Postcard #3: The Kingfisher
J. finds her lost garden beneath a flock of kingfisher. Drifting barefoot across the soil, she listens to the songs of strange birds. Her aloe plants grew beside an imposing hemlock, where those Kingfisher roost, and whose roots strangled the majority of her once flowering garden. She examines and finds caught in the roots, a flightless bird violently struggling to escape. J. crouches next to the bird and takes a thread and needle from her hair. She pulls the bird from the roots, as its heart flutters in disjointed syncopation. J. says a prayer and effortlessly breaks its neck before sewing the bird into the soft bark of the hemlock, hoping that death never feeds those roots again.
In hether holly groves, a purpose
means holding out trembling
hands, readings grown like Hemlock.
Morning in fashions fitting of Green
perfume, that like grass or hay,
or the telling scent of dead leafs.
The cough of the soil here
is contagious, as is an itch
left by a million starving bugs.
Although I am technically here for “FICTION” I do intend to sketch some poems here and there. I did two today. Here’s the first one I wrote as I sat on a bench in front of Finn House looking out across the Gothic campus.
Ward st. He, terrace green
oh, potted flowers, quarterly waiting
It is summer in Gambier dreaming
dreaming dreaming of violent snow
of peculiar rainfall in absence of lovlier
Well, I’m here in Gambier, at Kenyon University, as a writer and officially I am the least qualified person here. Everyone has a college degree, an MFA or is a professor.
and then just lil’ old me with a highschool degree :(
My Instructor for the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop is Geeta Kothari, just got an e-mail for some of the stories we’ll be reading. They all look interesting, and there’s a Hemingway in there as well as a Tim O’Leery, so who knows. Those writers are definitely outside my usual box surrealism, and magic realism, and southern gothic.
Super excited, I haven’t written in like a month because I’m justifying saving my stuff for the workshop. #kenyonreview
So, I did a big submission frenzy the other day and this was a submission to one journal, that opted to give me something far more valuable than a publication, a professional critique. I’m doing an edit throughout the week, if none of the other publications take the piece, I’ll be posting it online for free. So, enjoy this slice of delicious critique pie, and pray more journals adopt this method of rejecting pieces.
First off, we want to thank you for sending us “The Caves That We Dig.” We really enjoyed reading it and thought there were a lot of great aspects to this story.
Here are some of the things that we thought were working really well in your story:
-The circular nature- We like beginnings with meaning. We like when these beginnings are so meaningful that they are brought back in and made relevant not only throughout but also at the end. You certainly delivered in this aspect. The symbol of the W on the apartment door is great and helps to tie your entire story together. It is a place for the reader to always come back to in order to make meaning of what you are writing.
-Characterization- Everything you show or reveal about your main character has weight in the story and allows us to put together a cohesive idea of who he is. The details also relate directly to the action or plot that is going on in the story. The details, such as watching youtube and masturbating, are all important. While you speak in a stream of consciousness style, what is said is always helping us to understand more and doesn’t bog us down as we read the story.
Here are some of the things that didn’t suit our editorial style quite as well. Keep in mind that everything said relates only to what we find works or doesn’t work for us as readers and is not necessarily a universal critique.
-Pacing- The story seemed to move a bit too quickly for us towards the end. You spent a lot of time building up your main character in the beginning and setting up the conflict, but, for us, things seemed to all come together and resolve (or not resolve, as the case may be) a little too quickly. The scene where he meets with the woman from work to get drinks felt rushed and a little hectic. A lot of things are happening- the erection, the conversation that is going down hill, the reveal of her having kids and him just wanting to hook up with her. One question would be, what does this add the story? Is it revealing more about his character in his inability to interact with women that are more his age and/or face to face?
-While reading, we were so excited (and also a little scared) to find out what would happen with or to the young girl posting on youtube. You have a great build up to him finding out her number and e-mail address, but the quick texts and calls and then the changing of his phone number seemed to fall a little flat for us after so much anticipation. For us, we would like to see this part slowed down a little bit or stretched out more.
We hope you will consider submitting to us again in the future. We’re so glad we got a chance to read “The Caves That We Dig.”
Matt & Jess
Fevered in the sun;
her skin is left
and torn open
from a blowing wind.
Real quick, lots of news.
I will be at Wizard World Philadelphia representing Red Stylo Media starting Tomorrow through Sunday at Booth 650. My girlfriend will be joining me, selling prints and signing work. Come hang out, say hi, mention you’re from tumblr and I’ll write you a haiku on the spot.
My poetry book has hit a few hiccups, lots of papers to sign and fax and email, and due to my schedule I’ve been so busy with everything that it’s just taken way longer than it should have (this thing could have been at the end of April so I apologize.) It will be finished by the end of the summer though, I absolutely promise.
But! Before that, I’ve procured a domain name and will be releasing Apeyard Holler my first novel for free, a chapter at a time every week. So there’s that and that will be up and ready after I get back from The Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop. So yeah! Huzzah!
Here’s Lisa’s book cover for my poetry book, for good measure.
Someone asked a question this morning on my thoughts concerning “Fan-Fiction.” This was my response:
As far as “Fan-fiction” goes, I absolutely hate the term. I think it’s damning to a writer to label themselves as a writer of fan-fiction because often times it undermines the work, which occasionally, is quite good (and I do mean occasionally.)
This is the same for genre work, there’s nothing particularly wrong with genre, but saying you write crime, or horror, or romance novels, you’ve completely undermined your work, your potential talent and the overall impact of your work.
So here’s an example to explain my hatred of the term, FAN-FICTION If you look at the History of Comics and Sequential Art, it all kind of falls under “fan-fiction” yet it is not called that, and thereby respected more.
What is “fan-fiction?” They are stories written about pre-made characters. Every Batman, Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Spiderman, X-Men comic book or novel that has ever existed is 100% definable under “Fan-Fiction.”
I would kill to write a Batman comic, and by all means anyone writing anything related to Batman that isn’t Bill Finger or Bob Kane is under the definition of “fanfiction.”
Truthfully, I don’t have a problem with fan-fiction, what I do have a problem with is, self-labeling and therefor automatically undermining your own work. In the end, the term has become derogatory, of amateur writing, of strange sexual fetishism, and obscene delusion about talent, but those things apply to all writing, everywhere.
I wrote some “fan-fiction” about a year ago, and it’s strange and I love it as it exists, but this is the only time I would ever call it that, even though by all means, it is me partaking in wish-fulfillment. Here’s the link:
Anonymous asked: I've been told I'm a good writer, and I'm definitely inclined towards it. But sometimes I'm discouraged by the idea that to be a successful writer you have to be a complete egotist. I'll admit I'm a difficult person sometimes, but I don't consider myself to be that kind of difficult. Is all of that really true?
Yeah, it’s true.
Anonymous asked: I'm struggling with finding a "purpose" for my writing. A recent technique I've been using is just starting with a scene and writing that out in full but then I hit a block where I think, "What's the point of this story? What's going to happen and what makes this worth reading?" and those questions kind of sink my ship. How did you write your own stories thinking, "Okay, this is what the point is and I'm satisfied with that," ? Thanks!
It’s interesting, truth be told, and I sincerely mean this, initial ideas and concepts always change by the end of something. I remember when I first started writing Apeyard Holler, it was about two estranged brothers who learn they have a half sister. Over the course of three years writing and editing, it turned into two violently estranged-brothers trying to find their place in a sophisticated world, dropped the sister thing, and kind of pieced it together as I went.
I rarely do outlines anymore, except really loose structural things, like the characters and rough ideas of what they represent, otherwise I often get bored knowing where my story is headed. I like to be surprised, so I write how a reader would predict the story, if I can surprise myself with where my story goes, I’m very happy.
Editing LOURA, someone get me an aspirin, this sucks.
This weekend, a documentary is set to be released quietly in some independent theaters entitled Pittstop: A Documentary from Brad Pitt. The movie has had no media attention probably due to the nature and questionable portrait of its starring figure. It is an odd journey, one that finds Pitt taking the inexplicable decision to drive himself across country from New York to Hollywood.Read more
I’m going to start documenting my rejections, it’s healthy. I think. This one is from Utter. I normally don’t submit poetry, but felt inclined to-do so after a string of success with them.
Dear Matthew Erman,
Thank you for sending us “Ferris, Hunt, Straems, Countenance, Collars”. We appreciate the chance to read it. We don’t think it is a good fit for us at this time. As writers ourselves, we understand the precarious nature of submitting and waiting. Know that we honored you and your work by giving it our full attention and time. We encourage you to submit again in the future, but we ask that you wait a full month before doing so.
Thanks again. Good luck finding a home for your work.
Not the best rejection letter, it reads somewhat pre-automated, which allows me to understand their views on my work. Which clearly wasn’t for them (or wasn’t very good) it’s either/or. It’s a clear black & white with automated messages which usually says, clear no.
This is typical when submitting to journals or publications I’m not familiar with, as I have no sense of their taste. It was a blind submission and typically, those fall flat without having a sense of direction for me at least. #amwriting