Unflinching and uncompromising, tough and talented, Shane McKenzie stands at the forefront of the next generation of horror writers.

—Bentley Little

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sponge Mode

So, I understand that I am a new writer and that I have a lot to learn. I embrace it. If I don't have an open mind and a willingness to soak in new information, I will wallow in mediocrity (and yes, I had to spell check that). I find learning about writing is a fun experience for me.

Right now, I'm totally in sponge mode. I feel like I've reached a level now that I actually know what good writing looks like and what its supposed to accomplish. Before, I was just writing whatever sick shit popped in my head and sending the stories out to whoever was interested. Most weren't. What's funny to me is to go back and read some of that stuff. My god, the fact that I published anything at all is nothing short of a miracle. THE STORIES WERE TERRIBLE. As an editor now, I would reject every one of them.

Back when I started, about two and a half years ago now, I read the essential books. I read Elements of Style and On Writing and Zen in the Art of Writing and the Writer's Workshop of Horror, twice. But it didn't sink in. I read the information and at the time, it felt like it made sense, but it really didn't. Right now, I read those books, and I get them. I get what I'm supposed to be doing. That's not to say that I'm any good at it still, but at least I understand what I should be doing.

So, now that things are finally making sense to me, I'm reading every goddamn book on writing I can get my hands on. I read David Morell's "Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing" and Jessica Page Morrell's "Thanks, But This Isn't For Us." I guess anyone named Morrell knows what they're talking about, because those books were fantastic and really opened my eyes about certain things. I'm reading "On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the HWA" and its great so far. I'm going to re-read Elements of Style, On Writing, Zen in the Art of Writing, and the Writer's Workshop of Horror. I have "The Successful Novelist" by David Morrell that I'll be reading next. I also have various other reference books on grammar and style that I'll be reading. And I'm loving every second of this. I feel like I'm being told a secret, even though the information has been there all this time, I just didn't know how to read it.

But most importantly, I'm taking an online course from Mr. Michael Knost. I already took one and got the chance to have Michael and Tom Piccirilli critique a short story of mine. I haven't got the results back yet, so needless to say, I'm shitting my pants. But the courses are fantastic. Seriously. I've learned so much and he is a great teacher, really knows how to make things easy to understand. Right now, I'm in the level 1 course, which is kind of backwards since I took the advanced course first, but its all good. As long as I get the information, right?

So anyway, I can feel myself getting better at the craft right now. I'm still no good, but I ain't horrible. At least I'd like to think so. But I'm never above learning, nor will I ever be. Now, I guess I should go write something.


  1. Good deal, man! Keep learning and improving!

  2. One thing I want to tell you. NEVER tell yourself you're not any good. This is the first step to failing. You must say you are good. Even as you learn and screw up on things. This opens the door to success. :)

  3. Good Stuff Shane, I've read all those books excpet Morells, although I did read his Novel Creepers. May I suggest Stephen Kings, "Memoirs of the Craft, on Writing" This little book read like one of his novels. And he tells you like it is. Either you have it as a writer or you don't.

    Enjoyed your article above though. Inspirational.

  4. A few typos above, sorry. I'm at work and should not be playing on the computer!!

  5. I've taken several of Knost's classes as well. He's great! Taking his classes forces you to take your writing to the next level.