Elijah Kampsen

Welcome to a marginally accurate representation of myself. May my work, good or bad, inspire you.

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Blogs - February 13, 2014

The Feel Good Drag/ is a direct product of my 2013 NaNoWriMo venture. For those of you not familiar with the NaNoWriMo process, let me explain. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the goal of it is to produce 50,000 words over the course of the month of November. That is, 50,000 words or in other words, a Gatsby-length novel. That goal translates to over 1,500 words a day for a full month. Granted, it is creative writing so they tend to come a bit easier than research projects, but I mean, still.

So I powered through it – stayed strong even through the famous week 2 slump, in fact. I thought since I was trailblazing as such that I'd have no trouble at all finishing it. All the way up to 17 days in. Then I got sick.

I had a helluva fever and a sore throat like I've never had before. So I took a day off (or 5) to watch every episode of Extreme Cheapskates (entertaining) available on Netflix and then on to Hoarders (just sad).

And by the 23rd I was almost certain I wouldn't finish this year's competition – I wouldn't come out a NaNoWriMo winner. Now, as I'm sure the creators of NaNoWriMo have already determined, November is the perfect month to take on such a challenge. The weather outside is generally bad and so you don't feel any "Heavy Weather" (that is, "ill thoughts" by way of Ben Brooks) because you spent all month indoors.

I went home for Thanksgiving and while my family was working or at school I had nothing to do but ward off other thoughts, so I threw on some records (like 5 in a row) and produced something like 1/5 of the novel in a single day.

Maybe I just needed to think on it, or maybe I just needed a break, or maybe I didn't need any of that at all, but the point is I got back on track in time to finish a full 5 days early.

I got this cool certificate, but way more cooler than that is the novel I rushed out to have printed. As you can imagine imagine, it's pretty satisfying to hold in your hands a 189-page manuscript of your own accord. Much more exciting that simply seeing a word count – like there's suddenly this enormous weight to your words.

But the thing is, it was a rough draft. I'd even go as far as to say the easiest of the work was in November – vomiting unedited and uncensored prose onto page after page. The following 2 months was revision and editing for days. I've read my own book more times than I've read any other and in a period of only 8 weeks. A professor once told me that the revision process never truly ends – there's always something you'll wanna change, but eventually you have to decide it's ready for publishing or you'll never publish it.

Now, I realize 2 months is a lot less than most novels spend in secret, but I was my own editor, and the truth is if you stick with it too long you'll get burnt out and start to hate your own novel. Right now, I still like it, so you'll probably enjoy it at least once, I think. But as a creative and driven individual, I'm ready to start another project and be finished with this one. Don't get the impression that I skimped on it - I'm just ready to share.

Grey Matter - prose and poetry, and The Feel Good Drag/ - a novel, are out at midnight.

Blogs - February 12, 2014

The Feel Good Drag/ is quite likely maybe a result of my trying to rationalize my own doomed relationship. I feel like the whole mess (details spanning the entirety of Grey Matter) would've been so much easier to comprehend if drugs had played a role. And maybe they have – maybe love is the most powerful drug. I considered the title "Love & Other Drugs" for the book but it's recently been used for a film. It's a great title, though – I'll give'em that. I just think maybe life would be a lot easier to comprehend if I could just attribute all my failures, all the negative to some substance abuse. If I was strung out, I wouldn't be asking myself why I got dumped. Either because I would know exactly why, or I just wouldn't care. So I injected drugs into my story because on them, life might make a bit more sense in that way.

I also cannot in any way deny the influence of two major sources – the first being the television series Breaking Bad (which even makes a cameo in the novel). Breaking Bad wrapped up a short while before I began writing The Feel Good Drag/, and I happily subjected myself on a weekly basis to the painful realization of Walt's Downward Spiral. I'm not equating my own story to the cinematic masterpiece, but I was definitely inspired by the love arc of Jesse and Jane – a deep connection, in vein.

Then there's my favorite book, Hubert Selby Jr.'s Requiem For A Dream which, characteristically of Selby's work, throws grammatical restriction out the window to communicate the urgency of the situation - real life doesn't always have time for apostrophes and spell-check. Requiem is a doomed love story in its own regard and really stuck with me for a long time after.

I'd like to preface my novel by saying... don't expect everything to work out. This isn't your classic love story, it's one poisoned by reality.

Readers should note the explicit content of both Grey Matter and The Feel Good Drag/. I try not to shy away from condemned conditions and situations. You can't shy away from them when you're living them.

But children should be able to. Within Grey Matter, I touch on the innocence of childhood. It is my request that you help preserve that innocence by not sharing or subjecting children to the content of this work.

They'll learn much too soon of Grouplove's notion, one so potent they named a whole album after it, "Never Trust A Happy Song."

Grey Matter - poetry and prose, and The Feel Good Drag/ - a novel are available Friday. You can read excerpts from each by using the "preview" links on their respective pages.

Blogs - February 11, 2014

I ran my new texts (Grey Matter, prose and poetry, and The Feel Good Drag/, novel) through voyant-tools and revealed some very interesting, though not especially surprising (to me as their author, at least) trends. The results depicted below present the most frequently occurring words in each work as the largest physically.

Grey Matter

I think "I, To You" would make a great subtitle for the text.

and The Feel Good Drag/

Or "I Like Her, But I'm Me."

The full works are out in just a few short days, but you can check out Grey Matter's table of contents and read an excerpt of The Feel Good Drag/ right now! Just click here and then click "preview" on the work you'd like to preview (makes senses, right?)

Poetry - February 10, 2014

from Grey Matter (2014)

/Baby, I was afraid before.../
– Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is A Place On Earth"

I have to wonder
and I wish I didn't have to wonder, if
in this world of lovers, if it weren't so true
that Heaven really is a place on Earth,
and it's in your arms, and it's gone with you…
Because up above I think we'll be given
whatever it is that makes us happy,
and for me, what makes me happy is you.
But then I have to wonder,
and I really wish I didn't have to wonder, if
you'll get what you want up there too.
And I know that's not me,
because you could have me.
If you wanted to.
Or maybe in Heaven, if I make it to Heaven,
I'll be ignorant to this realization
and I won't be able to tell that
I've just been paired with an imitation of you.
And maybe she'll be flawless,
but I'm not in love with perfection.
I'm in love with /you/.

Blogs - February 7, 2014

In terms of length, The Feel Good Drag/ is a novel. I do believe it displays many more novel characteristics than simply cresting 50,000 words, but at the very least, it /has/ crested 50,000 words. And 50,000 words is a huge time commitment – very likely the biggest I've made short of college and a relationship. Now, in preparing for its release, I must consider a large variety of conditions. By researching potential publishing avenues, I have defined a few priorities. First thing's first, I don't want to give away my work for free. Even worse, I don't want to deny the product of that work to anyone.

If you recall, a couple years ago I employed the crowd-funding website Kickstarter to raise money for the publication of a physical book of my poetry, some $1,500 total. I learned more than a few things in the process and gained some important information in the field that will undoubtedly affect my future publishing ventures – starting here. During my Kickstarter campaign, I saw a very generous outpouring of support, but I also felt like I spent the majority of the month in essence /begging/ for the money. Though it was rather successful, I rather didn't enjoy that.

I have also made multiple releases of mine available for the Kindle e-reader via Amazon.com. This route led to more purchases, but also a large Amazon commission taken out of each one. I'm making approximately 30 cents of every dollar sold.

I've probably made $10. But more enticing than the prospect of charging for my words was watching their downloads soar to over 100 /a day/ when I temporarily made them available for free. Unfortunately, I cannot offer them for free indefinitely – Amazon's system only allots a certain number of "free promotions" a year. They get great coverage on the site, but only for about a week out of every 3 months.

Now, considering all this and the digital road the humanities seem to be taking, I'd /like/ to charge $5 for PDF downloads of the novel. I think $5 is a relatively low price for a full-length novel. But, being unemployed as I myself am, I can easily sympathize with those who can't or don't want to afford even that. I'm also aware that pirating a PDF file is relatively easy. Maybe copy-protection is worth the 70% commission Amazon takes on my $.99 sales, or maybe I should figure something else out.

But the truth of the matter is simply this: if people don't want to pay for my work, they're not going to. They'll find another way to get it or just skip over the work entirely.

So here's what I'm going to do: I'll simply /suggest/ that readers pay $5 via PayPal for the book. Then, those who want to donate more, or less, will be able to (in increments of $1), by simply updating the "quantity" of their order to reflect their price point. Keep in mind - your donations will help to make "author" a more viable career option, as well as fund advertising and further promotion of The Feel Good Drag/. I could probably set up a checkout process that allots a single download of the book for each purchase, but I don't want there to be any delay. I want readers to have the book in their hands as soon as they want to read it. You can even read the book first and donate later, if you'd like. Cash works too, and there's no PayPal commissions that way.

Alternately, if you can't afford it, but also don't feel great about taking a book for free which I intended to sell, you can still help by writing and posting a positive review when you've finished it. The process for posting a review to my site is simple, I can also walk you through it. I think good reviews are the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, a method which has proven to be particularly effective ("Word of Mouth Is the Best Ad" – BusinessWeek).

Sooo, long story shortThe Feel Good Drag/ is $5, more or less. Check it out, in addition to the /totally free/ prose and poetry of Grey Matter, February 14th!

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