Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Taking on the Umlaut

An interview with me on the Prairie Schooner blog where I take on the umlaut, among other things:

The New PS

The new summer issue of Prairie Schooner that includes "Firstborn" has just arrived. It's a great looking cover. I love the new look of PS and their online features like Air Schooner.

This issue features work by Fleda Brown, Justin Taylor, Sharon Olds, Donald Platt, Floyd Skloot, Garth Risk Hallberg, and Maxine Kumin. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Glimmer Train Arrives

I just received Glimmer Train Issue 83--with "Teeth Apart" on page 47. Those of you who know me know  the significance of 47.

My journey to Glimmer Train is a looooooong one, so it is especially surreal to see my childhood photo and my story in the journal. I was a finalist for the Glimmer Train Fiction Open for my story "Stray" in 2001. Then "Alas My Love, You Do Me Wrong," was accepted for publication by Glimmer Train less than 24 hours after I had received an acceptance from One Story. I had already accepted One Story and had to withdraw the submission from Glimmer Train (the editors were not too happy with me). It was my first published story, so I'd never had that problem before and didn't know what to do! Back when Glimmer Train did Poetry Open contests (and back when I wrote poetry), my poem "Oncology, Ontology, Ornithology," was also a finalist in the Open.

I was in a short story class this last fall, and we were required to submit work as part of the class. Glimmer Train seemed uniquely frustrating to my classmates--I think because it seems more accessible than The New Yorker (and it certainly is) but also maddeningly impenetrable. They publish a lot of emerging writers (and first-time publications) so it feels to the writer that there chances are that much higher. Someone actually wrote to me on my site asking if the Glimmer Train contests are a fiction--was I pre-selected? Did I actually receive the award funds?--he was certain it was some kind of conspiracy. It is not a conspiracy. Linda and Susan are real, and they are tireless in their efforts to publish good fiction and to support new writers. Glimmer Train is sometimes criticized for publishing too much domestic fiction and not having "hip" cover art. But its strength is that it is not cool, and it is not clubby. You do not have to know someone, or be an editor of another literary journal, or have a book forthcoming. But they do receive as many as 40,000 submissions per year. Chew on that for a second. So the path to publication could take . . . a decade, as it did in my case. At any rate, it's an honor to appear in these pages.

P.S. I workshopped the story "Teeth Apart" at the Tin House Writer's Workshop in summer 2010. My workshop leader was Anthony Doerr. I can't recommend that workshop enough for writers looking for a great workshop experience. They have such a top-notch line-up of writers (and so many master of the short form--a real rarity) that between the workshops, lectures, and reading, there's a lot to takeaway from one short week. And it's a hell of of a lot of fun. Summer camp for quasi-grownups.

Not fit for public consumption

There are some stories I begin for my own sanity alone, usually as a rant in Outlook when I'm having a particularly bad day. The mood ends and the story often dies. Occasionally, I'm mad enough or bored enough that it takes on a life of its own. This work story--"Boolean Napoleons"--made it all the way to the end, but was never meant for public consumption. Like "Assistant to the Vampire," it was written for my own amusement, but it's even more self-indulgent than Vampire. The only reason I sent it out was as a requirement for a class--the other stories I was working on weren't done and I wasn't going to submit them before their time. And a few days later, I got an acceptance for Boolean Napoleons. I happened to be reading an article by Roxane Gay when I got the e-mail from PANK from Roxane Gay--small world moment. 

It is very strange to see my work doodles that I ripped directly from my actual work steno blown-up on the web. And even stranger to hear my voice read this story. 

This story was never really revised and despite its weaknesses, I feel it does capture something important about my day-to-day existence. So it's nice to see it out in the world now.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Definitely not domestic fiction . . .

Teeth Apart is the winner of the Glimmer Train March Fiction Open. It will appear in Glimmer Train next year. The announcement included a bulletin essay which you can read here: http://www.glimmertrain.com/b53yancy.html


I didn't even know I wrote a mystery story, but if there's a murder, that apparently counts. Notable Alumni was nominated for inclusion in the Best American Mystery Stories 2011 and you can read it in its entirety at http://www.engl.unt.edu/alr/fiction_yancy.html.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Work as Inspiration

So Barrelhouse did a special "Office Life" edition for issue number 8 and hosted an "Office Life Invitational" for submissions. I had more than one office story sitting around, and some of them were just plain weird. The one that they ultimately chose, Assistant to the Vampire, was written primarily for my own amusement. I didn't know if the particulars of my office would be the least bit interesting to anyone who doesn't work there. It's kind of like Tolstoy's Anna Karenina line: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The same goes with offices, which is why it is usually so miserable to hear other people tell you their office stories. There isn't much in life that's more dull, except hearing about other people's dreams. Tonight there's a Barrelhouse event at KGB Bar and they're planning to read some stories from this edition and asked if they could read this one. There is nothing more amusing to my cubicle-mates than hearing that New Yorkers will be subjected to tales of our office follies. They love it. So I don't think I find office life to be very inspiring subject matter, but sometimes putting it down is a matter of survival. Sometimes it's the only way to force meaning on things that were so grotesquely meaningless. And if that puts a smile on my colleagues' faces, so worth it.