Open Letter to All Magazine/Newspaper Editors

Dear “Whomever it may concern”:

Although I know that “in this current economy,” the printed medium is losing face and money and prominence, I assure you that you need to hire me. No matter what your publication is interested in, I am sure I could be a great fit to your standards. Even if your magazine is about knitting patterns or cats, I’ll write for you, just please, I’d like a writing job.

I know I don’t even have a degree in Journalism or in English, but that fact should just be the first shred of proof that I am capable of making good decisions. My off-the-wall writing and taboo topics could fit perfectly into the centerfold of any family or pornography magazine. It doesn’t matter who you are, as long as I get to put my name on glossy pages.

Here is my resume (complete with original artwork) which might sway you:

Two-time champion narwhal-wrestler

Writes a hilarious blog that makes people laugh

Is a boyscout and can tie knots (which may come in handy)

Can sing reasonably okay if you’re tone deaf in more than one ear

Knows many big words and can use thesaurus if more big words are needed

Can speak German (or at least get by)

Also writes poetry, and poets are just fun to have around

Seriously, I can tie SEVEN different knots

Just give me a chance, knitting/cat/boating/household/dirty magazine. I’ll write you up a windstorm of good stories. Just pay me for it.

Sincerely,

A Writer and Blogger

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Mutli-Cultural Reading: Spoken Word Poems

Below is a video of my performance at the multi-cultural open mic. I read two poems called “A Savage Yawp” and “American.”

I hope you enjoyed these poems, seriously. I might post videos of other performances of either separately. The second poem is defintiely one of my favorite.

The open mic was hosted by LadyVee DaPoet, as part of Poetry Matters. Poet Big Bailey videotaped this performance and posted it. Many thanks to him. You can find his channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/BiGBaileysBeats

Thanks for watching and reading.

Derek Berry’s Collected Works: Coming Soon

The results are in…

The title of my chapbook is going to be… SKINNY DIPPING WITH STRANGERS.

It will include several of the poems that I’ve posted to this blog and even one short story. I’m not publishing it with any company, instead just by myself. There will be a limited number of printed copies, which right now, I am formatting. Excting? Yes… you can OWN a booklet of my poetry so that when you need something to read in the bathroom, BAM… poetry.

When you need some poems to peruse, pick up my book. I have not decided at price it will sell, but should be from $2-5. There MIGHT also be an e-book version that I will sell from my website (which I’m working with a programmer on designing.)

If you’ve not heard any of my poetry before, you can watch/read some of it here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/category/poems/

There will, however, be several other poems with topics including rocket ships, Alzheimer’s, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Americans, parachutes, and skinny dipping.

This will be a very small publication, as the title “chapbook” implies. In the future, I hope to publish a collected works, but for now, you can read  a preview of my work. Thank you for keeping up with this blog and commenting with such nice, thoughtful comments. I hope I’ll receive similar reviews of this first publication.

For more info, subscribe here or like my page on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Derek-Berry/141228932625382

Again, thank you and tell anyone you might know about my blog and work.

Twas the Night Before High School

I have not posted for several days, because I have been squeezing the blood from life, trying to sweat out the last dribbles of mortality I can. Tomorrow, I may die. I’m not sure I’ll even mind too much. As long as it’s something flamboyant and well-publicized.

Locked in several libraries, hunched down at tables in the back of cafes, I have been reading books I meant to read two months ago. I recently finished the reading that I must write on tomorrow, and that I only finished last night. Sipping on iced mochas, I underlined ironic dialogue tags. I underlined everything.

Every erudite phrase. Puns, wisecracks, slanders, homilies, anecdotes, proverbs, epigrams, apothegms, bon mots, and generalities. The metaphors and the similes and the thematic cues. I’d scribble down surreptitiously derogatory comments about the author and move on.

My senior year of high school starts tomorrow, and I thought I might be a bit more excited. I’m merely anxious, repulsed, and shocked. Tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, I will wake at 8 in the morning.

Twas the night before high school…

and all through the town

red bull cans dropped in stupor

crushed on the ground

“What?” the teens said

“We have school tomorrow?

But what about all the time we had

We still have yet time to borrow.”

So they packed up their things

and zipped their bags tight

And waited too patient

for it to turn night

then set their alarm clocks

and stared forever through the dark

And wondered exactly

where they were expected to park

Twas the night before high school…

and with their consciousness fight-

teens tossed and turned and dreamed

of the horror awaiting at first light

Yeah, I Blogged about You

Just for the record, this isn’t about anyone. This blog is not based on a true story. Any events resembling real life or real persons are purely coincidental. It’s especially not about you, Zooey Deschanel

Slut.

Sometimes, I’m afraid that if someone reads my novel, they might see themselves in a character. Especially one who might happen to be a prostitute in said novel. But it’s not like we writers plan to base some characters on real people. It’s just that some people we know lend a lot of interesting idiosyncrasies that we can use in a character. Just because one character collects cat plates, that doesn’t mean I based her off my great aunt. Just because one character has a nylon fetish… well, you get the picture.

What’s really lame, though, is blogging derogatorily about people, because a blog is far more personal. For example, if your girlfriend breaks your heart, maybe it might annoy her if you post poems about your broken heart every day for the next six months. Or maybe go the Zuckerburg route and write an angry rant post about her while programming drunk.  Blogging makes sure that those letters we never mean to send instead get posted to a public blog for everyone to see.

Blogs are supposed to be personal, though, but where does one cross the line of too-personal? Sometimes, something that might give readers a bit of insight into the blogger’s life, but sometimes readers lack the interest for full insight. Just because sometimes people like my poems, I don’t find it necessary to reveal any dark secrets. To catalog my spending habits. To post pictures of my pencil sharpener collection. (I do not have a pencil sharpener collection, because I can’t keep from losing just one sharpener.)

Novels and blogs work quite the same way. Friends of Hemingway feared being too interesting, because their exploits and secrets might end up under a pseudonym in his next story.  Maybe ever writer sets off to write a memoir, but changes his or her mind halfway through. What would my parents think? My friends, whom I painted in such a horrible way? Well, I can just go right ahead and change the names, just call it fiction. No one will know.

Mind you, most writers do the opposite of what James Frey did. We do not fictionalize something and pretend it’s real. We hide very real bits of our lives in our writing.

So, I’m not saying that this blog is about anyone particular, whom I might know or not know. Especially not you.

Not you, Zooey. Actually, I hope you have a good life. And then go to Hell.

How Hollywood Killed Cool

Hollywood killed cool. Things that used to be cool are now considered “cliche” or even by some playground bullies “gay.” What used to be very manly is now considered a joke. So, this blog is a memorial to what used to be cool, what used to make people wonder and now makes people gag.

Cowboys: Take the prime example of this: cowboys. Cowboys used to be awesome, riding along out in the Wild West, gun-slinging, and fighting bad guys. But then movies like The Wild Wild West came out starring Will Smith, turning cowboys into a huge joke. And after Brokeback Mountain, being a cowboy has become synonymous with having sex with the same sex. Sure, maybe it was more realistic to look at how lonely it could be out there on a ranch with loads of guys, but what about The Lone Ranger? What about The Man Without a Name? We should think back to the days when Clint Eastwood ruled the West, not Jake Gyllenhaal.

Astronauts: NASA just stopped sending bottle rockets with people inside into space. Why? Because no one wants to be an astronaut after hearing the truth. The problem with Hollywood is that it destroys the veneer of glamour in the lives of the glamorous, like cowboys and movie stars.

Knights: They were chivalrous and cool guys, saving damsels and slaying dragons. I blame this downgrade from cool completely on Mark Twain and Monty Python. King Arthur is now a joke- I mean, there’s a Sonic video game based off of him and his knights.

Movie Stars/Celebrity: There’s no telling how many films are produced boo-hooing the pitfalls of fame. Look, if you’re multi-billionaire and you’re lonely, you’ve got serious problems. It used to be, if you were cool and famous… you were cool and famous. Now Hollywood must catalog the problems of celebrities as if we care. Oh, should I feel sorry for you because you wreck cars and do heroin? No, not really, when you’re only job is to get naked for cameras. Really, famous people have it really hard, don’t they? If there’s one thing I don’t want to be ruined, it’s that the American Dream is to get rich and alienate yourself from everybody with your riches.

CIA/assassins: Being in the CIA is cool, no matter what. I do not want any more films depicting the hardships of broken-up assassins. Or of the family problems of super spies. What I want to see if James Bond kick Russian butt. I want being an assassin to be cool, not something morally conflicting.

Drug Dealers: I’m talking to you, Darenn Aronosky. With movies like Reqieum For a Dream, we found out that dealing drugs can send you to jail. And you’ll feel bad for it. What would Scarface say?

What else has Hollywood ruined? What used to be romanticized has become miniaturized. People who used to seem like heroes are now just normal people. We’ve ruined the hope to be hopelessly cool in the future. Even if we become cowboys.

Book of Poetry

I have talked before about self-publishing, but now it may become a reality. Only, with a book of poetry. Never heard my poetry before? Well, geez, here’s a prime example of it right here on my blog: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/poem-skinny-dipping-with-strangers/

Well, in other news, I want to make a chapbook of poetry AND make the same chapbook into an e-book to sell online. Which means you can enjoy my poetry online. Not to MENTION, with every e-book or physical copy sold, you’ll get a code to access the MP3’s of me READING the poetry. And if there’s anything better than reading my poetry, it’s listening to me performing it. Yeah, I know, I’m excited too. Only, the chapbook is still in the developmental stage and I need YOUR help.

I’d like your feedback on what to call my book, likely named after one of my poems or otherwise. So, please vote and help me out. Also, if you have any cool ideas for a title yourself (it might help to check out some of my poetry), give your own ideas in the comment section below.

Check out some more poetry here, more to come: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/category/poems/

I Want To Grow Up to Be Ryan Gosling (Or a Pirate)

Every male thinks that maybe they can at times be  very romantic creatures as in, Ryan-Gosling-from-The Notebook-romantic. That sort of expectation is just not justified by the sad reality of almost imminent obesity and male pattern baldness. As kids, we want to grow up to be a lot of things.

Rich.

Handsome.

Charming.

Intellectual.

Published.

We imagine the future to hold so many things that it so obviously cannot. Like a six pack, maybe. Like billions of dollars and a book deal. I began thinking about this when writing my “Writing Biography” posts this weekend.

In the fifth grade, I had huge plans for my future. I would be on Oprah and parade through the streets while people screamed my name. I was also for the duration of my childhood under the impression that I would die at 16. I would publish a book that would rock the world, change society… and then I’d die.

After publishing something, I could die. That would have been fine with me, just sixteen years of life and one book on the shelves.

Well, I didn’t publish anything. I didn’t gain the romantic suave of Ryan Gosling or his six packs. At sixteen, I didn’t die and maybe although it was just a small premonition, I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t made real plans for the future, hadn’t really thought beyond what might have been my imminent death.

It’s one of those strange notions sparked during childhood that stick with you: sixteen years seemed like it would be long enough to achieve everything I’ve ever wanted to do. Maybe not.

The problem with growing up is that you have to change your game plan, the older you get. Maybe when you’re young, you can want to be a robot or a ninja. With how many video games I played and episodes of Power Rangers I watched, I thought it was imminent that one day, I’d save the earth from a horde of attacking aliens.

But as we grow older, we cross out things we deem impossible. As William Wilberforce said, “We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible, so we will do them anyways.” But then suddenly becoming a robot seems impossible. We presume we’ll never save the earth from aliens or don a ninja suit.

After this, more realistic dreams crumble. Maybe we can’t be lawyers, can’t be doctors. Can’t woo women with smooth ease. Can’t write stories that make people cry or rejoice or feel anything. And there’s a fine line between impossible and improbable, I think.

There are truths that you have to come to terms with, like the fact that you will never be Ryan Gosling. But there are also hard truths that must come to terms with you.

If you really, really want to become a pirate, you just need a fast ship and an eyepatch. A crew, some cannons, a cutlass, and a criminal record.

If you really want to become a doctor, you’ll need to go the medical school. I think I’d have an easier time becoming a pirate, but don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.

If you really want to become Ryan Gosling, you must discover the secret to altering your DNA. Also, get a gym membership.

If you really want to become an author, you first have to write a book.

The Writing History of Derek Berry: Part 2

Derek is telling a wonderful story about how he finally wrote a novel he’s proud of and all about everything he’s ever done in writing. Read part 1 here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/the-writing-history-of-derek-berry-part-1/

Read about his book here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/about-the-book-word-salad/

Last time, I told you about Aurelia, the book I wrote when I was only eleven.

After I put Aurelia away, I ventured onto several tangents. Some time during my freshman year, I ventured into rocky territory. I dropped fantasy, which I always intended to write in my youth. My “younger” youth. Instead, I wanted to write horror. I tried all sorts of projects, too- a learning experience. Dean Koontz rip-offs, Stephen King rip-offs. the most cringe-worthy idea was about a horde of very classy vampires who exploited the vampire craze of the day by sleeping with creepy, nerdy Twihards.

As a sophomore, I began writing for the Hornet Herald, which I credit with my skills at writing funny blog posts! After being subjected to plenty of snooze-inducing news stories, I finally tried my hand at a column. A Valentines Column that I may one day re-post here (probably on Valentines Day). For the past year, I’ve almost exclusively been writing columns for our school newspaper, funny serious, and otherwise. Some might find their way here, some not. I’ll have to dig through the archives of my old computer. Such practice has helped me learn how to write blogs, I’d like to believe.

Last summer, I began writing poetry. It began as angry tirades but became more like this: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/reading-poetry/ More poetry videos will be coming soon, I promise.

A very captivating poetry reading very late at night

I began writing Word Salad for NANOWRIMO, which is in November when you’re supposed to write 50,000 words in one month. The book was not exactly what it is today, because it was called The Life and Times of a Serial Killer and dealt solely with Sebastian Martinelli. The story I wanted to tell only involved a serial killer and a lot of gory acts of violence: this was before I learned how to better write about, you know, “feelings.”
The story now, is far large in expanse and storytelling. But I do suggest NANOWRIMO to people who want to jump-start ideas. No, the story will not be able to be published right away, and no 50,000 is not the length of a real novel, but it’s a good start. Learn more here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ Even if you don’t want to be a commercial author, it’s fun and I think it’s great for aspiring writers.

Well, it took about two years after that of revisions. In fact, I think I just decided to change the ending… again. Because as long as I haven’t published the book yet, I can do that. The problem arose because of a beta reader’s comments who found that the ending was very unfair to the consistency of one character.

I’ve shaped the story, though, to a place where I’m very proud to show it off, to market it via a blog. To send query letters, though I should stop until I rework the ending. Otherwise, I’m very excited to share it with the world as soon as possible. What path I know shall take is unknown. We will one day see. Also, I’m planning on printing and publishing a book of poetry. Merely a chapbook to hawk off at poetry readings. But… I’ve reconsidered and now I believe I shall also sell an e-book copy of the book (once I put all the poems together and write an introduction and put together a chapbook.) But hopefully, the poetry book which has yet to be named will be coming to an Amazon website near you!

That is the entire and exhaustive history of my writing. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the misadventures of Derek Berry!

The Writing History of Derek Berry: Part 1

I think it would be fun to recount the writing misadventures of my own short life, so read about them here.

Derek began writing stories at the age of five. His first story was called “The Night Before Christmas” in which Santa Claus fell down the chimney and died in a fire, sort of like a rip-off of “The Santa Claus” sans Tim Allen.

Now he’s written something he’s more proud of, a novel called Word Salad. Read about it here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/about-the-book-word-salad/

In the fifth grade, I wrote a twelve-part story about a kid who tracks down magical amulets and saves the world and whatnot. This was the first time I wrote anything especially gory. Unnecessarily gory. I think the villain (Mr. Paradox) was stabbed through his Achilles tendon and shot in the face. Other character met similarly grisly ends: pushed off cliffs, burned alive, eaten by flesh-eating bugs.

This first foray into the nitty gritty may foreshadow some of my gory/strange story choices nowadays.

At that age, writing helped me express myself; I was not the social animal I am today. I wasn’t even any sort of animal, per se. I could not speak very well for the first eleven years of my life, so I wrote. I read. Maybe having spent eleven years nearly silent, I feel like I should make up for it now. But writing, cliche enough, became an escape for me. I never questioned that deep down, I wanted to tell stories. Before wanting to become a writer, I thought I’d love to be a film director until I learned that they were usually not responsible with WRITING the story. I wanted to make up stories for people to enjoy.

In the fifth grade, I decided I wanted to write professionally. How hard could it be? At eleven, I could simply type up a book and send it to a big publisher. They’d fall in love and give lots and lots of money so I could continue to write books for the rest of my life in the safety of a lake house. Well, it’s been six years since that dream was first inspired, and sadly, no lake house. No published works.

Of course when Random House did not mail me back, I did not lose faith. Instead, I started writing something new. What you’ll notice about my writing life is that I’ve never stopped writing. I don’t expect to not publish Word Salad, but if it fails to garner any sort of attention, I shan’t stop writing. That’s just not what I do. Even in the sixth grade, I understood that. So, at twelve, I began to write what I like to think as “my first real novel.”

It was horrible. I was twelve. But I’m still damn proud out it, because I wrote it. Like I said, I was TWELVE. I finished the first and even penned a sequel, planning out a whole series before tiring out of the story. But still, this novel I wrote was even longer than the one I’m pushing right now. And it’s not THAT bad, even, especially considering a sixth grader wrote it. It took about a year and a half to write and was called Aurelia.

The basic premise was that there is an eighth continent floating around in the sky where magical stuff happens, the place where our myths come from. Because an evil sorcerer vanquished years ago threatens to return (his name was Zinnebarr, which mind you, is an awesome name), the Aurelians seek the help of “the chosen one.” The said chosen one was Declin Furthermore who is kidnapped by a giant rainbow-colored bird named Tropez and taken to the capitol. There, Declin learns it is his duty and destiny to find Zinnebarr’s spirit and destroy his source of power, The Shadow Orb.

Well, it’s not exactly original, but I think writing something like this was a great step in the right direction. No one takes you seriously at twelve, so I did get kindly replies from agents. “I can’t help you publish this, but keep on writing” became the ultimate sentiment. What I’m most proud of is what issues I tackled. I continued to rewrite and rewrite the story I’d written until I was about 14. And the story, therefore, became more imaginative, more complicated. The fictional continent was mostly vacant grasslands for some reason with only about 17 real cities, but each city was important. The rest of the continent, I remember, was covered by either desert or a really creepy forest. One of the cities was the industrial center of the otherwise pollution-free land, so a magical dome was placed over it to keep in all the nasty smog. Things like that, I’m proud of.

I may blog another day about the ingenuity of Aurelia, of which I still have a copy of in my room, but unfortunately, no digital copies. I might try to find a copy of it on a flashdrive somewhere and share its juvenile awesomeness gratis to the world.

Well, that’s the end of part 1 of this awesome story. Tune in tomorrow or Monday for Part 2 of The Writing History of Derek Berry.