most.)

If it’s to be the next Stephen King meets—I don’t know, Tom Clancy: congratulations! Your place is now #1023.

If you want to be the first you, your ticket number is #1. Thank God you’re here! We’ve been waiting for you! Right this way. I hope you weren’t too difficult to find…

Write in your own vein. EXIST in your own vein. Strip away anxiety and futility as you push yourself towards uniqueness, towards a place of zero competition.

Good luck!!

New Losing the Plot, with Cameron Mount (Broadswords and Blasters)!

Cameron Mount is a traditional literary poet with a taste for speculative fiction. He and author Matthew Gomez edit Broadswords & Blasters, “A pulp magazine with modern sensibilities.”

We talk about the content Broadswords & Blasters is looking for, pulp in the postmodern era, and L Ron Hubbard!

Broadswords & Blasters site

Facebook

Twitter

Latest issue of B&B

Cameron’s site

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, has a new album out! Check out “MARS HALL” at Captain Crook Records!

Harsh truth 8 (of 8) for writers

People don’t take advice; they look for examples of what they want

Therefore you might argue that I’m just writing this for myself. I hope not. And I do thank you for reading.

Sobering truths are one of life’s most important components. How you respond to them determines how you will grow. And growth is the only justifiable option.

However, sobering truths are like the whole grains of your diet, or the cardio of a fitness routine. While perhaps healthy in moderation, if they’re all you consume, you’ll die.

So enough of all of this. You did well to get this far. And it counted as work, I promise you that.

I give you permission to watch 30 mins of silly YouTube videos—at least!

One last bonus harsh truth: Shun enforced breaks and silliness at your peril, writer friend of mine—for shunning fun will make you a worse writer, and, more importantly, a worse human.

Harsh truth 7 (of 8) for writers

You must slough off baddies

Networking is important. Networking with everyone is impossible and, quite frankly, a destructive thing to try.

It is your duty to stay away from people who are doing you no good. You know who they are. You might’ve had some in your life that you shed already. Great.

If you stick around with someone who makes you feel bad because you think they offer you something of value, you’re wrong. All they’re offering you is bad feels. By keeping them around, you are telling yourself, and the world, that this is what you deserve. By shedding yourself of them, you’re saying that you are worth better.

Freeing up your time, for the potential of having it filled by someone better for you, is so much more important than keeping someone worse for you around. And, my God, someone else will fill that time for sure! There are no shortage of people about!

If you like the people you associate with, fantastic. If you don’t, you need to spin that networking wheel again and hope you land on someone better.

Stay (blog equivalent of) tuned for a new harsh truth asap!!

Harsh truth 6 (of 8) for writers

Networking is important, but it’s not the same as “improving as a writer”

It helps us writers to know each other. The world of writing is one that requires constant work to remain within. Networking with other writers is a way of doing that.

But, being friends with an exceptional writer is not the same as being as good as them. That’s like if you said, “I have Elon Musk’s email, therefore I will send a Tesla into space next week.”

I’m super proud of that analogy for the following reasons:

  • The weakness of the connection to Elon Musk.
  • For you to be successful, you’d have to do exactly the same thing he did.
  • The idea that repeating his exact actions would make it as big of a success the second time around. It’s like saying, “It’s not important that I do good, original work, only that the work is done by me.”
  • It completely disavows the hidden decades of hard work that might be necessary to accomplish something that appears simple on the surface.

I only heard of the guy a few years ago, by which point he was decades into a career as an entrepreneur. That’s much the same as many top writers I read about: they’ve published a few books but have been writing for many more years than I have.

We must respect all that hidden work. Almost every successful writer today has f**king earned it.

Saying you’re a writer today is to say that, despite the many many other people out there writing, and all the literature already available, you have something sufficiently original to say—and you are good enough at saying it—that your writing deserves to exist. Vertiginous af!

The act of submitting something for publication implies that the above is true, whether you’ve even thought about it. Don’t pretend you think your story’s worth a damn: you do think it. Act like it!

On the other hand, as big as this is to imply—regarding the originality and competence of your writing—that’s all you have to imply about it. Don’t let arrogance convince you that you’re way way more amazing than anyone else. No one has a guaranteed acceptance coming. If you think your amazingness as a writer protects you from that, you’ll fall hard, become bitter and angry and a dick of a person to be around.

It’s implied by the fact that you present yourself as a writer and submit pieces for publication that you know what the hell you’re talking about. The skill of your writing, and nothing else, will prove your worth as a writer. Listing shit you’ve read, or people you know, as if its equivalent to writing skill… ugh. Just do your damn job.

Again, it’s possible to do everything I’ve written about so far as a writer without understanding it. But quantifying things keeps you sane and improves your chances of doing something properly. Delusions make us unstable, make it anyone’s guess if we’re doing something properly or not.

Stay (blog equivalent of) tuned for a new harsh truth asap!!

Harsh truth 5 (of 8) for writers

You will end up sacrificing something for this

The first draft of this rule was just, “Quit drinking!” which was a bit more personalized than necessary! Though I’m guessing you understand what I meant by that. If not, I’m sure you know how important alcohol can be to others. But if drinking isn’t your thing, I recommend giving up whatever its equivalent is. I’m sure you’re picturing what that is now.

If you’re going to only sometimes use your spare time to read, or only sometimes write, we may never hear of you. If that’s fine by you, it’s fine by me. But don’t pretend it’s fine if it isn’t. That’s just making excuses.

This isn’t the same as saying, “Those of you with 80+ hour commitments per week elsewhere in life should forget about success.” That’s not the case at all. It may well take those people longer, and that’s fine. What I am saying is: commit, commit, commit, as best you can, however that means to you.

Writing is a sacrifice in itself, of course. We writers are wonderful people—but mostly because we write. In real life, lots of us are weirdos, incapable of formulating coherent sentences, with nothing to report of our own lives because we spent them in dark rooms with our imagination for company.

It tends to be true that the better the writer, the more boring a life that they lead; the more time spent writing, the weirder the person.

It’s a paradox I still haven’t wrapped my head around: how is it that these people who spend their time creating characters—that are if not likeable then at least relatable, and if not relatable, at least act in realistic ways—cannot function in public?

All that time spent alone can make a person narcissistic. It places too much weight on the person’s own problems versus those of others. It causes a person to exalt their own worth, given that they’re mostly what they know of the world and how it functions. Therefore, they wrongly assume they’re as important to others as they are to themselves. They spend too much time in their own heads.

When you do that, your head starts to eat itself. You’ll grow to hate yourself, and to talk too much about yourself, which makes the alleviation of these symptoms unattractive to those people who might help you the most.

That’s okay. That is simply the typical way in which writers are insane. I don’t think “insanity”, in my admittedly mild usage of the word, is avoidable. You can simply select the type of insanity you would like, or are willing to accept for the sake of some other goal. In this case, it’s the pain of narcissism for the sake of getting books with your name on them.

I read this interview with Matthew Barney, whose advice to artists was: “Making art is like quitting smoking. Unless you are 100% committed, it is not going to happen.”

Have you seen that guy’s work? It’s absolutely bananas insane. Look up his Cremaster series of films on YouTube, for example. I don’t understand them one bit, but I do know that you don’t get to do that type of work without an incredible amount of hard work and dedication to your vision.

Stay (blog equivalent of) tuned for a new harsh truth asap!!

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