Thursday, April 22, 2010

A package (or four) in the mail

All four of these volumes came in the mail today: Matt Debenham's The Book of Right and Wrong, Hayden Saunier's Tips for Domestic Travel, Damian Rogers' Paper Radio and the latest issue of Blue Mesa Review. The fact that I pulled this mighty stack of literature from my mailbox all at once made me nervous at first. It seemed likely that all these beautifully bound words were going to fill me with petty jealousy or at least tug me deeper into the shallow but stinky pit of crankiness I've been sitting in lately. Here was a trio of books written by people who were at the Bennington Writing Seminars at the same time I was and alongside them, a lit journal I received for losing a fiction contest.

I sat on my porch, undoing the books from their wrappings and waited for the sick trickle of envy. Instead, I found my mood shifting. As I opened each book and read the first page, the first poems, I was genuinely moved. It wasn't because my friends had been published, but because the words were so good. No shit, I'm not just saying that. These are some talented people and how can I not be soothed and cheered by a bit of fine writing? A big thank you to them all.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

OMG Tinkers won the Pulitzer!

I'm so thrilled that Paul Harding's Tinkers has won the Pulitzer Prize. It gives me hope that a debut novel from a small, specialized independent press (Bellevue Literary Press) can get this kind of attention. At a time when the records of our lives are regularly trimmed to a 140 characters or less and the "like" button is all we have to hit to feel like we've connected, Tinkers offers an alternative of long, luscious sentences and a beautifully odd structure. I highly recommend it as a cure for too many self-involved status updates.

"He thought, Buy the pendant, sneak it into your hand from the folds of your dress and let the low light of the fire lap at it late at night as you wait for the roof to give out or your will to snap and the ice to be too thick to chop through with the ax as you stand in your husband's boots on the frozen lake at midnight, the dry hack of the blade on ice so tiny under the wheeling and frozen stars, the soundproof lid of heaven, that your husband would never stir from his sleep in the cabin across the ice, would never hear and come running, half-frozen, in only his union suit, to save you from chopping a hole in the ice and sliding into it as if it were a blue vein, sliding down into the black, silty bottom of the lake, where you would see nothing, would perhaps feel only the stir of some somnolent fish in the murk as the plunge of you in your wool dress and the big boots disturbed it from its sluggish winter dreams of ancient seas."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I'm done. The book is done. The file is saved in a dozen different places. The words are fixed. It feels less strange than I thought it would. As the end neared, I procrastinated a bit, not wanting to seal this world up for good. Not wanting to resign my characters once and for all to the fates I'd chosen for them. But overall, it was anticlimactic.

I've written this book half a dozen times, at least. With each earlier draft, I felt great joy and relief for my accomplishments. This time, I simply feel done. The cement has dried. It feels less like an accomplishment and more like a simple fact. I'm 5'10", have brown hair, and wrote a novel.

The state of publishing today is daunting to say the least. The long, hard trial of trying to find a place in the world for my story brings a sickening swell to my stomach. I can't imagine NOT trying, but I'm also weighing how much of my life I'll allow to be consumed by the process. It's a good story. I've worked very very hard at it. All I can do is hope for a little luck.

With that, I close my eyes and start dreaming into my next project.