Saturday, May 21, 2011

you leave out all the right things

Transitions are usually not that interesting. I use space breaks instead, and a lot of them. A space break makes a clean segue whereas some segues you try to write sound convenient, contrived. The white space sets off, underscores, the writing presented, and you have to be sure it deserves to be highlighted this way. If used honestly and not as a gimmick, these spaces can signify the way the mind really works, noting moments and assembling them in such a way that a kind of logic or pattern comes forward, until the accretion of moments forms a whole experience, observation, state of being. The connective tissue of a story is often the white space, which is not empty. There’s nothing new here, but what you don’t say can be as important as what you do say. I think my favorite compliment that I got from a writer early on was someone saying to me, You leave out all the right things. That was wonderful to hear. To know you’ve given your reader credit for being able to understand without you having to say it. In “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried,” when the narrator heads for the gift shop to buy her dying friend a gift, the sick girl says to get her anything, anything but a magazine subscription. No need to explain why.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

uses for boys

In 2008 I started writing a young adult novel called USES FOR BOYS and at the same time I started blogging. Often about my favorite writers, Grace Paley or Deborah Eisenberg. It helped keep me in the chair. But I had no idea when I started that I would meet such amazing people. Early on I met No Good for Me, Forty-Sixth at Grace, Woolgathering & Miscellany, Maud Newton, 2 or 3 Things I Know, A Cup of Jo, Sleep Deprivation and Stories of My Bullshit Youth, Porter Hovey, and Hollister Hovey, Shiny Squirrel, Hila, STNF, and of course, my beloved Ugly Earring. And then more recently, Nearness of Distance, Now Voyager, Victoria Thorne, mackin ink, M Dash, Look Mom, 16 House, Une Envie de Sel, Marvelous Kiddo, Le Temps Perdu, and Even Cleveland.

Today I sold my novel to St. Martin's Press and I keep thinking: I'm so crazy happy to have spent the last three years with you.
Photo by Larry Bercow

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

what is not there

And you read one page of it or even one phrase of it, and then you gobble up all the rest and go about in a dream for weeks afterwards, for months afterwards -- perhaps all your life, who knows? -- surrounded by those six hundred and fifty pages, the houses, the streets, the snow, the river, the roses, the girls, the sun, the ladies' dresses and the gentlemen's voices, the old, wicked, hard-hearted women and the old, sad women, the waltz music -- everything. What is not there you put in afterwards, for it is alive, this book, and it grows in your head.