May 5, 2006

Beautiful Blemish


Kevin Sampsell is my hero. If you don’t know, he’s in charge at Powells Books in Portland, OR, and he runs Future Tense Books. At my reading at Powells in March, he told me he remembered me and my query letter. I inquired about sending North of Sunset to Future Tense. He said there wasn’t space on the list. This was two years ago. Unprecedented for me that someone in publishing would have that deep a memory. So he’s on my good side.

I ended up liking his book too. I found it inspiring. Made me want to write. I haven’t read much flash fiction. The stuff I’ve read seemed half-ass, not much more than a blog entry, called a "story," a paragraph long and submitted to lit sites. Seems like cheating to me. It's hard to do something in that small a space. Richard Brautigan did it well, Sampsell does it well too. These stories have actual weight, even when a page and a half or less. Sampsell knows how to end a story--the last sentence is always important in a short story and maybe even moreso in flash fiction.

Guess I’ve been reading a lot lately. I don’t know why I haven’t written consistently about books in the past. I like it. To answer Empty Drum’s question of how the hell I find the time to read, the answer is: Olivia, my daughter, goes to sleep at 7:30. I’ve basically got no social life so there’s plenty of time to read.

Here’s an update on my actual life, if you’re interested:

I only want things when I can’t have them. Just found out my microphone is broken. I brought it to record the Dan Fante reading recently and it died. Now I’m cursing fate because I’m not able to record, even though I might not have cared if the microphone was working. The time when I want to write fiction most is when I’m working a paying job. Cursing that all I want to do is write fiction. When I have actual free time, I waste it. I need to use my energy better.

Been working on a song about how my wife and I isolate ourselves. Sort of have since we met each other. We want to change that bad. I’ve inherited some agoraphobia from my grandmother. I’m a fairly self-conscious person out in the world. Assessing and re-assessing myself. And think other people are doing the same. Truth is, people are too busy scrutinizing themselves to wonder if I’m a trembling weirdo.

Last weekend, we were superior parents. Went to Shakey’s pizza on Friday night. Played a bunch of games where you win tickets and won Olivia some plastic rings. Saturday, went to the beach, saw dolphins, played in the cold ocean and the sand, went to the Santa Monica pier, tried to win Olivia a Curious George doll by knocking over some things with a baseball, did not succeed, bought a milkshake instead, went to the toy store with her later to buy a gift for a party the next day, where Olivia hit a piñata and won some more plastic rings, later went to my parents where she played with her cousin, then we ate Mexican food. I guess we have some social life because we were invited to a real, live party. We need something to do this weekend.


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Anonymous said...

While the basic cause is a type of anxiety disorder, it is important to note that agoraphobia is by no means a hopeless situation. Agoraphobia arises from an internal anxiety condition that has become so intense that the suffering individual fears going anywhere or doing anything where these feelings of panic have repeatedly occurred before.

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