This coming Saturday April 23rd, I will be attending the Conversations and Connections conference in Washington, DC. This one day conference brings together writers, editors, and publishers in a friendly, supportive environment. The past two years, this conference has been held in Pittsburgh, and is returning this weekend to the magazine’s roots in The District. This conference is organized by the fine folks at Barrelhouse Magazine, and I was invited to attend by my friend, founding editor Dave Housley.
I’m participating in two events: Speed Dating with Editors and the Editors’ Panel. Should be a good time. On the Editors’ Panel, I’ll be with Marcos Martinez, Michelle Webber, Emily Rich, and Nate Brown to discuss all sorts of editorial issues, questions, and (hopefully) answers. Here’s the boilerplate from the conference website:
Editors from a number of new and established literary magazines and small presses discuss the ins and outs and nuts and bolts of both sides of the literary fence: researching and submitting work, and reviewing the work that comes in through the proverbial (and now mostly virtual) slush pile, from what gets them excited about a story/poem/essay/book to the kinds of mistakes that might make your writing easy to reject. Questions will be taken from the audience, as well as pre-conference via email and Twitter.
All of which sounds terrific. But I’ve recently been thinking about something else in regards to editing.
At AWP 2015, I was one of five panelists discussing literary magazines and how to teach them in a classroom. Along with my colleagues Rebecca Morgan Frank, Rachel May, Jenn Scheck-Kahn, and Christina Thompson, we discussed the various ways that a literary magazine can be integrated into a college classroom. It’s a pretty good discussion that was, if I remember right, held on Saturday afternoon, toward the tail end of the conference when everyone is running out of steam, and yet, the whole thing went well and I had a wonderful time participating.
If you want to skip ahead, I chime in around the 21:30 mark. But you should listen to the whole thing! It’s good and stuff. Enough hype: listen to the podcast in its entirety here.
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Since 2009, I have kept track of every book that I read. The file name on my computer is “Books Read in 2009,” which is kind of funny, since it actually covers books I’ve read in each of the last six years, but I can’t be bothered to name it something different. I started doing this many years ago when the writer Matt Bell started posting the books that he read. Now, if I remember right, Matt read a LOT of books, way more than I did, and I was a little jealous that he could get through so many books in one calendar year. I’ve since learned to let go of such jealous, but I have continued to maintain the annual reading list. Why? Not really sure. I like tracking stuff?
Here’s a few notes before I get to the list:
My friend, the author Kate Sweeney, whose new book American Afterlife has just been released, tagged me in a blog tour questionnaire. I asked her what the rules for this post are, and she wrote back “Rules?” I always like hearing that answer. Anyway, if you haven’t already read it, read Kate’s entry here. To play along, my job is to answer the four questions that Kate sent me, and then “tag” another author, link you in her/his direction, and the thread continues. So, without further ado, here are the four questions and my four answers:
In late 2012, shortly after my book came out, my story “Beauty in the Age of Chaos and Savagery” was accepted for publication by the Kenyon Review. As a litmag guy, getting a story in such a prestigious journal was tremendous validation of my writing, and I’m still a little incredulous to have work in KR. But. The story wasn’t accepted in the form I submitted it to the journal. Fiction editor Caitlin Horrocks had suggestions for me first. As an editor, I know what a big deal that is: very rarely have I written a writer back who has submitted to The Missouri Review and said “I have some specific macro edits for you”; even then, when a story is resubmitted, the odds are pretty slim that TMR will publish the piece. I listened closely to what Caitlin suggested, got right to work on it, and sent her my revision a few days later. Caitlin took it to David Lynn and, eighteen months later, the story is out in the world.
You can read Caitlin’s thoughts on the editorial process in her “Why We Chose It” essay, and listen to an audio file of me reading the piece, here on Kenyon Review’s website.
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog, and there isn’t really a particular reason why I have or have not. I haven’t willfully ignored putting new posts up, thinking about all the wonderful things I should be writing about and then hiding them from the public. Nor have I completely forgotten about the blog. When this site was designed, having a blog was something I wanted, and from time to time, the thought has entered my mind that I should write about a particular noteworthy item. (more…)
One of my favorite events of the year, the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (here on out just “AWP”), kicks off next Wednesday. Each year, the conference is held around this time of year, somewhere between February to April, in a different city. Last year, the conference was in Boston, where I used to live, and will be in cities such as Chicago, DC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and so forth, in the coming years. Every year, a slew of the literati attend: authors, teachers, graduate and undergraduate students, writing programs, literary centers, small presses, literary magazines and pretty much anything else you can think of that might be affiliated with such a great big event. This year, AWP is predicting roughly fourteen thousand people will be attending the conference.
I’ll be one of them. And here’s what I’m gonna do while I’m there. (more…)
Since 2009, I have kept track of the books I’ve read. Like most readers, I have tried making lists of books I should read, or could read, or might read, or want to read, often only to abandon the plan halfway through it. In 2012, I tried to read all of Toni Morrison’s novels, and while I knocked out three of them (an awfully low number given that she’s written ten novels), I once again lost interest or got otherwise distracted and picked up something else.
This year I will once again come up with a plan, and this year, once again, I will wildly deviate from this plan. Hey, it happens. I haven’t entirely decided what that plan will be or look like, but I’m kicking around ideas.
What has been much better for me is to simply keep track of what I’ve read. Every time I finish a book, I add to the list which means, of course, that I see the list, and remember what I’ve recently read. This file on my laptop goes back to 2009, so I can see every book I’ve read for the past five years. Sorta interesting.
So here is my list of books that I read this past year. I’ve sprinkled in a little bit of commentary between the list, and added more extensive thoughts at the end.
The Cincinnati Bengals made it the Super Bowl in 1982 and 1989, falling to the San Francisco 49ers both times. I have no memory of the first loss, but I do remember the Bengals of the late 80’s, led by Boomer Esiason and Ickey Woods and the SWAT Team. It was a good time to be a Bengals fan. But since then, it’s been a bit of a rough run for the Bengals, who have been inept for almost two decades now, and have reached a point of mediocrity that continues to give fans false hope. (more…)
This week, writer Jeffrey Condran of Braddock Avenue Books, posted an interview with me about my collection, Strategies Against Extinction. It’s part of their Straight Talk interview series. Read the whole thing here.
There are questions about the style of the writing, how the stories were organized, sympathy for the characters, and the novella as a formal choice. I think it’s good but I’m biased: I know the guy being interviewed.
I also know the guy doing the interview. You can pre-order a copy of Jeff’s collection, A Fingerprint Repeated, which will be out from Press 53 next month. And/or snag a copy of the books available from Braddock Avenue, writers such as Aubrey Hirsch, Sal Pane, and Catherine Gammon.
Finally, today is my birthday. You should say, Happy Birthday! Or something like that …
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye