Here’s the latest.
There’s a new publication impending, a scholarly article on the subject of writer’s block. “Articulate Walls: Writer’s Block and the Academic Creative” (I think that’s the correct subtitle… you know how those journal articles are) will be appearing in New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing in the not-too-distant future. This is based on research into the subject of writer’s block I did last year and earlier this year. It turns out that writer’s block is a far more complicated subject than many of us realized. To make things worse, there’s a problem within the discipline of creative writing (academics as well as creative practitioners) of subscribing to the received wisdom or mythology (for the academics: lore) that so many of us still treat as gospel.
The subject of lore and its intersections with CW will be an ongoing research interest for me. I come to the discipline as a self-taught academic: I had six or seven books published, and some 50 short stories, before I did my PhD. From an early age, I’ve been reading writer’s guides and magazines like Writer’s Digest. That’s a lot of lore. But I’m enough of a stodgy academic now to call bullshit on some of it. There’s a lot of recycled received wisdom. Do this, do that. There’s also a lot of encouragement for unhealthy writing practices. Binge-writing should not be set as the goal for… well, for anyone. The Muse is a lovely, splendid metaphor but in the merciless flesh-and-blood world does not exist. If writing is a spiritual experience for you, that’s great, and do what works for you (emphasis deliberate), but don’t go into the classroom and preach as if the intangible is empirical. Quite a few other academics have done significant research (or at least written compelling polemics, which is almost as good) on this subject in the last couple of decades, and I’m happy to add my name to the list. There’s a lot of mythology out there, but the peri-supernatural fuzziness isn’t for everyone. I’m interested in that part, of course, but I also want to know where the boundaries are between what can be taught and what just has to be sorted out or experienced on one’s own.
The article’s a starting point for me. Another one’s in the works. Watch this space.
I’ve got two short stories coming out in new anthologies. One, I can announce: “Underground” will be in Unspeakable Horrors 2, edited by Vince Liaguno. This is one of my more brutal short stories. If you’ve read my stuff, you’ll know that’s saying a lot. A second story, “This Quintessence of Dust,” is appearing in an anthology I don’t think I’m supposed to name yet. Both editors have assured me they love it and it’s in, but the final line-up has not been announced. Suffice to say, this one’s kind of a Big Deal. (I’m also really happy with the story.)
As for the new stuff: I have three more stories in circulation: “Everybody’s Cleopatra,” “These Are the Days of Miracle and Hunger,” and “Love Is a Poisonous Color.” With luck, they’ll be coming soon to a respectable journal near you. And I’m still shopping Inhospitable around — direct to publishers as well as to literary agents. Although I have the means to publish it via Signal 8 Press (which was the right decision for my previous three books, since the first two had been accepted elsewhere and then weren’t published because unprofessional entrepreneurial lameness, and by that point I was like fuck it, why not, with the third), I’d rather not. For professional reasons, it’s better if I go with a larger and more established press. I worked my butt off, writing Inhospitable. It’s the basis for my PhD. It’s a good book, if I do say so myself. So it’ll appear in print (and e-book formats) sooner or later; it’s just a question when and by whom. After that, I expect to do a fourth collection of short stories, and I already know what the title will be.
There are also three academic books in the pipeline, as if all this weren’t enough. I’ll hold off on saying what they are, apart from the fact that one will be a monograph and two are edited (or co-edited) collections.
Fingers Everywhere Are Crossed.
Oh, and I’m also in the process of setting up a Patreon account. I don’t have the biggest audience in the world, but I’ve put a lot out there without really asking for anything back. I’m not a big self-promoting attention whore of a writer. I tweet, but lately it’s mainly for political reasons; I can’t be bothered with the usual variations on the “buy my book but I’m pretending I’m tweeting about something else even though I’m really not” authorial meme. More people should read my stuff because, well, I can actually write and I have something to say. If you’re reading this and you’ve been following my work, I hope this is something you’ll consider contributing to.