Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Short Getting Shorter

I haven't been writing much flash. I've been enjoying taking a little more time with things, leaving room to extend language. Not that I'm writing epics, mind you.

But I wonder what the popularity of flash is doing to our perceptions of things. And by "our," I mean the world of journals and journal readers. Today, I had a story rejected. The reason given: the story is too long to be so reliant on the poetic over the narrative.

The story is 1,500 words.

I'm pretty sure that's quite short.

I assume the journal had issues beyond the poetic-to-narrative balance (not claiming it's the most brilliant thing I've ever done), but I do find the specific concern over the length strange. It's as if flash has trained us to expect a full story in the tiniest possible spaces. Maybe this story needs to be cut in half. But, eight years ago, I would've never imagined a 1,500 word story referred to as "a story of this length." As if it were something bloated and unwieldy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Something Something

Something cool: Hazel Foster talks about my story “Leap” at Matt Bell’s blog, here.

Something new: I finished three stories this week and sent them into the world. They are all at just one or two places. I find that I prefer this method to the scattershot. Of course, this method may also be why I have so little coming out right now.

Something old: Novel. In rewrites. Thought I was done last summer. Turns out: not so much. This could be a post all its own. I have a second novel just banging itself against my skull, but the first one is still something I want to pursue. Oh the complications...

Something worth buying now: Like poetry? Buy Lauren Schmidt’s new chapbook from Main Street Rag. It’s Voodoo Doll Parade and you’ll love it. Find it on this page. Lauren was in my MFA class and I can more than vouch for the amazingness of her work.

Something worth getting ready for: The one-and-only Roxane Gay has a book of stories forthcoming. Ayiti. Preorders from Artistically Declined Press begin this July!

Something else: Saw a bunch of shiny, youthful Mitt Romney supporters in a Las Vegas casino. They were standing around in a cheery sort of way, apparently anticipating Romney’s arrival. Politicians and slot machines. Plenty can seem bright and alluring. Then you put some money into one and ... well ... yeah.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The thing that mattered came packed in a box filled with tight little bags of air. I don’t know where that air came from, how the exhalations were chosen. But they nevertheless took up most of the space with their cushioning. Large percentages of space. All of them just sitting there with their purpose already over. Lasting until I deflated them and disposed, carelessly, of their skins.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Sweet Smell of Failure

That was the title to an original oratory I used in theater/debate competition when I was a senior in high school. It didn't ever win. No one wanted to hear about failure. The people who won talked about patriotism or gun rights (this was Texas) or how important it was that we beat the Japanese (economically, of course ... this was the early 90s). I think my oratory took people too far out of their comfort zone. I also think I could've used a better title.

Anyway, that's the long intro to this video by friend and fellow writer Yuvi Zalkow. It's more-or-less about how to get past writing failures while revising. It's great. I think you'll like it. I've even embedded it below for your convenience.

I Am A Failed Writer. Episode 1: Revisions from Yuvi Zalkow on Vimeo.