Guest Blog Post, Courtney Mauk: The Space Between

Mauk photo 1Confession: This is the first thing I’ve written in over three weeks.

In the past I might have gotten depressed over a lull in my work, but I’ve come to understand that these quiet moments (a more gentle and accurate term than lazy or uninspired) can be as essential to the writing process as those “butt in the chair” days.

Sometimes lulls are due to outside demands—after all, none of us are writers only and occasionally other responsibilities can, and should, take priority. At other times lulls are self-imposed, a clearing out of the system. Recently I had a student who threw herself into the creation of a character, entering that beautiful, agonizing manic state where she could not stop thinking about, and as, her character. When she finished her story, she felt she should get started on the next one, but thinking about other characters felt like a betrayal. She needed to take time off in order to say good-bye, reset, and begin again.

My current lull hasn’t been entirely circumstantial, nor entirely by choice. After spending five feverish months working on the first draft of a novel, I sent it off to my group of trusted readers with the intention of using the weeks before meeting with them on revising short stories. But we meet tonight, and those story files have remained closed. Unlike my student, I didn’t feel like I was betraying anyone. Inspiration just never struck—maybe I could have forced it, but I didn’t feel inclined to try. Instead I used the hours I usually spend writing in the park, reading a book that had been in my to-be-read pile for far too long and taking occasional breaks to watch the people sitting near me, the others rushing past. Another morning I wandered around one of my favorite parts of the city and bought the season’s first strawberries at the farmers market (those berries made me so happy, I texted my husband immediately and used more than my allotted exclamation points). One afternoon I walked through an area I’d never explored before, even though it runs right into my neighborhood, and reveled in its gritty beauty. I left my cellphone at home and paid no attention to the time. As I walked, I found myself taking deep breaths; I went way beyond the point where I thought I would turn back.

A lull doesn’t have to be a source of frustration or guilt; it isn’t a void, whether it lasts days, weeks, months, or even years. What it means is you’ve take a moment to step outside your own head and live your life. For writers, imagination is our greatest resource; we are compelled by the worlds we create and that’s why we struggle so to capture them in words. But every now and again, it can be helpful to step away from the computer screen, close the notebook, get your butt out of the chair, and look around, to let your imagination reset, open, and begin again.

My yoga teacher encourages us to observe the space between our breaths. It takes a conscious effort to notice and appreciate something so unconscious. But that space is there—that stillness, as essential as the inhale and the exhale, holding us and letting us go on living.

You can learn more about Courtney at her website: www.courtneymauk.com

The Masters Review Call for Submissions; Deadline March 31

The Masters ReviewEach year The Masters Review pairs with a guest judge to select the 10 best stories written by students in an MA, MFA, or PhD creative writing program. This year’s guest judge is AM Homes. The Masters Review aims to expose the best among emerging writers by producing fiction and narrative nonfiction that is progressive, diverse, and well-crafted. Only students who are currently enrolled are eligible, and we only accept work under 7000 words. For full guidelines and information please see our submissions page. Deadline for submissions is March 31, 2013.

For writers who are not in a graduate-level creative writing program and have not published a novel-length work, please consider sending us work for our New Voices category. New Voices is open year round and represents the work of emerging authors that we publish online. To submit, go here.

Twitter® Handles for Superstition Review Contributors

Here is a list of our known contributors’ Twitter handles. If we missed any or have made any errors, please leave a comment and we will fix it. This is a great opportunity for our readers to follow their favorites.

Alan Cheuse @ahescee
Amanda Auchter @ALAuchter
Amanda Eyre Ward @amandaeyreward
Andrew Galligan @galligan_andrew
Andrew Scott @_AndrewScott
Ashley Caveda @AshleyCaveda
Ben Brooks @ben_brooks
Benjamin Vogt @BRVogt
BJ Hollars @BJHollars
Brenda Miller @BrendaMiller31
Carrie Moniz @Carrie_Moniz
Catherine Pierce @katieppierce
Chase Twichell @chasetwichell
Christopher Jagmin @chrisjagmin
Constance McBride @mcbride_connie
Courtney Mauk @courtneymauk
Dan Chaon @Danchaon
Daniel Elson @daniel_elson
Dara Wier @darawier
Diana Joseph @diana_joseph
Dorianne Laux @doriannelaux
Douglas Light @LightHappening
Duncan Hill @duncanhillphoto
Elena Passarello @elenavox
Eliza Gregory @elizagregory
Elizabeth Searle @StarWrit
Eugenio Volpe @MeBeingBrand
Faye Rapoport DesPres @MassWriter 
Floyd Skloot @fskloot

Frances Lefkewiz @YesFrances
James Valvis @JamesValvis
Jennifer Drucker @jenniferdrucker
Joan Colby @poetjm
John Grogan @JohnGroganbooks
Kazim Ali @KazimAliPoet
Kelle Groom @KelleGroom
Kelli Russell Agodon @kelliagodon
Lee Martin @LeeMartinAuthor
Marie Mockett @MarieMockett
Matthew Brennan @MatthewBrennan7
Matthew Gavin Frank @matthewgfrank
Meg Pokrass @megpokrass
Michael Martone @4foraQuarter
Miguel Murphy @MiguelMurphy
Pam Houston @pam_houston
Patricia Clark @poetclark
Paul Lisicky @Paul_Lisicky
Raina Gentry @RainaGentryArt
Roger Boylan @Killoyler
Ruth Ellen Kocher @ruthellenkocher
Samuel Kolawole @sammylaws1
Sankar Roy @SankarPoet
Shannon Ward @ShannonCamlin
Sherman Alexie @Sherman_Alexie
Sloane Crosley @askanyone
Stella Pope Duarte @StellaPope
Susan Wingate @susanwingate
Suzanne Marie Hopcroft @divinestsense
Terra Brigando @Terranisaur
Theodore Wheeler @theodorewheeler
Tim Flannery @Purple_World
Timothy Liu @arabadjisliu
Vanessa Blakeslee @vmblakeslee
William D. Hicks @wdhicks
Xavier Nuez @Xnuez

“Submission Bombers” Organize to Bomb Editors

Submission Bombers, a new group founded by Weave editor Laura Davis, has organized a bunch of writers who all feel marginalized in some way, encouraging them all to submit to the same market at once. The idea of Submission Bombers is to give editors what they claim they do not get: submissions from “the marginalized.”

Read more on Davis’ blog. 

Worldwide Day of Occupation: Phoenix

Last Saturday was the Worldwide Day of Occupation, when protests of all sizes occurred in 1500 cities and 82 countries across the globe. Ten thousand people marched in the streets of Madrid. It’s estimated that 20,000 showed up to flood Times Square. And at the height of the protest here in Phoenix, between 1-2 thousand of us came to show our support at Cesar Chavez Plaza downtown.

Since the protests began on Wall Street one month ago, there has been a certain amount of criticism aimed at the people involved. One common charge is that the protestors are just bored college kids who protest for the sake of protesting. What I saw at Occupy Phoenix couldn’t have been further from that accusation. There were plenty of young people airing their frustrations over the lack of opportunity many of us will face once we graduate college. But there were also entire families whose small children proudly waved American flags as we marched as a group towards Martha T. Hance Park. There were a surprising number of older Americans airing the same grievances as the youth, including a stooped elderly couple that made sure to be in the front row of one of the impromptu assemblies at Cesar Chavez Plaza. The husband wore a hearing aide, so the wife made sure to wave his hand in support for him whenever a speaker expressed frustration that our system has failed us, the 99%.

Another criticism has been that the message is too muddled to make a difference. But I disagree. One message was loud and clear: we need peaceful action to show the world we’re listening, that the power must remain in the hands of the people. The myriad of problems the world faces is too large and diverse to fit on a protest sign. But the message that the interests of the many must take precedence over the interests of the few is one that unites the world, from Hong Kong to London to New York to Phoenix.

This weekend made me think about why art of all kinds is so crucial to civilization. Writers and artists are responsible for interpreting our surroundings, encapsulating the world in which we exist in a poem, or a story, or a painting. We make art to communicate and share ideas with the people of today, and to make our voices heard to the people of tomorrow. We are living in turbulent, fascinating times. I can hardly wait to see what art arises out of our struggles.

To see a list of writers who support the Occupy movement, including Dorianne Laux, whose work will be published in Issue 8 of Superstition Review, visit http://occupywriters.com/

Goodreads

Writing is a lot of work. Even when they’re not actively writing, writers are often thinking – even obsessing — about what they’re writing. One of the best ways to give your brain a break without the guilt of straying too far from work is to think about what other people have been writing. The site www.goodreads.com is the perfect way to relax between chapters. It’s like a Facebook for bookworms, where you can rate and discuss the books you’ve read with your friends and see what they think of the books they’ve been reading. You can rate books anywhere from one to five stars, and then you can write your own New York Times-style review to accompany your rating. But don’t forget to include a spoiler alert if you’re going to write about how it ends.

Goodreads also has digital book clubs you can join and offers recommendations based on the books you’ve read and rated highly. They also sometimes put on special events, such as live video chats with authors. In August they interviewed Jennifer Egan, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, and the moderator pulled many of his questions from the Goodreads users participating in the live chat forum. It was a great way for readers to get insight on Egan’s writing process. They also have contest for free advance copy giveaways so a select few readers can review new releases for the Goodreads community. It’s an excellent website for bibliophiles of all kinds.

Thank You All So Much!

Superstition Review Cycle

The submissions for our Inaugural Issue have continued to pour in at an amazing speed!

Many thanks to those who have submitted work, attended readings, and offered their support to Superstition Review. Our existence would not be possible without the help of amazing readers and writers like you.