Guest Blog Post, Edmund Sandoval: The Things You Put in Your Head Sometimes Make It into the World

An anatomically drawn brain.

Photo credit on hover.

This much is true: I haven’t been writing much lately. At least not creatively. Or with any kind of fervor or grace. I have been writing, though. I’ve been writing copy. Like that scruffy guy in Mad Men. The one who eventually cut off his nipple. Ginsburg. I’ve been writing ads and newsletters and product descriptions and stuff like that. Content for websites. It pays the bills and then some. It affords a life of minor plenty. But it does not inspire. It’s commerce, it’s not art. Though, sometimes, and only sometimes, I like to joke that it’s the other way around, and that it is in fact art, not commerce, as periodically an occasion presents me with the opportunity to splash a bit of that woebegotten grace around the page/screen. You’ve seen the work I did for that luxury hotel? In Chicago? So I’ve been writing but I haven’t been writing. I’ve been losing writing. Displacing water. Something-something.

In lieu of writing, I’ve been thinking of writing. I’ve been reminiscing. Pulling notes of old harmony from the sticky depths of my glial stew. It has given me that subtle kind of joy that’s so often associated with nostalgia for things gone by: years, cardigans, cross country trips with my brother.

To that end, I have been thinking of firsts. Not those kinds of firsts. These kinds of firsts. First story written; first story/essay published; first book (what book?); and so on. You’ve been there right? Not writing like you feel you ought to be. That self-generated guilt. Rafts of the stuff. Right. So here we go.

First Story: I started writing my first story outside of Orland, California. I was living at the Farm Sanctuary. I was living in a communal home and surrounded by hills and the smell of cows and ducks and pigs and the like. There were three donkeys and no horses. There was a herd of skittish sheep that ran through the hills like dirty laundry possessed of a poltergeist.

I was younger, then. Twenty-two, I think. I was a vegan, then. And strong. And kind of angry. But mainly happy. And careless.

There wasn’t much to do out there. The internet connection was spotty.

Out there, you could spend time with the staff who lived in the communal house and those who didn’t. You could walk the hills. You could run them. You could go into the forests if you could catch a ride or to the Black Butte Lake Reservoir on an old mountain bike. You could suck down beers and smoke a single cigarette while watching the sunset with a woman named Anne. Those are things I did.

Too, there was downtime and alone time. So I read and napped with a cat whose fur was a luminescent shade of gray that trended blue when hit with the sun. I read Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. Haruki Murakami. Toni Morrison. Yukio Mishima. Pearl Buck. Borges. Peter Singer. Whatever was leftover from staff that had come to live in the communal house before eventually leaving. I read magazines. Sometimes the cat would pee on my shirts. The staff who’d been there for awhile said it was because it liked me and didn’t want me to leave, though I, too, eventually would.

It was after I closed the back flap of One-Hundred Years of Solitude that it struck me: I should write a story/I will a story/Let’s write a story! And like in fairy tales of and the lore of writers new and old, the story came to me prepackaged and ready to use.

All I had to do was write it.

Which I did.

In between my chores and after dinner in the communal house. While I emptied feed troughs and mucked barns. It was about an old guy who was friends with a ficus tree. As it goes, the story was called: “Ficus Tree.” It was probably clichéd as all get. But I had to write it. Like a new tooth coming in and shoving aside the old. A tendril pressing through the hull of its seed.

There was a scene I remember liking, the man leaning against a pane of frosted glass in winter and the skin of ice evaporating around his profile as he sat and drank.

When I was through, I printed it out and shared it around with my housemates. It was momentous (for me, at least), as it laid bare the roadmap my life was looking for.

That story, though, is long gone. I’d saved it on a hard floppy but who knows where that ended up. Maybe my mom has a copy somewhere. Probably it is full of typos and tense errors and springs too tightly wound. I’d like to see it again, if possible. I’ll ask her if she held on to it. I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t.

First Published Story: I was spinning my wheels and waiting to get into graduate school when my first story was submitted and accepted for publication.

I was living with my mom and stepdad in Carbondale, Illinois. It was a good time. I hadn’t a job yet had some money. I drank whiskey with my town friends. I ran fast around the lake situated on the campus of the local university.

The story? Well, it was accepted by the Paris Review!! It was such a shock. Like realizing, suddenly, I could levitate at will. I’m kidding. It was accepted by The Thieves Jargon, an online-only publication. You remember it? I feel like people liked appearing in that one. Like getting something accepted and published by elimae. Like elimae, The Thieves Jargon has gone the way of the ghost. Even its archives are extinct. Scraped from the face of the earth. Like river silt washed into and swallowed by the ocean.

The story was heavily (and I mean heavily) influenced by Rick Bass’s “Mississippi.” My story was called “Agnes is Gorgeous.” It was about a guy and a woman named Agnes. I don’t think the guy had a name. I think it was in written in the third person. Or maybe it was the first?

(I’d started working on it New Orleans, on the floor of my friend’s apartment, writing under the swirl of the ceiling fan and caressing the keys of my gigantic Dell Inspiron laptop.)

In the story, the couple were together, though I don’t remember what they did together or what drove the story. My sense memory tells me that they were nice enough to each other, that they were perhaps too dependent on each other, that they had a box fan in the window. Probably they drank iced tea and were familiar with each other more often than not.

Anything else, I don’t know.

What I do know is that when I received the acceptance email from the editors at Thieves, I damn well did levitate up the stairs from my mother’s basement and into the kitchen to tell her and my stepdad that I was to be a published author. It was the most incredible feeling I’d felt in a long while, as I’d already been loved by someone not my parents. It was validation that my work had some merit, however fleeting or thin. While Thieves was still up and running, I’d come to publish another tiny story or two in the magazine. Stories about deli workers wrapping steaks in thick white paper. Laborers. The times I knew when I was between schools and standing on ladders and swinging sledge hammers and breathing in crystalline silica dust and coughing it up at night after hours and hours of drinking.

First Published Essay: The one season of little league I participated in, I tried my best to emulate Will “The Thrill” Clark, first baseman (at least when I was a player) for the San Francisco Giants.

He wore number twenty-two.

His first homerun occurred during his first professional at bat, off of Nolan Ryan.

I admired him because, when in the box, he held his bat like a hobo held a bindle stick, slung carelessly behind the back, its end tipping toward the ground in a careless little wag and dance.

I was living in Wisconsin when The Thrill would come to feature in my first foray into essay.

I was working for the state, at the time.

I was most definitely hating life, at the time, and my own in particular.

I had a cubicle, then, and was checking my Twitter account and in the doing, saw that a literary magazine I followed had a call for writing having to do with baseball. That magazine was Hobart Pulp. I hadn’t any thoughts of sharing pieces of myself through writing or writing of baseball until the moment I saw that tweet. But when I did, I said to myself: Let’s write about little league and Will Clark and being a kid with a younger brother being raised, at that time, primarily by our mom, who was doing her best but who did not, when taking me to the Hibbett Sports Store at the Carbondale mall to buy an aluminum baseball bat and white leather (fresh!) batting gloves, did not buy me a protective cup (I already had a ball glove). And I, being in fifth grade, was too terrified and shy to ask for one, as doing so would implicitly/explicitly imply and foretell that I was growing up, so off I went into the fields and dugouts of the sporting complex with nothing but my reflexes and a polycotton fabric blend to protect me from the potential energy stored within a baseball.

As mentioned, I had a stupid job (it really was) in a stupid department in a stupid state and though I didn’t like to, I did my work and still had plenty plenty of time to sit there in my desk chair, idling with my two screens open, my official work stuff always up, my writing stuff off to the side, always ready, at first, to minimize the page, and always ready, later, to just keep it up.

So when the prompt hovered in front of me in my cubicle area, I pulled up a fresh Word Doc and started typing away about Will Clark and being from a broken home (ha), the only one among my friends with divorced friends.

I wrote about striking out all the time and Will Clark’s beautiful swing, as gorgeous a thing as Ken Griffey Jr’s, and how it was almost more gorgeous than KG’s because Will Clark looked more like a guy who’d just clambered down from a deer stand than an athlete who could loft balls out of the park as easy pressing a glass to the little piece that made ice fall from an automatic ice dispenser.

I wrote it sent it out and it was accepted and published, I think, in 2015, April, the usual month Hobart holds kicks off its baseball theme.

I guess it was a coming of age piece, in a way.

It was so much fun to write while sitting in that drab cubicle, in the sense that it provided a kind of sanctuary from the doldrums I was so often kicking around in those days.

It was a pleasure to think of Will Clark and how I saw his glove and cleats in Cooperstown, a place he’ll probably only ever visit as a guest. In the years since, I’ve had the pleasure of having a poem and short story accepted by Hobart and asides from my own personal sense of accomplishment, they’re just a damn fine journal whose staff work tirelessly to highlight excellent writers across the board.

We’re at the end now. This mosey down memory lane is the most writing I’ve done in awhile. It was fun. It felt good. It said to me, as I was writing, stop taking on so many freelance projects, guy. Your job is enough. Writing is more important than a few extra bucks. And it is. So I should. And maybe I will. If I know what’s good for me.

Authors Talk: Joe Bardin

Today we are pleased to feature author Joe Bardin as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Joe discusses the process of envisioning and writing his essay “Trenton into Time.”

Joe reflects how he first realized “that there was an essay to write” during a conversation with his housemates, where he “started talking about this period of my life…And I realized… that the things I was recounting were, in some sense, remarkable.” He affirms that “I think there’s a kind of epiphany that some writers experience, when at different points we realize that… our experience matters, that it has some kind of meaning or substance,” and states that, “That’s what got me going onto ‘Trenton into Time.'”

“We all sort of live ‘on top’ of these stories and experiences that have happened to us,” Joe declares. “We may remember or not remember [them] clearly, or consider or not consider [them] important, but underneath lie these moments in time that are part of who we are.” He calls the exploration of such moments “a kind of archaeology,” stating that “the person we are now is like the city built on top of a hill that’s full of relics of the past.” He emphasizes that “there’s something very intimate about remembering… and making some kind of sense of it now.”

You can read Joe’s essay, “Trenton into Time,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.

Guest Blog Post, Judith Sara Gelt: But Some of My Best Friends Are Novelists

But Some of My Best Friends Are Novelists

By Judith Sara Gelt, Memoirist

Photo of author with family.

Source: http://www.judithsaragelt.com/about.html

Novelists don’t need to wait for people to die.

 

Novelists don’t have to use their families’ real names.

 

Agents don’t wear a cheesy smile and declare that a novelist’s true-life narrative “cannot be differentiated from others in the market.”

 

By creating names, places, people and events (and, well, whatever they want), novelists build a bulwark of invention to keep their agonizing, lived experiences at bay while concealing them in their fictions.

 

Novelists don’t create in a genre tagged with terms like “naval gazing” or paired with adjectives like misery as in misery memoir.

 

Agents don’t shake their heads and explain that novelists’ life stories don’t have enough of a “hook.”

 

Novelists don’t workshop their manuscripts in mixed-genre groups only to be neglected—

“I couldn’t really write my opinions or leave comments. I just wasn’t comfortable. After all, yours is so personal.”

 

When someone asks, “Come on, did that really happen?” Novelists answer, “Of course not.” (Whether it did or not.)

 

When novelists compose outrageous fictitious scenes, readers don’t flinch. When a memoirist records an outrageous real-life scene, readers complain—

“No way this happened!” “I don’t believe it.”

 

Novelists don’t confront questions like—

“What is a memoir, again? Okay, and who wrote it? But, who is it about? Shit, you must have had a really amazing life!”

 

After their books are published, novelists aren’t in jeopardy of family and friends ostracizing them or of being disowned. They don’t witness their families and friends sob and dodge others when their lives are exposed.

 

Okeydokey, novelists, bring it on!

Authors Talk: Deborah Bogen

Today we are pleased to feature author Deborah Bogen as our Authors Talk series contributor. The topic of Deborah’s podcast, as she says, is “prose poems: the how and why of writing them.”

She confesses that after writing three books of “mostly lineated poems,” she took a break from poetry, or as she emphasizes “poetry took a break from me.” She describes her struggle to write a poem, saying that she “tried, but could not do it.” After a time spent writing novels, she states that “a strange thing happened: I was filled, and I do mean filled, with the urge to make new poems.” Due to her time writing in a novelistic style, she declares that she “quite naturally… fell into the world of prose poems.” She had previously enjoyed the style, but now, “the joy…was that I had a form, a box into which I could place… what I was noticing in what we call the world.” She closes by urging fellow poets to “have some fun [with prose poems],” and to “write a bunch.”

You can read Deborah’s poem, “This Poem May Be Read In Any Order,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.

Editorial Preferences in Nonfiction: Anahí Herrera

Let me be honest here, growing up I greatly disliked nonfiction. My reasoning? Well, I never once thought you could be creative with the real. Reality to me was boring, so utterly mundane. I couldn’t seem to fathom the appeal to it. Fiction, on the other hand, held all the mysteries in the world. But gradually, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the real is so beautiful and heartbreaking. Becoming the Nonfiction Editor for Superstition Review has truly given me the space to appreciate the craft behind what is real. What is that I want out of nonfiction? Feeling. Make me feel something. The strongest of essays not only open your eyes to new perspectives, but they suspend you in time and bring you right back down to reflect upon your own life. I’m looking for raw connection between the reader and the writer. Like my Advanced Fiction professor states: Tell me your truth. Remind me of something I’ve forgotten, or something I’ve never known. When you write, allow me to enter your space and experience a snippet of your life with you. Tear at my heart with something so deeply personal that I am left breathless and disrupted. I want to see lyricism, musicality, and strong attention to detail. I want all of my senses to be activated. Construct sentences that sing off the page and paint me right into your life. I want stories to linger in my mind for days to come.

Anahi Herrera

Nonfiction Editor Anahí Herrera is a junior majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Film & Media Studies. She is also the current Fiction Editor at Lux Undergraduate Creative Review, a student run literary magazine funded by Barrett, The Honors College. It’s Anahí’s dream to one day write with the same fervor as Ray Bradbury and to pursue a passionate life of writing, book editing, and prose experimentation with film.

#ArtLitPhx: Native Voices: Heard at Changing Hands

Artlitphx changing handsNative Voices: Heard at Changing Hands

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE HEARD MUSEUM

Demian DinéYazhi´- Ancestral Memory: Poems 2009-2016
7PM SATURDAY, JUNE 9

Location: Phoenix

The Heard Museum and Changing Hands Bookstore present an evening of poems and stories with artist and poet Demian DinéYazhi´.

Ancestral Memory: Poems 2009-2016 is the poetry debut of transdisciplinary artist Demian DinéYazhi´. Dedicated to their ancestors, this collection of poetry highlights a selection of Demian’s poems from 2009-2016; Tribal Memory: Post-Apocalyptic Landscape Representation & Indigenous Survivance, and 12 additional poems excavate ancestral trauma(s) as a means to acknowledge and heal familial ties to Indigenous culture, tradition, and settler colonial violence. DinéYazhi’ tackles issues of alienation, desire, and memory; matrilineal reverence and Indigenous uprising; and navigating Western Queer subcultures while being confronted by the continual threat of death as faced by Indigenous, Queer, non-masculine, and marginalized communities in a post-colonial heteropatriarchal society.

Following in the footsteps of Queer poets like Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf, Ancestral Memory is a self-published poetry book. Indigenous peoples have been cast as radical and wild counterparts to their disharmonious European colonizers, while our perspectives and voices have been tossed into the romanticized depths of poetry. Because of this, as well as a long history of creation and adaptation, DinéYazhi´’s stance to self-publish is a political statement of maintaining autonomy without the jurisdiction or approval from Western-trained editors, publishers, or critics.

Ancestral Memory was printed by Pur Dubois Press in the ancestral lands of the Multnomah/Chinook with supplementary support from Potlatch Funds.

PARKING / LIGHT RAIL

  • Don’t want to drive? Take the Light Rail! It lets off at the Central Avenue/Camelback Park-and-Ride, which has hundreds of free parking spaces across the street from Changing Hands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Demian DinéYazhi’ is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. Born and raised in the “Indian Capital of the World,” Gallup, New Mexico, Diné Yazhi’ is a transdisciplinary warrior whose work is an archivalization and exploration of memory formation, landscape representation, HIV/AIDS-related art and activism, gender / sexuality, and indigenous survivance. Demian has exhibited work nationally and internationally, in addition to having his artwork and writing published over the last few years. In 2010 he founded the Indigenous artist/activist/warrior collective, R.I.S.E.: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment. heterogeneoushomosexual.tumblr.com