Tag Archives: brad green

I assault PANK with crank-fueled crime

Finally, finally, finally my story in PANK has gone live.  You’ll recall that PANK rejected six other stories before taking The Cloud Factory.  I am grateful to Roxane Gay and Brad Green for agreeing that this story was up to snuff.

This story is important to me in another way, too – with this story I really, really began telling stories again.  Which is to say, putting story before pretty sentences.  Judge for yourself if you think it works out.  You can’t comment over at PANK so please feel free to comment here, if you’d like.

A preview:

Jimmy brought nothing but a duffel bag.  He strapped the bag in the bed of my decrepit Chevy.

“My last ride,” he said climbing in the cab.  “You’re riding home alone, Gary.”

“You serious?” I said.

“As a house fire.  Take me to the bus depot.”

I pulled away from the dirt alley onto the street.

Send it out into the world

My friend Brad Green had a story picked up by the anthology Surreal South ’11.  A real coup, and well-deserved congratulations, Brad.  I’ve read the story privately, and let me tell you, it’s a whopper.  A Biblical zombie story.  Feature that.

I only read the story after I knew it had been picked up, though.  Which got me to thinking. Had Brad sent me the story prior to it being chosen for publication, I have this sneaking suspicion that I’d have been very suspicious. I mean, zombies, for chrissakes, right?

It is most strange how my opinion of a piece changes, mine or someone else’s, once it has been vetted and published.

I draw two observations:

1) Self-publishing, while certainly viable, still lacks the the legitimacy of being published by someone else. If the only vetting a story goes through is by you and / or trusted readers, that’s not much vetting at all.

and, somewhat in contradiction to that:

2) It really doesn’t matter what you or any trusted reader thinks of your story. It only matters what the editor on the other end of the submission queue thinks. If you feel in your gut that a story is good, then it probably is – at least to some editor out there.  So send it out into the world and find out.

The Nebraska Panhandle, 1988 is up at Numero Cinq

My essay about a summer childhood afternoon is up at Numero Cinq.  Douglas Glover has this to say about it:

  Here’s a lovely addition to the growing list of Numéro Cinq “Childhood” essays from Court Merrigan who grew up in Nebraska and lives just across the state line in Wyoming. Court was raised on a farm. He has that authentic Western voice, a voice bred in the  dirt and heat and the smell of oil from the farm machines and the chink of irrigation pipes and sound of distant thunder (farmers watch the sky far more than city folk). I have a fondness for the piece based on personal history—the first story I published was about a hail storm on the farm where I grew up. Court’s father towers over this story, his laugh, his exhortations and his reading. What’s really particular and authentic here is that father, Catholic, Jesuit-trained, literate, and wise. He’s appeared before on NC, just in passing,  in Court’s “What it’s like living here.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Brad Green for reading several early versions of this essay and pronouncing them – thankfully – DOA.  I found this piece as difficult to write as anything I’ve ever done, and I ran a real risk of real embarrassment in those early attempts if Brad hadn’t been there to save the day. 

Thanks also to Douglas Glover for asking for the piece, and then publishing it once he had it.

Please head on over to Numero Cinq and have a look.  Thanks.

A writer is paid in hope – interview at Dark Sky

Brad Green and I had a conversation over at Dark Sky about writing, the expat life, and how a struggling writer is paid not in currency, but in hope.

The real cost of taking a real shot at the writer’s life isn’t the lost income (although there’s that, too), but in what Taleb calls the subtle humiliations at the watercooler. Faulkner pointed out fifty years ago that the writer has no place in American society. Little has changed since then, other than the growth of MFA-sponsored refuges, and your only choice as a writer is to keep on working. And hope.

Maybe you’ll get your big break, maybe you’ll get published in The Paris Review, get a hotshot agent, or sell 10,000 copies of your self-published Kindle book. But don’t count on it. As Taleb says, you may spend years working for a grand vindication that will never come.

If you are a struggling writer, you are not paid in currency. You are paid in hope.

Please head on over to Dark Sky and have a look.