Your Surreal Adolescence

Do you have any rain rituals? I think about the patterns of forgetting the garden and remembering the sound of wind chimes coming from our neighbors’ patio. I think about all the times I played a farming simulation video game with my sister, since rain is always so important for the crops and knowing when to put the animals inside. I think about the times I had problems with sleep as a child because of my brain buzzing too loud when it was time to be quiet. I listened to those cassettes of rain falling in all types of geographies. Now, I can sleep through hurricanes. I’m a boulder in a pool. I fall deep and quickly, dreamless. Plunk.

My story, Angels vs. Salamanders, was published in the debut issue of Wyvern Lit. The editor, Mr. Brent Rydin, is a treasure. He sent me very helpful edits and somehow managed to publish the finished issue on the day of his wedding. You simply can’t be more dedicated to the literary arts than that. The story itself is another surreal tale of adolescence in the vein of The Electric Level. There’s slang, identity confusion. There’s a club with cliques. You have to pick a side. But of course, you find yourself where it all splits down the middle.

I’ve been working on poems and getting rejections. I’ve gotten bolder. Some have been from fairly big journals. Some were more personalized, which always hurts more than you anticipate. Maybe hurts more than form rejections sometimes. I feel confident enough that they’ll find a good home, however. I’m revising and reading more journals to maybe have acceptance rub off on me.

There’s a piece that started off as a half-story of less than 300 words and transformed into a slice of a character sketch. Or a vignette. I’m not sure. Metazen published it and you can read it online. I feel like I’m in very good company here too because they’ve published a few of my friends, who are all fantastic writers themselves. You should read them too. I also feel like I want to do more with this character? Regardless, I know I’m destined to someday write a story of siblings because there just aren’t enough of them.

I want to help with diversity in the publishing landscape. We’ve gotten to the point, I think, where this is a huge topic that is finally being addressed in the media as it should be. Not just in publishing, but in the film and video games industry as well. In order to do my part, in any little way I can, I’m trying to compile a list of literary journals and presses that exclusively publish women, LGBTQ writers, and writers of color. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message, especially if you’re an editor of any of these journals or presses yourself. I’ll publish the list here on my blog once I’ve collected a decent amount. My goal is to keep updating it as I discover more and to provide writers seeking out these places to have a good starting point.


2013: The Retrospective

I might say 2013 was the first year I felt my age, even though I didn’t feel that way in the beginning. High school drama has faded. College was a blur, a TV channel blinking scenes in and out. Coming of age might just be a cough. The throat is cleared, the page can close.

Maybe it is also because more people in my life call me Joseph now, instead of Joey.

There were firsts, coming late: first nosebleed, first time travelling alone, first full-time job, first Pushcart Prize nomination, first romantic interest.

I read mostly women writers to level the playing field. By now, you all know it’s still a problem that half the human population is being overlooked in publishing. It’s surprising. What wasn’t surprising was how easy it was for me to take it to task, a simple lesson in being more mindful of what we consume. And I still have plenty left over sitting on my shelves for the upcoming year.

A few:

bookhaul1

I got more into podcasts because my job allows plugging in as long as we are plugging away. There is Other People, as usual, but also Literary Disco. Books can, and should be, funny. Books can be a party. And of course, there’s Welcome to Nightvale.

I started thinking more about how video games and writing are both important to me, how integral to my formative years. How I grew up with both, alongside each other; how they informed my imagination and creative endeavors. I thought about how they can intersect, how they can both be very important to identity. There are games being made like dys4ia and Depression Quest and Gone Home. I wrote an essay for Sundog, which is maybe the most intimate thing I have published. I am still getting used to this nakedness.

For the new year, Melissa gave me the idea of keeping a memory jar. I don’t think anyone who knows me would consider me a very sentimental person, but I like this idea very much. Getting a big jar and collecting bits and pieces throughout the year to remember it by. Ticket stubs, seashells, pictures, buttons, quotes. It’s like keeping another kind of journal. Maybe it would also force me to be more of observant and aware of what is happening around me, kicking me out of any bubble I am prone to curl up in.

I wrote down resolutions too, which is not something I believe too strongly in. But, as I mention, I’ve already begun working on them. I’ve set myself a Goodreads goal.

I need to make a new mixtape. Maybe my throat has cleared of those days of advanced placement classes and aggressive acne, but the music stays.

Books:

Quiet by Susan Cain
Rise of the Videogame Zinesters by Anna Anthropy
Summer by Edith Wharton
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Heroines by Kate Zambreno
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Stigmata: Escaping Texts by Hélène Cixous
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Mother Ghost by Casey Hannan
Light Boxes by Shane Jones
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell
We the Animals by Justin Torres
The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper
My Vocabulary Did This to Me by Jack Spicer

Films/TV:

Downton Abbey
Upstairs, Downstairs
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (again)
Ghost World (again)
My Mad Fat Diary
Girls
Black Books
Parks and Recreation
The Royal Tenenbaums
North Sea, Texas
Bridegroom
Battle Royale

Music:

“Hot Knife” and “Daredevil” by Fiona Apple
“My IQ” by Ani DiFranco
“Closer” by The Tiny
“Royals” and “Tennis Court” by Lorde
“Don’t You Touch Me” and “I’ve Been Alone Too Long” by Soko
“Mother, Mother” by Tracy Bonham
“Lights” by Ellie Goulding
“Lungs” by Chvrches
“All Your Gold” and “Lilies” by Bat for Lashes

Misc.:

Lady knights
Boy witches
Haunted doll houses
Praya dubia and deep-sea creatures
Satin bowerbirds, salamanders
Confessional and fantastical poetry
First-person point of view
Self-destruction as renewal
Memoir-criticism and essay-reviews


Carousel #12

  1. You can see what people are reading on the subways over at The Underground New York Public Library.
  2. Another great blog I discovered: Pen and Ink. Tattoos and the stories behind them.
  3. Many people were upset earlier this year about having no Pulitzer Prize awarded for fiction. In the New Yorker, writer Michael Cunningham (who was one of members of the jury that decides which three books are to be judged) discusses how exactly the process worked.
  4. Over at the Rumpus, writer and internet hero Roxane Gay talks about women writers, “women’s fiction,” and gender disparity in the publishing landscape. Also good books that I want to read.
  5. Here’s a collection of really weird book titles. Some will make you laugh out loud, some will leave you scratching your head.