Monday, November 9, 2009

A Creative Writing Double Whammy

Today I've got two exciting developments to announce in my writing career. First, one of my creative nonfiction essays, "Positioning," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. This is quite a thrill for me; the Pushcart Prize is one of the top awards for fiction, poetry, and essays published in small presses. Thus, though only a fraction of the nominees make it into the annual Pushcart anthology, it's a real honor to be nominated.

Second, a new story of mine, "Little Sister," has been published by the online journal wtf pwm. This story developed slowly, over a year or more, but it came to me (I kid you not) in a dream. When I woke up I couldn't recover the specifics; I was left, mostly, with a scenario (older sister at younger sister's funeral), a narrative strategy (first-person narrator referring to an unnamed "you" speaker), and a feeling or tone (smothering, consuming guilt). It took me a long time to work out how (or why) these fragments fit together, what they meant, what details could be created and crafted to sustain them. But as a rule, I don't disdain the power of dreams in concocting fiction. Though academic writing, in my experience, comes from one place only--reading and research--fiction comes from everywhere: an encounter, a road sign, a memory, a meal, an embarrasment, a dream. I guess that's one reason I've come to prefer fiction: it comes from my whole life, not just a narrow and rarefied slice of it. And presumably, this is why fiction speaks to more people too.

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