Monday, November 24, 2008

Read about Literary Magazines in Missouri Review

Reading the Newpages blog and they had a great note on one of Missouri Review's literary mags--it's a magazine about literary magazines. They talk to editors about the state of the art in lit mags. I ordered my issue. I'll be curious to see what they say about issues of print vs. web. More and more, I'm turning to websites to publish because the wait time with print is so long. I love seeing my work in print, but one thing I've found--I've said this before--is that telling friends, students, coworkers they can find your work archived on-line is really rewarding, especially when the work you've gotten published is some of your finest. When I sent my story "Stories I heard when I went home for my grandmother's funeral" in to Storyglossia, I had no idea he'd nominate it for a Pushcart, but I did know that I liked it well enough to send it without any input from my writing group. There's a job posted for Northwestern College, which is in Orange City, Iowa, on that blog, too. I could go back there and teach creative writing. Orange City is an all Dutch town (or mostly). It really is a throwback to another time to go back there. Oh, I miss it all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Classic lit, Acting, and Unblocking

Well, it's 1:15 on a Sunday afternoon. My teenager's eighteenth birthday came and went yesterday. I've been reading the River Oak Review and finding it much more diggable as I went on. Loved the short story "Misfortune" by Lanner Tremont about a fortune teller substitute. Clever little flip to it. It felt like a story I could share with my creative writing students at HMHS. "Sky Full of Burdens" by Meg Moceri especially trips my trigger because of its reference to a fear of heights. I thought the dialogue in it was funny. I'm still reading it. I'm looking to read a few good novels between now and end of the school year. Probably Toni Morrison's Mercy. Did anyone go to see her talk in SF this weekend? I had to act in the school play--what fun! I realized that what I've been missing once again is activity. By that I mean, moving around and having fun. I'm finally getting over a back injury from a year ago, getting out and walking the new puppy, exercising, and thinking about what to write. The activity has to be fun, though. Just acting in a play, recalled all the memories of teaching theater at Richmond High School. Love those 11 YEARS. I miss it, but I know the amount of work that goes into being a theater teacher, which is why I decided to become a writer instead. I missed doing things on my own rather than always teaching others. And that moment in the spotlight Friday night made me realize that I'm teaching too much or else falling into the trap of quizzes and study guide questions again. I wanted to teach My Antonia, Farewell to Arms, Ethan Frome, and The Great Gatsby: 1870-1930 lit: in a new and interesting way and I started just assigning and moving on. YUK. So it's time to reasses. Monday, no quiz. Kids will have to draw what's missing in Huck Finn. They were joking, no pictures, Ms. Genna and I said, well, they're used to be. We talked for a long time about the language in Huck and what's redeemable in it, but Ilike to give them class time to read. I think they should draw or make a graphic comic or a play. It's been done, I know, but not by them. We'll see. As for my own writing, I keep debating about whether to write memoir or fiction or novel, and suddenly I decided I was giving myself a block. Why not do all three! I can always write memoir and keep a running story going--these stories about growing up in Iowa in a farming family of 10 kids are classic. I don't have to think about publication. I could also write stories as they occur. Still looking for that novel idea, but I think I need to be reading novels to be in that frame of mind.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taking a break

Well, I figure if the only writing I get done is this, at least I've gotten some writing done. I had to take a break from reading The Crucible essays and stories from my two creative writing classes. I'm reading my e-mail and regretting not being able to go to the FlatmanCrooked party. Couldn't find a babysitter--actually Jacklyn's 10, but still gotta have that older person there to look after her. Enjoying the new puppy every day--he's sweet and has learned how to sit up instantly for a treat--he looks like a thick little prairie dog! AWWWW. Got a super-fast rejection from Memoir(and)--one day, and wondered if they even read my stuff. It was super-short, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I think I'll order a copy of that mag, though, because it looks interesting. I got a copy of River Oak in the mail and thought it was a little on the quaint side, but still have to look through it to get a better perspective. I read pretty much all of Water-Stone Review and was impressed by the quality of the work. Recently finished Opium's latest mag and had mixed feelings on the stories. I wanted more depth. The writing is good, but feels trendy at times without substance. I did like the writerly quotes in there. Lewis Buzbee gave me one and then he submitted one. I hope this magazine stays on top with its quirky humor and strange angles of life. So, I recommend sending for a few samples of magazines if you're wondering where to submit. See if they're your cup of tea. Sometimes I find that a magazine has all "names" in it, with very few new people and I think, nope, not yet. Gotta' wait til I get a book published (if this every happens). I went through a long period where I sent no manuscript out. Just tired of those finalist/semifinalist letters and thought maybe I needed to change something. Now, I'm in a down period because of lack of time. Dont' think I'm not thinking right now, that I could be writing instead of this, but this is a nice way to clear the deck.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November already

I can see that FACEbook has taken over the blogging territory. Does anybody blog anymore? I see blogs attached to lit mags. The one on New Pages is pretty good. Storyglossia's editor used to have more entries, but fewer now, so I think everyone's over to Facebook format. My concern is that someone will post something inappropriate on my facebook account. Writing world for me is non-existent right now. Too much to do--grade essays, grade, grade, grade. I can see where teaching interferes with my creative process. I'm curious how people who are teachers deal with losing the impetus to write when they are all the time working on lessons, evaluating, and don't forget--going home and taking care of kids and pets. McSweeney's and the new FlatmanCrooked are having a shindig in San Francisco tonight. Look it up on the web and think about going. I'm going to try to make it over there. I did write some experimental type lyric essays, but need the time to sit down and edit them. I don't think it's about being blocked--I think it's about being overextended.