I had a very encouraging string of publishing acceptances in May and now a new one in June. I’m going to use the phrase “very excited” in each of the paragraphs below, because I really, really mean it. Forthcoming for me in the next two weeks:
“Behind the Eight” at Schuylkill Valley Journal, part of their new Dispatches series. I’m very excited about this piece finding a home as part of this new series!
“Clouds” in the launch issue of Perhappened Magazine. The theme for this issue is carnival. I grew up in the mobile food concession business, so some of the story is from that perspective. I’m very excited to be included in this issue! Saturday, June 6.
“Anyway, Here’s Wonderwall” at the newly-launched Rejection Letters. I’m very excited to be included in the early days of this new project! Tuesday, June 10.
“A Decent Disaster” at Mineral Lit Mag‘s June issue. I’m very excited to be part of this edition!
I’m particularly grateful that these pieces have each found the right home, and I’m even more excited by the chance to work with the editors at each of these venues, all of whom have been amazingly encouraging and wonderful to connect with in general.
If you’re a writer and have been writing for a while, you know the experience of pouring yourself into something and coming to a point, eventually, of feeling like it’s ready. Then you come back to it a few months later and revision is much easier. Things you thought were perfect now seem a little clanky, and something (time, distance, rest, other pursuits, other work, good reading) has given you the ability to make them right. You tighten things up, make hard (even emotional) cuts, and now you know it’s ready. This happens two or three more times. That’s the process, isn’t it? It seems to be for me.
The only way I know to become a better writer is to keep writing, keep reading, and keep building in some opportunities for distance. Stay intellectually curious. Study the mechanics of your art. Listen to great lectures. Get feedback. Keep going.
I come back to these words often:
“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you’ll dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it to the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.” (Ernest Hemingway)
Or, as Ann Hood says, “blow it up.” I come back to those words, too.
I lived in New Haven for three years in the early 2000s. Many things from that time have stuck with me. One vivid memory is Randall Balmer paraphrasing Bart Giamatti’s insight about baseball and the immigrant experience both being quests for home.
In this piece from 2011, Lia Petridis Maiello talks to Lawrence Baldassaro about his book on the concept.
I was reminded today about the card Donruss put out in 1990 when Giamatti passed, and of his great “Green Fields of the Mind.” I knew the brilliant actor, Paul, was his son, but I never really realized how young Bart was when he died. I was 10 in 1990, which means I’m 40 now. 51 probably seemed ancient to me not that long ago.
Related: Everything I Know About Postmodernism I Learned from the Phillies, a piece of mine at Hobart.
From a letter Jack Kerouac wrote to Donald Allen in 1958, here’s the wonderful “Belief & Technique For Modern Prose: List of Essentials.”
- Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
- Submissive to everything, open, listening
- Try never get drunk outside yr own house
- Be in love with yr life
- Something that you feel will find its own form
- Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
- Blow as deep as you want to blow
- Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
- The unspeakable visions of the individual
- No time for poetry but exactly what is
- Visionary tics shivering in the chest
- In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
- Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
- Like Proust be an old teahead of time
- Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
- The jewel centre of interest is the eye within the eye
- Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
- Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
- Accept loss forever
- Believe in the holy contour of life
- Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
- Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
- Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
- No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
- Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
- Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
- In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
- Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
- You’re a Genius all the time
- Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
Jack Kerouac, “Belief & Technique For Modern Prose: List of Essentials,” letter to Donald Allen (1958), published in Heaven & Other Poems, Grey Fox Press, 1958, 1977, 1983. Reprinted in Evergreen Review, Spring 1959.
From the submissions page at Hippocampus Magazine:
Just because we pass on a particular submission does not mean it does not have merit; we publish 8-12 pieces per issue, and this often means turning away strong work. Sometimes it’s as simple as an essay with similar theme or style was recently published. Do not take editorial decisions personally. Just sitting down and getting your thoughts on paper is a task for which you should feel great pride—not everyone can do it. Every piece of writing has value. We feel it is important to spread the message of being persistent and diligent in your search for publication. Never let rejection discourage you from sharing your story. Just because it is not right for us or right for us at this time does not mean it will not find a more fitting or timely home. Write on.
“In Poland,” Herbert once stated, “we think of the poet as prophet;
he is not merely a maker of verbal forms or an imitator of reality. The poet expresses the deepest feelings and the widest awareness of people….
“The language of poetry differs from the language of politics. And, after all, poetry lives longer than any conceivable political crisis.
“The poet looks over a broad terrain and over vast stretches of time. He makes observations on the problems of his own time, to be sure, but he is a partisan only in the sense that he is a partisan of the truth. He arouses doubts and uncertainties and brings everything into question”
Quoted on the From the Editors page at the UCity Review.
I wrote this piece a few weeks ago after reading some Wendell Berry. It was published in the latest edition of Rat’s Ass Review. I’d love for you to read it.
VFW photo credit here.