Stafford: They can be done without, I would say. But on the other hand, in my own case, I like sociability and I like to be around other writers and I like the feeling that it is OK to be a writer. And in the big society not very many people are. You may feel odd or lonesome. Are you really doing something that normal people can do and get away with? You can go to a workshop and meet a lot of people who have similar interests and they talk about what they are reading and writing. I like workshops and though I don’t think they are essential I do think they are convenient and fun and, for many people, helpful. I don’t really see any harm in them. Even in workshops you can go away and write if you want to. It’s allowed.
Below is a tiny excerpt from our June short story by Mel Bosworth and Ryan Ridge:
He decided to propose during intercourse. Here’s what he proposed: “How about I take this condom off?” She accepted. Then, midway through intercourse—you could tell it was midway because of the giant game-clock on the ceiling—she presented a proposition of her own…
Read the rest here!
‘My whole life has been one of rejection,’ America’s most successful cartoonist says. ‘Women. Dogs. Comic strips.’ A moment of silence while this curious information sinks in.
‘I’ve been reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories lately,’ he goes on. ‘I like them because everyone gets rejected. Ever read ‘The Rich Boy?’ He frequently puts his head in his hand and cries.’
―Charles M. Schulz in a 1996 interview with The Washington Post.
Below is a short excerpt from our May Short of the Month by Rachel Kolman:
Kelsey walked past a man on the beach building the Taj Mahal out of sand. She lowered the clipboard in her hands, no longer thinking about charting the dead fish washing on the shore, and instead watched this man scoop up sand and pat the wet clumps into smooth towers. The Taj’s round dome top was flawless and shimmering in the late afternoon sun. She wandered away from the cold water hitting her ankles and closer to the sandcastle builder…
Read the rest here!
Is writing fractured by periods of silence or can silence be a tool of strength in writing?
What defined him [Juan Rulfo], according to those that new him, were his long silences, existential as well as counterverbal. Silence lies at the heart of his fiction, where much is said in few words and people aren’t prone to articulating insights. ―Ilan Stavans in his introduction to the University of Texas Press edition of The Plain in Flames by Juan Rulfo
Everyone asked Rulfo why he did not publish another book, as if the point of a writer’s life is to go on writing and publishing. In fact, the point of a writer’s life is to produce a great book―that is, a book which will last―and this is what Rulfo did. No book is worth reading once if it is not worth reading many times. ―Susan Sontag in her introduction to the Grove edition of Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo
There was no air; only the dead, still night fired by the dog days of August. Not a breath. I had to suck in the same air I exhaled, cupping it in my hands before it escaped. I felt it, in and out, less each time…until it was so thin it slipped through my fingers forever. I mean, forever. ―Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo
Where do old drafts of your writing live? And how do you keep track of submissions?
More than one writer friend of Unmanned keeps a folder on their hard drive where old drafts of writing go—never be looked at again. Folders with names like: ‘Terrible,’ ‘Another Bad Story,’ and ‘DO NOT OPEN.’
One friend keeps track of submissions in his head and has little to no problem keeping them straight. Another friend uses an Excel spreadsheet for tracking submissions, and has for many years, long before the days of electronic submissions. Personally, I hope that when I die my computer will burn along with me.
William Stafford, who died in 1993, used a paper filing system, and for poems that never found publication, had folders called: ‘Once Possibilities No More,’ and ‘Abandoned Poems.’
Friends of William Strafford, a nonprofit organization, reports:
When he sent a poem to a journal, he wrote that journal’s name, and sometimes the date, on the documentary copy, thus ensuring that the poem could not be sent twice to the same journal. If the poem was rejected, he sent it out again, crossing out the last destination on the documentary copy, and writing in the next. Unpublished poems were sent out repeatedly. “Traveling through the Dark” was accepted at the fourteenth attempt. Poems that failed to find a publisher were eventually banished into folders with names like “Once Possibilities No More” and “Abandoned Poems.”