Saturday, February 14, 2009

AWP Wrap Up

Like I said before, this was my first conference.

It's a great place to go and network. The experience is overwhelming.

I hope that the daily blog is helpful for anyone who would like to go to AWP in the future. We will be here next year and the year after that.

I've got a long drive ahead of me and I'm excited to get back to my wife.

Then she...

Before Bausch came on board Engel read some fine examples that did gestures well.

-Flannery O'Connor in a good man is hard to fine.

-Charlie Baxter, Donald Bartheme, Nabokov.
She ended with the mocking work of Franzen's in the Corrections which uses the gestures to push the work.

Bausch got up and made sure that we all knew we could not be discouraged by the idea of over using gestures. "we go into the work, ready to work naked" don't listen to lectures and what not to do. Be a story teller and don't try to overthink these issues.

A wave of emotion flooded over me. Listening to Bausch is always a relief.

Bausch moved on to read from one of his novels.

"As you dream the scene, write the scene and then try to rewrite it."

Then she lit a cigarette

So once we got into the room we got comfortable. In the panel are Richard Bausch (my mentor) Alan Weir, from the university of Tennessee and finally Lisa Engel from the University of Rutgers.

The panel discussed the fictional gesture. The use of tags after literature.

Alan talked about the great gesture of literary yearning as the green light.

He quouted a blogger, maudnewton.com who is a teacher who complained about novels which spend 500 pages talking about small gestures and avoid the power of actual events or life. Only the seemingly endless gestures from folding, unfolding towels and taking drinks of water.

He then quoted a literary journal which seems to excuse the use of gestures as a way to convey verbal ticks. Seemed funny.

Finally, he talked about the Grand Canyon rule of show don't tell: in which he means that it us one thing to tell us about falling down the grand canyon but actually feel like it is happening.

That set the stage for Bausch who is one of the best in dialogue, which allows the story to be pushed forward and some stories without any tags at all.

Then She Lit a Cigarette

Waiting to enter the room...

Not positive what is holding things up but there's a crowd waiting outside.

Stuart Dybek reading

'NUFF Said

One Story is great people

I just had a great talk with Save the Short Story blogger and assistant editor of One Story. One Story is a classy journal committed to publishing one story a month and in a slim little book that is mailed to you. I solicited Mei and hope she sends some work to us.

That's a lot of booths

videoThe exhibit hall is a football field in length and if a real football field than at least arena football.

Journals are hawking their wares, books, entering people in contests.

We didn't set anything up because I didn't know what would work for us and since we haven't run a print issue --yet--we have nada to sell. Anyway, next year for sure. Well, maybe.

Workshop at Our Stories

I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole Lee, a former student of mine! We worked together for a Workshop a few months ago and was at one of the panel's I was sitting in on. She is a great writer and a really warm person. It was very cool to meet someone I had spent so much time reading and encouraging in real life.

More discussions on literary pubs

I decided to sit on the next lit mag discussion "The future and present of the Literary Magazine."

The discussion talked a lot about creating a unique identity.

Ditto, dude.

Diversity not for diversity's sake but because it is important for the publication. Ditto again, dude.

Some journals feel they are committed to Emerging Writers but still publish the best of the nation. Hmmm.

We publish emerging writers but actually give feedback to everyone who is a writer. He, former editor of Golf Coast, said that many journals don't understand what their voice--projected by the editorial board.

Next point, the one thing that all journals have in common--no matter the size--is editorial boards.

Huh?

Anyone else confused? I thought we all had people who are submitters as well?? I mean boards are cool and all because they "run" a journal but don't we all have a commitment to the writers?

I guess we make a distinction at Our Stories. We are not only interested in the audience that reads the 5 or so stories we publish but we are interested in the 200 writers who we don't publish in a given quarter.

The next speaker arose and gave a speech about the history of editing and most of it was over my head. He was a poet what can I say. He read his speech directly from the podium and quoted Coleridge a lot.
The editor of Literary Imagination sat down and Willard Spieglman strode up to the podium.

Another poet!! They're taking over! He is also the editor of the Southwest Review.

He was hilarious, great guy. Congenial, riffing on Dallas, editors and the culture of writing.

Main points:

Nothing is new with literary journals being poor.

Not everyone wants their work online or read electronically. They would rather that it only appears in print.

Literary journals has no statistical importance in society but a great importance for cultural importance. So, do the best you can with what you have.

Our journals are patrons for writers. It does not work the othe way. A warm feeling hits me as I think about this. I feel a great kinship with those we do publish and it makes me so happy to push their work to an audience. AND I love the work of those who we don't publish just as much and feel that one day those stories will come back-or-to someone else.

Willard ended his discussion and the floor was open for questions.

I started to fade a bit in my interest and the editors riffed on podcasting and maketing.

I decide to hit the exhibit hall.

The Role of Literary Journals (pt.1)

So I sat in on a very lively discussion of the role of literary journals.

A lot of what was discussed we have already answered at Our Stories.

-we believe in providing real substantive conversations with our writers.

-we provide feedback from staff members that have either earned an MFA or are working towards their degree.

-we believe in being human.

-we want the best quality stories on our site.

-we want the pages Our Stories to look professional and the author to feel proud of.

I very nervously pitched our model of publishing and the panel quickly moved on. Wow, do I feel like the ugly duckling.

The panel quickly moved on to talk about Kindle and how it'll save publishing.

Dr. Tony Soprano, PhD forgetabhoutit!

I pop my head into the discussion of Tony Soprano and I catch the end of a lecture of someone's opinion about how David Chase's ending of the series is similar to Anton Chekov. I am feeling restless and can't listen to academics give prepared lectures about gangsters. I decide to head to a panel on new forms of literary magazines and new forms of advertising on the web.

The New MFA (pt. 2)

This guy, Professor Rock teaches at the University of Arkansas and specfied that their MFA is unique because they have 60 credit hours and a MFA in literary translations.

He didn't want to get up to the podium.

He rambled a bit about the MFA degree and then hit his stride addressing that short 2 year programs don't fit the need as an alternative to the PhD.

He then pitched that the translation program was the "big thing" that sets them apart. Snooz....

The New MFA at 10:30

I decided to go to the panel discussion The New MFA. I have an interest in this largely because of the Workshops that we run. Most of the feedback I received from my own MFA program didn't include as much feedback as we do at Our Stories.

Three we're professors from MFA programs at University of Arkansas to the university of Baltimore.

If I don't hear much from the panel I will move to the Soprano panel.

The New MFA (pt. 3)

This woman talked about creating a book, chapbooks and other types of books and a classes that concentrate on creativity and not necessarily the craft of poetry or fiction.

On my way to the AWP at 10:15am

After paying my bill I took a cab down to the Hilton. This is my first time in Chicago and I am pretty impressed. The van driver tells me about how when he first moved to Chicago the Asryian population moved in and took over the Clark section of town. "they called us the new Mexicans! Because we we're so tough!"

9:12 am at AWP

So I am going to blog about my last day at AWP. This is my first conference. Rather than have a booth and talk big game about Our Stories I just wanted to chill and take it all in.

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs puts on an annual event that has readings, panel discussions (ranging from how to get a job to what was the ending of the Sopranos all about!).

My first day here I was pretty overwhelmed and spent most of the day confused.

So, I think I have figured out how to blog with my phone and am going to give this a whirl.

First thing first, have some coffee and breakfast.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here's One Author We'd Love to Interview


We recently tried to score an interview with Steven Millhauser. He's the author of a number of works: novellas, novels and short stories. His most recent collection "Dangerous Laughter" has attained critical acclaim.

We asked Steven for some time on his schedule but sadly he turned us down. He's had too busy a year. In the mean time we offer you a link to a great NY Times essay he wrote about the art of the short story. It is filled with wisdom that we believe any writer who submits to our journal will appreciate.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Future Interviews


If you could read an interview with any writer who would it be?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Congratulations to Robin Underdahl


Robin Underdahl was a writer mentioned in the essay Alexis wrote for our Summer '08 issue, "Not By Birth Alone." Here's what Alexis said:

"There were many writers who did not win this submission period but I want to mention some of them here because they taught me things about the craft and I believe their dedication to the craft is worth mentioning here: Richard Fellinger, Sharon Goldner, Jim Ryals, D. Byron Patterson, Justin Goff, David Malkus, Robin Underdahl, Lisa Ebert, Yuvi Zalkow and I could go on and on but there's not enough room. If I could wish one thing for all of them—for all of you—it would be to work on another draft. Do not shy away from your writing, go back into your stories and fight with them. Do not file them away in a drawer somewhere—work on them."

Well, Robin did work on the story we wanted but ended up having to let slip by. In a recent email, here's what she wrote:

Hi Justin,

[...]. I really appreciate your repeated readings.

I owe you another thank you for your comments on my previous submission, "Visitation." I kept revising it, and finally it has been accepted by Short Story. So thanks!

Regards,
Robin [Underdahl]


Congratulations! And that's part of the mission, why Alexis envisioned Our Stories in the first place: it's about supporting writers because we know how valuable it is to have someone who reads, really carefully and thoughtfully reads, your writing.