Come-As-You-Are-Party

Come As You Are Party: Jensen Beach

22 October 2013

Beach_Desk-smOne of the hardest but also the most rewarding things about having a book out [For out of the Heart Proceedhas been getting asked to talk about it. I don’t mean that to sound coy or falsely modest. I think it’s hard to talk about my writing, but it’s also rewarding, because having to do so sends me back into a story or into my memory of writing that story; invariably I learn something new. Likewise, I think it’s difficult to find the right way to talk about other books and about other writers, which is something that’s absolutely central to being able to discuss, say, how I might place short-short fiction in relation to prose poetry on some kind of map of literary genre. This is also really rewarding because it sends me back to books I love, where I get to relearn all over again just why that is. Sometimes these conversations happen in interviews, or in posts like this one, and sometimes it’s just through talking with a friend or a colleague who’s read the book. I’m asked about my influences or about what I was up to in particular stories, and so on. These are good questions, and it’s my job to try to come up with answers that make me seem, well, not dumb. For a guy whose first instinct is almost always to answer “I don’t know” that’s no small task.

Here’s an example: the title of my book is taken from a verse in the Book of Matthew that, as I read it, is about how we demonstrate who we are by our actions. Alan Heathcock puts it better in his book Volt, which is there in the stack on my desk. “We are what we do,” a character tells his son in the story “Smoke.” I like this idea and I like this sentiment. I think it’s true. Anyway, in an interview recently, I was asked to talk about this in relation to some of the characters in my book, about how thematically the title represents something cohesive about the collection as a whole. And that’s no easy question. Because of course part of the answer really is I don’t know. Or at least I didn’t know when I was writing the stories. So I had to go figure it out. To answer a question in an interview like this is an act of reflection, of revising intent, of analysis.

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Come-As-You-Are-Party

Our first guest = Kyle Minor

25 February 2012

Kyle Minor's HandI’m told Sou’wester is throwing a Come As You Are Party. Well, here I am, or my hand, anyway, at my mess of a work desk. Reason #1 for the mess: I’m eyeballs-deep in the final revision of my novel-in-progress, which will be titled The Sexual Lives of Missionaries. Reason #2: This is how messy my desk always gets, and the only reason it ever gets less messy is because I keep a to-do list, and on the fourth Thursday of every month, I tend the line item that reads: “Clean your desk.”

The stack of books on the left is part pleasure reading, part research. The Atlas of Anatomy and Gray’s Anatomy are for the novel that will follow the novel I’m writing. Its construction requires me to know more than I now know about bodily organs, their natures and appearances, and how they decay after death. (There’s a stack behind this stack on the subject of “morbid anatomy,” which means that every time I leave the library I get funny looks from the desk clerks, who surely wonder whether I’m a medical student or an axe murderer.)

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Come-As-You-Are-Party

It Works Like This

23 February 2012

man wearing party hatOur “come as you are party” works like this. SW shoots an email to a writer requesting an impromptu photo along with a “what’s up” update, letting us know what s/he is doing or cleaning or repairing or writing or reading or feeding right now. The plucky writer (we hope) responds within a few hours and we post. Voila! Writers – stand by for your invitation!



“Party Hat” Used under CC BY 3.0.