If you like to read, and enjoy quirky, welcome. There are about 30 random things here for you. After you read a short story you may even find some personal comments/insights! The main purpose of creating this blog is for writers. I see so much written about writer's block, and honestly, I don't have it. Occasionally, I write short stories, longer stories, books, plays, one act plays, monologues, and sometimes I even think one is good enough to submit somewhere. Of course, when you submit a story to a magazine that receives 200 stories a month and publishes five, you'd better enjoy the process of writing. I'm not suggesting that I'm a good writer, merely that I can sit down and just start writing.

It is important to write, to constantly be working on your art. If you are constantly plagued by writer's block, perhaps you are being too selective in what you write about. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some examples of my writing, from someone who can write all the time. Occasionally the topics are a bit strange, but I don't let that slow me down, I love to write and get to a finished product. Hopefully, by looking at some examples, you will say to yourself that phrase that all artists who visit MOMA in NYC say: "Well, I can do this!" That would be good, because you can! One of my posts is about a talking tomato. (You have to be able to do better than that!)

In part I'm trying to get some of my stuff in one place, so keep in mind I never claimed it was going to be an incredible read. You can decide that. I will tell you that occasionally I have a story in me that seems to fit the goal of a publication, and I try to write specifically with that goal in mind. Lately I've been considering publications that publish nonfiction memoirs, so some of the entries you'll find here will have that flavor. Perhaps this is a way to get past writer's block - find a publication looking for something that you'd like to write. It seems like memoir-based publications may be a good place to start, because we're all experts in our own families. I'm using a blog here to share some of the things I've written; the blog format is not ideal, so you need to poke around a little at old posts, to see if you can find a story or something else that may interest you.

Two last items. None of these are finished products. I usually get to a point where I have something written, and then stop. If it is something I may decide to submit for some reason, I'll finish formatting, following the specific rules of the magazine or organization (the rules are alwaysdifferent). If you do see something in here that you may be interested in using, don't hesitate to contact me.

So welcome to my blog. Welcome to my writing. Write, people, write! It feels good.

Please also consider getting a copy of my first book, Saturday Night at Sarah Joy's. All Royalties go to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. Please check out the book's blog at:

Thank you!

© 2012 John Allison

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to get started writing. Channel someone old. || The story of me as a musician.

If you’ll allow me, I need to first discuss a related topic – music - specifically, playing music.  Who hasn’t wanted to one day be part of their favorite band?  Maybe it’s only me with silly fantasies like that , but I’m guessing not.  FYI, I was born in 1951 (yes, I’m old).  In the 1960’s my mother used books and books filled with S&H green stamps (which the grocery store gave out when you bought food, and you could eventually redeem them for different things) to get me an acoustic guitar.  I learned some chords, and at a College Halloween party around 1972 I accompanied a friend of mine with a wonderful voice for a few songs. 

From 6th grade through 12th grade I took piano lessons.  They were classical in nature, and it was piano as a ‘performance art’.  I didn’t learn anything about the construction of a piece – why it was written the way it was, no music theory – I learned how to play them correctly.

When I got a real job I took guitar lessons for about 5 years.  Compared to the piano, which was like typing to me,  the guitar was hard – hard to get a good tone from them.  I wanted to play music I listened to like that of Joe Satriani, and Carlos Santana – music for the highly skilled, which I never was.  I tend to be a rather “technical” person and I just wasn’t technically skilled in the guitar, so I did other things like transcribing songs from old blues players with words like “Blind” and “Lemon” in their names – songs that had never been transcribed before.  Along the way, I’d buy a guitar here and there, convert it to a left handed guitar, and occasionally play it.  I was never a guitar player, I was a guitar owner.

Fast forward to the 2013.  Some people at the marina where I keep my sailboat started talking about getting together to plays some music – does anyone here play an instrument?  I don’t really think of myself as someone who plays, only as someone who owns, but I added my name to the list and we started to meet on weeekends.  It was a lot of fun, singing and playing.  By playing I mean strumming.  I don’t think Joe Satriani would do much strumming, but it got us through songs.  It was incredibly freeing for me.  I could play guitar!  Sure I wasn’t a soloist, but I can play lots of songs now!  The other thing that happened is that we usually didn’t have “ a singer”, so I gave it a try, and while I’m not very good, I do my best.

This led to joing a more formal group of people who like to get together with their acoustic instruments and play (every other week for 4-5 hours at a time!).  I’m playing!  I’m singing!  I’ve never done either in public in my entire life.  Now I am. 

If you get up off your butt and do ONE thing, that one thing often leads to something else, and you can never tell where it will go.

I’ve had two memorable experiences.  The acoustic group (sometimes 15-20 people) is fortunate to be able to practice/meet in a back room of a nice bar.  (No I don’t drink while I play.)  One night, I thought we were done, but someone wanted to do one last song so we did “Hallelujah” (as recorded by Jeff Buckley).  We sounded pretty good, if I do say so.  As we were leaving, there was a man outside the bar, standing on the sidewalk, almost my age, crying.  He stopped me and thanked me.  He said Hallelujah was his mother’s favorite song, his mother who died two weeks ago.  I told him it was a gift from her to him.  (I don’t know why we felt like we had to play one more song, so for him I attributed it to her.)  It was a touching moment out on the street of that bar.

Last night about 15 of the wonderful people I now know in our acoustic music group gathered at an Assisted Living Facility at about 6:30 PM, and played for about an hour.  The room was full and the response was amazing.  They were appreciaive, ‘came to life’ for us, and only two of them fell asleep!  It was a heart-warming experience for each of us, and the crowd was great.

We went out to dinner after, all 15 of us, and I had some time to talk to my friend Keith.  Like me, he had never played guitar in public or sang in public, before we became part of this group.  Why is it that now, we’re doing this?  His explanation was very concise.  He’s older now.  Things that he may have worried about in the past he doesn’t any more.  “Frankly, I just don’t give a shit” was his explanation for why it is now easier to get in a crowd and play and sing his little heart out.  Good or bad he’s going to go for it.  If not now, when?

Yes, the analogies to writing are obvious.  If you want to be a writer, don’t wait!  Grow up!  Grow old!  Find a way to get to that point where you say, I’m going to write, and do my best, and get it out there, and I just don’t give a shit.  I’m doing this for me!  I’m tired of waiting!  You’ll only become better, and working around others with the same interests is the very best way to learn.

If you haven’t, take a good look at, just one website where you can post stories and people come there to read them.  People also comment on/critique your work, and I’ve learned a lot from others in this way.  I think I have more than 40 stories posted there (some good, some not so much) and a total of more than 6000 reads, so far.  And you just never know what readers might like, or relate to. 

So find a way to channel an old person – get to the point where you can say “I don’t give a shit about what other people think”, and go for it!  Write!  Good things will come.  I promise.

1 comment:

  1. Hello John, nice to meet you and thanks for sharing your experiences. I think like this for a while and write or more blog as much as I can. Sometimes you just have to think "So what!" and go for it.