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Features > > How to Succeed as a Failing Writer
How to Succeed as a Failing Writer

Victor D. Infante has, in no particular order, been worshiped as a god by a subterranean race of mole men, battled Nazi Spies on the edge of Hoover Damn, and single-handedly reunited the small town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, after the brief but unsettling incident involving Mrs. O'Leary's prize-winning quiche, of which no more will be spoken.

By day, he fights a never-ending battle for truth and/or justice disguised as editor and freelance journalist Victor D. Infante, but no one has seen through the disguise.


His poetry and journalism has been published in dozens of periodicals internationally. Currently, he is finishing his first novel, Nihilist Chic, and a book on writing, entitled, How to Succeed As A Failing Writer. He lives in Worcester, MA, with his wife, Lea, and his pet ferret, Ludo. He recently published his eighth chapbook of poetry, Warhol Days.

At present, he is a copy editor for The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, a regular contributor to OC Weekly and The Independent Review Site, and a columnist for and He is also editor in chief of The November 3rd Club, an online literay journal of political writing.

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How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Life After Slam
Posted by mamta on Monday, July 05, 2010 (04:24:30)

One poetry venue’s 20th anniversary shows there’s life for poetry slammers when the competition’s done
By Victor D. Infante

WORCESTER — It’s the 20th anniversary of the Worcester Poets Asylum poetry reading, and Bill MacMillan is standing on a chair, imitating a Tyrannosaurus Rex and reciting Matt Cook’s riotous poem, “Science.”

“Science,” he screams, to uproarious applause from the more than 70 poets and poetry fans packed into Jumpin’ Juice and Java, “was invented by a bunch of guys who were so ugly, they couldn’t possibly believe in God.”

Laughter fills the room – MacMillan has performed this poem before and most everyone present knows where it’s going, but anniversary parties aren’t really about the new. They’re about reflection, and honoring what’s come before.

And most everyone in the room is cognizant of another fact, too: Not a lot of poetry readings reach 20.

Read More... | 1 comment | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Long Time Quiet Now
Posted by John on Wednesday, April 02, 2008 (02:29:52)

A brief break in the silence
By Victor D. Infante

Been a long time since I wrote this column. Oh, I’ve tried. Sat down at the computer and tried to put word next to word, turn them into something. It’s the sort of thing I’m usually good at. It’s been my living, one way or another, for more than a decade now.

Sometimes this column would haunt me. I’d lay awake at night and write it on the ceiling – I could see the words spread out in electric-blue letters, staring down at me from the darkness. Then, the next morning, I’d try to recreate them, and it would come out gibberish. It would come out wrong.

Read More... | 3 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Harry Potter and the Vampire People
Posted by John on Tuesday, October 09, 2007 (02:37:01)

Building communities around a story
By Victor D. Infante

“Here’s your Harry Potter,” said, the mailman, with a sort of resigned familiarity. It was the first day J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows had been available for delivery, and the mailman was evidently getting the brunt of it. When asked how many copies he’d delivered already, he just laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

Of course, this wasn’t surprising. The build-up to the conclusion of the Harry Potter mythos and the attendant speculation about its titular character’s prospects for survival had been at the center of an international discussion. The Internet was abuzz with odds-making, and even mainstream newspapers got into the act, sacrificing precious column space.

Read More... | 1 comment | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Questions on Airplanes
Posted by John on Friday, April 27, 2007 (10:10:08)

Thoughts on poetry, cognitive dissonance and Harold Bloom
By Victor D. Infante

Me and Harold, Together Again

I’m not the sort of guy who usually reads on a plane. The cramped conditions and my inevitable exhaustion – punctuated by the fact that I’m prone to early-morning flights so I have a day ahead of me when I arrive – usually leave me with too little concentration to get through more than a few pages, and even then, only something light.

But because I finished Max Brooks’ “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” before my return flight, I found myself turning to a book by an author who usually leaves me cold: “The Art of Reading Poetry” by Harold Bloom. One friend, knowing my usual reactions to Bloom, feared for the safety of my fellow passengers, but I could not be dissuaded. Besides, it’s only 82 pages. How much damage could it do?

Read More... | 13 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Serving Neither Master
Posted by John on Friday, December 15, 2006 (02:14:05)

Notes toward a new poetry
By Victor D. Infante

1.) The Roads More Traveled

The latest kerfuffle in the world of poetry was launched by Poetry Foundation president John Barr in the October 2006 issue of Poetry. In his essay American Poetry in the New Century, Barr writes:

“American poetry is ready for something new because our poets have been writing in the same way for a long time now. There is fatigue, something stagnant about the poetry being written today. If one could say that a characteristic of Romantic poetry was that there was way too much of it written once it became established (weekend versifiers to this day still write in Romantic modes), one could say the same of modern poetry. The manner of it has long been mastered. Modernism has passed into the DNA of the MFA programs. For all its schools and experiments, contemporary poetry is still written in the rain shadow thrown by Modernism. It is the engine that drives what is written today. And it is a tired engine.”

Read More... | 23 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Look! Up in the Sky!
Posted by John on Monday, September 11, 2006 (10:10:00)

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s SUPERPOET!!!!
By Victor D. Infante

Perhaps the most annoying phenomenon in contemporary poetry is the tendency for the writer to cast themselves as a hero in their own work. You know the poems: “Aren’t I awesome because I vote Green and work with small, epileptic children and I stood up to that mean person at the supermarket who was picking on the poor, paraplegic illegal immigrant abuse survivor who couldn’t speak for herself because she’s mute and only knows sign language in Spanish?”

Read More... | 14 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer You Are DOOMED!!!
Posted by John on Monday, August 14, 2006 (11:20:00)

Face it, technology has turned you into a wuss
By Victor D. Infante

I’ve got two new rejection letters on my desk: Poetry Magazine and Fantasy & Science Fiction. Neither rejection can be considered a dishonor, really –while I know folks who’ve appeared in both of them, they’re both notoriously hard to get into, and frankly, while Poetry particularly claims to read everything, they must be amazingly careful handling the paper, because the manuscripts in both cases came back with the paper crisp, the folds undisturbed.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I have an immense amount of trouble reading four pieces of paper and then stuffing them into an envelope so neatly as to make them seem undisturbed. Seriously, if they are reading these things, they have levels of care and manual dexterity I am personally unfamiliar with. These folks missed their callings as neurosurgeons.

Read More... | 6 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Drunken brilliance
Posted by John on Monday, July 24, 2006 (14:20:23)

The night can make a writer more brave, but not more sober

By Victor D. Infante

Back when I was a 20-year-old college student in England and whiskey was still new and shiny, I found myself with a head full of unwritten poems and a woman in my system. The latter two, of course, were nothing unusual. It was the whiskey that made the situation dangerous.

Somehow, I got it into my poor, idiot brain that what I needed to do to solve all my problems was to imbibe enough alcohol to strip the paint on a barn and my tortured, unrequited love would be transformed to beautiful, moving verse. Consequently, I spent the night in the pub with a notebook, a pen and several rounds of Johnny Walker Black Label that some bartender surely should have had the good sense cut me off from.

Read More... | 1 comment | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Wild sex in the working-writer class
Posted by John on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 (11:05:00)

Don’t worry, it happens to everyone
By Victor D. Infante

A few months back, an old friend asked me to contribute an essay to an anthology her agent was pitching to publishers. All in all, it wasn’t a bad bet – no guarantees the thing would ever be published, but she’d already sold a decently selling book and had a lot of prominent writers committed to the project. Plus, I always enjoy working with this woman, and will pretty much throw in on any project she’s got going, if circumstances permit. And if it all fell through, I could probably find something else to do with the essay.

But there was a problem, and one I had to ’fess up to immediately: The anthology dealt in large part with sex, and frankly, that’s a subject I’ve never written well about.

Read More... | 6 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Midnight in the Morning
Posted by John on Monday, May 29, 2006 (11:10:00)

Face it, getting older changes things
By Victor D. Infante

It’s 7:15 in the morning, and the only sounds beyond my typing are the birdsong outside and the coffee machine percolating in the kitchen. I’m not really what anyone would call a “morning person,” but lately I’ve been getting up early to write. And for the most part, it’s working.

It’s a new ritual for me, this wrestling with the early alarm, this rising quietly to not wake my wife. I brew coffee and head straight for the computer, not stopping to check my e-mail or read the news: nothing that distracts, and believe me when I say I’m a man who’s prone to distraction.

Read More... | 2 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer New at The November 3rd Club
Posted by John on Thursday, March 30, 2006 (14:06:09)

Film critic and playwright Brian Dauth, “November 3rd Club” Editor in chief Victor D. Infante, Performance artist and film critic Matt Cornell, Libertarian Party co-founder Dave Nolan and "PopCultureShock" senior comics editor Guy LeCharles Gonzalez discuss The politics of “V For Vendetta” in the first installment of a new "November 3rd Club" feature

Read what they had to say, then tell us what you think in "The November 3rd Club" Livejournal Forum.

comments? | Printer Friendly Page  Send to a Friend | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Come together … Right now … Err, over pizza
Posted by John on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 (09:55:00)

Cross-genre conversation and all that jazz
By Victor D. Infante

So there I am, having pizza in Boston after an amazing jazz orchestra concert, and I have to go and ruin the mood by asking the music professor sitting across from me whether there’s a connection between the emergence of jazz improvisation and the fact that most of the artists involved at the birth of jazz in the ’20s were black and were lacking many forums for expression. That is to say, whether on some level there was an actual rebellion against structure happening there, a search for unconfined freedom. The question obviously made him uncomfortable, and he dodged a direct response.

Which I can’t really say I blame him for, seeing as one doesn’t usually have to deal with these sorts of questions over pizza. Even in Boston.

Read More... | 1 comment | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Column Soon. In the meantime, amuse yourself with this...
Posted by John on Thursday, February 02, 2006 (03:03:15)

The November 3rd Club
an online journal of political writing
Winter 2006 Edition

Read More... | comments? | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Your Mediocre Political Poem is Hurting America
Posted by John on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 (09:20:00)

If you’re doing this to gain acceptance, I’ll give you a nickel to go away

By Victor D. Infante

There is a level, when I give advice on writing, where I feel like Kenny Rogers singing “Coward of the County": “Promise me son, not to do the things I’ve done/Walk away from trouble if you can…"

Read More... | 12 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer True Tales of Workshop Terror!
Posted by John on Monday, November 28, 2005 (11:00:00)

In the world of the developing writer, the writing workshop hold an almost religious significance – a place where one can share and get feedback from sympathetic colleagues, where one can be driven to write the next poem or chapter, where one can be supported in the sometimes strenuous task of living the writer’s life. Sometimes, it even works the way it’s supposed to.

Other times, it does not.

Read More... | 3 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer There Will Be Time
Posted by John on Sunday, October 09, 2005 (17:20:02)

Balancing objective priorities and the cruel demands of inspiration

On the right-hand side of my desk sits two things: a picture of my wife, and a Sony palm pilot, still in the box. The first is an inspiration of sorts, a reminder of the love in my life, and why I work hard at the things I do. The other is a reminder of a different sort – a monument to my basic state of disorganization, which has always been an obstacle to overcome.

Read More... | 1 comment | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Yes ... I've been missing ....
Posted by John on Saturday, September 03, 2005 (00:08:26)

Sorry about that. This is is why:

The inaugural issue of "The November 3rd Club," an online literary journal of political writing, is now live on the Web featuring the poetry, fiction and nonfiction of:

Read More... | comments? | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Call for Submissions
Posted by John on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 (15:37:09)

"The November Third Club,, an online literary journal seeking to "up the ante" of literary political writing, is seeking poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction that resonates with a political message and rises above the mere rhetoric and rant.

Read More... | comments? | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Lost in Worcester
Posted by John on Friday, April 29, 2005 (08:00:00)

As we gear up for NPS in Albuquerque, a few last thoughts on iWPS

Everyone talks about what big festivals and slams mean to poets, but what do they mean to the town's that hold them?

Read More... | comments? | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Always Something In the Way
Posted by John on Friday, April 15, 2005 (08:00:00)

You waste more time on doing nothing than you do writing, so why does taking time to write make you feel so guilty?

Read More... | 1 comment | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Questions Sought
Posted by John on Saturday, February 05, 2005 (08:51:53)

Victor Infante wants to hear from YOU!!!

Read More... | 4 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Life During Wartime: Living the Writer's Life in Dubya's America
Posted by Tony on Sunday, November 21, 2004 (17:18:09)

(NOTE WELL: Tony Brown says, READ THIS ARTICLE!!!!! It's by Victor Infante, and it's vital thinking for all of us who call ourselves writers.)

Read More... | 24 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer No Writer is an Island … Except Maybe One Or Two, Who Are Fiji
Posted by Tony on Sunday, October 31, 2004 (00:54:37)

Most writing books will give you advice along the lines of, 'Read. Read everything. Read the classics. Read trash. Read the sides of cereal boxes. But not Trix, because you don't really want to know what's in that crap.'

This is, in all honesty, the best advice to give to any nascent writer, and it's one of the few places where the books on writing have it all over most of the literary establishment—because really, most of the literary establishment will go to great, great lengths to steer you away from what they perceive as trash.

Read More... | 5 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Only an idiot would want to be a writer
Posted by John on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 (16:37:19)

Many years ago, when I was fresh out of college and working at a bookstore in Laguna Beach, CA, and just starting to get poems and articles published, a teenage girl who frequented the store came in and presented me with a poem. It was a Hallmarky thing, the sort of treacle-laden writing one normally associates with teenagers being struck for the first time with what approximates both poetry and love. But I wouldn't say it was terrible. If nothing else, it was honest, and it flowed well.

Read More... | 7 comments | Features |

How to Succeed as a Failing Writer Pavlov's Poets and the Road More Traveled
Posted by Tony on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 (22:34:53)

It's a good time to be a poet. So why does that make me uneasy?
-Victor D. Infante

I have friends—intelligent, cultured people—who view the idea of a poetry reading as a sort of literary Abu Ghraib, a place where people who don't really know what they're doing prod you with hot pokers, masturbate in front of you and mock your private parts for fun.

Sadly, they're not entirely wrong.

Read More... | 12 comments | Features |


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