I started Creating Van Gogh with the idea of thinking through and expounding on various issues I was confronting in my attempt to write a compelling, credible historical novel: What were the "rules"? How do I handle this research thing? What exactly is the proper function of the imagination in historical fiction, and is its function any different than for any other kind of fiction? What do I do with contrasting historical "facts"? What am I allowed to do when borrowing work that my character, in real life, created? These are only a few of the many questions I've considered in my four years of doing this blog, and I've gotten some useful answers from my readers. Of course, there are plenty of questions I probably should have considered but didn't. And along the way, as various professional and personal events have unfolded in my life, I've written about other issues not strictly related to historical fiction: some crazy administrative developments at my university, for instance, and how the public conception of a writing professor rarely corresponds with the real nature of the job. I've written about a Novel Writing Workshop I teach; what I've learned; how I might do it better. I've written about four different AWP conferences and the UK's Great Writing conference; I've written about Toad Suck Review, the journal I help edit; I've written about the connections between running and writing. I've recommended books; I've reported on some of my publications. In short, Creating Van Gogh today is less about historical fiction, or about my Van Gogh novel, than it is about the state of imaginative writing generally and the art of teaching imaginative writing. Yes, that's right, I'm guilty of making another writing and teaching blog.
That being the case, I've decided to create a new blog this fall that in its very conception is broader than the my original conception for Creating Van Gogh and thus fairly allows me to discuss any relevant issue or development or fantastic idea I've heard about in regards to the literary life and the unique nuturing of literary lives that takes place in university settings. As I said, I've been kind of doing this already, and so it's probably time for the blog itself to match the identity of the content. I haven't finalized a name yet. I'm toying with a few possibilities, Letteratti being the one I like the most right now. When a name is finalized, you'll be the first to know. Meanwhile, after a few more entries, Creating Van Gogh will go into suspended animation. It won't quite end; that is, I certainly can see myself putting up the occasional post, especially for any updates regarding my book. But for the most part it will be in a state of rest. I began the blog while I was in the throes of finalizing a draft of my novel. Now that the novel has been published, it seems like a good time to let it nap.
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Other publishing updates: It's been an unusually active summer for me in terms of placing my work, both long and short. Traditionally, literary journals go into suspension during the summmer months, but as more and more journals go online, it's not unusual anymore to find journals that read and publish all year round; and sometimes this means a dizzyingly fast turnaround between acceptance and publication. One online journal thankfully caught me by phone the day before I was to leave on an extended trip to Europe. A trip in which I had NO phone service and limited internet access. Whew! They informed me of the acceptance and said they needed a recent photo of me, which I proceeded to pose for and my wife proceeded to take. I emailed it to them that afternoon and within a week my story, and the picture, was up on their web site.
In any case, here's a countdown of my publications/acceptances this summer, with links to the works provided where possible. In May, an excerpt from Days on Fire appeared in Versal, the great English-language journal published in Amsterdam. In July, I was the featured contributor on the journal's blog. You can check out my answers to their rather creative questions here. Also this summer, I published (in a somewhat trimmed down state) my quirky story "Homeroom" (written as a series of high school homeroom announcements) in theNewerYork Press's Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature (EEEL); I published the longish story "Home Visit" in Gemini; and I published the memoir essay "A Minute Inside the Ocean Cafe, July 1980" in Squalorly. Meanwhile, my half-personal/half-journalistic essay on marathon running, "Thirteen More Miles," is soon to appear in the journal 1966, a magazine conceived with the fantastic idea of focusing on research-driven narrative nonfiction. (The link takes you to the journal but not to my essay--I promise it will be there soon.) Finally, as I reported in my post of last week, I placed my historical short (long) story "On Cherry Street" in Pembroke. The story should appear this fall.
And, the best news of all is that Days on Fire is out and available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com, capping a summer that has been quite the whirlwind for me--in more ways than one.