fantasy panels

my fantasy awp panel may have to find another form b/c I don’t ever want to go again unless I am an invited guest being shuttled from one free fancy underground party to another. BUT it is this:

Part 1: “Get off My Lawn”: old writers tell young writers what their problem is.

Part 2:”Don’t You Know Lawns are Toxic”: young writers tell old writers to move the fuck over.

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assignment

write a very short story that methodically– but as smooth as a mobius strip– moves through all the (technical) points of view.

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elephants

should I have a line about elephants crossing a mountain or am I ripping off my favorite cheever story is the question. while reading about hannibal, I find this sentence.

For these reasons, commenting on the small Atlas elephants, Mr. Ager said, ”I find the idea of Hannibal’s using small elephants unsatisfying.”

so now I want to steal that instead.

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prescience

if you just write stories about what’s going on you will have the great gift of looking back at them and feeling like you saw it coming!

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music

never before this book have I written with music on. I think I’ve been doing it, now that I think about it, as a method for extending or containing my attention. Maybe like I used to use alcohol to, in an odd way, quiver on a line between distraction/influence, and the focus it takes to do anything in that environment. I put it on when I am becoming distracted within the silence, for something to push against.

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ancillary stories

the imaginary title of the collection that I write in like 30 minutes using up all the good parts that I scrapped from the novel. Will I still feel the need to make something out of them when I finish the damn book or will finishing the damn book make them not matter to me anymore? Oh the suspense.

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easy target

found myself thinking a lot about how to turn Concrete Blond from an incredibly stupid movie into a good one. fancying myself a script doctor, but really a story-doctor who gets to see the movie they finished and then go /back/ and fix it. ie that is not a real job because it’s impossible.

not unrelated, it happened as I was feeling really bad about my book. feeling like I have worked all these years to lay out, only for myself, in ways that only I will ever know or care about, the precise ways I am not able to write a good enough book. there is the book you want to write and then the book you are capable of writing and they never match up exactly but exactly how thin will you let the lemon in the venn diagram be.

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efficacy

my former students who are getting their work published, I am noticing as a trend, did not work primarily with me– they worked primarily with a more mainstream/more hooked-up writer than me and then also worked with me, but in a secondary or consciously supplementary way.

I feel like I might be useful to students in a broad way, like moving their brains around a little. With students who are kind of “my” students– they work primarily with me and supplement with others– I worry that I can’t do that thing where you show them stuff that gets them published– even at littler edgier presses– I don’t have a sense of or even a belief in finding that “thing that works.” For some of them that is not the point, and they wander into other relationships with writing. But for some it’s really hard– I can love and ‘get’ what they’re doing and then they just can’t find others who really do — or some of them– they can’t take what is awesome and, like, finish or refine it so it really stands on its own.

It’s probably that I am not a booklover. Except in the sense that I think as objects so many are excellent, I am not a booklover– something I think I should try to write out some time, I’ve been thinking about it for so long.

But I have seen former students who have impressed their primary mainstream teachers and then not gotten the response from publishers that they felt they deserved and in a couple of cases I believe it kind of destroyed them as people– that form of ambition unfulfilled– those expectations of a teacher who “gets you” or merely from a teacher who is successful having “gotten you.”

I bet it’s coming, though. I think the publishing world might be more interested in my kind of writer than in years past…

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what you do to a dog to punish them is not look

professionalization of writing as extension of the force of the marketplace and the embrace of it by writers. gets us conflating writers being good professionals vs making good writing. I don’t want to turn this into a facebook post and it won’t be b/c people would hate me saying this but I am really frustrated with people thinking that holding people accountable for crimes and misdeeds as professionals/employees, and holding people accountable for crimes and misdeeds as citizens should be related to whether or not people get read. It should be related to whether or not people get jobs.

It’s important to see the relationship between who gets read/heard/listened to/praised for their work and who rose to their artistic status based on who they are in the world and not their writing/ at the expense of other humans. ie to check and keep revising the idea of merit. But I think you can go look at a piece of work and ask about its merit, the work it has done in the past and the work it does now. But I am bothered by using the eradication or refusal to look at a book as a punishment of a person? Even perhaps especially dead people.

I am torn of course: if what a person wants is to be celebrated for their writing, and they manipulate and terrorize people, meanwhile, and they are not punished economically or socially, maybe if you have no other power you at least have the power to read something else and tell others to do the same. Take the thing he loves and try to wreck it. Don’t put any scrap of that fool in your body. As a consumer. But it also grosses me out to see literary people trying to exert something like “consumer power.” It’s just so sad that this is what it comes to. We can’t even hold our imaginations in resistance to the market.

what you do to punish a dog is refuse to look at them. Can this be applied to people and not art? Can we let art circulate by other rules? In my utopia, is everyone Elena Ferrante and the Times keeps its trap shut in the name of art? Is my utopia all books are written by “anonymous”? There is a secret technology device that tracks your work and plunks money in your bank for it. (Of course, in the movie that technology is immediately hacked. Probably by an aspiring writer.) The $ makes the playing field even-er.

Can you keep the art if its doing good/critical/relevant work? The problem is I am a fiction writer, so the story of something really feels to me equal to the reality of something. It really does. So when I want to keep Lolita safe, I don’t care if anyone reads it stupidly and uses it as justification for prurience because when I am reading I get to think about things in another way for once. I don’t care if we find out that Mr. N was in life what Humbert was in fiction because, same. That is a separate story. It overlaps like all sorts of other kinds of reading.

I mean we know our presidents committed all kinds of crimes why are they sacred and people want to kill works of art? Or better– b/c I bet the same people who want to change the story of books do want to change the story of presidents– is it the same to change the story of a book as it is to change the story of a president? How is the same and how is it different I am not analytical or educated enough to say and I think it is important to think about if you’re out there wielding choices at books.

I still think the book has its own integrity and work by work, it will fall in and out of relevance and kinds of relevance to our times in relation to how well we can read. Is this trend just a giving in to the power of how not-well people read in real daily constant average life. Surely there are a lot of lame books that keep taking coveted shelf and classroom space from other more or just as worthy books just b/c they have the infrastructure.

I don’t believe in this coming out in the wash any more than I believe in any other.

Truly brown/queer/women should win all the prizes for the next 250 years before anyone blinks at it– but prizes does not equal art. Prizes are economic. They help living people make more art and in that way matter to art. But I also wonder: if you are in prison can you win the NBA? Do I think you should be able to? Not to mention I’m against prison in its current form (not to mention any historical forms I know of). And that is the shape of my thinking, it fizzles out.

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hole through text

there’s a hole through my book where osama bin laden it turns out dies on my sister’s birthday.

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