Archive for October, 2010

Some good news.  I have two poems that were recently picked up by online journals.  Sixth Finch and terrain.org have published some pieces that I am very excited about.

The links are below:

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Possibly, the next song I attempt to sing at karaoke.  But my heart will need to be very brave.


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It’s almost two o clock in the morning.  The house is quiet.  Henry woke once, around ten.  I tiptoed into his nursery and rocked him back to sleep.  Poor little man is sick.  How frustrating to be sick and not know how to complain.  To tell someone what’s wrong with you.

Workshop is on Tuesday afternoon of course but I wanted to sit down this evening and crank out two letters to my classmates who will have their stories discussed.  I thought that one of the stories, by Adam Soto, was fantastic.  Very brave and gutsy and different and there were elements of the story that I deeply identified with.  Our workshop is tight.  We’re all friends, all doing different things, with different voices and styles but we have so much fun together.  I can’t tell you.  And I feel that it is my somber duty, my happy honor to write these friends and writers good hand-tooled notes.  I know how hard they work on their stories.  How stressful it can be.  To sit around a table and pour your guts out.  To hope that the work connects with someone.  That they get what you’re saying.  So I wrote Adam a great letter.  He deserved it.

Two o clock in the morning is a good time to write a letter.  Soft music playing.  A bowl of popcorn.  Some cold black coffee.  A soda.  Glasses of water.  Time to think.  To unwind.  To reach out.

A divine dinner this evening.  Regina roasted a chicken stuffed with lemons over a bed of potatoes, leeks, carrots, etc.  My god.  The skin of the chicken was heaven.  The meat of the chicken was moist, citric, and the perfect accompaniment to an autumn evening.

Tomorrow: Ioway.

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Productivity these days looks like this:

Grade papers all morning and early afternoon.  Finish writing a short story that has been bothering you for several weeks.  Help assemble and eat dinner.  Reread “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’ Brien.  Then, sit down at ten in the evening and crank out another short story, out of nowhere, on the emotional wave of something that been troubling you for a long time.

I need to be working on a novella right now, but the thing needs time to simmer, so I have it on my mental back-burner.  I know what the action needs to look like, but I’m struggling to fill in the places in between.  But the next novella is going to be something.  I’m excited to get maybe a weekend in the future to really crank on it.

Last week I met with the editor Megan Lynch at Riverhead and handed her my manuscript.  So if you believe in prayer or goodwill or particle physics (and I know that you do), think of me.  I really enjoyed meeting her.  An elegant woman of about my age who must be intelligent and fiery enough to have skyrocketed up the ranks.  A good publishing partner to grow with perhaps.  If not her, than someone like her.  I just need someone to believe in me.  To take a chance on my fiction(s).  Let’s hope together.

Next weekend Regina and I are attending a big fund-raising gala for Milkweed Publishing based in the Twin Cities.  This is a great publishing house and I wouldn’t mind having my stuff land there either.  (They are the publishers of David Rhodes’ stuff, if you need it.)  So we’re excited about that.

I am not however, excited about driving tomorrow.  About leaving my family.  About being alone and under the weather in Ioway.  But everything will be fine.  I’m excited to teach on Tuesday.  My friend and fellow Workshop mate Scott Smith (a former Iraq war vet) will be talking to my class and that ought to be rewarding.

Okay.  Maybe I can catch up on some sleep.

Godspeed America, have hope for your budding writers…

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This was the first drive down to Ioway that really sapped it out of me.  Henry was sad to see me go and it was traumatic for me to leave him.  Not that our nanny isn’t capable or kind.  She is.  But Henry and I had a terrific day together running errands and just generally being father-and-son.  Partners-in-crime.  I was sorry to hit the road.

My energy level was fine until I hit northern Ioway and then I grew sluggish.  Stopped in Clear Lake to refuel Dot the Matrix and to pee.  (Clear Lake, Ioway is essentially my urinal.)  I was then able to navigate all the way to Ioway City on the strength of three mixed CDs engineered by (in no particular order): Nik Novak, Benoit Letendre, and Josh Swentzel.  Thank god for fresh music.

Wrote a good poem today about this derelict house that I drive by on my route through central Ioway.  A big Confederate flag hanging in the window that faces the highway like some kind of moronic badge of honor.  Saw dozens of deer this evening and that unnerves me.  Don’t want to hit them with Dot.

I’m beat.  Road-weary.  My bedsheets hot in the dryer.

Godspeed America.  The Civil War ended over a 150 years ago.  And a reminder: Ioway fought for The Union.

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