According to my friend Angela, One Story was mentioned several times during the seminar, “The Leap to Debut: Transitioning from Short Form Periodicals to First Fiction,” at the Book Expo last Saturday (June 2, 2007). The seminar examined the changing role of major magazines and how they no longer publish much new fiction, opting to publish more established writers instead. One Story was mentioned as a great place to find debut fiction.
Although we have gotten some more established authors in this magazine and it would be great to publish some super-famous people (just so I can meet them), I’m proud of the fact that One Story has given young authors a chance.
When I first started reading for One Story, I found Patrick Somerville’s story, “Trouble and the Shadowy Deathblow,” (Issue #28) from the slush pile (yes it does actually happen!). When he headlined our reading at Piano’s, Patrick put his first collection of short stories, “Trouble,” in my hands and said that it never would have been published without One Story.
I would like to think that we’re introducing new stories into the world, as in: “Hey World, meet so-and-so. We think this story is great. We hope that you do too. Tell us what you think on our blog. Oh…and please be nice.”
One Story has never published the same author twice. A few months ago, Hannah and I were discussing if we ever would. I laughed, picturing us old and gray with our one thousandth issue coming up and saying, “Where in the world are we going to find our one thousandth author!”
The shootings at Virginia Tech have sparked a nationwide debate about creative writing classes and whether the college heeded warning signs from Cho Seung-Hui’s writing professors. Some feel that creative writing instructors are expected to identify students at risk.
When I teach workshops, I try to create a “safe zone” for students so they feel free to experiment. Granted, my college students tend to write about what happened at the lame frat party the night before, but I wouldn’t want them to feel that I am judging their mental faculties as I’m reading their stories. I think that Cho’s writing professors may have been more alarmed by the fact that Cho’s violent writing was coupled with anti-social behavior.
I wasn’t surprised that the creative writing community at Virginia Tech became actively involved in trying to help the shooter. Writing instructors get to know their students on a more personal level, so the writing community may be the first to detect when students are troubled. I’ve had students come to me during office hours to discuss a recent loss of a sibling or to tell me about an illness in the family. One student told me that he nearly died the year before when a deranged homeless person stabbed him at a college party. These are issues that seldom come up in Chemistry class.
Perhaps it may be helpful for creative writing professors to undergo some sort of counseling training, or would that be asking too much? Do you think that the Virginia Tech tragedy will change the way people teach creative writing? Do you think that this will change writing workshops? Will students still feel free to express themselves?
I don’t think that any wedding is complete without an Awkward Wedding Speech. Matthew’s father delivers a classic one in One Story issue #84, “Wedding Pictures.” He actually ends with, “Let them eat cake!”
The most awkward wedding speech I’ve ever witnessed was presented at my cousin Mark’s wedding. His bride’s friends gave a shared speech, which means that two people decided it was a good idea to tell the wedding guests that, “Mark didn’t really want to go out with Judy at first. So she kept calling him and calling him, and when he didn’t respond, she took the train up to Cornell from New Haven and showed up at his doorstep.”
One of my other cousins leaned over to me and whispered, “Did Mark just marry his crazy stalker?” Which is exactly what everyone else at the wedding was thinking.
What are some of the Awkward Wedding Speech situations in your life?