Respect your readers, don’t cheat, cut when necessary, and by all means, keep going. I’ve never met this week’s guest blogger artist and author Guinotte Wise, but after reading this blog, I like him. A lot. Not only is he a good writer, he’s a heck of a welder. Nothing would make me happier than seeing a piece of his art and his collection of short stories sitting side-by-side on my office shelf. I’m a bit of a junkyard dog myself.
By Guinotte Wise
That third person, man, you can get away with anything. It is rumored that Guinotte Wise came within a hair of winning the coveted … The award-winning sculptor and writer has just written a screenplay that some say … The former adman, who during his career won enough chrome and lucite industry awards to make three Buicks …
Snap out of it, Wise. Okay. Junkyards. I’ve loved them since I was a speed-obsessed kid with ducktails, a loud Ford and a smart mouth. Row upon row of decaying cars, some no longer in production, baking, fading in the summer sun. Smells of solvents, grease, gasoline, burnt rubber, and those unidentifiable odors peculiar to junkyards drifting like the turkey buzzards in the cloudless Missouri sky. Maybe that’s why I started welding steel and writing stories. I inhaled that stuff and it made me odd. But it’s my odd and I like it fine.
I have my own junkyard now, and no beady-eyed, bearded old fart in overalls to follow me around, making sure I don’t pocket a carburetor float or a chrome nutcap.
And if, when I’m writing, I get stuck, I go weld. And vice versa. They’re both fugue activities when I’m holding my mouth right and the coffee isn’t burned.
I don’t just stick stuff together when I weld. I’m represented by some galleries, and have solo shows. I’m serious about the writing, too. It’s just that I do what I want. No formulas, no rules, other than this: If I make something and it’s for others, not just myself, respect those people, give them credit for having probably more operating brain cells than I do, and some taste.
I had a horse named Mighty Mouse who passed away this spring. He’s buried on the place. He was a superb athlete in his day and a legendary horseman in his 90’s said of him, “He never cheated me.” From this guy, it was high praise. I would like readers and art buyers to say the same of me, and more, if they’re not blessed with his laconicism. I’d like them to be pleased. Never cheated.
So junkyards and welding and plasma cutting are metaphorically handy in this blog, which is aimed at writers and readers. The junkyard of my mind is cluttered with rows and rows of materials, ready to form new combinations. I’m not being enigmatic when I say of writing, or welding, it happens in the process. I may start out to weld a horse, and a horse happens, but I have no idea what that horse will look like as I construct a frame, an armature, and begin to give it form.
I wrote a book that way, and my agent liked it. No publishers have clamored for it yet, but who knows. I was putting together sculptures for a show the first of this month, and one piece drew a puzzled look from my wife. She didn’t care for it. I have a lot of respect for her opinion, art-wise and lit-wise—she reads a lot, and makes exquisite jewelry—so I left that piece out for a while.
At the last minute, I took it to the gallery and during the show, I was told it was the favorite of some whose opinion I also respect. Go figure.
I think I’m saying here, when you get rejections, have enough faith in your piece to keep submitting it. Your work is not for everyone. If it is, well, maybe you’ll be a bestseller and more power to you. And if, in your reading, you’re fifty pages in and you hate what you’re reading, toss it. Give it to someone else and they may love it.
The plasma cutter. Great when I need it for making things fit. But I sure hate to look at a big piece and realize I made a major error by welding something that doesn’t belong. The cutter comes into play, and not in an enjoyable way. But very necessary if the final form is to be pleasing: to me, to the viewer. Guess where that not very slick allusion fits in the writing process. I hate to cut, steel sculpture or the printed word. But it sometimes needs to be done.
When the rejection comes and they say, as they so often do, “unfortunately your work wasn’t the right fit for this issue,” (I just picked that up word for word from a rejection I got minutes ago) it could mean just that, or it could mean why the hell are you sending us this crap. Or, heat it up and refashion it some. Or write something new altogether. Roam the junkyard. It’s there somewhere.
If you would like to read more about Guinotte Wise’s books please click here.
Guinotte Wise has been a creative director in advertising most of his working life. In his youth he put forth effort as a bull rider, ironworker, laborer, funeral home pickup person, bartender, truck driver, postal worker, icehouse worker, paving field engineer. A staid museum director called him raffish, which he enthusiastically embraced, (the observation, not the director). Of course, he took up writing fiction. He was the winner of the H. Palmer Hall Award for short story collection, “Night Train, Cold Beer,” earning a $1000 cash grant and publication of the book in 2013, Pecan Grove Press. His works have appeared in Crime Factory Review, Stymie, Telling Our Stories Press Anthology, Opium, Negative Suck, Newfound Journal, The MacGuffin, Weather-themed fiction anthology by Imagination and Place Press, Verdad, Stickman Review, Snark (Illusion), Atticus Review, Dark Matter Journal, Writers Tribe Review, LA, The Dying Goose, Amarillo Bay, HOOT, Santa Fe Writers Project, Prick of the Spindle, Gravel Literary Journal, and just had a story accepted in Best New Writers Anthology 2015. Wise is a sculptor, sometimes in welded steel, sometimes in words. Educated at Westminster College, University of Arkansas, Kansas City Art Institute. Tweet him @noirbut. Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com/
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