This Week in Words – Apr. 28

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

I became a little bit obsessed with interviews this week. I’d visit one site, read an interview, and then a link on the sidebar would catch my eye and I’d be lost in the next interview. So I apologize: Most of my links this week are interviews. They’re good, though, I promise.

I found a post over at Big Other featuring a video clip of William Gass speaking in a Parisian bookshop. He reads a little excerpt of his work before speaking at length about the sentence in fiction. Along the way, he manages to bag a little bit on philosophers and Faulkner, and mention Hitler and the banality of evil before making his way back to what the big deal is about the sentence. All I could think was, “Man, I really want to go to Paris and write in that bookshop.”

Katherine Heiny talked to The Review Review about what it takes to be a writer. She talks about her favorite rejection letter (“We really like this story except for the characters and plot and dialogue”), how “thrilling” it is to have a story published in a lit mag, and the best advice she’s received about writing. It came from Evan Hunter, who told her that if she wasn’t getting up in the morning to write, then she was just a person who planned to write something in the future. She said taking his advice led her “from being a writer who wants to write to one who actually does, and there’s no better feeling than that. And none worse, either.” Amen.

Also from The Review Review (seriously, you should check them out; there’s gold everywhere), editor of Cobalt Review, Andrew Keating, gives writers some tips about submissions. He also sheds some light on what it’s like to run a lit mag (which I found personally gratifying). Key points he makes: follow submission guidelines and read the magazine. He admits this is cliché advice, but from an editorial and writer-in-progress point of view, I can say with utmost confidence that it’s critical advice. By the way, over at Cobalt, they feature interviews with “the most influential writers in the literary community,” which include educators, publishers, and well-known writers. I’d highly recommend burgeoning writers give those a read.

Since this is North Carolina, it bears mentioning that Ron Rash’s novel Serena is being adapted for the screen. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as the title character, with Bradley Cooper playing George Pemberton. (Jennifer Lawrence can’t seem to get enough of Appalachia, can she?) Oddly, filming is underway in Prague, not North Carolina. I have no idea why.

The Rumpus interviewed poet CA Conrad late last week about his work and his process, which is unique. Conrad conducts “(Soma)tic Exercises” in order to create his poetry. For example, he’ll eat only blue foods or only listen to a particular song for several days. He’s even used a mugging experience as inspiration. The results are organic and thoughtful. The interview starts with a story about a crystal and a bizarre encounter with a woman at Mt. Shasta. I almost quit reading, but I wanted something poetic for this article. I’m glad I stuck with it: I think this guy might be brilliant.

Speaking of poetry, National Poetry Month is coming to an end. As a send-off, here’s Shel Silverstein singing “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too.” You’re welcome.