Permission to Write

There’s an important distinction between writers we imitate and writers who grant us permission. Writers we imitate tell us what we should be writing and writers who give us permission tell us what we can write. They expand our limitations and allow us to take risks. They jump off the cliff and disappear beneath the water’s surface, only to reappear a moment later and call up to us, “Come on in. The water’s fine.”

Read the rest at Wiki Lit.

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I Couldn’t Write About My Hometown Until I Left

Like many young writers, I had the idea to write a book of interconnected stories about my hometown and its people, my own Dubliners or Lost in the City. I’d call it, I don’t know, The Avenues after the series of parallel streets intersecting the Esplanade. Each story would be like each row of homes like broken teeth hidden under a canopy of oak.

My final semester at Chico State, I wrote two of the stories that I envisioned would be part of the collection, but I didn’t get any further than that. In some dark and forgotten corner of my Google Drive, there exists a folder of false starts, scenes that didn’t make it past 250 words.

Read the rest at Wiki Lit.

Absentees

Seconds into their set, Reilly got a circle pit started. He’d grown his hair out and done it up in bloody liberty spikes. It looked like a shark’s fin swimming through us in the gyre. Before Reilly could make three revolutions, a kid in an apron broke it up. The punks fell in line and bobbed their heads to the rapid-fire bass triplets, the parabolic and dissonant guitar melody, the tom rolls organized only by chaos, a cacophony not unlike rain, muted and rhythmic, then suddenly torrential. In the chorus, the front man sang in an eagle’s cry, It doesn’t bother me to see you die. It ended with one last burst of frenetic energy, and in the last measure, the time signature changed. The absence of the final note tore the breath from my lungs.

Read the rest at Joyland.

The Case for Shifting Behind Brett Anderson

In 2016, teams employed a defensive shift more than ever before. Across the majors, teams shifted 28,072 times. The Cubs, whose defense maintained a historically good BABIP, shifted the least with just 603 batters faced with some sort of defensive shift in place. The Cubs appear to be one step ahead against the rest of the league since Russell A. Carleton has found that teams are shifting too much. Carleton found that while BABIP on groundballs against the shift has decreased, line drive rates have improved for batters facing a shift and pitchers are throwing more balls, thus increasing the likelihood for more walks and higher pitch counts. Hitters may actually be getting more hits when the shift is in place which, of course, defeats the purpose of shifting.

The Cubs, however, may have a prime candidate for employing a shift in spite of all of this.

Read the rest at BP Wrigleyville.

My Quest for 100 Rejections (and 50 Books Read) in a Year

It shouldn’t be new information that to be a successful writer, one has to endure a lot of rejection. Being told that your writing isn’t good enough can sting, especially if it’s for something like a fellowship attached to real currency you can use to exchange for food or rent or heat. For the first few years of my writing career, I submitted with the goal of getting accepted. The result was that I rarely submitted, or at least I didn’t submit as much as I should have. The desire to get accepted came with the fear of getting rejected.

But then I read Kim Liao’s piece over at LitHub, and I realized I had been thinking about submission all wrong.

You probably have one of [these] friends, too—you know the one I’m talking about, that friend who is a beautiful writer, but who also seems to win everything? I could barely believe that she had the balls to apply to—let alone, get accepted to—several residencies, a prestigious fellowship, and publications in journals I had actually heard of.

I asked her what her secret was, and she said something that would change my professional life as a writer: “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”

I had a professor in undergrad who said that an 8% acceptance rate was what you should aim for as a writer. I don’t know where he got that number, but it’s stuck with me. If you were to accrue 100 rejections in a year and you had an 8% acceptance rate, you would also publish eight pieces that year. I don’t know about you, but that’s more than I had last year.

At the beginning of 2017, I decided I would also try for 100 rejections this year. I also decided I would try to read fifty books this year because the only New Year’s Resolution I ever make is to read more books than I did the year before. This is just the first year I’ve put a number on it.

We’re three months into 2017, or one-quarter of the way through. At this point, I should have 25 rejections, 2 acceptances and 12.5 books read.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

Rejections: 9

Books Read: 11

Acceptances: 1

I’m behind in every category, but not unreasonably so. I could catch up on the books with a good week of reading. I currently have six submissions open, so if all of the rejections came back in the next hour, I would still be ten behind. I’m still not submitting enough to hit 100 rejections, but my increased submission rate has already netted me an acceptance.

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The Books I’ve Read This Year:

  1. Up, Up, and Away! by Jonah Keri
  2. Conduits by J. Ryan Sommers
  3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates
  4. Cartography of the Void by Chris Abani
  5. Once, I Was Cool by Megan Stielstra
  6. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
  7. Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
  8. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
  9. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  10. Drown by Junot Diaz
  11. Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani

Javier Baez on the Bases

In the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Javier Baez looked unstoppable on the basepaths, and a hyper-aggressive Baez is one of the most exciting things to watch. After stealing second and third in the sixth inning of Puerto Rico’s 6-5 win over the USA, the Cubs infielder danced down the line as if he were going to steal home, too. And he seemed like he could do it. After all, he did it in the NLCS last year against the Dodgers.

Baez, who swiped 12 bases last year, is a threat to steal, but he’s never been a sure a thing in that regard. At least, not until the WBC.

Read the rest at BP Wrigleyville