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Apr 02, 2009; The Future Asks:

Dear Stacey, I recently discovered a new form of writer's block that delivers all of the side effects with none of the guilt! It is so clever, you can sit at the computer for 8 hours straight, not having written a word, and still feel accomplished. It's called the internet. And it assures you: inspiration is just around the cyber-corner. Doubting the meaning of that big word you just wrote? it. Can't name your character? Just need to check in on what the cool kids are wearing these days? I'm telling you, there are endless things to learn and discover. Just keep clicking away and, eventually the story will write itself! I'm not one to hoard such cutting-edge information on the possibilities of procrastination and I thought who better to spread the word than you. And the best part? It's absolutely free! Thanks, Stacey, for all you've given me. Happy Surfing, The Future

Stacey answers:

Interesting. I will have to look into this.

Apr 01, 2009; vasya Asks:

DrinksYou will need something; viagra bwjal; online casino =-]]]; cialis >:DDD; cheap flights 8D; buy levitra >:-DD; ambien ita;

Stacey answers:

Vasya! I put up a CAPTCHA so that you and your robot minions couldn't try to sell us Levitra anymore! But you have mutated into a smarter robot, you little rat.

Mar 18, 2009; Wag Asks:

I recently discovered that my dermatologist is in fact a Scientologist (a derma-scientologist?). Anyway, my wife thought the doctor was just a nice Jewish lady, but is now terrified. Should we continue to allow this woman to handle our skin?

Stacey answers:

No. Doctors should be scientists, not Scientologists. You need someone rational. I switched dermatologists when the one I had, the one who wore two pairs of glasses at once, told me that boils were a biblical affliction that plagued Job, then scraped out the inside of mine with a metal tool (maybe a pen?) without giving me anesthesia of any kind. That was how I learned that there's a real reason why they put a leather strap between the teeth of cowboys in old Westerns when they're digging out the bullet because I clenched my teeth so hard that I could barely talk the rest of the day. Also, when I got up off the table the nurse was cringing in the corner. I asked her what the substance inside the boil looked like and she didn't want to answer. When I insisted she finally said, "turkey gravy." Believe me, you do not want this kind of irrational dermatological experience. Get someone who only believes in science, or better yet, nothing.

Mar 17, 2009; bob fletcher Asks:

what is dirty realism???

Stacey answers:

Here's the url for the Wikipedia entry:

Mar 12, 2009; Sigh Asks:

Yes. I am a terrible person. Thanks for the suggestions, although I'm going to pass on the Cormac McCarthy, sure, he's a brilliant writer, but I loathed Blood Meridian so much that I nearly burned it in my trash can, but then I realized that if I did so McCarthy would have won.

Stacey answers:

That's fine. I just wanted to give you an assortment since I don't know your taste. I find I have more fun reading Cormac McCarthy novels when I think of them as a form of children's lit, like boys' adventure tales, but for grown ups. It works for Haruki Murakami too.

Mar 12, 2009; Wiki'd Asks:

According to Wikipedia, you are married and a Scientologist. Is this true?

Stacey answers:

I am just so happy to have a Wikipedia entry that I didn't write myself. Does it really say that? I have to go look at it.

Wow, it really does say that. The Church of Scientology is prominently featured. I am not married. I do not belong to the Church of Scientology. I just put Scientology down once on my Myspace page because I saw it on the pull-down menu and thought it was funny. I also also put down married because I told my boyfriend I wanted to be Myspace Married, which is different than being legally married but still sort of romantic.

Mar 10, 2009; SKC Asks:

Hello, I'm writing an analytical essay on your short fiction, "The Cavemen in the Hedges." I was using the psychoanalysis approach for my paper, and wanted to discuss about the suppression and projection that Kim was slowly revealing. Well, my real thesis question is "How does Richter show couples in her (this specific) story, or what does Richter see in couples?" I found that, in this specific story, you took the man's point of view, to show of his faults in the relationship? His negligence to her emotions as she obsessively cleans the house to fill the void of his not wanting to marry. Where can all the cavemen fit in to this, is he also ignoring her initial fear? Maybe you could just give me a hint? Thank you so much for your help, and I really love this story.

Stacey answers:

Oh my. Hello, SKC. I'm so pleased you're writing about my story. I can't give you any answers, exactly, because I don't believe there are answers in literature, just different ways of framing the questions. So here are a few questions: are you sure Kim is the one (or the only one) doing the suppression and rejection? What if the cavemen are all actually female? Is her devotion to order only about her relationship with her boyfriend? Does this help? Probably not. One thing I can say for sure: the cavemen represent exactly what you think cavemen would represent: cavemen.

Mar 10, 2009; MaGillacuddy Asks:

Have you ever known someone for a really long time, and suddenly seen them in a completely different way, so that you suddenly thought - this person is horrible! Why do I keep him/her around?? And maybe you had inklings of this for years but thought you were being snotty or judgmental, or thought that you'd been friends for so long that it didn't matter, you'd always be friends, etc. it's just that he/she is sort of shitty sometimes? And then you just sort of wake up one day and think - I don't have to put up with this shit. Or the person says something horrible and you suddenly say - that was totally hurtful and demeaning, why would you say that? And then the person claims you attacked her which is totally baffling from your end. You wonder why it took yourself so long to say anything in the first place and it feels great. Once you realize this, you have, like, furious rage against this person for all the years you didn't say anything to the shitty remarks and the rage lasts for months. And yet, you still feel guilty because even though this person is toxic, he/she claims to love you and when he/she's not being a total bitch, she can kind of be fun? And maybe you're just crazy for thinking she's toxic. Maybe it's you. Have you ever felt like that? And if so - what does it all mean?

Stacey answers:

Oy. I think things like this happen to almost everyone at one time or another, MaGillacuddy, and it’s never easy. I think what it means is this: people change. They may not change when you want them to or in the way you want, but they do change, and somehow you’ve evolved so that you don’t need so much shitty meanness in your life. That’s fantastic! Congratulations! I’m sure this took considerable thought and struggle on your part and you deserve a lot of credit. Now, here’s the thing: you’ve changed but your friend hasn’t. Really, when you think about it, why would she? It would be a freakish coincidence if she happened to snap out of her crap attitude at the same time you did. So even though I hate being on the side of assholes, I have a smidge of sympathy for your friend in this situation, MaGillacuddy. Here’s the thing: I would guess you’ve been getting something out of this friendship for all this time, even if your friend is a big fat jerk. There can be benefits to hanging out with mean people. It can be rather great to have a fierce person in your corner, who spews all the anger you're too timid or lazy to vent yourself, who scares away the faint-hearted and boring creatures you'd prefer not to deal with. But if you grow out of it, you have a problem: now you're stuck with this person who is used to being loved by you for her ferocity, and suddenly you're turning around and telling her she’s hurtful and demeaning. So indulge me for a minute and look at it from her point of view: she’s acting the same way she always has, a way that’s always seemed to be okay by you, and suddenly you’re enraged—but as far as she’s concerned, she’s just being herself. She’s probably hurt and confused, and if she’s an embattled person to begin with, that’s not going to make her act any nicer. Quite the opposite.

She might change someday too, who knows? One thing is for sure though, she’ll do it on her own schedule. But until then, at least she can still be fun at times, and it’s sweet of her to say she loves you, and I’m sure she wouldn’t be your friend if you didn’t have something worthwhile together. You know, it’s hard for a friendship to survive a change like this—you are essentially saying you’re not sure you like her anymore—but even if your friend doesn’t change, the nature of your friendship can. Unless she’s hurtful and demeaning to you—in which case I hope you draw the line and tell her it's not allowed (do it whenever you're ready but tell her)—maybe she’s just a friend with the flaw of bitchiness, which is on par with, let’s say, stupidity, weird relationship issues, over-drunkenness, and bad art making—it’s not fun, but maybe it’s not a fatal flaw.

Mar 06, 2009; Elizabeth in DC Asks:

Ms. Richter: I was happily entertaining myself your short stories while on the tarmac while everyone else moaned and groaned when a small fire broke out in the lavatory.They are very funny and I enjoy laughing at lines like the one about photos stealing one's soul, but the soul isn't much-used anyway, the land of carniverous dinosaurs where one goes when one goes "too far," and the comical use of citations in the Princess/Prince meth amphetamine story, but I am always braced for sadness finding its way in. I am wondering if you first imagine your characters in all their neediness and quirks before you start furnishing them with family (the high-strung rock start Mom), situations (the restaurant showdown)and their epiphanies or slapdowns (awkward teenage boy rejects awkward teenage girl, so she will instead throw her chips in with her over-the-top Mom.) I am wondering because it occurred to me, as i walk about in a strange city, that I start with the awkward or telling or uncomfortable or revealing moment when I write, and then try--and mostly fail--to build a story from that. Just curious..

Stacey answers:

Hi Elizabeth. The neediness and quirks arise as I write or re-write, I find, as do the awkward or telling moments. I sort of love those moments in real life and it's a good thing too, because if I didn't love awkward moments I would be screwed (I strive to be the first to arrive at parties). It's hard for me to get a story going from a detail. I usually start with some sort of conflict between two or more characters, then allow the characters to interact with one another. Isn't that a boring answer? And yet it usually turns into some sort of story, but not always. I find a story sort of sucks up telling details and moment and metaphors almost by accident, and in a way it helps not to try too hard to be smart. I will rewrite for years, but usually I'm trying to get the rhythm right.

Mar 05, 2009; Sigh Asks:

I'm afraid I'm a failure as a fiction writer because I haven't read any contemporary work in a long time. I want to read something good, pure and unadulterated good, that's been written in the last 5 years. Doesn't matter whether it's a collection or a novel. Any ideas for me?

Stacey answers:

You are, you are a failure. Shame on you, Sigh! Go out and buy some hardbacks. It's a bad, selfish thing to want people to read your fiction while not reading anyone else's fiction yourself. You can't be in the world of books unless you're in the world of books. Also, books are wonderful and will change your life, including the new ones, though sometimes the new ones haven't quite found their place in the world yet so you have to sift through them a bit to find the ones you like the most. I'm not sure I've found anything that's pure, unadulterated good, though you can try Denis Johnson's long story Train Dreams, in the 2003 O.Henry anthology (though that's slightly outside your window), and Donald Antrim's essay I Bought a Bed in many anthologies and his book Afterlife. For extremely enjoyable and delightful but perhaps a little less than absolutely perfect, you could also sample from this varied lot: Like You'd Understand, Anyway, by Jim Shepherd, Milk, by Darcey Steinke, Twin Study, by Stacey Richter (sorry), The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, The Last Novel, by David Markson, Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link, and Drop City, by T.C. Boyle.

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