Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"But you said you wanted to see ponies"

That was the most frequently muttered line of the morning as thousands of us stood in the marsh muck awaiting the arrival of some several dozen wild ponies made to swim from Assateague over to Chincoteague to be auctioned off. Pony Penning is a Big Event, but our travel timing is not deliberate, so we hemmed and hawed quite a bit before forcing ourselves out of bed and onto our bikes to watch the landing. I’m glad we did, it was actually kind of thrilling.

But what we also witnessed, over and over, was an almost perfect miscommunication between fathers and daughters—men, bright eyed and grinning with excitement (lookit them stallions fight!) while their little sweethearts lost pink plastic sandals in the muck. A lot of tears, but not a lot of sympathy, not even from me. OMG Ponies indeed. Books are always better than the real thing. At least that’s how I feel right now, cooling my well scrubbed heels in a waterman’s cottage that looks like Dr. Caligari’s vacation home.

Having an awesome time, writing a little, reading even less. The naps are powerful, profound.

Friday, July 25, 2008

rejection beach and stress city

aargh, going away tomorrow, but my work-at-the-beach vacation just went all pear-shaped as my must-get-done list tripled today. now the whole thing is just gonna be tele-work. and yet, I know that if i truly had free time I wouldn't use it to write. with work piling up, just begging to be neglected, I'll feel very creative. We are behind on prepping for travel and final grades though, so i'll be missing the reading at Politics & Prose tonight celebrating the Paycock Press release of Stress City: A Big Fat Book of Fiction by 51 DC Guys, ed. by Richard Peabody. Sorry fellas.

got a big, cold rejection yesterday, but one that occurred at the same time that I received a really swell attaboy from a reader, so the picking-up-and-dusting-off process went very smoothly.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

why I’m not a reviewer/bookmarks

done finished that Down River. not as much action as King of Lies, lots of painfully revealing discussions, and then a bunch of neat stuff at the end. one character I thought for sure was going to die, but it didn’t happen. so that’s cool.

bookmarks. I will no longer use uninteresting bookmarks, like bookstore receipts or pieces of paper or leather designed to be bookmarks. I have a pack of drink coasters with British sports and beer logos, and those work great.

bookmarked in this photo--Christy Zink's story, "Taking Cover," from Electric Grace; Still more Fiction by Washington Area Women, and page 23 of ANS's Yellow Medicine. no, i do not plan to read these books simultaneously.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm going to grocery store hell

so what i really wanted to blog about today was the culture of privacy and the kerfuffle over at Helix, but I lost my head of steam when I stopped into my neighborhood supermarket and noticed that they were playing Christian pop music--again. What a drag, especially since this is one of those Asian super stores with amazing stuff and colors everywhere, and up until this week, sound tracked with loopy, upbeat tunes including a lot of '80s b-sides. So I worked up the nerve to call the manager and complain--gently. She sounded terribly surprised that the music was Christian at all, asking me a couple of times, "Are you sure?" Which made me feel even worse, because of course it's not so much the Christian-ness that drove me out of the store, it was the major suckiness of the music. Had they been playing Mahalia Jackson, I'd be all over that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Favorite New Yorker Story

Too bad so many people are rising to The New Yorker’s bait. New Yorker cartoons can’t provoke for the same reason they fail to amuse. They’re just too obvy.

My resentment for the New Yorker goes a long way back and has everything to do with its influence on literary fiction, especially during the ‘80s. Someone once gave me a stack of New Yorker mags (hey you write fiction, you’ll like this pile of white man sorrow), and one of the issues had some music doodad insert that tweeted out a holiday song, like a musical birthday card. On New Year’s Day (we may have been under the weather) the chime went off on its own, so naturally D grabbed a large knitting needle and pounded it through the stack like a stake through a vampire’s heart. That’s my favorite New Yorker story.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

what i'm reading for

urrg. the writing is coming slooooowly, and by slowly I mean three to five word clumps. not even sentences. I think the problem is that I’ve entered a very plot-ty area and I am resisting its obligations.

so I write a bit, then take a break and read a little of John Hart’s Down River. Don’t ask me how the book is, you can’t trust my opinion. (So far the main character is having a lot of cryptic convos with old men. Oh, and he’s recollecting his painful youth) I read Hart because I noticed while reading his breakthrough novel King of Lies that I make a lot of the same writing choices he does, so much so that I can almost predict what the main character is about to notice or reason out. Content wise, I have nothing in common with Hart. And his characters are incredibly humorless and daddy-conflicted. But there is something eerily familiar about the rhythms, the imagery, and the attention. Maybe I’ve read all the same writers he has but came away with a sunnier disposition. Flannery O’Connor was funny, man.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Well Obama is in my town today, which has me feeling democratic so I thought I'd go over to the StorySouth Top 10 to consume a few more stories and maybe even vote. Deadline is July 17. But now I'm stuck. I just love that XJ Kennedy story, "Grinder," and I really don't wanna. And I think you know why. Right now the story has 1% of the vote. dang dang dang. Oh, and I miss John Edwards too. I'm a sap.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008


I took a few years off from writing short stories so I could work on novel projects, and as I ease back into the online fiction scene I am thrilled by the new flavor of feedback I’m getting: I read your story instead of doing work.

4 or 5 years ago response to my fiction was a little more serious, a little more practiced, a little more practical. More about what I’d accomplished than what the reader experienced. Even my rejections are more gut level: an editor recently wrote that my submission “just didn’t do it for me. I don’t know why.”

I’m working on a theory, and it doesn’t have much to do with me.