Amy Bloom: I'm an Exotic


AMY BLOOM (AWAY, Random House 2007) read her short story, Compassion and Mercy, at a Celebration of Writing seminar in Wesleyan University's Memorial Chapel on Saturday afternoon while 200 yards away on Andrus Field, her alma mater's football team hosted Williams College.  The significant audience that turned out to hear her revealed two things: there is always a choice to be made at Wesleyan between mind and body, and Bloom is a writer with the kind of forceful presence that can compete with anything.  And she competed well, eliciting several laughs throughout her extended remarks. Her reading also produced the operative metaphor for one's creative muse for the rest of the seminar: a raccoon.

On short story vs. novel writing

If I write forty pages and I'm not done... it's going to be a novel.

Character-driven work

I tend to think extensively about a story before I work on it.  I think about the characters.  Eventually I ask, "who dies?"   Because in fiction you have to have things that are compelling.  Going to the grocery store is not compelling.  People dying is.  People going off to war is.

For Bloom, it's always about the character's story, finding ways to show who they are by how they react to events.

By the time you are an adult, events don't make you who you are; they show who you are.

On writing for television

First, no one has to write for television. It's not like they kidnap your children and hold them for ransom. They pay you.

And, if you have other things that you do, and you have the time and space in your life, then collaborating with very, very smart visual artists is positive and rewarding.  And they pay you.

It's different for me. I'm an exotic. I'm older, I'm from the East, and I'm a novelist.

It's funny. I always go out to Los Angeles and the second sentence out of my mouth is, 'That's okay. I'll go back to Connecticut.'  It's best [for a writer] if you can walk away.

Kindle Posting 1: Most Systems 'Go'

Tuesday 1:40 pm: Pilot-tested Kindle publishing with a short story.  Katey Hoagland runs 1,200 words/seven pages, and seems like the best candidate for a test in which I was prepared to load the file, fail, reload, refine HTML, unload and reload again many times according to almost every blog post I read.  Found Amazon's Digital Text Platform (DTP) to be intuitive and easy-to-use. KH lg 2

I completed the title, product description, tags, and uploaded the story manuscript (MsWord.doc file/Mac OS X (10.5)/Firefox).  DTP's conversion tool churned for about 40 seconds and notified me that Katey Hoagland was successfully converted. Reviewed the file, noticed that paragraph indents were uniformly eliminated, but that was the only revision to the manuscript.

DTP Dashboard displayed the message: 'Publishing Katey Hoagland. Your content is being published. Most titles take between 1 to 2 hours to become buyable.'

Tues. 3:20 pm: Katey Hoagland appears in the Kindle Store online, without product description, but otherwise as expected.

Wed. 9:00 am: DTP Dashboard still displays 'Publishing Katey Hoagland. Your content is being published...' message.   As a result, I'm unable to access the file for this upload so that I can learn more about what is happening (or not happening).  Not sure if I should wait longer for DTP to come around or if I should simply repost.   e-Mailed request for assistance.

Wed. 9:00 pm: Dashboard remains unresponsive. just responded and confirmed that my upload is active, they will be adding my product description, and they will follow-up to confirm again in 1-2 business days.

Thurs. 10:30 am: Received e-mail from confirming active account status, and intention to post product description.

Fri. 07:30 am: Product description displays on listing in Kindle Store.  Dashboard functioning properly.

2010-01-14  Thurs.  20:15: Katey Hoagland has turned the head of at least one acquiring editor.  So, Katey is coming back home for now.  I de-listed her story from Amazon's Kindle offerings.

Glimmer of Hope

An author-friend published in Glimmertrain.  She described it as a positive experience, the best she had had after years of publishing in newspapers and regionals.  She also credited publication of her story in Glimmertrain with helping her get a good NY agent and three years of promising work on a novel and anthology of short non-fiction. A colleague who learned that I had published a novel just shared a short story she'd written about a catastrophe averted. Her writing engages with a voice that is confident, yet doesn't take itself seriously. She set the tone in the first sentence, kept her contract with the reader, and revealed surprises along the way.  It was good getting to know this new dimension of someone I have come to know in layers, like a character in a novel.  I suggested that if she had not already done so she take a look at Glimmertrain and consider submitting her story there.

She just stopped by for coffee and said that she had visited and decided to submit to the sisters in Portland.  Here's hoping.

UPDATE:  31 August 2009

My story, "Robert's Rules of Order," did not win, place, or show. Neither did my friend's story. Eager to read the winning entries, discover some new writers, and learn what worked for the judges. Onward.