Monthly Archives: September 2006

assigned

Hey here’s a first for me:  a good friend of mine convinced me to submit an idea to an anthology.  I normally do not submit to “theme” issues or anthologies or any other writing venues in which I am limited to certain subject matter.  I don’t write well under that kind of pressure (at least wrt my essay or creative writing).

But–why not?  It’s time to expand my writing horizons.   As in most of my writing ventures, I begin with, “What the heck, right?  Why not?”

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why literary journals?

One of my writing peers in my MFA program once said in workshop, “I try to read those literary journals but I just can’t get into them. Why would I subscribe to one of them? I mean, I know I want to get published in them, but why would I subscribe?”

Ahem. It was a very honest statement on her part, altogether too revealing of the plight of literary journals. I was horrified to hear what she said, and as an avid reader and subscriber of literary journals I raised my hand to respond. But our professor beat us to the punch.

Our professor went onto say that as writers we really should subscribe to and support literary journals. They do a great service to the writing community–they discover new writers, for one. And how would they survive to do such things without our support? They run on a shoestring budget and should be rewarded for their altruism with plenty of subscriptions (which sadly isn’t true–so many writers who are published in these journals probably don’t subscribe, either).

So as writers, do you subscribe to a literary journal? I urge you to subscribe to at least one. It helps you to keep your pulse on new writing, helps YOU to discover new writers, and gives you access to short stories by some great established writers (I mean, there is just some good reading in these journals!). Also, you would be contributing to a healthy publishing/writing ecosystem (do you REALLY want a future where only Big Publishing Houses exist?).

I also thought I’d list my favorite literary journals, in the vein of Susan’s post on her favorites. If you want to start reading them, maybe this will be a springboard:

  • ZYZZYVA. Irreverent and risk-taking work, I think. Editor Howard Junker (who has a blog calledZYZZYVA Speaks) reads every submission. They respond QUICKLY to submissions!
  • A Public Space. Former editor of the Paris Review, Bridgid Hughes’ new magazine. The first issue was sparkling and great. The second issue is now out and pretty interesting too (though it’s clear she put more energy and starpower into the first). They take online submissions!
  • AGNI. Boston University’s literary mag.
  • Tin House
  • Zoetrope: All-Story. I hear their editor is wonderful and attentive.
  • The Paris Review. The Grandaddy of them all.
  • One Story. You get one story every three weeks, a wholly different model than the other literary journals. I kind of like this model. The magazine itself is very threadbare and looks like a high school student produced it on her own, but the stories are good. They accept online submissions.

Anyone else got recommendations? I would also recommend Glimmertrain, even though I don’t subscribe to them. I rather like the little author profiles at the back (pictures for each author with anecdotes. Kinda cool). I also used to subscribe to the Bellevue Literary Review, but I can only read so much of medical literature (my own limitations, not the magazine’s). I also got the vibe that a lot of the pieces are written BY doctors, and wanted more diversity.

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libido

my fifteen pound male dog who has shown no previous semblance of desire now masturbates incessantly. it’s like he woke up and said “i want to get off!”

he rolls over on his back and tries to pull my hand towards his “lipstick.” he sidles over my foot and humps my foot. i’m trying to get away from him. his little face looks so sad and rejected. but i am not into bestiality and even though my little dog “loves” me i must refuse.

but i must ask.  where does this desire come from?

does it come from the same place an idea comes from?  where wonder resides?

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narny nar!

I am going to play hooky tomorrow. I am sick with exhaustion and stress and I’m not going to class. I have never ditched a class in all my time in my MFA program..but I am doing it.

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Fortunate

“How,” said one of my high school classmates, “did YOU get HIM?” She rolled her eyes.

Bitch! I was beginning to regret my decision to go to my high school reunion. Why did I think that things would be different? I was thirty pounds overweight and wearing this weird St. John gold cowl-neck sweater dress that made me feel like a gilded lima bean. My mother-in-law had bought me the dress, along with the gold pumps. I was wearing a girdle that dug into my waist and was creating a muffin top through my dress. So now I was a lima bean with a crease down the middle.

I don’t remember what I said in response (since I can’t remember, probably something lame and polite). This exchange happened five years and thirty pounds ago. But I remember THAT comment.

I get THAT comment a lot. “You’re so lucky to be married to HIM!” Ugh. UGH. UGGGGH!

My husband is an amazing man. He is amazing to me because he is a good person. He is amazing to me for things that don’t get listed in a job interview. He is amazing to others for his accomplishments and potential for future achievement. I am married to someone that people admire and people assume I admire him in the same way I do. It’s impossible for me to adore him in the same way–I adore him MORE than really anyone else.

The thing is, he deserves this admiration, but…not at my expense. “How did you find him?” people inevitably ask.

*sigh*
You mean, “How did we meet?” Ah yes, they say. How did you meet? And so then I will tell the sweet story with the Meet Cute and everything. Suddenly our relationship gets tons of credibility because I met him in college before all the “achievements.” We are…a partnership in their eyes. Not that it matters what they think, but at least I’m not annoyed anymore.

But there are days my self confidence fails me. And I wonder if I am the person some people think I am: a spectator in my husband’s life. Those are the days when my novel feels like ten years off, or story after story isn’t going well, or well, when my own writing puts me to sleep. What IS it that I DO?! I ask myself.

Oh yes, and it’s what the people ask me, too, “What do YOU do?”

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snooze test

last weekend, i decided to cut a chapter out of my novel after it succeeded in putting me to sleep 3 times in a row in one afternoon.

just now, i tried to read a short story i wrote that same weekend…and IT is putting me to sleep.  oh boy!

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catalogue of ideas

there’s just a shitload of ideas around me, and i collect them. don’t have time to write a story about this or that, but i’ll jot the idea down–because who wants to run out of ideas? i write the ideas down on my hand, write them in a little notebook, and i email the ideas to myself a LOT (subject header: STORY IDEA BLAH BLAH).

i really really try NOT to blog them, or share them. i feel like then i really have released them to the universe, and that they are no longer my own thoughts.

ann lamott, in bird by bird says she jots down ideas on index cards and then files them away. i tried doing that for a little while but that was just too much work. emailing the story ideas as the subject header works a LOT better. with one click of a button on my mail client, i can sort through them alphabetically or by date of idea inception!

but there are a lot of story ideas i haven’t used. maybe i ought to be generous to the Muse and share one of them…maybe as a writing prompt? i’ll see, maybe if you’re interested?

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