New Visitors to my portfolio should read this first.
Welcome to my Portfolio
I get questions from time to time about my portfolio and some of the things that are in it. I thought maybe this would be a good way to answer as many of them as I can. If this is your first time here then it would probably be a good thing if you took a few minutes to read this before jumping into the rest of my portfolio.
1. Why can’t I see all the items in your portfolio?
This is by far the question I am asked the most. If you can’t see an item it’s because your membership level isn’t high enough. Think of it as Security Level Clearance. There is a folder in my portfolio that is an “Allow Everyone Access” folder. In here you will find my writings that everyone from a non-registered user on up can view and read. You will also find items like that in the folder named Writer’s Cramp. Most of my other writings are limited to registered users and above. This is not an attempt to get you to join Writing.com. It is an attempt for me to have some control over who sees items that one day may be marketable. If you wonder why, read the story titled “Oh,Oh” in the Short Story folder. It’s about plagiarism. Of course, you’ll have to register to do that. Occasionally I place things in my folder that are marked for my eyes-only. These are things that I am working on and am not ready to unleash upon an unsuspecting world. When I am confident enough that they will survive the acid test I will change that designation and you should be able to view them if you are a registered user.
2. What kind of items will I find in your portfolio?
The primary focus of my writing seems to be hunting and fishing and the outdoors in general. I’m still developing as a writer and from time to time I branch out into other areas. You’ll find a script here I wrote for the local historical society and even a little poetry. My poetry skills are somewhat suspect. Currently I am in danger of losing my poetic license. I am surprised at my ability to write about subjects I know nothing about. Being a fiction writer allows me the freedom to do this. The Writer’s Cramp, which assigns a daily writing prompt, contains some good examples of this. Most of my writing is humor oriented. That surprises me more than anything. I never thought I could write humor. I think the highest rating you’ll find on any of my stories is 13+, so almost anyone can read my stories without fear of being offended by any adult content. The exception to this is my poll, The Weirdest Place, which I opened to 18+. There are some entries in there that should not be viewed by adolescents…or old people with pacemakers. I write what excites me. I’m still learning everything that does that. I enjoy a challenge and I like to make people smile.
3. If I register on Writing.com, what am I obligated to do?
Absolutely nothing. You can register at no cost and read away until your eyeballs melt. This is a great place to discover writing and authors that you may never find on the shelves at B. Dalton. Or who knows, you may actually have the privilege of reading the next “Harry Potter” type book before it ever goes to print. If all you want to do is read stories then register and have at it, but please, please, remember to rate and review what you read. The writers here eagerly look forward to input from their readers. Think of how great this is. When’s the last time you had the opportunity to directly tell Stephen King what you thought about his latest writing attempt? Rating and Reviewing are both a privilege and a responsibility. Please do not take it lightly. Be honest. If you didn’t like something, tell the author why. If you see an error, grammatical or otherwise, point it out. For the most part, the writers are here to learn and grow and to perfect their craft.
I’m guessing you will find writers here from age ten on up, and maybe younger than that. If you know you are reviewing a young writer, please be careful how you word your review. Negative criticism without constructive suggestions will do nothing to encourage these future authors and will do a lot to stifle their creative juices. For that matter, be careful how you word every review, no matter what the age of the writer. Do you want to be the one responsible for steering a future John Steinbeck away from writing and on to a career as a refuse hauler? (No disrespect to refuse haulers intended)
4. What if I want to be a writer on Writing.com?
If you want to be a writer on Writing.com then you’ll want to start developing your own portfolio and making people aware of it. You can do this a number of ways, but the best way is to become an active member of the website and to begin participating in contests, forums and groups. If it turns out, that you like it here, you will eventually want to upgrade your membership. There are plenty of options and ways to do this. Just follow the instructions on the website. I’m not going to get into repeating them here. How involved you get and what you participate in is entirely up to you. There’s no pressure from anyone else.
5. What about those annoying pop-up ads?
I’m with you on that! They are a royal pain in the you know what. If you upgrade your membership they will go away. Of course it costs money to do so, so you need to decide what’s more important, getting rid of the ads or keeping your money. Hint: If you’re an AOL member you can block Pop-Ups. Some other IP’s also can do this.
In fairness to pop-ups, they do serve a purpose. Running and maintaining a website such as this is not easy. It costs money. The pop-ups help provide that money. They are, I’m guessing, the only reason Writing.com can offer free memberships.
6. Who are Little Jim, Goose, Skitch, etc.?
Probably the easiest way to answer that is to tell you they are the voices in my head. They are also a conglomeration of people, their characteristics and personalities that I’ve known over the years. Since my name is Joe, you would think that the Joe in these stories is me. But not really, when I think of Joe physically, he is a combination of my dad, and one of my favorite authors, Pat McManus. Personality wise, he is my dad. I, on the other hand, more closely resemble Little Jim, at least physically. I hope not mentally. Do these characters exist in real life? Most definitely. We all know a Little Jim, Goose, Skitch and even Moe. I draw my stories and characters from my own life experience. I embellish them, even change them, to suit my needs or as Joe says in my story, Birthday Reunion, Part Two:
“Hey Joe, that was some great piece of story telling you did back there. How could you lie to her like that?”
“I didn’t lie Moe. We are taking the soil to give to a dead Confederate Army soldier. I just added a little dressing to the salad, is all. It’s what I do.” A small grin formed on everybody’s face.
7. Who is Rasputin?
Boy, that’s a tough one to answer. I could post the resume I use for job interviews but that would really tell you nothing about who I am. Besides, nothing on it has to do with my skill, or lack of skill as a writer, unless you count my limited experience in writing technical documents. (Boring!) I can give you some basic facts. I’m 47, married, with two grown sons. I live in western Pennsylvania, in the mountains. I’m a Ridge Runner (do the research). I was born in northeastern PA, in the anthracite coal region, which makes me a coal cracker also (the research thing again). When I was in high school I had fantasies about becoming a writer. I wrote poetry at that time, a lot of it bad, some of it good, all of it depressing. A couple pieces even got published and I was a regular contributor to our high school magazine, The Opinator. Teenage angst did exist before Columbine. Somewhere between my eighteenth and nineteenth birthday I made the decision to stop writing. I never really thought of myself as a writer, or allowed the desire to write to surface again until about a year ago. That’s close to thirty years. Through the encouragement of my wife, and a series of coincidences I still wonder about, I started to think about writing again. Once I realized that I could write non-depressing stuff I’ve never looked back. Oh, the name Rasputin? Well in real life-what is that anyway? In real life he was a Russian Monk renowned for his influence in the Romanoff family just prior to the 1917 revolution that ended their dynasty. He has been referred to as, mad, a hedonist, a healer, a Svengali and a demon. He is probably most famous for the way he was murdered. Supposedly he was fed enough poison to kill several horses, that didn’t do it, he was then beaten, strangled and shot. His body was dragged to the frozen river and dumped through a hole in the ice. When it was recovered, his lungs were full of water, indicating he was still alive when tossed in the river. Me? I got the name from my high school English teacher, Carver Collins, who called me “Rasputin, the mad Russian. I’ve used it as my nom de plume ever since.
That’s everything I can think of right now. If I get other questions I’ll add them as I get time. Now go do some reading!!