Since I began teaching at the American Museum of Natural History, I’ve realized how much an inspirational setting can jumpstart the imagination and create a flurry of new work for my students. Just as artists sketch in museums or on a busy sidewalk, taking a writer away from their desk and engaging them in the world can bring new life to their work. To further this, One Story has decided to host a series of site-specific, single-day writing classes across New York City.
Our first site-specific (and just in time for Halloween!) class will take place at GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY, on October 26th from 1:30pm – 5:00pm. Brooklyn’s largest National Historic Landmark! 478 beautiful acres filled with gothic architecture, American history, and over half a million interred. Our class will include a guided tour of Green-Wood’s highlights, a craft lecture by me (I am from Salem, after all) on how to create characters from gravestones; a reading in the chapel, and a series of on-the-spot writing exercises that will bring your writing back from the dead. Go here for complete details. There is no application–and available spots are first come, first served. We hope you’ll join us!
Before I start editing a piece with an author, I ask them what the seed of their story was. The first thing that got them excited enough to sit down and start writing in the first place. Almost always, that seed is the key to unlocking the inner workings of their story. As an editor, it’s my job to help writers communicate what they are trying to say more clearly. As a teacher of creative writing, I do my best to bring that same level of detail into the class room, so that each student leaves with a concrete plan of how to re-work their material. Through lectures, writing exercises, artistic experiments, and the sharing of ideas, I endeavor to open students to new possibilities in their writing and their creative lives.
This November, I’ll be teaching a six-week Master Class for One Story. This is the first time One Story has offered a class outside of our week-long summer workshop, and the first time we’re hosting a program inside our Brooklyn offices.
The deadline to apply is September 30th. Details can be found on our website.
I hope you’ll join us in Brooklyn. Until then, here’s to the words coming fast and true.
For the past year, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the American Museum of Natural History. I go there for inspiration, but also to teach creative writing—my students happily scribbling in front of a diorama of mountain gorillas, or underneath a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. When fact and fiction (science & literature) mix, our imagination can blossom in surprising ways. And this is exactly what happens in One Story’s current issue, “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Set in Philadelphia in the 1800s, this vividly-drawn, magically-detailed, humorous and moving story follows the early years of a budding young scientist, Alma Wittaker. Growing up on White Acre, her family’s botanical garden/estate, and encouraged by her parents—who are at turns severe and loving—Alma cultivates a curious mind. She wants to know how things work. But also: why. It is this pursuit of why that determines the course of Alma’s life, as she searches for her place in the world. This story is an excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s forthcoming novel of the same title, The Signature of All Things, and so you—lucky readers—can continue on Alma’s journey of science and discovery when the book hits stores in October. Be sure to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Q&A with us about her research, and the influence of Linnaeus and Darwin on her work. And the next time you find yourself in a science museum, stop and consider the many people who have dedicated their lives to expanding our knowledge of the natural world. In their own way, both scientists and writers play the role of detective, trying to unearth the truth of our existence in the universe. For scientists it is a factual truth—and for writers, an emotional one. There is a story behind every diorama, each skeleton and diagram of the moon. Look closely at that early botanical sketch of a Red Mulberry leaf. Notice the veins, the shape of the tip. Take out your notebook and pen. And start writing.
When One Story started back in 2002, we made the unusual decision to publish authors only once. There were two reasons for this: 1) To ensure that our magazine would never become an insider/clique. And 2) To give our subscribers an exciting new voice in every issue. One Story has published 181 stories from 181 different writers from around the world, and a big part of why the magazine continues to be fresh and relevant in today’s literary community is because of this guiding principle.
To continue in the tradition of new experiences, we’ve decided to take a step outside our regular format with issue #182, and publish a graphic short story: “Drawn Onward” by Matt Madden. I was first introduced to Matt Madden’s work through his exceptional book, 99 Ways to Tell A Story. Ever since I read it, I’ve been thinking of how literary writing and comics intersect, and I knew that I wanted to run a graphic short someday in One Story.
In “Drawn Onward,” a man and a woman cross paths in a series of chance encounters in the New York City Subway system. As obsessions grow and falter, these characters walk closer and closer to the edge, striking a dangerous balance. With each new panel “Drawn Onward” adds a layer to the puzzle, using a mirrored structure of time and place to illustrate the fragile nature of love, and how we seek each other in our own reflections.
We hope you enjoy this special edition of One Story. Be sure to check out our Q&A with Matt Madden about how he created “Drawn Onward,” especially if this is your first comic/graphic experience. When you’re finished, I hope that you will turn the magazine over and open the pages again. With each new read you’ll notice another detail. Like the wonderful issues we’ve published in the past, “Drawn Onward” weaves together an intricate pattern of words and images. And like the best short stories, it stands alone as a deeply moving work of art.
We are thrilled to share some exciting news: in our next issue, #182, One Story will publish our first graphic short: “Drawn Onward” by Matt Madden. Today our printer sent this picture of the first printed issue, hot off the press! We can’t wait to share it with you.
But wait, what’s that you say? Your subscription has lapsed, and you can’t bear to miss this landmark issue? No worries: just use the promo code MADDEN in the payment section when you renew, subscribe, or give a gift to a friend, and the first issue received (by you or your friends) will be Matt Madden’s tragically beautiful love story “Drawn Onward”, set in the New York City subway system.
We’ll be posting more when the issue comes out. Until then, make sure your subscription is up to date, and be prepared for something special in the mail!
My experience with football is extremely limited. But in high school the game was everywhere, and it followed the basic script: Footballers swaggering down the halls, Cheerleaders with their short skirts and high ponytails. This athlete/hero-worship culminated in a Thanksgiving game, and a giant rally where Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors put on skits that celebrated our football team. The head coach would get up and give a speech about how great these young men were, and how the team was going to cream our rivals, and then he would introduce each player, and they would come running down the aisle of our auditorium like they were super-stars. I had blocked this memory from my consciousness (I was in science club—need I say more?), but it all came flooding back when I first read our new issue, “The Prospects.” In these beautifully-written pages, Michelle Seaton deftly chronicles two story-lines—that of the Prospects (young footballers full of hope and bravado), and that of the Recruiters (the Prospects’ doomed future-selves). Using a group point-of-view narration, “The Prospects” lifts the classic football cliché out of the world of after-school specials and sets it alongside the great epics, exploring the culture of youth vs. age, hope vs. decline. Be sure to check out our Q&A with Michelle to find out more about her research with the players and the men hired to scout their talents. It all comes together in “The Prospects,” and was enough to make even this bookish nerd care deeply about football and the young men who play it. Quite a feat.
Many people have been emailing us about the Word Sale that we hosted at our Debutante Ball last Thursday. For those of you who couldn’t join us, you are in LUCK: we still have some words left for sale. A … Continue reading →
Our benefit on June 6th is now sold out, but If you are unable to join us at the Ball this year, you can still celebrate our literary debutantes! Come join us this Friday, June 7th, at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, and enjoy a reading with One Story’s 2013 Literary Debutantes:
This special event, co-sponsored by the Author’s Guild, is free of charge, and will be hosted by One Story Editor in Chief Hannah Tinti. Complimentary wine and beer will also be served. Come congratulate our debutantes in person, and hear some great readings, to boot.