Limited Experience


Recently, I helped in the creation and production of the Community College of Philadelphia’s literary magazine: Limited Editions. My professor Julie Odell led the charge with Evan Judah as the Photography Editor, Luis Acosta as the Graphic Designer, and yours truly as the Literary Editor.

It wasn’t easy. There was some really great submissions in poetry particularly, but in the end, the editorial team (Natalie Dickinson and Royal Earvin, thanks again) all agreed that what made it in was the best to print.

I always wanted to be a part of a literary magazine, and now that I have, it may be something I do in the future more consistantly. I had a great time and learned a lot about the publishing process, particularly these two points:

  • Sometimes you can write something that blows the pants off of two of the judges, but the other three just aren’t on board so it doesn’t get in.
  • Sometimes you can write something that blows the pants off of all of the judges, but sometimes you still won’t get published because it’s the wrong “theme” for the magazine or they’re already maxed out on fiction/poetry submissions.

The point is, sometimes, after you submit to a magazine that you really want to get published in…you don’t. Sometimes, you get that form letter rejection notice in the mail that says “Thank you but unfortunately…” and you think that it’s because of you or what you submitted. Maybe it was, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe you really impressed the judges but there was some outlying factor that prevented you from making the magazine. It doesn’t always come down to “if it’s good”.

Limited Editions.jpg

Keep writing, keep editing, keep working, and keep learning – that’s the best advice you can follow. If you do that you’ll get published.

On a side note: those that are attending college right now or even know of local literary magazines near them, it would be beneficial for you to volunteer some of your time to them. Publishing other writers makes you a better writer yourself.




Surprise! Magner Nichols Competition.

Recently I was convinced by my public speaking professor to participate in CCP’s annual Magner Nichols speech competition. It’s a two division competition where competitors will compete with either a 2 minute memorized monologue or a 5-7 minute extemporaneous speech. I had a 6 minute speech on Sleep Apnea awareness which I had presented to my public speaking class and he thought it would be a good fit for the competition.

He was right. I won first. Woot Woot.


From Left to Right: Steve Rauscher (2nd), Tammy Brooks (Honorable Mention), Kelly McQuain (Professor who convinced me), Me, Nykko Vitali (3rd).

It was very exciting and an honor to win, but also it was also quite unexpected as I truthfully had not planned on entering, and probably wouldn’t have if it weren’t for a little push (and extra credit) from my professor. It just goes to show that you can make whatever plans you want to, but if an opportunity arrives you should seize it.

I went back to school to become a better writer and I’m leaving a better speaker.


The Struggle is Realz

Art is hard. Let’s not forget that. Writing is art. Let’s not forget that either.

I am lucky enough to have found someone who I enjoy sharing a part of my life. That wonderful lady is the very talented artist, Leah St Clair. Recently we talked about how difficult it is to make art while still living a full, real job, some-what social, and very academic, life. I couldn’t help but think how everything we said applied to art can also be said of writing.

Writing is hard. It’s hard to sit down and create something from nothing using only the vocabulary you know from the languages you speak. It’s not easy. Then you have to edit and turn what you spewed out of your mind into something that a person can read and understand. Then you have to edit again, and actually make it a good story.

…but it’s not over yet…

After you finish something that your proud of you have to show the world. The whole world, like strangers. After you show the whole world you have to hide in a corner and cry because of what the world said. As you cry your skin starts to grow. This whole process is repeated until your skin is thick enough that tears no longer form. When that happens you will leave that corner forever.

This will take a while.

Upon completion you’ll have a body of work, thick skin, and hopefully some readers. You won’t have any money. You haven’t gotten paid yet. In fact, that sad truth is you may never get paid, and that’s what it all comes down to.

Art is important. If you’re an artist than this is obvious. If you’re not an artist than what the hell are you doing with your life? Making money? Pfft, that shit’s weak. Want to do something strong? Leave a piece of you for the world to remember you by and create something from nothing. It’s not easy, and you will have to work at a job you hopefully don’t hate while you do it, and you will meet a whole lot of fake people along the way who just want to use you for your ideas, and you will face a whole lot of criticism for your bleeding heart emotions that took you forever to summon the courage for to put on paper, and you will meet a whole lot of people who tell you that you’re a fool for creating art and you’re much better off as a doctor or on wall street, and you may not always understand why you’re right and they’re wrong…

…but when that feeling comes…go throughout your house and remove all the art. Take every painting off the wall, every photo, every book from the bookshelf and place it in a room and close the door. Now walk through your house again holding as much money as you can carry and see how you feel about art now.

Hey! Remember me?

I’ve been thinking about posting something on here for a short while so I may as well do it. There is always a fear that’s involved after you haven’t written in a while. A fear that’s similar to a weight lifter who’s been out of the gym too long, or an athlete recovering from a serious injury: can I still do it? Let’s find out.

After returning to college to pursue an English degree in hopes of becoming a better (more exposed) writer I’m happy to say that I am successfully halfway through that program. It hasn’t been easy, but I have learned a lot, and even won two Judith Stark awards. The winners haven’t yet been announced for this semester so here’s hoping for another “Look Who’s Talking About Me Again” post.

I’ve also volunteered myself to be the lead Literary Editor for Limited Editions, a literary/photo magazine produced by the good folks over at the Student Life and Activities office at the Community College of Philadelphia. More on that later.

And after an extremely long hiatus I’ve succumbed the courage to open up the ole work-in-progress. I gave it a solid read and decided that maybe, possibly, I might just do a little bit of writing in it before it begins to collect dust again. Perhaps.

That’s it for now but stay tuned because I promise to keep this blog updated with more frequency than the once a year posting of late. Probably.

Look Who’s Talking About Me Again!

As many of my loyal followers already know, I am currently enrolled at the Philadelphia Community College to earn a degree in English and a certificate in Creative Writing. I never graduated from College previously, so I’m going for my undergraduate, but I’m not all too concerned with the grades.

Okay, maybe a little concerned (I’ve gotten a handful of Bs I thought should have been As) but really what I’m enrolled for is to become a better writer. Not so much the degree (I’ve seen in the real world how much those are worth) but more for the betterment of my craft, the continuation of my epic journey to write the perfect sentence.

Last semester I was awarded 1st place in Fiction for the Judith Stark Creative writing contest.

This semester I was, once again, awarded 1st place in Fiction for the Judith Stark Creative writing contest.  (WOOHOO)

If you think that it can’t feel as good the second time around…well, you’re wrong.

The contest works like this. Students submit their work in triplicate anonymously. Three judges read every piece and then come together to talk about which work they enjoyed the most.

Because the work is submitted anonymously, the fact that I won two semesters in a row is really special.

Thank you to all the judges and faculty members who have supported me in my quest to be a better writer.

Details on the winning piece to come.

Poetry is Play

I’m almost finished my second semester of my second attempt of college, and it can’t be understated how happy I am about learning the craft of writing. I’m nearly complete the Introduction to Creative Writing (a prerequisite for everything wonderful) and have learned something very valuable about writing poetry.

When writing non-fiction, even creative non-fiction, there are rules. Not hard and fast rules, but rules. You can break them, but it’s generally awkward to do so. For example, when you start a sentence, the rule is to begin with a capital letter. You can bend that rule in non-fiction or fiction, and you can break it too, but your writing would have to be pretty damn incredible to overpower how you blatantly ignore capitalizing the first letter of the first word in a new sentence.


But in poetry, you can do whatever the fuck you want.


Poetry is playtime for writers (a world without editors). There are no rules to break so the possibilities are endless. In poetry, the look of the words, the sound of the words, the feel of the words together     all of this matters just as much as what the words are, or what they mean.

I’m actively trying to write more poetry, and I think I’m going to take an advanced course down the line. I can’t help it, I’m a rule-breaker at heart.

Yeh Mon

Just got back from Jamaica!

Had a blast. Definitely some great people down there. It was awesome checking out their art and seeing what some of these people do every day to survive.




For those who don’t know, Jamaica is an incredibly poor country that survives off of tourism. The people there do anything they can to make a buck and some of them spend their entire lives honing in on one craft and selling it very cheaply to eat.

That’s a real artist. Someone who is producing their life’s work just to keep their life going.

I have to take a lesson from Jamaica. Not everything I write is going to win an award or get published and even get read. But I have to write it anyway, because out there somewhere is someone writing to stay alive, and I have to be just as hungry to keep up.

Look Who’s Talking About Me Now!

Thanks Stephan Colbert for the tag line. Since you won’t be using it anymore I feel like it’s my civic duty to keep it alive.

As many loyal blog followers already know, I recently reenrolled in school at the spry young age of 28. The goal is become a better writer and it looks like I’m on my way. The Philadelphia Community College offers a creative writing contest known as the Judith Stark Creative Writing Award. Every semester they award a small cash prize and a large publishing credit to four students whose pieces were of exceptional quality in the fields of Non-Fiction, Poetry, Screenplay, and Fiction. Why am I telling you this??


Woohoo! Success! The piece that won is the first chapter of a novel I’m currently working on (and now reenergized and inspired to continue working on). I’ll be doing a reading in the Spring (stay tuned) and the excerpt will be published in the spring through Limited Editions, a literary mag aimed at publishing students of the college. It’s a small step in my writer career but a big one for me.

The Last First Time.

I just finished a Tough Mudder. What’s a Tough Mudder you ask? Well, it’s this.

I know, I know…pretty awesome.

It was very tough (duh) but I made it through. My legs are cut up from crawling on the ground, my calves are still sore, and I realized that I didn’t have as much upper body strength as I imagined I did in my mind.

But I made it through. That’s what’s important.

Writing is very similar. You finish whatever piece you’re working on and look back, what do you see? This sentence sucked and that was a poor word choice, these characters aren’t defined well enough, and this description is just terrible. But guess what…you made it through. You made it to the end, and only making it to the end do you have the ability to look back and see how much work you need to do.

While we were stretching at the starting line, a man who had done the course over fifty (fifty!) times was giving us a motivational speech. He asked,

“When was the last time that you did something for the first time?”

Well? When was the last time that you did something for the first time?

The last time I did something for the first time was that Tough Mudder; before that, it was returning to school; before that, it was publishing a novel.

I don’t know when the next time that I’ll do something for the first time will be, but I’m keeping my eyes open.

I’m giving myself permission to hurt, and to falter, and to fail.

My knees are cut up and my calves are soar but both will heal, and when they do, the memory of me finishing the race will remain for my entire life.

You’re novel doesn’t need to look pretty when you finish the first draft, just finish the first draft.
You’re body doesn’t need to look pretty when you finish the race, just finish the race.