Sunday, October 4, 2009

The semester that ate my life...

18 credit hours: never again. Oh, except next semester. But never again with one of them being a grad class. Oh, except next semester. Damn. Wake me up in April, I guess.

I feel like I've been sort of MIA from everywhere. In the small amount of free time I've had, I did manage to read this excellent story by Tim Jones-Yelvington. Necessary Fiction is just generally fantastic and really tends to publish things of a certain nature that really speak to me.

I have a story up at SmokeLong, which is incredibly exciting to me, as they are a fantastic publication and I'm super honored to be there. I am admitting that I have not even had time to read the rest of the issue yet, but Kevin Wilson's piece there is wonderful and I'm looking forward to everything else.

I did manage to make the time to read Dave Eggers' new book, as I will be seeing him Tuesday and would feel like a jerk not having read it yet. As non-fiction (and not in the memoir style), it read a lot differently than his other stuff, but I really enjoyed it. It's depressing what a mess this country is sometimes but important to think about for obvious reasons. That's not a very profound review, I know. But the point is: Zeitoun--well worth a read.

My contributor copies of Annalemma arrived the other day, and wow. I don't know that I've ever seen such a visually amazing lit mag. Kudos to Chris Heavener on combining the words and the art in a way few others are. Seriously lovely.

If you happen to be studying Kant, Gilles Deluze's Kant's Critical Philosophy is quite a lucid little companion.

Dogville is more of a headfuck than any other film I have encountered.

This weekend, I saw Disney on Ice, and also ate a lot of eggplant parmesan. Now, I'm going to do homework. I think I pretty much always sign off blog posts that way. Cheers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Shameless again....

I've been kind of keeping this one under my hat, so it is even more exciting to share that I have a story up at The Collagist. I'm in awe of the names up there in both the first issue and this one, and totally honored to be among them.

Back to school.

It's almost 4 am, and here I am spending some quality time with Kant and Aristotle. I guess you could have worse late night/early morning company. It always takes me until a few weeks into the semester at least to realize that getting up early is something I have to do a few times a week and not some random fluke occurrence. Pretty happy about this semester, though. I dig Kant. Not in the "yup, he had it all figured out" way, but dude was seriously ambitious in his undertaking.

I am interviewed over on the Storyglossia blog.

I am saddened by the death of Jim Carroll, who I haven't read in quite some time, but who always stuck with me. Stephen Elliott has a really nice piece over at The Rumpus about Carroll. I think Stephen does a nice job of getting at that unique kind of mourning we feel when someone we didn't really know but loved anyhow dies.

Speaking of sadly departed writers, I have nothing profound to add to all the brilliant commentary that already exists about DFW. But in light of the recent anniversary of his death, I offer a quote from him which is probably my favorite quote about fiction ever: "I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves. Since an ineluctable part of being a human self is suffering, part of what we humans come to art for is an experience of suffering, necessarily a vicarious experience, more like a sort of "generalization" of suffering. Does this make sense? We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside. It might just be that simple."

On that note, back to Kant.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

So long, summer.

I'm not prepared to go back to school on Wednesday, but I am even less prepared for my child to start school on Tuesday. We homeschooled for kindergarten, so this will be school day numero uno. I'm excited. She's excited. But still: my baby is going to school.

Got an acceptance today, just when I was starting to feel like I was in a wee bit of a slump. Wrote something new I like, too. I keep trying to finish some longer-ish things in progress, and instead writing new super short ones, which is okay, too. I'm trying to decide if one of my older stories is submission and/or collection worthy. Usually I dislike old things when I read them, but this one I'm really undecided about. The original draft of it was the first short story I ever wrote that I was really happy with, back like 9 years ago. It's been drastically edited since then, but I'm not sure if I made it better or worse. I guess I'm always free to submit it and see what happens, but I generally like to know that at least I like something before I send it out.

I think with one or two more mid-length stories, I'm calling the collection at least tentatively done. That's exciting, I think, regardless of when and if anyone ever wants to publish it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A little bit of shameless self-promotion.

This is an exciting week for me. I have new stories up in issue 35 of Storyglossia and on Necessary Fiction. Both are journals I really admire and am really honored to be included in.

Also, over at the Pank blog today, I am one of three guest writers for a post about motherhood and writing. Thanks to Roxane for allowing me to ramble over there.

That's all for now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Is it just me, or is it really, really cold out?

I sort of feel like all I do here is complain about the weather, but seriously now. Seriously. Last year we were sweating and in the pool on my kid's birthday, and tomorrow it is supposed to be 64. 64! I love fall, but I prefer for it to not begin during summer.

My baby is going to be six tomorrow. I'm always sort of torn between feeling like she was born yesterday, and feeling like she's always been here and has always been old enough to roll her eyes and me and say "whatever." Though technically, I would like to protest that she is still not old enough to do those things.

I really love this week's Necessary Fiction by Ethel Rohan. Also, I really enjoyed this interview between Steven McDermott and Matt Bell over at the Storyglossia blog. Two great editors talk about editing. Good stuff.

Stephen Elliott will be coming to 826mi in October to teach a workshop and do a reading. I am very excited about that.

I wanted to do a whole lot of reading and writing in my time off school, and both have been kind of slow going. I think sometimes my brain needs a bit of time to recover after a brutal semester. I'm back in the writing groove now, though. I think I am working on something that I think will be a chapbook of some sort.

I am desperately hoping my Kant class is not going to be canceled due to low enrollment, because that would really make a mess of my schedule and everything else is full at this point and I am on a tight schedule here, people, and I need more upper-level philosophy classes and three out of four of said classes might be canceled because of enrollment, and I'm already taking the other one. I don't want to scramble to find another class to take a week before school starts. Stress.

I got a new haircut that was long overdue, and that makes me happy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Look, I'm blogging two days in a row, this no school thing is really nice.

I am trying to spend these rare few weeks off reading and writing as much as possible. I've been picking away at a few stories I'm working on, but not really in the groove at the moment and will probably really get into something right when school starts back up and interrupts me. But that's okay, because I have a workshop in the fall, plus my senior thesis, so I will be back to having excuses to write instead of no time to write.

So reading. I am finishing up Monkeybicycle 6, and Jason Jordan's "Shuttle Cock" just made me laugh out loud a few minutes ago. I really love humor in writing and I try to almost always be at least a tiny bit funny somewhere in a story, but I don't think I ever do anything that funny. And on the really-good-in-a-not-funny-way side of the coin, I just read Sean Lovelace's recent story at Wigleaf earlier today (I know, I'm behind, I'm behind at everything right now) and was super, super impressed. I love flash, but it so often becomes more of a playing-with-language kind of thing, which is okay too. But my favorite flash is stuff like this that does the same work as longer pieces of fiction, that distills all of these huge things down into one tiny moment. Yeah. Wigleaf is good stuff. I am excited for them to open their submissions again soon.

Partially, I'm also spending my time off school worrying about grad school. I feel super lucky to have one of the top MFA programs in the country so close to home, but then it's also impossibly hard to get into and there are no easier to get into MFA programs close to home. I know I can always do low-res, but I'd rather not go so into debt. And then, there are the arguments about whether it's really best to do a program at all, but I really do like the idea, and I also really want to eventually be able to teach. Stress!

Sometimes I need to stop worrying and tell myself I have a lot to be excited about. Right now, I have a whole lot to be excited about.

Also, I think my new goal is to have a collection published (or at least placed with a publisher and all in the works of being published, not necessarily already in print) by the time I'm 30. That's just a few months shy of 2 years away. Totally doable, right? I think so. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I don't know if it quite counts as "Summer Vacation" when it doesn't arrive until mid-late August, but whatever. I have 3 weeks off between semesters, during which I plan to do almost nothing except read and write. The Summer semester was possibly the roughest I've had. But then, I might think that at the end of every semester.

I'm not a very timely blogger. But for anyone living under a rock, The Collagist, DZANC's new online venture, launched a few days ago. I had pretty high expectations, but it really blew me away. I loved all of the fiction, Matthew Salesses was the only writer there who was new to me, and his piece was excellent. Also, I really want to know if Kevin Wilson has written more pieces "From the Big Book of Forgotten Lunatics," and if so, I want to read them. Anyway, anything I could possibly say has been said in probably dozens of places on the interwebs at this point, so I will just keep it short and say that The Collagist is really good stuff, and Matt Bell is an awesomely nice guy who is totally deserving of the success.

On a self-serving note: if anyone is actually out there reading this, who happens to have ever put together a full-length collection of stories, I have some questions. Such as: how do you decide when a collection is "done"? How do you determine the right length? For a novel or novella these seem like unnecessary questions, because the length is just however many words you needed to tell that particular story in the way you wanted to tell it. But with a collection, I write short stories and I'm going to keep writing short stories, it isn't a singular project with a beginning and an end. I'm starting to try to assemble something like a collection, and I have no idea at what point I say: this is a collection, it's finished. Some are so slim and others not so much. How do you decide?

I'm going to finish reading Monkeybicycle 6 now, delighting in my homeworkless state.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I am always half asleep.

I keep wanting to write a blog post and not feeling quite energetic enough, which is pretty pitiful.

I have a story up at Monkeybicycle.

It occurred to me today that the print submission I sent to Monkeybicycle is my only other story with lesbian content. It's a very different story, but it simply didn't cross my mind when I submitted it. Apparently on some subconscious level, I see Monkeybicycle as synonymous with girl-on-girl action. I can't explain it.

I had a brief reprieve from crazy mountains of homework, during which I read a lot. I finally finished Jackie Corley's Suburban Swindle, and read Matt Bell's wonderful The Collectors, Stephanie Johnson's One of These Things is Not Like the Others, and my custom-highlighted AM/PM by Amelia Gray. All fantastic. I also started Blake Butler's Scorch Atlas, but had to temporarily abandon it because I have to write a research paper now. Also, I should link to all of these fine books, but again, that whole lack of ambition. And I assume most people who might be reading this would know where to find them.

For those of you in Michigan, 826michigan will be hosting a special sneak preview of Where The Wild Things Are on October 6th at the Michigan Theater. Dave Eggers will be in attendance, and I'm guessing will probably do some kind of Q&A after the film, but no official word on that yet. I am super excited, and you should be too. The trailers are amazing. Dave is a lovely person. Tickets will be on sale on September 10th, and will probably go quick. All proceeds will benefit 826. Hooray.

I am going to watch the meteor shower tonight. I like strange lights in the sky.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

No time to blog.

Summer semester is kicking my ass. I really like all three of my classes, but it's a lot of reading. And as much as I love reading Dracula and gender theory and Shakespeare, I prefer to also fit in some of my own reading. Stephanie Johnson's One of These Things Is Not Like The Others arrived in my mailbox today, but I am unfortunately unable to devour it at the moment, and have to temporarily satiate myself with watching the readings in the meantime. I'm still dying to finish Monkeybicycle 6, and read the new Hobart, and Scorch Atlas, and Amelia Gray's AM/PM... In other words, so many books, so little time. But I at least managed to actually get some submissions out tonight. If I don't start finding time to write soon, I am going to run out of things to submit.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Skipping School...

I love my lit class, but it was well worth skipping tonight so that I could go to The Dollar Store Show at its final stop in Ann Arbor. I feel bad for anyone arriving from out of town in the midst of art fair here and having no idea what to expect. But everyone was hilarious in spite of being in the middle of art fair hell. Really, the show was great. I kind of wish ours would have been in a bar like many others have been, but then I would still be out, and I will be at a party tomorrow night and I try not to miss being home for the kid's bedtime two nights in a row. So, you know. It's all good. The Dollar Store folk were plenty entertaining sober.

Also, I got to buy Blake Butler's Scorch Atlas, which won't be available for another couple months yet, the new issue of Hobart, and Amelia Gray's AM/PM (which she custom-highlighted for me... one of a kind!). And while of course everyone was very funny, and nice, and talented, I was particularly happy to have a chance to meet Matt Bell, because I have read a lot of his work and really admire him and he is a local writer and I don't know too many of those. We have a good literary scene around these parts, I think, I just never really knew where to find it before. I really like this small press world that exists.

So, it was a great reading, and I got to see writers I was already familiar with, and discover some that were new to me. I would attend something like that every week if I could. So worth using up one of my two allowed absences from class.

Also: I am editing this to add that the stories tonight were not only hilarious. Some of them were also quite heartfelt. I'm impressed by the whole range of what people were able to do with their dollar store objects, as I generally fail miserably at trying to write about something specific like that. Not that I write about vague things, I mean, but if you handed me, say, a clear plastic tube full of 5 radish-type-things with faces on them, I would not be able to do what Patrick Somerville did with it.

And also: Scorch Atlas is a freaking beautifully designed book.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reading, Writing, Etc.

In between reading Shakespeare and critical theory about cannibals and whatnot, I am attempting to be better about reading entire print journals. I read online mags in their entirety all the time, and I buy print journals with the best of intentions, but I always have so many things on the reading plate, I often end up jumping around and reading stories that jump out at me and not reading them cover to cover. That's my confession. I am trying to remedy this. I'm reading Monkeybicycle 6 right now and thoroughly enjoying it. They're definitely a place I hope to end up in print one of these days. Good stuff. Next up on my lit mag reading list is Barrelhouse 7. And I am hoping there will be copies of the new Hobart for sale at the Dollar Store reading tomorrow in Ann Arbor.

A lot of these things should be links, but I am feeling lazy.

It occurred to me today that while probably only 1/10th of the stories I write have male narrators, almost everything I write with a male narrator is quickly accepted for publication. Perhaps I write in a more convincing male voice than a female one. I don't know what this says about me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In other news...

The wonderful Pank Magazine is having a contest. I love that they're being so totally transparent about the reading fees and how they make the prize possible. Pank is good people.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


The internet is being bitchy. Facebook and Twitter are working just fine, but many other pages are refusing to load. IT'S LIKE THE INTERNET DOESN'T WANT ME TO BE PRODUCTIVE. (okay, none of the other places I'm trying to go are productive either).

Speaking of being productive, I'm skipping class to go to this next Thursday. I wonder if the good people planning it have any concept of what it's like to be in Ann Arbor in the middle of art fair.

(Now Twitter isn't working, either. This is the kind of attention span I have: I go check Twitter in the middle of writing a blog post).

July has been a good month so far as far as acceptances are concerned, and I'm uber excited to have stories coming out in Storyglossia and SmokeLong Quarterly in the next few months. I admittedly used to be kind of a print snob about publications, mostly because back when I wrote and submitted poetry almost ten years ago, online mags really hadn't become recognized as a legitimate thing yet. But now, I so regularly read stories online that completely blow me away, and there are so many online publications I respect, it doesn't even seem like the "legitimacy" of the internet as a publishing platform is really a debate anymore, at least as far as I'm concerned. I like the availability and accesibility of online writing. I like how many amazing writers I've discovered in online mags. And while I'll always also love the tangible, physical qualities of holding a nice lit mag in my hands, I'm also very happy about finally having some stories up on the interwebs. It's all good, I say.

Now, I have to go finish reading Freud on totem and taboo.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Reading

This is not one of those "recommended summer reading lists," not that I don't recommend 99% of what's on this list, it's just that you would have to be some kind of crazy person to intentionally undertake this as your summer reading list. Nonetheless, I was just kind of amused thinking about the list of things I've read since the beginning of June or so:

Assorted "Modern American Lit" short fiction
Project X—Jim Shepard
Bits and pieces of a whole lot of Sartre, Camus, etc.
Sula—Toni Morrison
All The Day’s Sad Stories—Tina May Hall
The Adderall Diaries—Stephen Elliott
Childhood and Other Neighborhoods—Stuart Dybek
The Girl on the Fridge—Etgar Keret
God Says No—James Hannaham
How The Broken Lead the Blind (chapbook)—Matt Bell
The National Virginity Pledge—Barry Graham
Big World—Mary Miller
A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness--Amy L. Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, Kathy Fish, Claudia Smith
The first 7 essays in Gender, Sex, and Sexuality: The New Basics--ed. by Ferber
Book IX of The Odyssey
Large selections from Robinson Crusoe
The beginning of Cannibalism and The Colonial World--ed. by Hulme
The first half (so far) of Suburban Swindle--Jackie Corley
At least 100+ pages of critical literary theory concerning cannibals, colonialism, etc.
The first 3 acts of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Still on deck for the remainder of the Summer:
The rest of Cannibalism and the Colonial World
The rest of The Suburban Swindle
The rest of A Midsummer Night's Dream
The rest of Gender, Sex, and Sexuality: The New Basics
Much Ado About Nothing
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
She--H. Rider Haggard
You Must Be This Tall To Ride--Ed. B.J. Hollars
The Tempest
Twelfth Night
Ever--Blake Butler
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned--Wells Tower

I very probably forgot some things. And, you know, other things will come up.

I was going to do that whole Infinite Summer thing but, yeah. Year-round, full-time school and a brazen determination to continue reading whatever the hell I want on top of what I have to read for school leaves little room for such things.

Well, it's an eclectic list, if nothing else.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cannibalism and other things.

I'm in a really great lit class right now, Cannibalism, Consumerism, and the Cultures of Cruelty. I've always been a bad lit geek, because I've never been terribly interested in much that was written more than 100 years ago or so. This class is making me realize how interesting the whole "cultural studies" approach can be, and how reading in that way is just a whole different thing than the way I sit down and read a contemporary story just for pleasure. Maybe I am a late bloomer and the notion that there are multiple ways to read things should have just been obvious. Or maybe most people who enjoy 18th century lit really do just sit down and enjoy it the way I enjoy a contemporary story, in which case we are back to me being a bad lit geek. Maybe this is why lit is not my major.

I feel old sometimes at school. I've always been sort of backwards. I used to feel insecure about being young, because I was married with a baby by 22, and my "peers" all seemed so much older. Now I'm a 28-year-old undergrad and I always feel old. Not old as in, old, but grown-up, or supposedly grown-up. My 17-year-old neighbor asked me the other day if I had ever seen facebook. I was already on the internet back when I was changing her diapers, but that probably doesn't make me sound any younger.

The other day in my lit class, I was talking to a girl and a boy about writing. The girl asked what genre I write, and I said "literary." And the boy said "no, she means like sci-fi, fantasy..." And I said "right. I know what genre means. Realism, with some magical realism thrown in." Then we talked about other things. It was an odd question and I think they thought I was stupid. I fear I make that impression a lot.

I have to go do my homework now.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Don't carry that, or you'll turn into flames.

My daughter is five years old. She writes an elaborate series of comics called "The Eating Alien," starring a one-eyed alien named Johnny-Bobby-Boy. She has piles of notebooks scattered around the house, reminiscent of the piles of notebooks I had until I was 19 or 20 and finally started typing everything. She rarely shows me her comics, but sometimes I read them after she goes to sleep. She's five, I promise I'll stop invading her privacy in a few years.
The most recent installment of "The Eating Alien" I read was about aliens from Pluto and aliens from Texas. On one page, one alien was holding an unidentifiable object that sort of resembled a fried egg, and saying to another alien "Don't carry that, or you'll turn into flames."
I kind of like the syntax of that. Also, I think my kid is way more cool and strange than I was at her age.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

can we talk about the weather?

In Michigan, the seasons are "hot" and "cold." Hot took a long time to get here this year, but now it's here and it's really really hot. And I live in a world without air-conditioning. Well, not really a world, just a house. That would be a super dull alternate universe, though (it was just like our world, only WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING).

I'm at my last shift at the robot store at 826michigan. Not my last shift ever, but for now. I've been here more or less every Thursday evening since we opened the store in May of last year, and was here most Thursday evenings for the 7 or 8 months prior to that when we didn't even really have a store yet. Now my school schedule is interfering. Sad.

Michael Jackson is apparently dead. That just seems worth mentioning.

I have a lot of mosquito bites. I don't do anything to earn them like camping or canoeing, I just smoke a lot of cigarettes outside at night. I am allergic to mosquito bites, or more allergic than most people. They get really huge. I am itchy.


Monday, June 22, 2009

hi there.

I don't quite know what I'm doing with this yet.

I mean that in a content-related way, not technology-related. I know my way around blogger, thankyouverymuch 826 mustache-a-thon.

I wanted an internet-type place for writing related things, and this was easier than making an actual webpage.

Also, I apparently feel the need to defend my reasons for having a blog.

All the cool kids are doing it.

No one is reading this.