I really appreciate this blog entry from Bryan Furuness, editor of the exciting new Pressgang, in which he discusses thoughtfully how he learned to edit. He's spot on when he says it's somewhat of a mystery -- which I agree with. But, luckily, he goes on to try to break it down. I particularly like:
4. I read a thousand stories. Maybe more, I don’t know–but at least a thousand. Read that many stories and you get a sense of different moves a story can make. Read a thousand stories and you develop what Sondra Perl calls “felt sense.”
The term, she writes, “calls forth images, words, ideas, and vague fuzzy feelings that are anchored in the writer’s body. What is elicited, then, is not solely a product of mind, but of a mind alive in a living, sensing body.”
Felt sense links the body to the mind. If a sentence or a story is on the right track, it will feel right and satisfying. But if a line or the narrative design is off, you’ll be able to feel that, too.
Felt sense. Here's a link to Sondra Perl's "Guidelines for Composing." (Look for a future workshop based on these.)
Furuness sounds like a great editor to work with. And guess what? Pressgang is on the lookout for their next book. As of today [May 4], we are officially open for submissions. Fiction and creative nonfiction, long and short form--all creative prose is welcome here. If you've got a manuscript, we'd love to take a look.
I've been away on writing retreat, working on my manuscript of interconnected stories. Drawing ever closer to calling it finished. I've just sent it off to two trusted readers, and as the saying goes, await their reply. (A phrase that also resonates for me as it's the title of Dan Chaon's wonderful novel.)
Meanwhile, my book review of Garrett Socol's Gathered Here Together is available for your reading pleasure at Prick of the Spindle lit journal.
Coming up: my first newsletter, the opening of North Bay Writers Groups workshops, and two readings in the East Bay. Stay tuned!
I'm often asked whether I think an MFA is worth getting, and specifically whether a particular student ought to get his or hers. Robin Black's got a well-written analysis, probably one of the best considered and articulated I've heard in a while here at Beyond the Margins.
Speaking of Beyond the Margins, this is a wonderful resource for writers. If you're in one of my workshops, you already know this, but if not, do check it out. I was pleased to have been nominated for their Above and Beyond 2012 Award, really honored and thrilled to be in the company of the other nominees.
A new year means new flash fiction classes. I've got two coming up.
An Introduction to Writing Flash Fiction
College of Marin, Kentfield
Feb 01, 2012 - Mar 14, 2012
1:10 pm - 3:00 pm Wednesdays
7 weeks, $79
You can register here.
How to Write Flash Fiction -- And Why You Want To
10 am - 3:00 pm
Book Passage (On-line registration soon.)
Charles Baxter says flash fiction stories “are between poetry and fiction, the story and the sketch, prophecy and reminiscence, the personal and the crowd.” Flash fiction is one of the most exciting story forms to read and write. The practice of writing these short-shorts causes you to flex your best writing muscle: precision. New outlets make this a growing market for publishing. Learn what makes these short-shorts different from other forms, and how writing them can improve your writing overall.
The dates for the Art of the Noun Writers Studio in San Miguel de Allende (#4 on Lonely Planets top places to visit now in Mexico -- yes, perfectly safe) are set for Jan. 3-8, 2012. Reserve your place now and come join us.
Please check out the dates for the next six-week sessions of the North Bay Writers Group Workshop. These are my favorite teaching experiences of all I do. They're small (limited to eight per session) so intimate and allow for individual attention. Students or workshoppers are engaged and passionate, and their work is developing astoundingly --especially those that have kept up with the sessions, participating time and again. I love the camaraderie I see take root and grow among participants, how it serves as a good, weighty counterbalance to the necessary solitude of the writer.
Wait lists exist for each of the sessions -- Monday nights and Thursday afternoons -- but don't let that deter you from getting in touch if you have an interest in trying out one of these workshops. Sometimes people on the wait list wind up not being able to attend after all, so you never know.