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Q and A

Nov 30, 2007; Amy M Asks:

I discovered your work in a college Fiction Writing class several years ago. My question: What do you think about your work being involved in (i.e., used as an example of kick-ass writing) a college writing class?

Stacey answers:

I think it's great. It makes me feel like an extra-fancy writer lady. The first time I found my name on a syllabus (the result of a Google vanity search), I was so excited that I wrote the teacher a thank-you note.

Nov 28, 2007; Hamlet Asks:

Are we depressed because we're writers, or are we writers because we're depressed?

Stacey answers:

Neither. You're depressed because you haven't been going to the right garage sales. I haven't been depressed since I plucked Normal Vincent Peale's book Stay Alive All Your Life from a pile of dusty paperbacks. Maybe some of Dr. Peale's suggestions for living will help you as much they it helped me:

"Get your personality organized and your thoughts tightened. Effective thinking and action will result."

"Keep your efficiency high by stopping leakages of power caused by fear, inferiority, etc."

"The practice of thought replacement can bring about spirit transfusion: Replace each weak thought with a strong one. Replace each negative thought with a positive one. Replace each hate thought with a loving one. Replace each gloomy thought with a lifted one."

And, my favorite: "Get in the habit of acting joyful in a normal and reasonable manner."

Nov 26, 2007; Hector Asks:

What's your Achilles heel?

Stacey answers:

Sleep.

Nov 24, 2007; Wag Asks:

Why do you suppose douche has taken on such derogatory connotations? I mean, I've never used one, but it seems like something that would be quite refreshing, like a cool breeze on a summer's eve.

Stacey answers:

Good question. Let's make it a nice thing and see if the kids pick it up: Wag, you are so douche. I wanna be just like you someday. Douche bag. Douche pouch. Douche.

Nov 23, 2007; Paul Asks:

When you win a Pushcart what happens? Is there a ceremony? Do you get a letter or a statue like the Oscars? Does it open a lot more doors? Are a lot more journals willing to publish you?

Stacey answers:

Wouldn't a ceremony be great? Like a dinner with round tables and wine and speakers at a lectern? There's none of that, sadly. No certificate, no statuette, just one free contributor's copy, a paperback. You are notified via email by the magazine that published the story. The best part is that from then on, you can nominate other stories, essays, or poems for subsequent editions. If anyone wants to suggest a story for me to look at, please send me an email (stacey@staceyrichter.com) before the end of the year. It has to be from 2007, and it would be nice if it were fabulous/life-changing. Don't be shy. I never get a chance to investigate enough journals and I'd love suggestions. I probably won't be able to find everything, so, you know, don't freak out if nothing happens, but I'll try my best to at least look at it.

Winning a Pushcart opened doors for me, definitely. It helped me find an agent. A lot more journals were willing to publish me.

Nov 19, 2007; crazy Asks:

Who, Stacey, who is the biggest douche you've ever met?

Stacey answers:

Once I met a frat boy at a party who really unnerved me. He was kind of drunk, and he kept staring at my mouth until finally, in an aggrieved and angry way, he said: "You have really nice teeth." But it was like he was saying, "I will fucking kill you."

Nov 13, 2007; Dan Asks:

Short follow up: The new Tin House arrived today. You still don't have yours?

Stacey answers:

I still don't have mine. I'm suppressing an expletive.

Update, November 27, still don't have one.

Nov 13, 2007; Rowling Asks:

Who's your favorite Weasley?

Stacey answers:

I suppose you mean the Weasley family from the Harry Potter books. Okay, here's where I stand on the Harry Potter books. I've read a few, I like them, they're light in the best way, but they're very, very long. I've decided that I can't read a 2000+ page book for children. I just can't do it. I'm a great believer in brevity and nothing on earth deserves to be that long. Also, I've still only read the first half of War and Peace, and if I want to read a mondo epic, I'll finish that.

Nov 13, 2007; Dan Asks:

I followed the NY Times link for getting rejected by committee. It sounds like American Idol for fiction but there is no opportunity for fame simply by being a freak or outlandishly awful. And you don't get on TV. Those two features should be included if they're going to bother. By the way, the Fairy Tale review published what looked like a novel excerpt from you. Is that forthcoming? Thanks

Stacey answers:

Hi Dan. Good for you! I really just put that link in because I couldn't think of a good joke. Still, why not.

Yes, there's an excerpt from a novel I wrote in Fairy Tale Review, and the piece in Tin House is another excerpt from the same novel. I wrote a comment on Gwenda Bond's blog that explains a little about the status of that novel, if you're interested:

http://gwendabond.typepad.com/bondgirl/2006/12/novel_hopes.html

Nov 12, 2007; What's up with that? Asks:

Stacey, can we talk about the thing about writers having issues? I say this as a writer who has dated writers. I agree that it isn't good. What is up with that? Do we know?

Stacey answers:

Being a writer is strange. It can mean you end up with a combination of personality traits that seem like they would cancel each other out, but they don't. They just exist together in uneasy disharmony. On one hand, writing fiction can be a quest for perfect understanding, or perfect communication--a sort of deep (yet impersonal) intimacy. I think that people are driven to write by a hope for this understanding. Because if a writer can write the exact right book, then she will have finally said it. It, the it. I don't know what the it is, but it will be something she really wanted to say her whole life, and maybe she couldn't figure out how to say it in less than a book, or maybe no one would listen, or maybe she wants a permanent record.

On the other hand, most writers like to be alone, and even if they don't love that part, exactly, the whole activity of writing is a solitary endeavor that comes from a private part of the self. So, what you end up with is a person who craves intimacy (as long as it's impersonal) and also would really like everyone else to just fucking leave them alone. Which specific issues this engenders--philandering, control-freakism, work-obsession, self-hatred, wasted-life syndrome, disappointment with everything, disconnection, come-here go-away-disease (that's mine!), and let's not forget substance abuse--is up for grabs.

Or, I don't know, maybe I'm making an unfair generalization. I know some perfectly happy writer couples. Nothing is true for everyone. But if you can help it, don't date a writer.

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