Monday, November 30, 2009

The Dan Chaon Post

Dan Chaon seems like a wise man.

I first became aware of his writing when I reviewed his superb collection Among the Missing for the San Francisco Chronicle.

And he's been on my mind lately because I really want to read his new novel Await Your Reply.

There's also been some heavy linkage to this essay, which takes aspiring writers to task -- and rightfully so -- for not reading and supporting literary magazines.

Here's the quote that's getting quoted a lot:

"The writing community is full of lame-o people who want to be published in journals even though they don’t read the magazines that they want to be published in. These people deserve the rejections that they will undoubtedly receive, and no one should feel sorry for them when they cry about how they can’t get anyone to accept their stories."

Toward the end he mentions Hobart and Avery as two great magazines that writers should read and know about. I couldn't agree more. (The new issue of Avery, by the way, should be out soon.)

Moreover, Chaon was recently interviewed by One Story. But it wasn't for one of his stories; it was for a story by his late wife Sheila Schwartz
, whose story "Finding Peace" is the current issue of One Story. If nothing else, read the last few paragraphs. Break your heart.

And one more thing: this amazing tribute to his wife, published a while back at The Rumpus. Talk about break your heart.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lyrical Instances

Couldn't help but notice that several short-story collections made The New York Times' 100 notable books of 2009.

And yet... we always hear that publishers aren't interested in short-story collections. And yet... short-story collections somehow keep getting published.

Here's Antonya Nelson, from an interview with The Cincinnati Review, on how she prefers short stories to novels:

"My sensibility is more inclined in the direction of the short story. I'm more comfortable dwelling in the moment and in the vignette, and in exploring lyrical instances, which I think the short-story form accommodates much better than the novel.

"...[Stories are] like painting on one canvas, whereas writing a novel is like working in a room full of canvases, and knowing that hidden below the floor is a basement full of more canvasses, all half-done."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coming Soon: PANK 4

PANK just announced the final lineup for its next issue, due out in January.

And wow. I mean wow. It's quite an impressive list of folks.

Check out all the lovely and talented contributors here.

My contribution is a story called "Woke Up This Morning." It takes place in San Francisco. There is a bus ride. Something happens downtown. The first sentence is: "God said things."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kevin Brockmeier on Process

"What else? I can tell you that I never begin working on a story until I have a title centered at the top of the first page. I think of the title as the target toward which I shoot the arrow of the story. Then, title in place, I broach my sentences one tiny piece at a time, termiting away at them until I'm satisfied that they present the right effect. Often I become attached to certain simple words — city, song, half, pocket, dead, ceiling, house, silence, wound, light — words that call little attention to themselves, that have nothing antique about them, but that seem to trail a thousand centuries of stories behind them, arriving in a great dust cloud of possibilities."

You can read more here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How Writers Write

Pretty interesting article from the Wall Street Journal.

The title ("How to Write a Great Novel") is somewhat misleading. It's really a look at how some writers -- Nicholson Baker, Junot Diaz, Dan Chaon and several others -- go about writing.

Richard Powers uses speech recognition software. Russell Banks writes his nonfiction on a computer but writes his fiction by longhand. John Irving starts all his novels by writing the last sentence first.

When it comes to process, every writer is different. And as some of the writers point out, that process can also differ greatly from book to book.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009