Friday, January 23, 2009

Checking In

Well, it's been a while. My new Fiction Class at the Writing Salon starts next Thursday, the 29th of January. It runs from 7:00 to 9:30. I'm looking forward to it. We're planning to address issues of craft as usual, but I also want the class to talk about the process of creating a story ie. "Where" do they come up with stories? How do they find time to write? How do they stay with a story until it's finished?

I finished Mark Budman's novel and enjoyed it--nice voice. I also picked up a copy of the current 2009 Pushcart Prizes and was a little dismayed to read the editor's opening comments dissing on-line magazine submissions. I find it in poor taste to allow editors from on-line sources to submit stories for consideration and then to openly criticize on-line venues for the poor quality of the submissions. If the Pushcarts don't want on-line magazines to submit, then they shouldn't have opened the door to this. I'm not sure what's going on there. I've read some pretty amazing stories on-line in Narrative Magazine, Virginia Quarterly, Storyglossia, Western Humanities Review and some great flash at Smokelong Quarterly. I also enjoy reading the flash at Vestal Review. I'm not published in most of these magazines, so this isn't self-promotion. I just find it plain RUDE that print publications are being such dinosaurs about what they consider to be quality fiction. I see lots of award winning authors publishing on-line these days. Enough. I'll stop after I say one more thing--weren't the Pushcarts established in order to honor literature that doesn't get honored. Isn't that the spirit of this prize? I feel like the on-line venues should start their own Pushcart Prize. We do have the Million Writers Award, but this typically picks only one story. Dzanc Books publishes a Best of the Web book now, so I guess that's our Pushcart. It's daunting, though. I hear so many new writers say, Maybe I shouldn't try to get published on-line. I say, do your homework...read the magazines...see if you like the stories. Water seeks its own level. Okay I'll stop.

Writing? Yes, but for now, that's under wraps. I do have a short creative non-fiction piece coming out on the ON-LINE edition of 580 Split. I'm very proud of it and very proud to be included in 580's inaugural on-line edition of the magazine. It's out at the end of the month, called "In the Shed."

Anything else? Read Ron Carlson Writes a Story. It'll inspire you. I went to Instant City's reading for their new magazine issue. I feel like it's a small select crowd who all know each other that gets in the mag. Nice people, but Gravity Goldberg was joking about nepotism, and hmm. I'm not from SF, but being from another state and moving here, I feel like I'm a San Francisco-an. I'm from the East Bay. The story has to be about San Francisco--okay, I'm okay with that, but there's also this gritty realism thing, too. Is that all SF is? Drugs, violent scenes at poetry readings, confrontations on mass transit? I need a stronger point to some of the stories I like. I did like one story, though--"Eucalyptus" by Cynthia W. I forget the last name and I left my copy at work. Anyway, that story captured a generation for me. She did some nice work there.

Other on-line venues I like, of course, are VerbSap, Wheelhouse, Midway Journal. I'm published in these. I'm not looking to win awards with these stories, but I still love these stories. I submitted them on-line, not because I felt they weren't good enough to get into a print mag, but because they were shorter, had a trendier, more on-line feel to them. I can't say what that quality is that makes me say submit this on-line. A little shorter than average is one quality, though. Midway wanted experimentation--I liked their logo and I liked what I saw when I went there. I also liked that they were a Midwestern base. Don't be an elitist. Submit to both print and on-line. Encourage and support.

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