Posts Tagged ‘literary fiction’


Uncle Joe’s Activism to Appear in Eric’s Hysterics

I had a lot of fun with this one. I wrote it several weeks ago as a very short piece of prose.  I thought it was weird and funny. After a couple of rejections, I opted to revise it into what I hoped would be a darkly comic poem. It’ll appear at Eric’s Hysterics at some as-of-yet undetermined date. This marks the 16th accepted piece I’ve written this year, and the 25th acceptance for the year overall.

I’ve actually used the character of Uncle Joe once before in a Twitter-length micro-story that appeared in Trapeze Magazine in April. That might make you think Uncle Joe is  likable guy that’s fun to have around and that I might wish I had an uncle just like. You’d be wrong. 🙂

This week I resubbed a couple of stories, after revising one a little more, and worked on a very old story that I’m not having much luck with. I saw some places where I could tweak it and make the theme more coherent from beginning to end. I didn’t do a very good job of that, I see now. I also revamped the opening a bit and did a little cutting, ever amazed at how unnecessary things can still pop out after having read it as many times as I have. I still have high hopes for it.

An idea came to me last week for a story, so I started on it as my story for the month. A few days ago, another idea slammed me hard enough that I did some research for it. Neither of these ideas are the most original things ever, so I have to find an angle that raises them above the ordinary if they’re going to be anything but the same old, same old. Fortunately for me, that usually happens at some point after I start writing.

I know which “in revision” stories I want to look at this week and try to wrench into shape, too. I’m having better luck with that now that instead of looking at the list and thinking about them all, which is overwhelming, I decide which one or two I’m definitely going to work on. Then I can go right for those and get much more accomplished.


Little Literary Story Found a Home

Several weeks ago I wrote a tiny literary story called “When They Come.”  It started out at about 125 words or so, and eventually got expanded to about 300 words. It’s been rejected a bit, and I’d decided if it came back again I would probably expand it even more because I felt the length might be part of the problem. It’s also in second person, which can be a hard sell. The only thing I’ve written in second person, as a matter of fact.

I’m happy to announce that it will appear in Right Hand Pointing, Issue #45. I’m so glad I didn’t let myself get discouraged with it and stop sending it out.



Genre vs. Literary

It used to bother me a great deal when writers I respected felt the need to knock one or the other (always the side he didn’t write in–go figger). Many writers I respect still do this. Either they claim that literary stories are all navel-gazing bullshit wrapped in pretty but meaningless words, or that genre fiction is the reading choice of the mostly ignorant and culture-deprived.

Broad brushes suck. Some literary fiction is fantastic, and some isn’t very good. The same goes for genre fiction, whatever the genre might be. I don’t read romance or mysteries because I don’t care for them. Yet I don’t insist that romance and mysteries are for mouth-breathers. Stop. It.

I write both genre and literary stories and poetry. I will hold my hand up and admit that I can write a competent to pretty darn good horror story easier than I can write a competent to pretty darn good literary one. I’m still getting there, and one is more of a struggle than the other. But I’m enjoying the journey, I enjoy the writing, and that’s what matters the most to me. That matters far, far more to me than what some other writers think of my chosen topic, believe me.

Every story I write or read doesn’t have to change my life. But when I want one of those, whether by attempting to create it or by consuming it, that doesn’t mean I see all genre fiction as disposable, forgettable tripe. I refuse to be either embarrassed by my genre stories, or by all the literary fiction I attempt to write. I’ll write what I feel and what I love that very day, and it will be what it is.


Literary Fiction and William H. Coles

I have this story that’s been languishing on my hard drive for a couple of years. And I have at least a few others that I wrote in 2004. 2004. I’ve never submitted them anywhere, except one. It was shortlisted in the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Competition in 2005. It ranked between #4 and #7, depending on which judge was asked, and I even received a nice note telling me that they really struggled with it and it came so close. He also said to let him know when and where the story was published in the future, because he was sure it would be.

I know it’s a pretty good story. I knew that when I wrote it, and I had confirmation of that from someone whose opinion I respect a great deal. And the so close was validation, or it should have been. But I’ve never submitted the story anywhere else. The other stories, I look at them now and then and tinker, but they just don’t seem right to me.

These are non-genre stories. Literary stories. Or at least it was my intention for them to be. I think the short-listed story succeeded, though I read it now and it seems too sparse. I was trying too hard to write short, because when I wrote it in 2004, I thought writing short was the point. No, writing well and skipping the unnecessary words is the point. That doesn’t always mean short, I’ve learned.

In my general frustration at why I can’t seem to make these stories do what I want them to–I was particularly frustrated with the story that’s about two years old, because I think the core is really good, but my execution is not–I started looking for a book on just what it is that makes a literary story good.  Granted, I read them and I compare them to mine, and I analyze them as well as I know how. Why does this story interest me? How does the theme emerge? How did he get me from the beginning to the end and give me that little moment of understanding that ensures I’ll remember this story for a long time?

Analyzing stories is the best way, but I also enjoy reading about the writing process. I stumbled across Story in Literary Fiction, William H. Coles’ website. His stories are wonderful, his essays are interesting and enlightening, and he even posts interviews with various literary writers. There’s so much information here about literary stories and the process of writing them that I’m still making my way through all the information. I’m carefully reading and studying what I find there, including his prize-winning and finalist short stories.

The literary short stories are here–enjoy! If you’re pressed for time, Crossing Over is pretty short. If you only have time for one longer story, try Reddog or Facing Grace with Gloria. You’ll go back, no matter which you read first.