Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing my short story “The Girl” published over at Joyland Magazine. The story is about a married woman in the midst of an affair who becomes obsessed with a stripper at a club she visits with her lover. What tangled webs… It’s set in Portland and involves the band Rilo Kiley, two things I love.
What I love even more is that this story was acquired, edited, and published by Emily Schultz, one of my contemporary writer heroes. Schultz is the author of The Blondes, a fantastic literary thriller published last year that gave me the same creepy vibes as The Handmaid’s Tale. Emily is not only a great writer, she’s a rad person. She took great care with my work and gave me insightful edits. I felt truly honored to have her read my work and like it enough to share it with the world.
She called the story “so smart, scary, hot, and everything in between.” Blush.
You can read the story here. And you can watch the video for Rilo Kiley’s “Portions for Foxes,” which inspired and is featured in the story, below.
Last week I had the great pleasure of being the writer-in-residence at Mathew Gallery in Chinatown, thanks to a sponsorship by the wonderful Montez Press. I had intended to spend my week of writing creating a new, probably lengthy, story, but that felt ambitious in my limited time frame that included planning and executing a launch party at the gallery for one of my authors.
While talking to the residency coordinator, she inquired whether I might want to create something more visual and inspired me to make my very first chapbook. The only visual writing I’ve ever created has been by taking forms or legal documents and rewriting them creatively. I had three already created, the legal contracts “THIRD-PARTY AGREEMENT” and “INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT,” along with my “Church Exit Interview.” I ended up creating one brand new piece and spent three hours one evening printing, folding, and stapling pages that eventually became Sign Here. I’ve never been involved with the physical act of putting together a book. Touching my work and folding the pages helped me connect with the visceral experience of a book. The process reminded me that a book is not simply a set of ideas but a tangible object.
While putting it together, I pretended that I was a riot grrrl making a zine. Great feeling.
The first night I sat alone in the quiet, white-walled gallery, I felt the emptiness of the room as heavily as the emptiness of my new blank document. There was something very strange about spending hours alone in the gallery with nothing but my work. I spend plenty of time each week alone in my apartment with nothing but my work, but being in a new setting with a deadline hanging over me to finish a new piece added an immediacy to my work that I really valued. I’m thankful I had this opportunity because it forced me out of my comfort zone, both the literal comfort zone of my apartment as well as my narrative/structural comfort zone of writing straightforward short stories.
Since I was resident in a gallery, we were lucky to hang the original Molly Crabapple designed covers of all three of our Virginie Despentes books. The three dynamic women pictured in each cover proved inspiring muses for my week of writing.
I can’t wait until the next residency, whether it’s a gallery located on a busy city street or a retreat in a coastal town. It’s important as a writer to push and challenge yourself as much as possible, and sometimes that happens simply by placing yourself in a new environment.
I’m back with an exciting announcement: this summer I have my first writing residency! It’s a bit different from a traditional residency experience in that I won’t be escaping to a cabin in the woods, but I suspect my weeklong adventure in the city will be productive nonetheless. The exciting and relatively new publisher Montez Press has a partnership with Mathew Gallery in Manhattan and reached out to invite various publishers they admire to join them at the gallery to host events this summer. The Feminist Press will launch our latest translation by the French feminist icon Virginie Despentes, Bye Bye Blondie, at the gallery on July 21st.
In addition to hosting events throughout the summer, the gallery has kindly allowed writers to stay for residencies. I am one of the fortunate writers who will be living in the gallery for a week. I will be working on a short story during my stay, what I hope to be the last story in my short story collection manuscript Hooliganism. Each story in the collection focuses in some way on female sexuality. While holed up in the gallery, I plan to reread Bye Bye Blondie, which features a teen girl being institutionalized for acting in a manner the adults in her life find erratic, but which is typical rebellious teen behavior that probably wouldn’t have landed her in this situation if she were a boy.
I plan to use the space and my reading of Despentes to inform my short story. I’m hoping that a gallery space will prove to be fertile ground for creation and that the challenge of producing a new piece in a week will be inspiring rather than crippling. I feel up for the challenge, especially knowing that near the end of my week I’ll get to celebrate by hosting the Bye Bye Blondie launch party. I can spend a week in solitude knowing a reading and wine-fueled festivities await me at the finish line.
I’m also working on lining up events for my Siblings and Other Disappointments book tour, so stay tuned for exciting updates, including information about my appearances at the Litquake Literary Festival in San Francisco!
But I’ll be back soon! I have been lagging in the blog updates department, mostly because I’m busy working on essays/marketing ideas for my October book launch, have been swamped at work, am editing my novel MS (and asking myself daily whether it’s time to scrap it), went through a breakup, and am generally finding myself without much bloggy stuff to write.
I’ll probably take most of the spring and summer off, but I plan to return with a shiny new website to make up for my absence. In the meantime, this is pretty cool.
Have a great summer. XOXO