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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Paul A. Toth

My Siamese Twin

November 6th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth

SARASOTA, FL-

This has been what I call the Year of Ice. Colder than a shaved polar bear. Sayonara 2009. It’s been a year of pills, pills and more pills, until finally I seem to have reached some kind of treaty with bipolar disorder, which barely warrants discussion given that virtually everyone is now diagnosed as bipolar. Still, it’s important to note that when I write “ice,” I mean anxiety, yet when I write “anxiety,” I do not describe all attributes of “ice.” (more…)


Ronlyn Domingue

My Horrible New York Times Review

November 3rd, 2009
by Ronlyn Domingue

NEAR 91 DEGREES LONGITUDE-

Here’s the good news. My first novel was reviewed by the New York Times.

Here’s the bad news. It was a horrible review.

I do not hyperbolize. It was really bad. So that you understand how terrible it is, I’ve included it entirely as the next full paragraph. Please feel free to gasp, snicker, or laugh aloud at any time during my cautionary tale, even if you think you shouldn’t. Release the humours. It’s healthier that way.

Fiction Chronicle, Sunday, November 20, 2005. The Mercy of Thin Air (Atria Books)

Domingue’s first novel is like “The Lovely Bones” minus the lovely prose;

(more…)


Paul Clayton

Writing From the Gut!

October 29th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

I recently flew south to do a piece for Poets & Writers magazine about a rather unorthodox writers camp. Called The Write Stuff, it’s run by a writer named Rock Adams. Ever hear of him?

(more…)


Mary Richert

“Quick Fix” or “Lets all revel in this rejection”

October 26th, 2009
by Mary Richert

COLUMBIA, MD -

I gave myself an assignment. It’s this thing I’ve been doing on my blog, giving myself homework, because I don’t do anything unless someone with authority tells me to do it, and since I’m technically qualified to teach writing (let’s not talk about the actuality of that), I figured I could be my own teacher and give little lessons to myself.

My most recent completed assignment was to write and submit an essay for publication. It didn’t matter if I got published as long as I stopped the negative mental chatter that always stops me just before I do anything with too much potential for awesomeness.

So, I submitted the essay, and yesterday, I got my rejection notice. I can’t say it was entirely unexpected, but here’s the second part of that assignment: the post mortem. Put the essay out there and pick it apart. What’s wrong with this essay? What would you have done to make it better? Or are the editors of said publication just out of their minds? I’ll let you decide. (more…)


Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 4: Still Loving Morrissey and Shopping at the Gap

October 23rd, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

Don’t ever agree to your book being published if you have a fear of public speaking. I can say that, over the past five months, I have almost completely conquered this fear. I have beaten it out of myself. My husband has stood by, helplessly watching the self-berating, doling out the necessary Kleenex and gelato cups, weighing in on every outfit I’ve tried on. My vain (in more ways than one) attempt at looking just the right combination of serious literary writer and hot-ass bitch has culminated in committing the worst of sins: I bought a black T-shirt from the Gap.

(more…)


Tom Hansen

The International Tom Lifetime Arts Grant

October 22nd, 2009
by Tom Hansen

SEATTLE, WA

Want time to write that masterpiece? Well now there’s a solution.

The International Tom Lifetime Arts Grant

Applicants [artists, writers, etc.] from all nations should adhere to the following guidelines;

  1. Chop off your leg [or inflict some other significant permanent physical harm to yourself that your government classifies as a disability] Think twice before chopping off your hand—it will probably be needed for your art.

(more…)


Will Entrekin

My Own Alternative to National Novel Writing Month

October 20th, 2009
by Will Entrekin

JERSEY CITY, NJ-

Being that October is coming to a close and November fast approacheth, it’s that time of the year again. No, not the time to dress up like a naughty schoolgirl. Well, okay, maybe that time, too. And not taxes time, either, unless you’re on the quarterly taxes schedule, about which I’m sorry because that totally sucks for you. And while it’s the end of one year and the beginning of another according to many traditions, I’m not talking about that time, either.

No, it’s time to search the recesses of your hard drive for that one document that’s been languishing unfinished for so long, the one you promised yourself you would finish someday, when you had time. When you’re not dawdling about on Facebook and Twitter or making sure to keep up with every blog or following the exploits Kate plus eight sans Jon. You know the document I’m talking about. You think about it often: What if?

Everyone’s got one. Writers used to stick them in drawers, or trunks, and there they would remain, waiting for some attention, any attention.

So now it’s time to dust it off! It’s time to sign up on an Internet forum with lots of other people who all have Long Languished Projects, and it’s time to finally dedicate to those projects the time they so deserve.

A whole month!

That’s right: it’s National Novel Writing Month time. Are you quaking with anticipation?

(more…)


Jason Rice

Crap

October 19th, 2009
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ-

It’s crap that I can’t afford to buy an iPhone.  Cry me a river, you say.  It’s also crap that I have to spend two hours a day commuting in my car to work a job that is just a job.  When did I become a person who fulfills other people’s dreams at the expense of my own?  

Planes crashed into the World Trade Center, and six weeks later I lost my job at Random House.  A week after that I bought a house.  That was supposed to be my dream. Now I’m living in it, and I can want for nothing.  Is that the deal?

(more…)


Autumn Kindelspire

I Don’t Want to be a Writer

October 19th, 2009
by Autumn Kindelspire

NEW YORK, NY-

I always said I wanted to be a writer. (Actually, when I was very little I wanted to be a waitress at my favorite restaurant, Wags. But when Wags went out of business and was replaced by a Denny’s, my dream to serve pancakes and coffee to senior citizens was replaced, too.)

In fifth grade, I won a National Pride Award in Writing, and from then my destiny was set: I was going to be a famous author. By the time I reached high school, I was pretty sure I was going to be the next Stephen King. Or Margaret Atwood, or Faulkner, or Steinbeck, depending on what I was reading that week.

(more…)


Brin Friesen

Invisible Ink

October 17th, 2009
by Brin Friesen

VANCOUVER-

“I leave a lot out when I tell the truth. The same when I write a story. I’m going to start now to tell you what I left out…”

-Amy Hempel (more…)


Tyler Stoddard Smith

Tyler’s Adventures in Cultural Literacy

October 12th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

What does it mean to be literate? That one’s pretty easy; it means you know how to read. What does it mean to be cultural? That one’s a little tougher; it means you know that in most situations, it’s unacceptable to put your cigarette out on a dachshund. And so what does it mean to be “culturally literate?” Many have posed this question (Harold Bloom, the Yale professor currently encased in acrylic and preserved for posterity does it a lot.), yet no one has truly come to terms with an accurate answer. My uncle Seamus once remarked that “cultural literacy is for homosexuals,” but he was urinating in a koi pond at the time, so who knows? I suggest we journey together to see if we can’t get to the core of this labyrinthine dilemma. Perhaps the most logical first step is learning how to read (I’ll wait for a few minutes)… Sweet. Our next step is to determine what exactly is “cultural.” Below are a few undeniably cultural items in the realm of architecture, literature and music. Let’s familiarize ourselves with these things, and then we can begin to get a handhold on what it means to be culturally literate. (more…)


Mary Richert

Anxiety Paints a Self Portrait

October 11th, 2009
by Mary Richert

ARNOLD, MD -

The windows around the front door look like aliens. I seem to be the only one who recognizes it, but it’s so obvious. They are tall, skinny aliens with arms that reach down to their knees. Their bug-eyed heads are elongated just like the aliens on TV, except that the top comes to a little point like a dollop of whipped cream. As a kid, I ran up the stairs feeling their noodle arms reaching out to grab me and pull me out of my world and into theirs. I always felt them just an inch behind me

Standing in the laundry room, if I tapped unexpectedly on the metal surface of the washer or dryer, the noise might be startling, and suddenly I was thinking, “What if that’s the signal?” The signal for ghosts or aliens or whatever might be waiting in the ether for its moment, its chance to come abduct me or just to show itself, thereby ruining the reality on which I had an already tenuous grasp. I would do it again to disrupt the signal — rap on the washer once quickly, try to make the exact same noise — was it once for yes and two for no? I don’t remember. Do it again just in case. What if I have said something I don’t even understand in their alien language? Tap out a complicated rhythm to indicate a scratching out of what has inadvertently been written on the paper of time-space continuum. If all else fails, run out of the room and all is forgotten.

(more…)


Paul Clayton

IeBAF 2001

October 10th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

You’re a writer, right? You’ve been writing for eight years, ten years, fifteen… and you’ve had a few small successes. But not with ‘the book,’ the one you poured your heart into over the years, the one that is not merely an entertainment, but is true, containing the essence of yours and others’ experiences, and the little bit of insight it all gave you. You’ve submitted it to the big New York houses hundreds (sometimes it seems like thousands) of times… with no result other than enough rejection slips to stuff a queen sized mattress.

(more…)


Peter Schwartz

Heart VS. Head

October 8th, 2009
by Peter Schwartz

AUGUSTA, ME-

In my worst moments, when I’m awake and shouldn’t be, when I feel as though I am merely surviving this life, I think: what am I? I don’t know what I am but I do know a little about the habits of the creature that is me. Maybe the most important duality I inhabit is that between focusing on my mind and focusing on my heart. When I’m in my mind, I’m serious, possibly a little cranky, and doing something useful like accepting my next friend on Facebook. When I’m in my heart, I’m either writing my next new poem or practicing one of my more inspired hobbies like autoerotic asphyxiation or Reiki. (more…)


Litsa Dremousis

Suggestions, Verities, and Such:

October 5th, 2009
by Litsa Dremousis

SEATTLE, WA-

Historians assuredly will view this epoch and, among other things, conclude we fussed and churned way too much over pubic hair.

We elected a president, not Santa Claus. We’re not going to get everything we want in the first three fourths of the first year of the first term.

While I know otherwise, I prefer to think ships float by magic: the water displacement theory strikes me as kind of sketchy.

Ladies, we’re nearly 52% of the population. Perhaps more of us could act accordingly?

Also, might a tiny but attention-grabbing portion of us stop writing to and marrying serial killers?

And fellas, might a tiny but attention-grabbing portion of you stop serial killing?

Is anything more resplendent than a lilac tree in spring?

Nutella, while medicinal, is extremely potent and should be handled as such: the combination of spoon and jar seems to hurl one into a time lapse and next thing you know, your evening is shot to hell and your shirt looks like an eight year-old’s.

(more…)


Jennifer Duffield White

Riding Towards the Light on a Red Bicycle

October 4th, 2009
by Jennifer Duffield White

MISSOULA, MT-

It’s the cliché metaphor of the last century: The light at the end of the tunnel.

Maybe the guy who hammered and dynamited the railway path through the mountain knew just what it meant.

We think we know, after burying ourselves in whatever misery or work that elicits the oft-used metaphor.

But this isn’t about that. (more…)


Tyler Stoddard Smith

How to Write, Or Not

October 4th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

They tell me you should write about what you know. I’ve always had a problem with that. I may know some things other people don’t, but in writing that down, what good does that do me? Not much. I already know it. I want to write about things I don’t know about. I want to learn things about what I don’t think, how people I don’t know don’t act and why. Perhaps I say this because I don’t know much. I know a lot of facts about arcane things, but I already know them and I already know that nobody, unless they are short of Trivial Pursuit cards, wants to hear that kind of bilge. However, I don’t know one thing that I think will serve me well in my writing career: I don’t know how to write.

(more…)


Simon Smithson

Decompressing from TNB - LA

October 3rd, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

I’d been warned about Los Angeles. They (the same ‘they’ in ‘That’s what they say’) warned me that it’s a city where people smile at your face and stab you in the back; that the whole town only exists to exploit people of youth, beauty, and talent; that everyone there is obsessed with making money, making their cut, and then getting out of Dodge as fast as their new Lexus can carry them.

People characterised the city as soulless, shallow, and desperate for a quick buck.

Why people thought they should warn me, I’m not really sure. Because it sounded like I’d fit right in.

But seriously - LA, man. Now that’s a fun town. (more…)


Tom Hansen

On Junk

October 3rd, 2009
by Tom Hansen

SEATTLE WA-

When I began taking writing courses in college, my instructors at some point all mentioned one thing; write what you know.

What does that mean? What does anyone know? What did I know? I was familiar with, and informed about many things, but ‘knowing’ implied a more intimate relationship than the commonplace knowledge that everyone knows. I knew a little bit about playing music, a bit about this, a bit about that. Nothing special, not like the adventures some of my literary heroes had lived through and subsequently wrote about. But there was one thing. One thing I knew more than anything else, one thing in my life that I’d been totally enthralled with, devoted to, and spent years and years of my life closely involved with. Junk.

(more…)


Brin Friesen

Loot II

September 30th, 2009
by Brin Friesen

HAVANA-

Somebody once said that at the end of the world there’s always a tourist and a whore fucking in a cheap hotel. If that’s here, that whore’s mother probably made the bed and had coffee ready for them after.

(more…)