Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the quest

Tomorrow we learn whether we have successfully acquired the land next to our cabin in WV, which would give us a total of about 4.5+ acres. So that's one thing.

The other thing is that someone has expressed enough interest in my WV novel that I have definitely mounted a re-write to increase the suspense. But harder than that is writing the full length summary. I don't know how this effort will pan out in terms of representation and publication, but I do know my new draft will be the lean, dark animal I always intended it to be. Wish me luck.

I've shared the details of the process with a few people, and I'm grateful for all the offers of help. I'll need readers soon, but right now I'm getting help from Jeanette Winterson's The Passion and three or four powerful Lucinda Williams' tracks.

Friday, March 27, 2009

oh, and

my novel board was posted at Paul Toth's super neat Hit and Run Magazine yesterday. timing's a little sad, as I have set the project aside to do a re-write of Unattended, my West Virgina novel.

You knew it would come to this

Just when we were getting along--

The NEA just came out with one of their doom and gloom reports about reading habits, only this time they assert that poetry readership is on the decline while fiction readership is on the rise. NEA reports are like the DOW—too narrow to be meaningful, but we still respond to them anyway.

So this is a good time for me to skim the report. Research, research, research. Going to Molly’s facebook, ah! there it is. Oh thank god, not the report itself, but a journalist’s summary. Skim, skim, skim—holy crap! Dan Gioia acknowledged online readership as a factor in fiction’s increased popularity?

Okay, so here’s my thing. Poetry has lost my readership because it stopped doing things that no other form could do—it let go of word tension and retreated into sense, which is the equivalent of “selling out” in fiction. In the mean time, new fiction reclaimed the narcissistic moment (otherwise known as ‘lyric’) and did something a lot more satisfying with it. I’m not sure what, but I think it has something to do with humility and fearless sloppiness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

139 words kicked my ass today

. . . more about that if things develop. sorry to be cryptic, but it looks like I may suspend work on the Louisiana book to mount a re-write of the West Virginia book. that's if things go well. I'm not afraid of re-writes; I take editorial direction very well, and I work quickly under those circumstances.

so. marriage. in your partnership, do you have a permanently designated broken glass picker-upper? or are you like us, where the glass breaker stands in shock (usually barefoot) over the glass they've just broken, while the person who did not break the glass rushes in to take care of the mess?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Listen, speak

My friend reports that his 14 month old daughter is “recovering her words.” She did a little word-work at 8 months, but then stopped. There’s a neat video of her mimicking the yowling of their deaf cat (not mine to share). I have no idea what this all means, but the information forms a set.

Noo Journal, edited by Mike Young and Ryan Call, are doing an irresistible fund drive. I liked the vid poem Mike did for Barry Graham so much that I donated (surprise Dean!). There’s a line in the Barry poem about a broken shot glass in the kitchen sink, which really hits me—I let a shot glass slip into the sink where it got stuck, invisibly, until I tried to get rid of some greasy water via the disposer. So then the shot glass was invisible and greasy. We tried tongs and a Leatherman before smashing the glass with a hammer and screwdriver and picking out the pieces by hand. You use the right shot glasses, the shards are thick and easy to manage, the way you imagine Fred Flinstone’s shot glasses must be.

Think I'll try to friend Mike. I gave him money.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Get over the new facebook design, check this out

Storysouth, all shiny and new. I'm glad to see this. They seemed to be fading away there for a while . . .

Good luck to the new team!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

no problem

From the classifieds of the March/April 2009 AWP Chronicle: "Great Western Fiction is seeking submissions of Western fiction set in the American Old West before 1914. . . No language. No Sex."

Not everyone misses Al Swearengen.

The ad is more complete than this, with a promise of fuller guidelines at the website, but it looks like this venture has already folded. They offered $50 for short stories, $500 for novels.

Friday, March 13, 2009

vaction ending

It has grown cold and dark at the beach, which means I feel most like myself and can write instead of do healthy stuff like bike and kayak. I think I figured out how to finish my novel (I know I've said that before). we will dine on snacks and alcohol tonight, must empty the fridge.

art taylor's interview with me is quoted at the fictionaut blog(I'm at the end of the post). I also got a mention at Steve Himmer's curious blog. Both things are super neato.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

lumpy dog

blocking our driveway, creeping out our guests

Monday, March 9, 2009

post has nothing to do with writing, except that I'm fixing to do some

Morning 2 of our spring break trip to Ocracoke, NC, a place that is not ready for tourists, especially in this economy. Plus the weather is threatening to go all pear shaped. But the cottage we’ve rented is glorious and weird—lovely view of marsh and wildlife from the front porch, kayak launch on the canal, and a tiny cemetery in the back yard. They don’t put that kinda thing in the brochure, but it is typical Ocracoke. Thanks to Jen, who stayed over Saturday night and took us on a wind whipped jeep ride to South Point at night, which was awesome and moon-scapey. There’s a tumory big dog across the way, and he walks like every one of his legs have been broken in the past. I think I love him. I’ll try to get a pic.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

eh, what do I know?

After the AIW/Mason Fiction Seminar last Sunday, Art Taylor interviewed me about some of the stuff I had to say about net publishing and the evolution of short fiction. It was fun.

Flash Panel-Conversations and Connections

So I have been asked to join the flash panel for the Conversations and Connections
conference, which should come as a huge disappointment to my students who are planning to attend. As Laurie Anderson said, "You already paid for this."

The panel will include David Erlewine, Joe Young, and Molly Gaudry (who has rejected my stuff a couple times, so really looking forward to meeting her!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The storySouth 2009 Million Writers Award for Fiction

It's that time of year again, deadline March 31 to get your nominations in.

I have some thinking to do . . .

after 5 minutes of thinking, and if I had to nom now, I'd go with Scott Wrobel again--"The Absence or Addition of Fish"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Debrief: AIW/Mason Fiction Writing Seminar, Feb 28

The program was offered in an unusual (for me) format: a day long series of talks and panel discussions with no overlapping sessions. The continuity of audience allowed for a certain continuity of discussion, which was special. Though there were a few students in attendance, most of the participants were non- or post- academics, very like the participants I encountered when I attended the New York Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore a couple of years back: serious folks who love reading and writing but who don’t always have a stable writing community

I was committed to 10 minutes duty, so I can’t explain why I gave over my whole Saturday to this thing, but I’m glad I did. Art Taylor has posted his “highlights,” so here are mine:

9:07 am: Jeffrey Deaver presents a charming speech where he very clearly negates the necessity of the panel that follows him by offering a succinct consideration of literary and commercial fiction and neatly dispenses with the mythical opposition between the two.

9:30am. Deaver goes into the audience to gently heckle the next panel “Literary Snobs and Commercial Sellouts,” an anecdote filled discussion featuring Alan Cheuse (as “The Snob”) taking jabs from commercial writers John Gilstrap, Donna Andrews, and James Grady. No real blood here, and one thing all the writers agree on: TAKE DA MONEY. About half way through I become agitated. Aren’t we really just giving in to unimaginative marketing labels that don’t really mean anything to a real reader, let alone artist? And why do I have to run all over the bookstore to put together my Walter Mosely collection? I happen to be sitting next to a former student I know has a particular interest in writing rape/bondage fiction. What would the panel have to say about that genre?

10:45am. “Novelists who write reviews” —Nandini Lal, Sudlip Bose, Art Taylor, Louis Bayard. Far and away the smartest, most cohesive panel, plus Art is a riot as he tries to explain the difficulties that arise when he befriends an author he has reviewed. Wish Tara had been there to see him fumble-recover, Daryl Monroe-style. We all turn on him. He prevails. Big fun.

1:30—“New Media and Publishing Creative Writing”—Reb Livingston, Mark Athitakis, Bernadette Geyer, and ME. Moderator Reb does a brill intro, covering issues of commodification and new publishing models, which leaves the panelists free to get right to our issues. Mark and Bernadette talk about the publishing industry and emerging promotional tools. All of my prepped material is about the “workshop story” stagnation of the 80s/90s and how new publishing has re-ignited evolution in the form, but I know from being here all day that the crowd is mainly interested in novel writing, so I feel I need to come up with something new—my first instruction to the crowd is “Write down these names so you can google them when you get home: Shane Jones and Nick Antosca.” Reb nods emphatically, and adds “And Blake Butler.” (I could kick myself for forgetting Blake, but I haven’t followed his writing as closely as Nick’s and Shane’s.) I told the folks that these are writers with novel pubs whose publishing activities illustrate what new careers in writing can look like. The Audience. Took. Notes. I had to repeat and spell names.

3pm—Second novels—William Miller, Andrew W. M. Beierle, Katharine Davis, Dallas Hudgens, and Alex MacLennan. This panel turned out to be surprisingly Relevant To My Interests. Two of the panelists didn’t publish their first novels until they were over 50. Still two others no longer use an agent. Much frank discussion of agents, editing, etc, and while I already knew a lot of what they had to say, I didn’t necessarily know that I knew what I knew. Talked a little to Katharine Davis after—she is my new hero. Did you know that the author has to write those “book discussion questions” you see in trade paperbacks?