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Posts Tagged ‘Glenway Wescott’

ty for smoking cigars only
Read Kathy Fish’s “Why I Write Flash.” You may understand me, and many other writers, better.

Here’s another tidbit about me: I like cigars, on occasion. As “a shy[ish] person in a big family” where “everyone’s a talker but” me, a cigar occupies me while I sit on the back deck, “on the periphery, [half-]listening” to my brother-in-law “tell the story of the long family road trip as if it happened last week,” all the relatives visited and towns passed. My mind will drift from the conversation though, like the curling smoke from my lips. I won’t be far. Don’t worry. I’ll have drifted just a little way off to contemplate what Kathy Fish calls “moments,” the “stillness and what shatters the stillness. The unguarded way people look at each other sometimes. The filled-to-bursting seconds before everything changes. The small, ugly, beautiful flashes of life.” So, now you know something else about me: On occasion, you won’t have my full attention. Sorry about that.  No insult intended.

Thank you, Kathy, for a well-written read.

~ N

P.S. I snapped the THANK YOU FOR SMOKING CIGARS ONLY pic at Hemingway’s Cigar & Tequila Lounge in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was just across from the Cabo Wabo rear entrance, but–sadly–I hear the great little spot has closed.

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So, you say, you want to write short stories? Novels?

The first mystery, where novels [and short stories] are concerned, is how anyone manages, ever, to write a book that’s any good at all.

Sure, go ahead, simulate life, using only ink and paper. Take the words offered by the dictionary, the same words that are available to everybody who can read, and arrange them so strategically that they simultaneously illuminate and deepen the mystery of human existence.

Do so in a way that’s cogent and compelling, that grabs readers with the opening line and doesn’t let them go until the final one. Don’t make it too neat and tidy—that will come off as trivial. But don’t make it too messy and sprawling, either—that won’t feel like much of anything at all…

~ Michael Cunningham on The Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott, a Recommended Reading from Electric Literature

Still want to write after that?

If your answer is ‘YES!’: you’re crazy, but I understand. You must read-read-read and write-write-write though. So, start now:  subscribe to Electric Literature’s Recommended Readings, read Wescott’s The Pilgrim Hawk, or check out these suggested shorts (bottom of the page). You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, yeah, and then write. You have to because–remember?–you’re crazy. But, people like me understand.

~ N

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