Energized by my experience entering NPR’s 3 minute fiction contest a few weeks ago, I searched high and low (on the Internet) for another fiction contest. I stumbled upon The First Line, a literary magazine which, as the name suggests, “contains short stories that stem from a common first line.”
The purpose of The First Line is to jump start the imagination–to help writers break through the block that is the blank page…. The First Line is an exercise in creativity for writers and a chance for readers to see how many different directions we can take when we start from the same place.
Sounded good. The nearest deadline was May 1st. The line: “Rachel’s first trip to England did not go as planned.” Sounded like
chick-lit women’s fiction to me, but I started to hear the voice of a sassy, sophomoric, caring, but immature girl named Rachel telling about her misadventures in England and got interested in seeing where it woud lead. I started writing, and stealing borrowed my structure from DFW and Jennifer Egan, I used direct address and had Rachel speaking to her therapist. The first draft was mostly about her brief time in England. She got caught by Immigration for planning on working in England, got sent to a detention center over night, and then flown back to America. She has a complicated relationship with her overbearing Jewish mother (Rachel does not identify as Jewish) and as the middle-child, resents her sisters, who have been achieving worldly success. Read more »
Several weeks ago, I was fired from my muffin man job or the menial job that Chris Howell describes as the one that writers can clock in and out of and still have time to write. It was completely my fault. I went out to play Dodgeball on large trampolines and was so sore I decided I needed several drinks. So many drinks, in fact, that my friend had to drive my car home and when my phone went off at 5:30am the next morning, I turned it off and went back to sleep. I was then two hours late for work, thus using my final strike. I knew I was going to be fired. The policy was very clear. But I didn’t know that I would feel so much shame at letting my coworkers down, those people I’d been spending more time with than my classmates or boyfriend. I didn’t know that I would feel so much self-loathing for allowing my job to be in jeopardy in the first place. And I didn’t know how such a huge failing would affect my writing.
Chris Howell is full of advice meant for breaking the human spirit
I’ve been three weeks without a job. I have one class a week at night. I have thesis meeting for 15 minutes on another day. Otherwise, I have been in the dark of my apartment. Dark because I don’t know when I’ll have enough money to pay my electric bill. Read more »
Hold on to yer Monday pants, people. You know which ones I mean.
Apparently procrastination is the perfectionists’ way of getting out of achieving perfection, because they’re afraid they’ll fail. Wait until the last minute, and they have an excuse for not being perfect. And yes, I did get paid for them to write a study about me. In Skittles, but hey.
I want to read this book.
Somehow I got on an email list that fires urgent updates at me about where/when Girl Scout cookies are being sold. Do you think they used my Target shopping habits to determine the likelihood that I’m a fat kid? The cheap side table and bath mat I bought at Target must have screamed Thin Mints.
I’m a little disappointed you guys didn’t let me in on the awesomeness that is Dropbox. Am I the only one who is light-years behind on this? This tool could have saved my office a fair amount of time over the last six months. I thought there was a reason I surrounded myself with nerds.
In case you missed it, Ann Patchett was on Stephen Colbert talking about independent bookstores and the evils of Amazon. I’d never watched an interview with her. Most times authors are pretty awkward on Colbert and can’t get any banter going. She was the complete opposite. My fan-girl writer crush grows.
Just found out this hotel in Chicago is supposedly haunted by a guy named Peg Leg Johnny. Knowing the four people I’m rooming with in Chi-town makes me confident we’ll be able to get at least 32 jokes out of Peg Leg Johnny references. Read more »