Monday, June 10, 2013

Guest Blog by Peter Stenson, author of Fiend - June 10, 2013

Please welcome Peter Stenson to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Fiend will be published on July 9, 2013 by Crown.

Unsolicited Writing Advice: Don’t be Such a Pussy

I showed up to Colorado State University’s MFA program thinking I was hot shit. Why? Damned if I know, but I felt pretty good about my ability to string sentences together and create characters that were detestably relatable.
      That changed after my first workshop.
      I handed in a story that was pure shit. I thought it was gold at the time—some fifteen pages of every imaginable clichéd conflict mashed together with run-ons and a few sprinkled f-bombs for good measure. I was expecting a standing ovation during my first workshop. This didn’t happen. Instead, I was told the brutal truth about my story: it sucked and was more than likely unsalvageable.
      Needless to say, I was devastated.
      I spent the next few days crying, hardly rising from bed to go the bathroom. I looked into switching from my MFA to a teaching certificate program. I played lots of video games. I was too depressed to break apart the Oreo cookies I was devouring by the fistful. I was seconds away from throwing in the towel, when my wife gave me the best writing advice I’ve ever received: Don’t be such a pussy.
      Crass? Yes. Insensitive? Perhaps. But absolutely right on the money. This was her saying you’ve wanted to be a writer your entire life. You love books more than anything. You dragged me across the country to pursue this goal. You better grow a pair and learn to take criticism.
      But I believe this mantra speaks to more than my (or any writer’s) ability to learn from criticism. I believe it speaks to the underlying fear that I feel every time I sit down in front of a blank page. It’s the antidote to the voice inside my head that tells me nobody gives a shit about what I have to say, and if on the off chance they did care, some other writer could say it better. It’s about rejection and insecurity. It’s about vulnerability. It’s about realizing I like writing genre, and contrary to MFA programs everywhere, genre is not a dirty word. It’s about knowing I can always get better—learn more, read more, revise more—and that this is part of the maddeningly beautiful process of creating art.
      So for my one piece of unsolicited advice: Don’t be such a pussy. Don’t hold back on the page. Don’t for a second quit believing what you are doing is essential, both for yourself and the greater public.

About Fiend

Crown, July 9, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

There’s more than one kind of monster.

    When Chase Daniels first sees the little girl in umbrella socks tearing open the Rottweiler, he's not too concerned. As a longtime meth addict, he’s no stranger to horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations.
    But as he and his fellow junkies soon discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived.
    The funny thing is, Chase’s life was over long before the apocalypse got here, his existence already reduced to a stinking basement apartment and a filthy mattress and an endless grind of buying and selling and using. He’s lied and cheated and stolen and broken his parents’ hearts a thousand times. And he threw away his only shot at sobriety a long time ago, when he chose the embrace of the drug over the woman he still loves.
    And if your life’s already shattered beyond any normal hopes of redemption…well, maybe the end of the world is an opportunity. Maybe it’s a last chance for Chase to hit restart and become the man he once dreamed of being. Soon he’s fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among civilization’s ruins.
    But is salvation just another pipe dream?
    Propelled by a blistering first-person voice and featuring a powerfully compelling antihero, Fiend is at once a riveting portrait of addiction, a pitch-black love story, and a meditation on hope, redemption, and delusion—not to mention one hell of a zombie novel.

About Peter

Peter Stenson is the author of the novel "Fiend" forthcoming from Crown in July of 2013. He has essays and stories published or forthcoming in The Sun, Bellevue Literary Review, The Greensboro Review, Confrontation, Harpur Palate, and Post Road, among others. He received his MFA in fiction from Colorado State University. He lives in Denver with his wife and daughter.

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1 comment:

  1. It's hard to learn from criticism! No one likes a kick in the teeth and thats what I guess it feels like sometimes...not that I'm a writer haha.