I’m fresh off of teaching my online course, Flash Nonfiction I, and spending four weeks with an awesome group of women writers, so this week I’m recalibrating, recalculating, & settling back into story ideas and studio time. And, I’ve curated a fresh collection of links for this month’s Remington Roundup on first drafts, your next book festival, and Forest Avenue Press.
It feels like ages since I’ve written anything entirely new and of worth. Even after leading a group of writers through writing prompts and first-draft exercises, the pull at the back of my throat when I consider the blank page brings pause as my pen hovers over my notebook.
So I am especially grateful to folks like Allison K. Williams, Brevity’s Social Media Editor who posts often on Brevity’s blog. I love every word she’s written lately, all of them wise: on getting down to the work, on celebrating tiny successes, and yesterday’s post on first drafts.
As a writer, no-one wants to let our weak sentences out into the world before we’ve muscled them up and trimmed them down. But there’s value in a a sloppy, disorganized, poorly written first draft. It’s not a failure, it’s a necessary first step. It’s barre exercises before ballet, scales before singing, charcoal on newsprint before oil on canvas.
I’ve never taken ballet and I’m not much of a singer (though I do like to torture my kids with a little operatic tune once in a while), but man do I know the sloppy, disorganized first draft. The key to remember is that these early pages are always perfect in their own right.
A Book Festival
For all you writers and readers and general literary world lovers, you will want to check out the UntitledTown Book and Author Festival in Green Bay happening April 19-22, 2018.
Sign up for their newsletter, because (while they haven’t posted the full schedule yet) you’re guaranteed a whole weekend of *free* gatherings and activities.
Last year they hosted Margaret Atwood and Sherman Alexie (left, with me!) for their big Saturday night event. I bought my VIP ticket as soon as I could–okay, the big event isn’t free but it’s well worth your money–and sat just two rows back from literary greatness. I can’t wait to see who they bring to Green Bay this year!
Plus, among the long list of anticipated workshops and readings, I’ll be teaching one on Flash Nonfiction: The Art of the Short Essay and participating on a panel about The worst writing advice I ever got. I’ve marked my calendar and booked my hotel. If you go, shoot me an email. I’d love to see you!
Forest Avenue Press
Today in particular is a big day if you’re a novel writer with a manuscript at-the-ready. Forest Avenue Press opens up for submissions from now until March 14th. They’re on the lookout for novels that “subvert the dominant paradigm.”
We are intrigued by genre mashups, especially those with magical elements; our fall 2018 title, The Alehouse at the End of the World by Stevan Allred is a comic epic set on the Isle of the Dead in the fifteenth century. That being said, it’s quite possible that we might fall in love with a contemporary, non-magical novel.
If you’re a long-time reader here, you will recognize some of the books Forest Avenue Press lists in their publications: Liz Prato’s edited anthology of short stories The Night, and the Rain, and the River, Ellen Urbani’s Landfall, Michael Shou-Yung Shum’s Queen of Spades. Their catalog continues to grow with stories that dig deep and impress, and I’m honored to participate on the committee of readers for them again this time around.
So click here, read more, and Submit!