Monthly Archives: April 2011

April Literary Links Roundup

Open Thread. Werner Herzog and Cormac McCarthy talk Science and Culture.

the Atlantic. Stephen King talks about short fiction and the creative process. interview with James Parker

Guardian. Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.

Guardian. Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (part two).

The New York Times. How Writers Build the Brand by Tony Perrottet

The Awl. Inside David Foster Wallace’s Private Self-Help Library by Maria Bustillos

Guardian. Novels that explore mental illness.

The National Post. Cooking the books: the Book Bakery luxuriates in small-press literature by Nathalie Atkinson

Open Book Toronto. Conflict of Interest: The State of Short Fiction in Canada (Part 4) by Nathaniel G. Moore.

Open Book Toronto. Conflict of Interest: The State of Short Fiction in Canada (Part 5) by Nathaniel G. Moore.

The New Quarterly. Is Ottawa a literary capital, too? rob mclennan interview.

Joyland. Who’s The Yoss? Matthew J. Trafford in conversation with Jessicsa Westhead.

Short Story Submission Tips

You’ve been studying the craft and now you have stories you want to share with the world. You know they’re good. A trusted peer (not your mum) has encouraged you to submit.

Workshop to receive feedback and to catch spelling and grammatical errors that you often miss in your own work.

Find an appropriate journal/magazine. The Canadian Writer’s Market (book), Places for Writers (website), surfing the net, peers, and bios in the back of journals will help.

Read issues (buy, borrow from library, read/order online). Can you see your story here? Is it the right genre? Hopefully you have more than a few stories to choose from. I don’t subscribe to tweaking a story for location.

Follow guidelines related to formatting, word count, submission dates, SASE, etc. Start a file of magazines you submit to that includes addresses and guidelines – a great reference. Update with each subsequent submission as things change quickly in the writing world.

Cover letters should be short and sweet. Address them to the fiction editor. List publications and writing related education. You can mention a story you read and enjoyed from a recent issue to let them know you are familiar with their magazine. If you had previous feedback from the publication, give thanks.

Simultaneously submit There are a few places that say never ever, but who wants to submit a great story and wait 8 months to send it out again. If one story is accepted for publication, you simply email to say that unfortunately “your story” has been accepted elsewhere and you will e/mail them a new story.

Keep records of dates (sent & response) and locations. The business side of writing is important. You must stay organized. Ask for help if this isn’t your strong suit.

Be patient A 4-8 month response time is the norm, but you may wait a year or never hear back. After a year I don’t expect a response and often send something else. Once, I heard back after a year and a half. They said my story almost made the cut. Said story was accepted four months previous elsewhere so I took it as reinforcement and sent the slowpokes new fiction.

In the meantimewrite, write, write, and continue to send out those amazing stories. I have a story, rejected ten times yet I continue to submit it because I believe in it and it has received positive feedback. Think of the submission process as background to the creative. I submit 2-3 stories a month which means there are usually 10-12 stories floating around in submission land at any give time.

Writers and Cats

”Having a bunch of cats around is good. If you’re feeling bad, you just look at the cats, you’ll feel better, because they know that everything is, just as it is. There’s nothing to get excited about. They just know. They’re saviors. The more cats you have, the longer you live. If you have hundreds, you’ll live ten times longer than if you have ten. Someday this will be discovered, and people will have a thousand cats and live forever. It’s truly ridiculous.” -Charles Bukowski

Mum with kids that just happen to have fur.

Hemingway, Burroughs, Capote, Twain, Shaw, and other writers were also fond of felines. Photos HERE. 

Projected Reading Anxiety

I don’t attend many readings, launches, book fairs, etc. I mark them on my calendar, but I don’t go. And when I do I feel anxious on the way, uncomfortable during, and if a wave of nausea  rolls in I generally run for the hills. Drinks help but are not always available. I went to four events last year and made a goal to go to six this year. I know, not much for a so-called writer, but hey, it’s progress.

At a recent reading I was flushed the entire hour. That was a new one. Diggie called it second-hand embarrasment. She mentioned a shy friend that could not stand being witness to public speaking (plays included) as it made her extremely uncomfortable. I love that turn, although it presumes that readers are embarrassed. Anxious maybe, but you have to be proud to read your work. I will call my condition second-hand projected reading anxiety.

Book launch tomorrow. Friends and beer on hand. Better. I think about reading my own work. Maybe, one day.

Stephen King

My first writing teacher Richard Scarsbrook suggested On Writing – half autobiography, half tools of the trade. It was great. His humble view of success and matter of fact suggestions are inspiring and encouraging. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Previous to this I had only read Thinner, written under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. That was almost twenty years ago. Shortly after I tried Misery – scared the crap out of me and I stopped after a few chapters. I also remember my brother having nightmares while reading It. I guess that’s the point, but everyday life provides me with enough anxiety!
I recently read Just After Sunset. Some great stories, some so-so. “Stationary Bike” was best. On-line reviews give higher praise to his previous collection Everything’s Eventual. I will check it out. Do you have a favourite Stephen King book?