Saturday, October 13, 2018

Is Lee Klein a literary critic genius?

I discovered a website curated by Lee Klein (former editor of and author of The Shimmering Go-Between and others). Lee is a kind of literary critic genius, so you'll want to put on your thinking cap when you visit him there at Literary Fundamentalism Forever or Lit Fun Forever.

I had a second short story accepted by Ben Drevlow at BULL Men's Fiction. It's called "South of Cincinnati" and it's about a hillbilly looking for work and purpose, and a little bit about how people view hillbillies and how that view is most of the time wrong. It contains a joke used as a framing devise that a lot of my fellow hillbillies will possibly not like very much. Let me say that, along with publishing a ton of great content, BULL is also the most beautifully designed journals out there. Just top notch. I think of this every time I visit the site. You will too I bet.

At the risk of all kinds of things, I can say that work is going great on my first attempt at a book of creative nonfiction, which I've taken to calling the Pancake book because I can't get a title in my head that fits. This one is the book that'll be coming out from West Virginia University Press. It's been about a week since I wrote any on it, but I understand my process better at age forty-two than I did at nineteen when I tried writing my first book. There's going to be month-long period when I write page and page after page every day and then there are going to be times when I won't write a word for weeks and weeks, sometimes even months. It'll kick back in.

Been reading more nonfiction the past month. Joan Didion, Helen Macdonald's H is for Hawk, Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts. Reading these (especially Didion) I'm getting a sense of how I can incorporate creative devices in nonfiction. And that's what I need because the book so far (and to be continuing I imagine) has included aspects of memoir, interview, biography, fiction, essay, and personal narrative.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

If you'd like to subscribe to my TinyLetter account I, HILLBILLY

So I'm going to be doing the TinyLetter thing for the next long while. I'd love if you'd subscribe to it. Just use the subscribe link below and you'll start receiving entries right away from I, Hillbilly.


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Joan Didion = Amazing Writer and the Pancake Book Is Moving Nicely

I'm a month and five days into my deadline for the Pancake Book. I still haven't thought of a title, which is unusual for me. Typically I can't write on a story or book or anything if I've not got the title in place first. Could be that I want this title to be flat out killer, I mean a title that just takes the reader's head off. It'll come soon enough, possibly from some place in his letters.

The temptation to say where I'm at on the book (page count, etc.) is strong, but I'm going to resist. Clearly, though, it must be significant if I'm so tempted. There: said it without saying it. I should be okay and free of a nasty literary jinx

Also, if I'm being honest, writing so-called creative nonfiction has been incredibly satisfying. The whole process of writing about Pancake and what it means to be Appalachian has been far different than anticipated. There is plenty of room for creative stretching and building, use of fictive devices, etc. And the decisions, such as structure (especially in sectioning), have proven really roomy for creative tendency. Basically I'm pleasantly surprised, and, incidentially now much more interested in reading nonfiction. Lately it's been Joan Didion. Chris Offutt had mentioned her as one of his favorite writers and now I see why. She is talented in ways I hadn't even imagined. This line, for instance:

deep in that part of my heart where the artificial rain forever falls

Now that's some great writing. And it's even better in context. If you have Netflix watch the documentary The Center Will Not Hold. It's about Didion and turned me around on her. I always thought she would be entirely too highfalutin and New York City to be of much interest to me. I was full-press wrong.

Yes, I googled myself. But look what I found!

I googled myself yesterday. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. I have a busy online life and so I like to see what...