"Like the faith that there will always be money *somewhere* in writing, that some other publication will pay its writers so we don’t have to, this is a comforting fantasy, and one that sustains any number of wannabe literary journalists as well as those who’ve earned the right to rest on their laurels. But we have to see that these problems are connected. Publishing and academia, like so many sections of our economy, are split unsustainably between wealthy superstars and part-time, freelance “minions” paid a few hundred bucks here and there to teach entry-level classes and churn out syndicated blurbs about new books for whatever paying book-review outlets still exist."
“So I prefer: Write what you can learn about. Alternately: Write what interests you. Because it interests you for a reason, and that reason probably has to do with the rough stuff of your inner life. Put differently, writing about things you don’t know seems a useful, albeit sneaky, gateway to material you cannot access otherwise. This is especially true of people who resist confrontation with their darker selves. I submit that I am one of those people, which is probably why my latest novel is about cults and cloud seeding, spies and disguise, the Department of the Interior and, in some measure, North Korea, which was not only unknown to me but in many ways unknowable.”
—Fiona Maazel on Google Earth and Google Maps in the writer’s process (via A Crack in the Darkness - NYTimes.com)
"I write out of a greed for lives and language. A need to listen to the orchestra of living. It is often said that a writer is more alive than his peers. But I believe he might also be a sort of narcoleptic who requires constant waking up by his own imaginative work. He is closer to sleep and dream, and his memory is more haunted, thus more precise.
My life seems precious, even though often sad, and crammed with mystery. My past seems a fine gray like good old movie rain. I forget almost nothing. Even when I was drunk I recalled too much, and hence was forced to relive events in an agony of shame. Friends and confederates are often astounded by what I remember of certain afternoons an age ago—weather, dress, music, mots. A blessing and a curse. I feel superior to nobody because of the gift, and in other talents I rank very low. I do not rate myself highly in thought, for instance. I find life too vivid for thought, really. Thus I go about preaching, of course, that thought is overrated."
At Black Balloon Publishing we champion the weird, the unwieldy, and the unclassifiable. We are battle-worn enemies of boredom and we’re looking for books that defy the rules, bend reality, twist preconceptions, and imagine the unimaginable.
If you’re our kind of writer, you’re braver, and smarter, and strategically crazier than all the rest. You’ve already written a masterpiece without a manual and we want to read it; we want to go down the rabbit hole, into the vast nothingness of outer space, swim among the strange illuminating creatures deep in the ocean. And to that end, we’re very pleased to announce the first ever Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize, an award for a previously-completed manuscript which comes with $5,000 and a Black Balloon Publishing book deal. (via Black Balloon Publishing)
Black Balloon kicks ass; maybe you saw we’re doing an event with them in April?
This week at HWBC
Tonight we have the release party for Sam Pink’s novel Rontel, co-hosted by Electric Literature and Lazy Fascist Press. Readings from Sam Pink, Scott McClanahan, Spencer Masden, and more!
Wednesday, The Moth StorySLAM returns to the bookstore with the theme “Stranded.”
Then on Thursday, WNYC’s Jody Avirgan returns with his podcast Ask Roulette. This episode’s guests are NPR’s Mike Pesca, Jimmy Fallon writer Albertina Rizzo, and Choire Sicha of The Awl!
Friday we have the Slush Pile! Stop by our weekly happy hour for games, drinks, grilled cheese, and #fridayreads.
Finally on Saturday join screenwriter Paul Zimmerman for a free character development class with Gotham Writers’ Workshop!
Erin Shea is Head of Adult Programming at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She tweets from @erintheshea and manages Darien Library’s tumblr, where she recently wrote about hosting author events in libraries and how to find audiences for them:
“Do not neglect niche groups! For example we recently hosted Becky Aikman, author of the memoir Saturday Night Widows. I reached out to local widow support groups. We had the CEO of Weight Watchers talk about his weight loss book and I reached out to local Weight Watchers centers. Sometimes I go undercover on MeetUp.com and join MeetUp groups and invite members. I have reached out to local magicians when we had a magician author visit. Get out into your community! Also invite a local blogger to be “in conversation” with an author. That way the blog’s readership finds out about the event and the blogger promotes the heck out of your program. Get your staff excited and interested so they promote it to patrons. How do you get them excited? Involve them in the planning of your event.”
We talked to Erin over email this week and learned more about the ins and outs of author events in libraries: how they are planned, what makes them successful, and why libraries and author events make a perfect match.
I am mildly obsessed with Erin Shea, read this.
Participate and let your tweets be heard! Be a part of NYPL’s first National Poetry Contest. Tweet three 140 character poems to @nypl. One of the three poems must be about libraries, books, reading, or New York City.
Register today and let your creativity fly! Submission period is March 1 -10
This is super cool. Working on my bookstore haikus now.
"I was thinking about this really kind of beautiful and naive faith people have that death is going to give them some kind of final answer, you know. Either there’s going to be, you know, whatever the answer is. Like: That’s it. The end. Or that there will be kind of a final reckoning. And I was just thinking about these poor guys who — it’s even more mystifying than their lives on this planet. And just the kind of arithmetic we’re doing all the time where we try to explain our present circumstances based on our past actions."
I loved Russell’s new collection, Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The story here is about presidents reincarnated as horses in some kind of purgatory and is amazing as only Karen Russell can be. More of my thoughts at Everyday eBook and JennIRL gives it all the love at Tor.
Colbert: Why do you write short stories? America likes big. Go big or go home. We like big, huge, huge, huge novels.
Saunders: I’ll tell you why. If you imagine this, let’s say you were madly in love with somebody and your mission was to tell the person that you love them. So here’s two scenarios: one is you can take a weeklong train trip with the person, take your time, you’ll be in boring situations, beautiful scenery, everything. That’s a novel.
Colbert: Sounds good, sounds really good.
Saunders: The second scenario is she’s stepping on the train and you’ve got three minutes. So you have to make all that declaration in three minutes. That would be a short story.
Colbert: Can I get on the train with her?
Saunders: No, you’ve just got to shout it as she goes.
Colbert: Why can’t I get on the train?
Saunders: Because it’s a short story. You’re not allowed. You have to end it in eight pages and get out.
Colbert: But this is the short story I want to read — where is she going? Why can’t I go with her? We’re on to something here. Does she love me back? I’ve got to know!
Saunders: I don’t know yet! Sometimes a short story will just end with that question — does she love me back? So it’s a very special kind of beauty.
Saunders will be at the library with another legendary talk show host, Dick Cavett, next Tuesday, Feb. 26 to talk about his much-lauded latest story collection, “Tenth of December.”
LONG LIVE THE SHORT STORY.
Stuff We like
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
This Week's Readings
MONDAY: Book launch for Lisa Hanawalt’s My Dirty Dumb Eyes, a...