Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Five Points for Short Story and Poetry Collections

You know how life is already too busy to fit anymore commitments and "things I need to do" into your schedule? Well, as writers it’s a never ending battle to stuff more and more of these additional elements into our lives. Such elements include social networking, marketing of our written pieces, blogging, and etc. However, as we stuff more elements in the time for the essential responsibilities as writers - reading and writing - dwindles faster and faster. This of course is not always true for everyone, but I'm betting it is true for a good majority. One way I like to fight back against this ugly truth is by reading short story and poetry collections. They are the perfect "bite-size" reading snack that fit into small chucks of time.

Because what often happens when life gets busy unexpectedly and you're maybe half way through a novel? Most often the novel gets dropped for days, weeks, or months at a time. Then when you try to go back, it's hard to get back into the flow of the narrative and/or you may have to start over. Conversely, short story and poetry collections have ample start and end points for readers to choose from as their reading times allows. And leaving such collections to sit for extended periods of time is not as difficult to pick up again once life calms down. True, the reader's overall sense of the collection as a whole may be weaker but their sense of the author's style and voice will be stronger. The reader's exposure to the multiple complete stories/poems by the author will give them a good variety of what the author is able to accomplish.

Lastly, short story and poetry collections that feature different authors is a wonderful way to expose oneself to new authors. Below I've included a list of short story and poetry collections I've enjoyed this past year.

Telling Tales, edited by Naine Gordimer

Civilwarland in Bad Decline, by George Saunders

Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger

The Pajamaist, by Matthew Zapruder

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Catching the New Wave

My sister and I were recently talking about what we should get each other for our birthday (we are twins). Naturally, she asked me for some shoes. I am a shoe-a-holic. (However, I'm much better than when I was younger) In turn, I had a difficult time trying to give her some ideas. It seems this year there is nothing that I am in dire need/want of. This is a strange occurrence. I was trying to think of something I might need but was to cheap to buy myself. Like a microwave, but I already knew I might get that from someone else. My sister than suggested maybe she could get me a Kindle. She admitted it was something she had thought about getting me for our birthday or Christmas, but was unsure how I would like it.

If you know me well enough, its common knowledge I am the least "techy" person in a group of twenty-somethings. I am a strong advocate of the printed book. The emergence of the new e-reading technology was something scary and evil. However, (pause) I am an open-minded person and do accept change - very slowly. This past fall/winter National Book Critic Circle's Critical Mass - Blog asked numerous guest posters their opinions on the future of book publishing. As expected many had strong opinions about the e-technology. Among the grips and cheers I peeled back some of my own apprehension. This is what I walked away thinking:

I will always love the feel of reading a printed book. There is something special about holding a tangible object someone poured love/hate into. But I cannot be afraid of change, especially, if that is where my generations of writers/readers are headed. Thus, I welcome the exposures I may have to the future of book publishing and reading/writing experiences. So, if I were to receive an e-reader device as a gift I would be more excited than I would like to let on. After doing some basic research on the options available to me, I believe the Kindle is the my choice. I tend to read in high light and/or outside. Also, as impressive as the Ipad is I already own a desktop, laptop, ipod, and digital camera. It is my understanding, the Ipad can offer me all different variations and features that these products currently give me. And although it may be convenient to have all these in one system, I already bought and paid for each individually. Thus, the Ipad has much more gadgets than I really need or will use.

So here is to the electronic generation and me slowly opening my arms to embrace it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Window Inspiration

Before traveling home this past weekend I rearranged my apartment. It was something I planned to do when I got back. However, I had several hours to kill before my travel partner was off work and the anxiety got the better of me. It took awhile to figure out an acceptable layout. My couch has a chase segment on one end of it. This small (but rather enjoyable feature) of my couch makes it difficult to position it aesthetically in my small apartment. The one detail I knew I must change however, was moving my desk into the corner surrounded my windows. Previously, it was tucked into an opposite corner with no natural light. It made sitting at my desk for long periods of time difficult. Thus, you can imagine writing at my desk was even more difficult.

So I decided I must move my soon to be (hopefully) wage-making station (that is my desk) to its most optimal position. Which I believe to be near the windows. And as I sit here the first day of change - I am thoroughly satisfied with my decision. The layout in my apartment is not as efficient perhaps as it originally once was, but I am loving the fresh air and out-of-window inspirations I can see as I pound away at the keyboard.