Q and A: Writer Matthew Simmons, Seattle

Q and A With Matty ByloosIn Q and A, I try to get at something valuable from my fellow writers, by asking just a single question.

Installment #3: Matthew Simmons, Seattle, WA.

Q:

At what point can you tell that an idea is worthy of becoming a short story? Or similarly, at what point does a short story appear to be asking to become a novel? Consider this a process question, as much about the specifics of your writing practice as it is about how you let the work decide what it needs to be, and if there are lessons to be drawn from for others.

A:

I find that I really only have one way of determining whether or not an idea is a short story or not. You have to take the idea to the page and work it out there. I don’t really take notes or create outlines. I know a beginning because it sounds like a beginning. I tend to know an ending because it feels like it’s there imbedded in the beginning. And the rest of it is all the writing and the looking at the page and the hitting of the delete key and the talking out loud and the shaking my head and the standing up and sitting right back down and the standing up and walking to the kitchen and the getting coffee and the coming back and the typing and typing and typing and hating and typing and loving and typing. Continue reading

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Soda Series 11 – January 24th – Susan Daitch, Brian Evenson, and Bradford Morrow

Please join us for our next special reading and conversation with Susan Daitch, Brian Evenson, and Bradford Morrow. RSVP

Susan Daitch is the author of four works of fiction. Her short fiction has been included in The Norton Anthology of Postmodern Fiction, Tin House, Guernica, Bomb, Conjunctions, McSweeney’s, The Brooklyn Rail, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Ploughshares, The Village Voice, and elsewhere. Her work has been the recipient of two Vogelstein awards. Her novel L.C. won an NEA Heritage Award and was a Lannan Foundation Selection. She teaches at Hunter College.

Paper Conspiracies, Susan’s new book from City Lights Publishers

David Cooper’s review of Paper Conspiracies at The New York Journal of Books

Tim Horvath’s review of her story “The Restorer” on Matt Bell’s homepage

Larry McCaffrey’s interview with Susan at Dalkey Archive Press

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Big Other Contributors’ News #6

Molly Gaudry and Kim Chinquee have been translated into Polish, alongside Matt Bell, Jamie Iredell, Claudia Smith, and a number of others.

A review of Molly Gaudry’s We Take Me Apart appears HERE.
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Shya Scanlon curated a Fan Fiction section for Opium 9, which includes work by Brian Evenson, Matthew Simmons, Matt Briggs, Blake Butler, Nick Bredie, Sean Carman, E. Loic Leuschner, Ben Greenman and Ryan Boudinot.

Shya’s story “Waiting,” from a semi-autobiographical novel-in-stories called Look No Further, is in Monkeybicycle 7.

He’ll be reading with Leslieann Hobayan and Douglas Treem Wednesday, Dec. 9th at  Cornelia St. Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street in New York City. Details HERE.
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Jac Jemc has five poems in the new Front Porch.  Here’s the link.
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Christopher Higgs‘s prose piece titled “Parents Being We Are Wrongly” in the inaugural issue of We Are Champion.
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Stacy Muszynski‘s review of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s National Book Award-finalist American Salvage and interview with the author at The Rumpus. Recent book reviews at The Collagist include: Josh Weil’s The New Valley, Skip Horack’s The Southern Cross. An interview with the editor of National Book Award-finalist American Salvage at American Short Fiction blog. Three-part interview with B.J. Hollars, editor of You Must Be This Tall to Ride, at American Short Fiction blog: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
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Greg Gerke is reading with Barry Graham Reading at Freebird Books on Sunday, December 6 at 7:00pm. Greg’s new story “Truth Be Told” and interview is up at Dark Sky. And Sam Pink interviews Greg at Html Giant.
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J.A. Tyler‘s Inconceivable Wilson is officially available for order now from Scrambler Books.
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John Madera‘s review of Jamie Iredell’s Prose. Poem. A Novel. is up at the Rumpus.

wittgenstein, emoticons, & the death of email

yesterday, i was schooled by my friend austin choi-fitzpatrick. apparently, email is dead. email is “so 2006.” according to choi-fitzpatrick (wtf? i’m citing him like he’s the fucking scholar he is), email had it’s heyday from 1996-2006. now, email is a dead form. for him, email is only his inbox: subject headings, nothing more. for him, it’s all about facebook, text messaging, etc. we, as humans, reduced to 140 characters or less as our mode of communication.

this morning, i read wittgenstein’s notes & lectures on aesthetics, psychology, & religion. wittgenstein argues that language is not universal; however, physical reactions are. he talks, at length, about the inadequacy of words such as “beautiful” or “lovely,” that “beautiful” comes to represent not what is beautiful but an interjection. he argues:

would it matter if instead of saying ‘this is lovely,’ i just said, ‘ah!’ & smiled, or just rubbed my stomach? as far as these primitive languages go, problems about what these words are about, what their real subject is, don’t come up at all.

whereas i get wittgenstein’s point–words like beautiful or lovely are at times empty, they come to mean much less than what we mean them to mean–i don’t think we could simply substitute a grunt or a physical action. and i agree that words like “beautiful” never conjure up the same thing to any two people, that does not make the word itself–or words in general–obsolete. after all, facial expressions, gestures, etc. can be just as misleading, if not more so, than words.

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