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Showing posts from June, 2014

Memory and distraction

Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream.
 --Khalil Gibran
Do you ever get creeped out by the fact that just about everyone around you is looking down at a cellphone with the glazed-eyed look of a Vegas slot machine addict? I do.

I was walking my dog the other morning before work, and I happened to forget my cellphone. I have been forgetting things a lot lately, but ordinarily I do not forget my cell. I felt a little awkward without it, as though I was missing something important--the house key, for instance, or pants. But then I decided to embrace it. There was life around me to soak in, after all. Thick heat, mosquitoes and loud trucks.

Actually, it was a beautiful day, if a little muggy, and with no headphones or potential calls or dings from texts, I decided to take in the world during a time I would usually be listening to an audio book or music. The few people I saw out walking that early were face down, absorbed in their texting or posting or quick …


“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”   —Michael Jordan

I've been digging Michael Jordan quotes lately. This one especially because it speaks to the spinning of wheels that happens when we plateau. This is relevant to me because have been feeling kind of stuck lately, frustrated that I have yet to find the right agent/publisher and have been unable to really work on my longer projects. Because I have a concentrated amount of time coming up for a writing residency this summer, I want to break this feeling. Now! 

This isn't the first time I have felt as though I should be progressing faster than I am. I have quite a few experiences with plateauing. I used to train for road races, for example, and I remember wondering why I could never seem to break the 40 minute 5-mile time. My frustration seemed to grow, but my…

Writhout creativity, no bibimbap

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” -Mark Twain

Imagination can nurture or destroy, depending on its direction.  It can cause anxiety by fooling us into thinking we know the future (see: panic disorder), or foster brilliance in art and writing. So how does one harness the imagination so that it works to our favor? Yeah, good question. I'll circle back to it.

I started teaching my short story class this week, and I've got to say, summer courses are the best. The students, for the most part, really want to be there and it shows in the writing. Even more exciting, they're turning in assignments early and eagerly. As a teacher, it's nice to not have to hunt folks down. As a writer, it reminds me of my own initial eagerness. I was the kid in the Internet course in college who would do all the assignments in the first two weeks, then spend hours revising before I turned them in. I imagined my teachers' hair blown back by my stories as I w…

The Writing Life

“Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” —Annie Dillard

I don't know about you, but I am notorious for thinking something great will have to wait until later, sometime a few months or years from now when I'll have more time or a better space or a tighter grip on what the hell I'm doing as a writer and where I can find that perfect niche. I have this abstract vision of a future me who has it all together.

If everything happens as planned, I should have time and space soon, and before reading this quote, I had caught myself thinking, a few times, Eh, I'll do that when I get to the residency. What I want to do, precisely, is write a piece of flash loosely based on a prompt that a friend of mine shared recently from a memoir-writing workshop she attended. This is an adapted version of what she told me:

Close your eyes and try to imagine your favorite place to go as a child, whether that be your ho…

New publication, new opportunity

It has been a good week, a hopeful week. I began budgeting, spring cleaning, and got a few important questions answered after quite a bit of waiting. My writing has been stalled a little, but I think I'm getting back on track. Don't Tease the Elephants, my 5-story chapbook, has been getting some strong reviews, which is encouraging since I haven't had much time to market (as indie writers must).

Craft-wise, the day-to-day is motivating. I have a lot of great people in my life, but a few folks I know have been testing my patience lately. To them I say, "Bring it!" One of the best catalysts for short fiction is being upset about something/at someone. Anger (even annoyance) is a reason to rewrite what we see, how we see fit, and to examine what we know, what we cannot, and what we can change. Speaking of which, I got a story published in METAZEN last week. "Soon" is about a man searching for peace of mind. Thank you to the editors at this one-of-a-kind jou…