Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Slightly Larger Victory Dance

It's time for yet another small victory dance!

Last year I got a little poem about zombies accepted into my college student literary and art magazine. While that was fun, it was a bit bittersweet since I'm no poet and I wrote the poem in high school. I decided, as a result, that I needed to get something accepted into the magazine again, but only a prose piece that represented my current quality of writing.

I had just written a fantastic short story called “The Fourth Wall” that I wanted to share with everybody, but unfortunately it was a few thousand words too long. I decided to try my hand at some flash fiction (very short fiction).

The trick to flash fiction is that you have a very limited area in which to tell a story. If a novel is a cake, and a short story is a slice of that cake, flash fiction is one small bite of the cake.

My idea was to write a series of moments.
Of course, if I can only give the readers a taste of the cake, that taste has to be rich and delicious and lousy with flavor (I’m using “lousy” in the traditional meaning here, which is “full of”. My prose stylistics teacher would be proud). Inspired by some very small ideas for stories that I’d been saving in my memory banks, I decided that the weight my flash fiction needed was an emotional tie that everyone understands; the loss of innocence.
I wrote six flash fiction stories about the moments that change us forever, titled each of them after songs by Death Cab For Cutie, and called the collection “Crooked Smiles”. I submitted only five of these six stories, not because one was too incomplete or personal (on the contrary, I felt they were all incomplete and made sure to submit the most personal ones), but because I felt one of them didn’t fit with the rest.

After submitting these five stories, I read them over and realized that they did not represent either my quality or style of writing and instantly regretted submitting each and every one. I tried to be artsy and poetic, when I’d rather be informal and direct.

With the deadline rapidly approaching, I went back to “The Fourth Wall” and quickly conceived of a story that I could write from the main character’s perspective recounting the events that led him to where he is and then contemplating his next move. It would be both a sequel and a summary of the story I originally wanted everyone to see. I wrote it out in one sitting, (titled it “Padded Cell”) looked over it once the next day for edits, and submitted it.

A few months later I heard back, the magazine had accepted two of my submissions! One of which, “Steadier Footing”, was from the collection and the other was “Padded Cell”. The irony was that I thought “Steadier Footing” was the least likely of all the stories to be accepted as it held the least personal significance.

I hope to release "Crooked Smiles" soon,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Second Year In Review

Two years ago today, I made my first post on this blog. One year ago today, I reviewed my first year of blogging.
Sadly I don't have a record high number of views in a month again, and in fact it seems that recently my readership is on the decline. This could be partially due to the fact that I stopped posting links to my latest blog posts on Facebook twice and now only link to them once each. Ironic that a guy in advertising has not been advertising as much, right?
However, I can say that I've now got over two thousand total page-views since the beginning, which is pretty cool.

This time I don't think I'll give a summary of the past year the same way that I did last time where I link you to almost every single article I wrote, because that's difficult and boring.
All you need to know is that I tried posting three times a month but teetered off when school started, got really worried about my future, and kept on blogging and writing fiction.

So, about the future; if you can't tell, I'm taking the site in a new direction ... again.
Originally this blog was complimentary to my website "The World in My Mind" and was called "Further into My Mind". Don't remember this? Here, I have a picture to prove it:
The original look and title of the blog.
I then decided to merge the website with the blog and call it "Ryan Matejka's Blog", partially to make it easier to read all my literature, and partially because that's my name.
The blog was entirely focused on my life as an aspiring writer. The subhead of the blog title even said "inside the mind of an aspiring author" and just about everything was about my desire to be a successful fiction writer.
The look before the most recent change.

As you could probably tell, things have changed. As my future adult life rapidly approaches, I have things to talk about in regards to my search for a career in, as well as the world of, advertising. As more things happen, I expect I'll also want to do some talking about what it's like being let loose in the world, being engaged and eventually married at such a young age, and occasionally what my new favorite book/movie/album is (it's been very hard to keep myself from reviewing random things that I like or don't like, maybe I should let myself).

I also have to keep in mind that, as somebody looking for a job in advertising, potential employers will be looking me up on Google to get a better idea for who I am. I want to show them that writing and advertising consume my life, and that I'm a creative and interesting, yet professional, person.
The layout, content, and appearance had to be changed.

The new layout is sleeker and more professional,  the content is going to become much more varied than I originally conceived, and the subhead now reads "a place for me to say things to you" (because that sounded honest as well as silly). I want to talk not just about writing, but my life.
I expect it will be difficult to balance this professional look with a more loose form, but I think it's going to be fun to try.

Here's hoping you stay interested,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I've been applying for post-college jobs. I have no choice, you see, because my current job is tied directly to my status as a college student. Once I graduate, I'm unemployed.

I'm going to be honest. I'm not used to rejections on a professional level. I've gotten hired for every position I've applied for in the past (minus one), and all three colleges I applied to accepted me (not that I was aiming incredibly high). Hell; I even got engaged-to-be-married in the first serious relationship I entered into. So this weekend when I got my first two rejection letters from places I applied for, it was a breath of fresh air.
I know, you were expecting me to say that it was a surprise. It wasn't, I'm no fool. I'm also aware that the other places I've applied for haven't contacted me back in any way, which likely means I'm rejected from them as well. In my defense, some of the places I applied for required experience that I just don't have. Sure I made my résumé look really nice and imply that I've already got what it takes for these jobs, but the fact is that I don't have any professional experience in writing or advertising.

Though I hoped that my skill in general writing would mean there would be a lot more job options available to me, it turns out most of the ones available are technical writing jobs for technical things of which I have little-to-no knowledge of. With graduation fast approaching, I've got to start keeping an open mind about what kind of jobs I can apply for.
One such technical writing job that I'm actually qualified for required me to be able to work in an environment full of raw meat. I have no idea why I need to be okay being surrounded with raw meat, but I am okay with that, so I applied. Of course, I haven't heard back from that place yet.
As for advertising jobs, most (if not all) of them require or prefer prior experience even if they're for semi-entry-level positions, and even if they don't "require" experience, somebody with experience is probably going to be more preferable over me; the guy with nothing but a fancy college degree that everyone told me I needed at a time like this.
All I can do, aside from apply for full-time positions at grocery stores, is work on my portfolio and keep applying until some place sees me as the potential golden nugget that I feel like I can be, and keep the mentality that I've been rejected not because I'm not going to be a great worker in my future career, but because I haven't applied to the right place yet; the one that wants a guy just like me.
Applying for jobs is like dating; you may be good at dating, but that doesn't mean you're dating the right person. I need to find and apply to the job that is the right fit for me. The one that's excited to have me.

I know it's out there. It's just going to take some time to find it.