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

Guest Post, Robert Detman: The Necessity of Writing (and Reading)

guest postThe Necessity of Writing (and Reading)

The need to write can be as essential and sustaining as any healthy addiction. With the commitment comes the inevitable desire to send the work out into the world to be published, perhaps in search of literary glory, or merely in the hope of finding corroboration that what one has written is worthwhile.

Writing is such a compulsion that it justifies itself; I often find myself returning to work that is years old, which nags at me, insisting that I give it another read. The energy in the prose sustains and reasserts the imperative of its creation. Because of the number and variety of these drafts, and how they occasionally mix genres, I never know when–or if–I’ll return to them to try to revise again.

At an AWP panel in Tampa this year, “How to Fail: On Abandoning a Manuscript, and Not”, the writers assembled discussed why or why not one might give up on a piece of writing. The consensus seemed to be that writers don’t easily give up on their work. This may be why William Faulkner advised us to kill our darlings—no one is going to do it for us. If success is only gauged by publication, most writers are serial failures. Yet writers who would never abandon their work seem to have hit upon a truth that lies at the heart of all writing: Only the writer herself can determine if a piece succeeds or fails. And perhaps the inherent stubbornness and persistence it takes to be a published writer means we do not give up projects so easily, or even when we should.

What does one hope to accomplish with this persistent—yet intermittent—revisiting, and revising, of past work? We’re likely not just doing it for its own sake. We can perhaps see a progression in the drafts, that there is more there than we might have recognized in previous drafts; there must have been something there all along. Whatever kernels of truth there are in the work, are worth looking at again. As well, it must increase the chances of publishing if we can make use of the material we have. For myself, it often feels right to reconsider an abandoned piece, as I’m aware that I don’t usually work on something I don’t intend to try to publish. And of course, it’s not always true that what I write gets published, but I understand what it takes. It also makes me aware that writing and revision seems to never end.

Though it’s possibly true that what the writer gets out of producing a piece of writing is not nearly the same as what the reader gets from it, could the need to write have any correlation to what a reader may feel drawn to in the writing? In his groundbreaking 1994 book The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, Sven Birkerts pairs the activity of reading and that of writing as, in essence, one and the same, of existing in a kind of symbiosis in the eye and mind of the beholder—that is, whomever is reading or writing it. Reading and writing could be the proverbial chicken or egg conundrum: which came first?

In relation to other arts, writing may be no less hard won in its creation than painting, or music, or film and drama. Yet these other arts are experienced by their audience with varying degrees of passivity. It’s even possible to experience them obliviously. In fact, it would be possible to experience these works and not engage with them at all. I would guess that not everyone who seeks out cultural artifacts is fully “on” in their presence. The same cannot be said of writing. Reading is a voluntary act of volition, which requires one to fully engage with it. It is almost useless to read passively.

Generally, when I read, I’m looking to be surprised, wowed, or otherwise blown away. I crave that unique experience, which occurs when a narrative is so seamlessly accomplished that it manages to defy precedent. I look for this in fiction, and most often this sustained experience is achieved in novels. Not surprisingly, it’s usually these goals that I aspire to when I write.

I have the compulsion and habit of writing in multiple genres. People argue and make justifications for the superiority of one genre over another. Still, it’s all writing. Lately, I’ve been focused on poetry. Having written poetry for years, I undertook recently to study with an award-winning poet, and I’m encouraged. I read and write poetry with a sense of rediscovery, almost as if working muscles I didn’t know I had. I can sense I’m breaking ground for myself, which is an exciting part of the experiment that is my writing vocation.

My interest in writing across genres—and not being defined by any one—stems from restlessness, and that genre hopping is fed by my frequently broad reading. This restlessness may also just be a way of shaking myself from complacency, keeping fresh what is in front of me. I use writing toward whatever ends my mind craves. Poetry, for me, is the purview of feeling and emotion, and playing with language. Although the same might be said of fiction, I believe fiction is driven by the play of characters. The characters of fiction become real to me, and I become their caretaker. These characters are perhaps stand-ins for my own interests, and I use them to explore motive and action. There is frequently a spiritual depth to this work.

What fiction offers to a reader is story and a possibility of an empathetic identification with the characters in the work. Fiction projects a simulacrum of emotion we might feel, safely in the realm of language. We are safe because it’s only feelings we are “trying on” temporarily. We may be emotionally invested, but we are in our own heads. There are few repercussions. It can also engage the reader in the way that narrative seeks to find resolution. Narrative, which is telling a story, is inherently a form of entertainment.

Nonfiction, of the type you are currently reading, is driven by a desire to clarify my thinking, or to codify an experience. Nonfiction can be intellect driven work. I find that writing in a journal, for example, is essentially the deliberative framing of my thinking. The goal is often to find the energy in a piece with the momentum of a thesis, for an essay or blog.

When I write, I give myself license to not always have a clear objective. Writing is to wrestle and struggle with the unknown. To write to whatever end occurs to me is a search for the objective in the subjective. All of this is a way of trying to explain the motivation to write, the necessity of it. I can’t be sure I am providing for a reader what I look for in writing, but I hope in some way that I’m close.

As much as I am a writer, I am a reader, and vice versa. It seems almost strange to say it, but I really read to learn how I can write better. How to pull off—using an imprecise expression—the tricks that I find in exemplary work that upends precedent. This is not to say I don’t also read for joy, and frisson, and to get a sense of my place in the world. But at the crux of it all is the desire—the necessity–to write, and to hopefully impart that desire to an eager reader.

#ArtLitPhx: Untidy Secrets Storytelling- Young, Dumb, and Broke

#ArtLitPhx
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

★★★UNTIDY SECRETS STORYTELLING★★★
Untidy Secrets Storytelling is a monthly storytelling and zine swap event. Each month a new theme is selected from song lyrics. Storytellers interpret the theme in interesting and unexpected ways.

The theme for this months storytelling is: “Young, Dumb, and Broke”

Storytellers this month are:
Jessie Balli
Paulina Rios
More TBA

We’ll be collecting cash donations for Saving One Life this month.
★★★

This event is all ages and BYOB (though storytelling will have adult themes). Ash Avenue Comics & Books has some chairs available at first come first serve basis but feel free to bring your own chair or stand. Please contact Sarah Maria Rainier if you need a chair(s) reserved.

★★★

Untidy Secrets Storytelling’s goal is to encourage literature through unusual and interesting means (storytelling, small press, self publishing, zines, and more). If you’re a writer, bring your printed work to swap and connect with others. If you’re a storyteller come out and connect with other storytellers and writers.

If you’re interested in telling a story at this event or future Untidy Secrets event, contact Sarah Maria Rainier or message the Untidy Secrets Storytelling page. See you there!