A fascinating post on the 8-year evolution of a first novel by Ted Thompson over at his site. Here’s an excerpt:
Before I started this, I was always mystified by how books got written. Like how does anyone get from one of those half-formed 2 a.m. ideas to a bound object with a beautiful jacket and 300 deckled pages? Did that take a couple of weekends locked away in a cabin, or was the author struck by creative lightning after work? It seemed impossible or magical. It seemed like something that could only be achieved by very special people—David Foster Wallace in his bandana, looking forlornly away from the camera, or people who lived in other eras and unironically wore hats.
This guest post is part of our ongoing web series MARGINALIA about all things writing, reading, & learning. To submit your own experience, please read our guidelines.
Your draft story is your unborn baby. A writing workshop is your baby shower. You don’t know the sex of your child. It’s a surprise. You’re going to be a single parent, so if you’re male, congratulations! You’re pregnant!
I had 14 babies this past fall. One baby each week for my flash fiction workshop. We played a few party games during my showers, like What Is Going On In This Paragraph, I Don’t Know What This Means, and Cut All Of This Out.
Welcome to MARGINALIA, draft’s new web series featuring voices of writers, editors, teachers, students, and readers sharing their experiences from their walks of the Writing, Teaching, Learning, Editing, and Reading Life.
I find solace in talking with others about the writing life, the teaching life, the editing life, the reading life. It’s remarkable how helpful it is just to hear that another teacher or writer has had the same frustrations, or a similar delight. We would like to start that conversation here. Tell us your story. Listen to others. Both misery and joy love company.
If you’d like to share your experiences, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include “MARGINALIA” in the subject line.
So let me give this a go.
In late college and graduate-level fiction writing courses, I wanted more guided homework. The homework of a creative writing workshop is simply to write a short story. On the one hand, that’s a really cool and fun and challenging assignment. I remember thinking, This is homework? People are actually allowed to major in writing? There’s actually graduate school for this? Hell yeah! But on the other hand, “write a short story” often proves to be an assignment that’s almost too difficult, too free form, too liberating, and thus, paradoxically, constricting. I craved more rules for the story to write for homework.
I’ve been thinking about all the stuff that gets cut away from stories. Behind everything we see published are these ghost drafts, words and sentences that will never be read that lurk on our hard drives or in notebooks. Obviously we love these ghost drafts at draft, and we’re always looking to get our hands on particularly interesting passages.
The lovely Jill Talbot is currently accepting murdered darlings for a forthcoming project. As she writes on her site, she’s specifically looking for “those paragraphs that have been excised from published or forthcoming works (specifically essays, stories, memoirs, or novels) for a book-length project addressing fragmentation and omission via editing in writing.”
Are you going to AWP in Boston in March? Really. I’m sorry. We are, too.
To counteract all the too-long readings and too-long panels we’re joining Barrelhouse, Hobart, and PANK for a Not Reading on Thursday, March 7. There will be free drinks. I have heard that the path to these free drinks is through the above-mentioned journals’ bookfair tables. I have heard this event will be fun insofar as it will be drunken. It will be at a bar called Lir, which is no name for a bar whatsoever, but so be it. Here’s the Facebook invite for more info. Hope to see you there.
NewPages reports that Orange Coast Review’s latest issue dedicates some space to their authors’ explications of their creative processes. We approve!
While the Editors believe the writing in this issue are all “wonderful creations,” their interest lead them to ask contributors to comment on the creative process for each. So, included with each work is the author’s “thoughtful, sometimes playful, sometimes tortured response,” which are insightful, inspiring a sense of camaraderie and in some, awe.
“…the questions the editors ask are exactly the kind readers-writers would want to know…”
“Write, Read, Revise: A Journal of Process.” by Lita Kurth
This past weekend draft co-sponsored a reading at the Mission Creek Music & Lit Festival in Iowa City along with [PANK] Magazine and the up-and-comer Uncanny Valley, a new lit mag based in Iowa City. [PANK] Assistant Editor Abby Koski was the picture of poise as she hosted, introduced, and read her own poems. Check out her equally eloquent re-cap over at the [PANK] blog.