Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's in a Translation?

Here’s a thought a writer friend and I had today when we both agreed we preferred Chekhov’s short stories to Joyce’s. Does Chekhov benefit from having modern translations while we still read Joyce in the original? Would Dubliners be more engaging if a translator whisked away the cobwebs?

Hard to know. But we agreed that antiquated language is not a sure-kill. After all, that Shakespeare guy is still pretty engaging. You know, if you like love, murder and betrayal.

King Lear, man. That’s all I’m saying.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Just Realized ...

We'll soon know what to call this decade. We're what? Three months away from the VH1 premiere of I Love The ____.

I hope we end up calling it The Ohs. I just can't see myself saying "aughts" like some Dust Bowl era sharecropper remembering the good ole' days.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Deep Sea Reading

Came across Squid Quarterly today. Their first issue was this summer and it’s great. All short shorts and prose poetry ranging from the more experimental to the more traditional. Lots of very lush writing. I particularly liked Michelle Nichols The Lament of the Fire Baton Twirler. But I read the whole journal in one sitting and am already looking forward to their next installment.

Check it out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Editors Vs. Writers

Via PANK, The Review Review as a great post up by Don Lee, former editor of Ploughshares. He’s talking about the animosity that exists between writers and editors. One part that caught my eye:

What makes [editors] dispirited is the us-versus-them mentality that has developed between writers and editors, linked to accusations that they aren’t open to new writers or that the system is somehow rigged … a hard truth: a submission might be good, but not good enough. This is what writers have problems swallowing. After getting a rejection, instead of taking another look at the story or poem and perhaps revising it or spending a little more time thinking about the most suitable venue for it, it’s much easier to rail against these editors
Good but not good enough. That’s a tough one for any writer to swallow. Obviously, in any good journal, good work will have to be rejected to make room for the really good work. But, as a lowly submitter, it’s so hard to know where that line is or even what criteria make up that line. It’s not like we sit down to write a story that’s just “good enough”. We try to write great stories. When they get tossed back, it’s hard to know exactly why.

I get the frustration. Hell, I feel the frustration. But what I don’t get is why some writers hate on editors (Lee describes some truly terrible behavior on the part of rejected writers). Sure, as Lee readily admits, some editors are idiots. But most aren’t. If a journal is good, the editors are probably good. And if the journal isn’t good, why do you want your work in there anyway?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Submission Purgatory

I think that's what I'm in. I have a bunch of submissions out right now but no one is responding. I long ago stopped thinking this was good news -- that my submission must have worked its way up to the highest levels of the editorial department and that's why it's taking three, four, five months to hear anything. Now I generally worry that my story is sitting beneath a box of take-out Chinese, sweet-and-sour sauce soaking down through the pages.

Then again, most of my submissions are via email or those online systems. There's not even the romance of a sauced-stained manuscript. The story is binary code on some soulless server in Utah.

Oh well ... I'm sure by writing this I'll get a shit-storm of rejections. You want answers, buddy? Here ya go.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sick Writing

I like stories that make me feel a little ill. Actually, I like stories that make me feel anything and I'm not upset if that feeling is of the skin-itching variety.

In the September online issue of PANK, Brandi Wells gives us "Instructional". It's a rape story. But not one you've read before.

It's sick writing, both in the sense of "not right in the head" and in the modern sense of "really, really good".

Monday, September 14, 2009

And Now ... Another Writer's Blog

I've blogged for years ... as a political blogger. But this is a new venture, a virtual home for the fiction writing side of my life.

Mainly, I'll post various thoughts and ramblings about writing and writers I like. And, of course I'll use this space to promote and catalog my published stories. Yeah, I'm not looking to revolutionize the genre of "writer blog". But I hope to provide some interesting thoughts from time to time -- and a way for people to easily find me.

Thanks for stopping by.