People often compare the process of writing and publishing as being on a roller coaster… you know ups and downs. I reject that metaphor because when you’re on a roller coaster, you sort of know that you’ll be okay. Yes, your heart drops when you hurtle down the steep hill and that little clicking sound is thrilling, but it’s all make-believe and you know it. Publishing on the other hand is the real deal. You actually fear that you won’t survive the experience.
(UPDATE: I’ve just worked out the metaphor. It’s like this: You think you’re ready for the controlled danger of a roller coaster. You’re at the amusement park, dressed appropriately, strapped into the ride. Your friends standing in line waiting for thier turn. THey smile, you smile back. As the ride pulls away, you notice something about the cute 17-year-old boy running the machine. Is that a crack pipe in his hand????)
But I digress…
Pen/Faulkner winner, Kate Christensen, looks really young, but she has lived through a wide-range of publishing experiences. Her first book sold well, but wasn’t taken seriously. The next one was released just in time for 9-11. The third was taken seriously by critics, but sold very modestly. And then the fourth title, BANG. Pen/Faulkner.
I love some of the things she has to say in her essay. It’s not a sappy “keep on, keeping on” sort of essay. It’s more about the terrifying and exhilarating range of possibility.
I have spent the whole day on this computer. Why? Because people who have no TV, waste time on the internet. Here’s what I found worth doing. Or not worth doing, but it’s what I did.
obsessively monitoring the auction. There’s still some good stuff out there.
reserving tickets to go to The Daily Show live. (I’ll be going in July. There are no Colbert tickets available in the foreseable future.)
watching all eight episodes of “The Guild.” I can’t decide whether the last couple of episodes are offensive or not. You could say, “If you have to ask, then it’s not.” Or you could say it the other way around.
listening to Erykah Badu speak her mind in a way that was waaaay to laid back to be natural, but really inspiring to those of us who feel like artists working outside of the mainstream madness. (I was wondering… what is the literary equivalent of “getting naked and wearing just glitter” that she says makes for pop success.)
127 years ago today, Harriet Giles and Sophia B. Packard founded The Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, later renamed Spelman College. Giles and Packard had only one hundred dollars to their names— pocket change given to them by John D. Rockefeller. Reverend Quarles gave them space in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church and they gathered eleven students together and got to work.
(Image via flickr.)
This is a message to the New York writers. This is written from a place of love. Please don’t take it as an insult.
YOU NEED A NEW AUTHOR PHOTO. This is a kind and encouraging blog, so I won’t call any names. So, to those of you are using a cell-phone self-portrait: people can tell. To the people using a picture that you took way back in high school, you need to upgrade. Check out Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ pictures. She will make you gorgeous. Go over the auction. Bid. You owe it to yourself. And it’s for a good cause.
And here’s the good news. Unpublished writers out there: you’re working hard. You’re sending your stuff out. (Maybe you have already bid on Erika’s cool reference books?) Good things are going to happen. And when they do, you’re going to need a photo. And a cell-phone self-portrait just won’t do.
And not to be all up in y’all’s personal business…. You could probably use a more flattering picture for myspace, yahoo personals, blackpeoplemeet.com, match.com, etc… I’m just saying
Someone told me long time ago: “Only YOU can make yourself a writer.” This meant that only you control whether you put words to page. But once you’ve gotten those words down, what to do with them?
The Practicing Writer’s Guide to No-Cost Literary Contests and Competitions: Updated and expanded in Winter 2008, this Guide details 275 possibilities to pursue that won’t cost anything–except a bit of time, effort, and, perhaps, courage.
The Practicing Writer’s Directory of Paying Essay Markets: Designed especially for essayists, this resource offers information on MORE THAN 125 paying markets (print, online, and anthology). It’s not a “how-to” guide, but a reference guiding you “where-to” submit your essays and get published (and paid!).
The Practicing Writer’s Directory of Paying Markets for Book Reviewers: Perfect for both the aspiring–and experienced–book reviewer. Profiles more than 90 print and online publications that pay for book reviews (and publish their rates/terms online).
Erika Dreifus, a.k.a. “The Practicing Writer” has just the resource for you. It’s a three-book set, fully downloadable and super helpul.
Erika has donated the whole set. All you gotta do now is B-I-D.
Min Jin Lee will be taking part in Upstairs At The Square tonight in NYC. If you’re around and not — like me — working late, you MUST attend.
1 bottle of LOOZA tomato juice (33.8 oz)
2-3 T bottled hot horseradish (not for the weak-kneed)
5-6 dashes of Tabasco (The kitchen is operated by a Korean. See above.)
10 -12 oz. of your favorite yuppie vodka (Ketel One, Stolichnaya, Absolut)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Here’s Min Jin’s spin on a classic:
In my mind, I am a good drinker, because I am a good eater—an inveterate, unrepentant glutton of sorts with a gym membership. I eat butter, fried potatoes, white bread, spaghetti, and ice cream. I am never going to give up white rice. I am Korean, after all.
However, I had a liver disease for over twenty years, and though I am very well now, I do not drink alcohol. Well, not often. I am that girl at the table who will eye your lovely drink and ask, “Hey, you gonna finish that?” I am a sipper. Kind of like your temporary taster.
I am also a cook, and I look for reasons to make a party (that’s what you say in the boroughs). For brunch, I will fry up anything you want with eggs, cream and oil. At the house, there will be bacon and sausages, and I am delighted to bake you treats that will require a run or a swim. Outside the kitchen, my patient husband Christopher takes the coats and he’ll pour the drinks. This is what we serve on Saturday mornings:
Combine the above ingredients into a large pitcher then pour into glasses filled with ice.
“Assimilation. Independence. Love. Betrayal. Class. Race. Sex. It’s all in there. And reading FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES will, in the words of another writer to whom Lee has been compared, be a ‘far, far better thing’ than you’ve ever done.”
– Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR DAY TO DAY
As I realise that there is more to life than the AUCTION, I humbly present this set of links.
Intellectuals behaving badly: In his new book, Betrayal, Houston Baker takes back any praise he ever gave Michael Eric Dyson.
“SheCodes” on of the bloggers on the forefront of the Dunbar Village situation, is on NPR! (My friends know I call it “the” NPR, but I try to be classy here on the blog.
Can you deduct your writing expenses on your taxes? It depends. And it’s complicated.
And I can’t help but say this.. the auction is going really really well. Even my dad is getting into the act!
This is why I love Algonquin Books– they heard through the grapevine about our fundariaser so they just donated a bundle of TEN (count ‘em, 10!) works of contemporary southern fiction– Lee Smith, Silas House, Larry Brown.. *everybody*! And, just to sweeten the deal, two volumes of New Stories From the South!
I have also decided to offer a short story critique in a addition to the manuscript crituque, for those of you who want to ease into this critique thing.
Natasha Trethewey just gave me (in my hand) a signed FIRST EDITION of her Pulitzer Prize winning collection Native Guard!
Also, prices have been dropped. And the paypal requirement has been removed from bidding!
check it out!
(This is supposed to go up last night, but I had technical issues.)
I know you all know about the terrific literary auction taking place now on ebay. The best opportunity on the list is the MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES. A couple folks have emailed and said they admire the authors too much to submit anything less than excellent. Well, that’s really sweet, but really wrong-headed. The idea is to have someone read your manuscript so you can make it better! Don’t be shy. I can only speak for myself of course, but I’ll be gentle and I’ll be helpful.
Two authors– Sarah Schulman and myself– are offering full manuscript critiques. We will read your whole complete entire novel. Anyone who has a manuscript in a drawer knows how hard it is to get someone to look at your stuff. Oh how I envy musicians who just pop in a CD and say “check out my stuff…” Or even visual artists who can lead you to a gallery wall and then offer you some wine and cheese. For writers, when you hand someone a 300 page document, you don’t exactly see joy on thier faces…
So, go bid. I’ll read your manuscript! So will Sarah. Lots of other cool writers will read your short stories and poetry. And it’s for a really good cause.
Get over there.
The ebay auction is up! Go there now to bid on manuscript critiques by me, George Saunders, Nichelle Tramble,Sarah Schulman, Laila Lalami, Joy Castro, Martha Southgate, D. Nurkse, and Honoree Fanonne Jeffers! Carleen Brice is offering to critique your non-fiction book proposal. (Having sold three books this way, she knows how it’s done!) There are books up for grabs– a full set of George Saunders titles and a set of memoirs and a collection of debut novels. Natasha Trethewey is giving a signed hardcover of her Pulitzer Prize winning collection, Native Guard. Erika Dreyfus, the “Practicing Writer”, has offered her three e-books on how to find paying markets for what you write! This is just in: Rachel Eliza Griffiths will take your photo if you live the NY area. (Trust me. You want her to take your photo.)
We got the good stuff.
If you’d like to contribute directly to the victims of the Dunbar Village tragedy here’s the info.
Individuals who would like to donate money to the victims can go to any Wachovia Bank and donate to the St. Ann’s Victim’s Assistance Fund. Donations will go directly to the mother and her son.
St. Ann’s Catholic Church will accept donations. Checks can be made payable to the “Dunbar Village Victim Assistance Fund – St. Ann’s”.
Donations can be mailed to: St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 310 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
If you go this route, let me know. At the end of the week, I want to post the results of our hard work and I want to make sure I include you.
On that note, I received the first contribution last night at KGB Bar. Alicia, a member of our blog community, slipped me some cash. “This is for Dunbar Village,” she said.