Wednesday, April 21, 2010


One of the other great things I pulled from the AWP Conference, another thing I already knew: There are all sorts of literary journals and magazines looking for submissions. Somehow it helped this visual thinker, though, to see hundreds of them all spread out in one place and to talk to the faces behind faceless submission guidelines. Sent a few short stories to one already and heard back already: No, thanks. And the guy accidentally hit "send" a bunch of times so I got like seven or eight rejections at once. Seven or eight reminders to try again.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Went to the AWP Conference in Denver last week, a jam-packed, everything-you-can-possibly-think-of-related-to-writing event. Added joys: Seeing school friends and staying with another wonderful friend and her delightful 5-year-old daughter, who wanted to take me with her to show and tell (she was supposed to bring “something found in nature.”) Alas, I had to turn her invitation down. Some of the sessions at the non-stop conference schedule:

Reading, Writing and Teaching the Literary Fantastic
Ellipsis as Art: Crafting Omission of Information in a Text
Tribute to Mahmoud Darwish
Byronic Vampires and Melancholy Green Men: Harnessing Genre for Literary Use
That’s Private! Using Personal Details About Others’ Lives in Fiction
Young Adult Fiction: The New Literary Voice

That was just the first day. It’s good to have a two-day drive after an information overload. Some of it’s beginning to unravel for me. The basic take-away: Stop worrying so much, sit down and write.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


From "The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton" by Jane Smiley:

“One thing I’ve noticed is that when a particular notion enters your head, then its very particularity makes everything tend toward it, and the tending goes faster and faster. One day you will have barely thought of something, and that little thought inspires such excitement and fear that you don’t want to think of it again, but some few days later, maybe three or four, the thing you could hardly think of is now done, and you are embarked upon a new life.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

The air we breathe

It’s been kind of a theme lately to delve into my past. I went by another old house of ours, one that figures strongly into a period of time I’m revisiting for another novel. This story, unexpected and close, requires journeying to places that are harder for me to go. I had ideas of stopping by my old place some weekend, maybe even knocking on the door to ask if I could wander around the yard, if not intrude completely and ask to come in.

I didn’t need to.

Driving by was enough, at least for the time being. Sometimes the past is best revisited gradually.

People talk about places being vortices of energy and when it comes to new age theories and paranormal speculation I keep a skeptical open mind, if the contradiction makes sense. I don’t know what’s true or not and it’s wild arrogance to assume we know everything about everything, but I also think things like “energies” are subjective and largely based on our own moods and experiences.

But I do know that for me some places feel like the air is charged and other places feel like the air is dead.

My old neighborhood is one of those places where the air has drained out.

I needed to get out of there, to take a deep breath.

I passed a little girl on my road and I wondered if she lived in my old house, if she tried to sleep now in my old bedroom, and whether it still had the wallpaper with the blue flowers that looked deceptively cheery in the daytime. At night the dark parts of the design stood out like demon eyes.

I don’t know if it was my own volatile mix of preteen energy and unhappiness alone or if something else was there. But I was afraid at night and afraid to go to school during the day and hated coming home and hated going to school and if whatever was there fed off negative energy then it had itself a feast.

The air hasn’t moved.