Thursday, July 14, 2011

New work, many doings

New work in Sein und Werden and The Cafe Irreal.

In six months, I will be done with the time-draining, energy-sapping fiasco known to the civilized world as "law school." Since September 2008, I have been going to my day job, taking evening classes in Contracts, Torts, Con Law, etc., while somehow finding a few hours each week (on a good week) to squeeze in my little literary endeavors. There has been a lot of sleep deprivation involved.

Somehow, I have managed (I think) to get through it all without turning evil. In fact, I think I am a better person now than when I started. But one thing I feared -- irrationally, I now realize -- when I embarked on this project was that law school would "ruin my creativity." This is something writers fear rather often. I know I do. One fears the effects of a competitive atmosphere on the Muse. I pictured her little winged form crushed under a mighty gavel of cold, hard reality.

Not so. In fact, going to law school has if anything caused my imagination to go even more happily off-kilter. This I think is partly due to the sheer rebellion of the subconscious over being subordinated for most of the daytime to analytical tasks. It could also be a reaction to the simple fact that the brain is doing more work. But above all else it demonstrates the importance of doing new things to have new ideas.

For a couple of years leading up to law school, when I was working a very easy, very boring (and badly-paying!) day job for the sole purpose of sustenance, I was starting to feel creatively dead. Having new ideas requires having a sense of hope, not just about one's writing but about life in general. I believe this is true even if you are writing about darkness and despair. Writing is an inherently positive, hopeful act. But I was getting to a routine where I felt too bored with my life to invent new worlds or characters.

That has changed, in a big way. I have met new people, and put myself in situations which I could not have imagined for myself before, and it is only just beginning. Furthermore, I will have a versatile job skill I can rely on for a wide variety of uses (to the extent that one can rely on anything in this collapsing economy).

Of course, I now almost completely lack for time to write -- almost. There has been just enough to scribble down some flash fictions, make dozens of outlines, and join a weekly workshop every now and then. Enough time to know that I can still do it, and that I am really looking forward to coming back into the literary world as a writer newly remade, with a better day job. And lots of new ideas.

I just thought I'd share that with any other writers out there. The Muse is more resilient than you think. The only thing that kills it is boredom.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Menda City Adieu

After five incredible years, editor Terry Rogers has decided to call it a day with his online literary magazine, Menda City Review. The final issue (number 18) has posted just last week.

MCR was a truly exceptional publication, one that favored quality over quantity. It was named along with Clarkesworld as the "best new online literary magazine" of 2006 by the Story South Million Writers Award. For the following five years it continued to publish a wide variety of work, everything from traditional narratives to unabashedly experimental fiction and magical realism, including some of the best writers out there today. Its commentary section also included political essays and non-fiction memoirs.

Terry believed in every word of every story he published. Unlike most editors for online publications, he was unafraid of longer works -- MCR was one of the few online publications that would take submissions as long as 10,000 words. He gave meticulous, sensitive feedback to writers, collaborating with them until their work was in the best shape possible. I am proud to have been a part of it, serving for three years as associate editor of the commentary section. I am not proud of the fact that I still put two spaces after periods in my manuscripts, which he insists (I think correctly) is both unnecessary and unprofessional in the age of word processors.

Terry is also an exceptional writer, as you will see from his "Song of the Siren," included in this final issue, along with WJ Rosser's "The Robber" and my own "The Curtain". MCR was a huge time commitment for him, and I know he's looking forward to getting back to writing his own fiction. For myself, I am looking forward to reading it.

In the meantime, enjoy this last issue!