Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Liz Robbins.
Liz Robbins’ third collection, Freaked, won the 2014 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award, judged by Bruce Bond. Her second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award, judged by Patricia Smith. Poems are in recent or forthcoming issues of Beloit Poetry Journal, Cortland Review, Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Kenyon Review. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL.
Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Dallas Woodburn.
Dallas Woodburn is a 2013-14 Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she won second place in the American Fiction Prize and her work is forthcoming in American Fiction Volume 13: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by American Writers (New Rivers Press). Her short story collection was a finalist for the 2012 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and her work has appeared in The Nashville Review, The Los Angeles Times, Louisiana Literature, Monkeybicycle, and Ayris, among others. In addition, her plays have been produced in Los Angeles and New York City.
Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Jory Mickelson.
Jory Mickelson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sundog Lit, Weave Magazine, Fjords Review, The Collagist, The Los Angeles Review, The Adirondack Review and other journals. He received an Academy of American Poet’s Prize in 2011 and was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry. He is also the 2014 Guest Poetry Editor for Codex Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @poetryphone
Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Nick DePascal.
Nick DePascal lives in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, son, three dogs, and three chickens, and teaches at the University of New Mexico. His first book, Before You Become Improbable, will be published by West End Press in summer 2014. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Narrative, The Laurel Review, RHINO, The Los Angeles Review, Emerson Review, Aesthetix, and more.
Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by John Michael Flynn.
John Michael Flynn also writes as Basil Rosa. His second short story collection, Dreaming Rodin, was published in November, 2013 by Publerati. Two new poetry chapbooks were published in December, 2013: Additions To Our Essential Confusion from Kattywompus Press, and StatesAnd Items from Leaf Garden Press.
To become a writer, I first had to become an accountant. It was a decision, albeit an unconscious one, to conform to others’ expectations. After all, financial success through writing is rare.
Literal years later I realized if I’d succeeded in something I despised, Accounting, I could succeed in something I loved, Writing. However, this required I change my definition of success to exclude the financial component, and instead, focus on achievement. As an accountant then, I’d achieved success by obtaining the status of Certified Public Accountant. Thus, defying well-meaning advice, I promptly terminated my license and embarked on my writing apprenticeship.
It’s been 11 years. I’ve earned an MFA in Fiction and transitioned to Teaching. I’ve published four short stories, continued to circulate and revise others, and completed a novel (in final revision). But have I met my benchmark of success? During my apprenticeship, a wise professor advised, “It’s a long journey.” I wish I could say I’ve never looked back, never thought “what if,” but I have. Life consists of so many desires and distractions—decisions, really. How can one not question his/her course when its end is shrouded in uncertainty?
My desires are simple, if not idealistic: love of boyfriend/husband, family and friends, enough money to meet my needs (food, shelter, emergencies, and the unforeseen, for example, an attack of termites on my house), time to hike, and most importantly, time to pursue my passion, Writing.
Of course, my distractions are not simple, but complicated. In random order, they are my boyfriend, my aging mom (family), my income-producing jobs (yes, plural), and hiking, the great & beckoning outdoors.
I imagine other writers are and have been in similar circumstances when desires conflict with duties and passions. At various authors’ readings through the years, I’ve listened to solutions, the squeezing in of writing when it seems no time for such activity exists. I have learned, as writers must, from those who have preceded me, yet I struggle to achieve the balance it appears they have instituted.
I struggle weighing one distraction over another. All seem of equal significance. The boyfriend may not yet completely understand my need to write as a “must,” but nonetheless, he’s a treasure and time with him is as good as it gets. Mom has doctor appointments and errands, and while she is still independent, stubbornly so at times, she needs my assistance, my ability to drive, and truly, these are moments I will one day reflect upon as dear, time well-spent. The income-producing jobs pay recurring expenses that have been pared down to essential; they cannot be reduced further. One can only sacrifice access to cable once, and there are limits to turning the heat too low or the A/C too high. Oh, and did I mention the dog, Lucy? She, too, needs food and a roof over her head.
Then, there is hiking. Hiking is a “hatch” I can slip through in any moment of any day to escape that which needs escaping. Within the 60-mile radius of Phoenix, I can choose one of many city and county desert preserves and lose myself in the vast embrace of nature. I can look at the horizon, breathe deeply, and remember who I am, where I’ve been, what I have, and where I’m going. When I’m not writing, it’s nature that allows me to touch that which embodies writing, the soul.
It’s easy to compare one’s self to writers who have more time and/or resources. This, however, is unfair to those writers who similarly have desires and distractions unbeknownst to me. It is unfair to me because it belittles my ability to act for the benefit of myself. Life, when expanded beyond the individual’s perception of self, is a compilation of struggles to overcome obstacles to achieve desires. It’s a game of give and take, a mixture of joy and sorrow that equate to happiness. It is not an easy or short journey.
My distractions are particular, but common in the experience of life. If my eyes are closed to my role in determining my success or failure, then it is likely I will be pulled hither and thither amongst distractions that appeal to my need to satisfy. That is my obstacle.
I have often stated, “At the root of every problem, is a decision to be made.” To solve any problem, the first thing one must do is decide to do something. Once that first decision is made, others follow in due course. I decided after many years to pursue my passion, writing. This decision led to others, a change in career, in income, in resources. I determine what I sacrifice for my art. This freedom to decide remains in my hands alone. I am a writer—thus I must take action to pursue that reality.
My wise professor told his students, “Stay in the chair,” meaning, when the story gets dicey, stay with it, see where it goes. Preceding this gem, I add, “Sit in the chair.” The first decision I can make every day is to sit in my chair. Once there, it is second nature to place fingers to laptop keyboard and type. Then, I am not only a writer, I am writing.
Do your decisions support your writing or your distractions?
Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Chris Suda.
Christopher’s poetry has been published in blazeVOX, The Aura, Danse Macabre, Drunk Monkeys, Poetry Super Highway, and Rufous City Review. Christopher is currently a twenty-four year old undergraduate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a musician involved in three current projects: Philos Moore (singer-songwriter) In Snow (Instrumental), and Loveislight (Experimental Hip-Hop).
Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Marylee MacDonald.
Marylee MacDonald has won the Barry Hannah Prize, the Matt Clark Prize, the Ron Rash Award, and the ALR Fiction Prize. Her stories have appeared in Yalobusha Review, New Delta Review, Briar Cliff Review, StoryQuarterly, Folio, Reunion, Broad River Review, American Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, North Atlantic Review, River Oak Review, North Atlantic Review, Blue Moon Literary & Art Review, Briar Cliff Review, and the anthologies ROLL and NEW SUN RISING: Stories for Japan. Her novel, MONTPELIER TOMORROW, is forthcoming from ATTM Press. She lives in Tempe, Arizona.
Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Lori Jakiela.
Lori Jakiela is the author of two memoirs – The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious (C&R Press, 2013) and Miss New York Has Everything (Hatchette, 2006) – as well as a poetry collection, Spot the Terrorist! (Turning Point, 2012), and several poetry chapbooks. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brevity, KGB BarLit, Hobart and elsewhere. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, the author Dave Newman, and their two children. She teaches in the writing programs at Pitt-Greensburg and Chatham University.