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Q and A

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.

Nov 08, 2007; Wistar Asks:

Hi Stacey. I bought the new Tin House at last. It's great. Pixar should make a movie about Miss Pretty. Last night I was wondering about your social life. What's your balance of writerly to non-writerly friends? Do other writers get on your nerves or do you stick with your own kind? Also, do you know Aimee Bender personally or do you just share pages with her sometimes?

Stacey answers:

Wistar, I'm so glad you bought the Tin House. For a while, I was really excited about it, but now that the weeks are dragging by and I still haven't received my contributor's copy, I've sort of stopped caring about it, or anything really. Other writers understand this, which is why I'd say about half my friends are writers. That's probably a few too many, but I'm sure I annoy them as much as they annoy me so it works out okay. The important thing is to never date a writer. Never ever. Writers have issues.

I've met Aimee Bender a few times and have the signed books to prove it.

Nov 07, 2007; Wag Asks:

Hello Stacey! Long time! How are you? How is the book doing (and by "the book" I mean your book "Twin Study" not the book as a storytelling medium).

Stacey answers:

Hello Wag. I am fine, thank you, and thank you for your kind interest in my book. Although I have no sales information for Twin Study, I think I can safely assume that very, very few copies of it have been sold. I would guess less than a thousand. This is because everything is horrible and corrupt and sucks, including me but also the book industry and chain book stores. I'm so depressed about it that I don't quite have it in me to launch into a rant. But I am thinking of switching careers, although my back-up plan (real-estate broker) is probably a worse idea than author, and I'm saving my back-up back-up plan (heroin addict) for the appearance of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Though I thought I saw two of them in Scottsdale yesterday, if the horses are allowed to be miniature horses.

Nov 01, 2007; Mage Asks:

What are your thoughts on philosophers?

Stacey answers:

I like philosophers. I'm glad that there are people who think about thought, as this seems like a worthy thing to think about. I, personally, do not always find philosophy to be good reading, although I love Plato and find some of Nietzsche quite snappy. But I also have a firm, heartfelt belief that prose should be clear and reading should be a pleasure, and I've noticed that a lot of modern philosophy is sludgy. There's no subject, whether it's philosophy or lit crit or whatever, that's so complicated it has to be explained in a convoluted language of its own invention. Whenever I read that kind of philosophy, I get angry and throw the book across the room.

Oct 30, 2007; crazy Asks:

Why did I decide to go to journalism school?

Stacey answers:

How about: to change the world, to make a buck, to meet David Bowie, and because you're crazy, Crazy.

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