Hillary Leftwich has a new essay published at The Review Review. Her essay explores the necessity of writing communities. She talks about editing for The Conium Review; she explores lessons learned from workshops with mentors like Kathy Fish; she reflects on the importance of connecting with fellow writers through. She explains that writing should not be a solitary endeavor, and that it takes group guidance and support to hone one’s craft. Check out the entire essay here.
Hillary Leftwich talks about her writing journey over at Gay Degani’s Words in Place blog. In her post, she discusses the impact of early books on her childhood; she talks about motherhood, school, and the joy of her first publication in NANO Fiction; she talks about new goals and uncertainties as an MFA student at Regis University. Read the entire blog post here! And be sure to follow Hillary on Twitter @HillaryLeftwich
Chelsea Werner-Jatzke interviews Christine Texeira (contributor to The Conium Review: Vol. 3). Her work has also recently appeared in Moss. She currently works at the Hugo House in Seattle, and she is managing editor of Paragraphiti.
[Chelsea Werner-Jatzke]: What is Paragraphiti?
[Christine Texeira]: Currently it’s an online journal, but we’re about to release our first print issue. It was started by a fellow grad student at University of Notre Dame and is focused on international writers and artists. I’m the managing editor.
[CWJ]: Besides the journal, what else are you working on?
[CT]: I’m editing my graduate school thesis into a novel. It’s a series of stories that feel cohesive to me. One of them was published in Moss. It’s very much a novel of the Northwest. Lot’s of Sasquatch and D.B. Cooper.
[CWJ]: Both the story in Moss and the piece published by Conium are focused on strange sibling dynamics. What’s the deal?
[CT]: I was raised as an only child and had always wanted a sibling. There’s something about that relationship that I have no insight into. It’s like, because I can’t comprehend it I am trying to figure it out in writing. Later in life I discovered that I have an older brother that I’ve never met and I don’t think he knows I exist. Before that discovery I had always written characters that had siblings but it wasn’t the focus of the story. After that discovery I decided to focus on this obsession.
[CWJ]: At AWP I asked you if all your stories were so odd and you were like, “yeah pretty much.” Conium is a journal for experimental fiction, is all of your writing experimental in form or just bizarre in content?
[CT]: A lot of it is form. I become attached to strange bits of information and write about them. Then I begin to see how they can combine. I like to be surprised and am always looking for the funny and the scary that together create the strange. I don’t mean “surprised” or “scary” as in, horror stories. I mean I like to be surprised by my own narratives. To write to the place where I’m a bit afraid because I don’t know where the narrative will go, what the rules are. Then I go back and tame the story, edit a lot of that out.
[CWJ]: Can you describe your editing process?
[CT]: I typically write in sections that are titled and specific. They can have a wide variety in length. Then I cut entire pieces and see what’s left, how they fit together. I consider myself a short story writer but the pieces that I am editing into a novel right now feel unified.
[CWJ]: You have a Furnace reading coming up in 2016 and they publish longish, self-contained stories incorporating audio. What are you presenting for that?
[CT]: That is also a section of the novel, similarly self-contained as the Moss piece. It’s about Mortal Kombat. I’m partial to Mortal Kombat 4 since it’s what I grew up playing so I am going take recordings from that for the reading.
[CWJ]: Are you working anything outside of the novel?
[CT]: I’m writing other stories, not connected, about strange jobs.
[CWJ]: Like what?
[CT]: One is about a continuity editor for a porn production company in futuristic Seattle.
[CWJ]: Do you watch a lot of porn?
[CT]: No not really. I was talking to someone who works at Amazon writing descriptions or reviews or something, and I got to thinking about the job of someone who has to watch a lot of porn, what that would be like.
[CWJ]: Well there’s certainly room for improvement in the cinematic qualities of pornography.
[CT]: Yes, this production company believes porn could be so much more.
Look for more fiction from Christine Texeira to inspire the literary world and the hopefully the porn industry too. Visit her website at https://christinetexeira.wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter @xtinetexeira for more information.
1. “What do we do before we eat?” Rhetorical. Don’t ever forget, my children.
“We take a picture,” the five of us muttered. Pim just pounded her tiny fist on the table while watching Mama. Mama was up the ladder, her eye obscured, exchanged for a larger one, a creature looking down at us.
One more breath.
“Now,” she called. Our hands reaching out for bread and butter. “Pause.” We stopped, hands hovering in place. “Go.” Berries. Our goat’s cheese. “Can you spread with your elbow down, Hal? Yes. Like that. Good. Freeze.” The sound of the click. Click click click. “Stop. Stop! Pause. Okay. That’s good. That’s enough. Enjoy everyone. Bon appetite.” Tired, she came down the steps of the ladder, both eyes her own.
2. “Life is about risk. Good food and good eating are about risk.”
“I want us to make a manifesto for our family.”
“What do we think are important? I hate (‘Mama said the h-word!’)—Sorry!—I detest the word—laws—but if we had them—guidelines, rules,” she said, her upper lip a snarl. “What would they be? Our values. Our ethos.”
She took a drink. “We need a manifesto.”
I leaned against her and read aloud as she wrote: Stop Consuming. Eat good food. Play the banjo. Take a risk every day.
“We fight the isolation of parenthood, the isolation of ‘jobs’ and ‘suburban culture’ every day. We are warriors, my love. We are a new vision of what a ‘homemaker’ can be. A maker of the home, genderless. Radical stuff, my angel. And let’s say, several years from now, you want to build something for yourself. You, my love, will have a head start. A readership in place. So will Bette and Lev and Pim and Freya and Hal.”
3. An unsponsored life is not worth living. (or, The Emperor’s new clothes)
“If we didn’t accept sponsors, love, we might have to work for big corporate firms and then we’d be away from you all day,” Mama said. “This is better. This is a new world order.”
First, it was Timex, not Chanel. It was mid-level corporations. The fun we had at mail time. All the boxes, all the packing supplies; we used to make entire villages. Sure we had to wear the stuff in pictures, taste the snacks they sent, packaging forever font-forward.
“Sponsored posts help keep our family work going,” my mother reminded us.
But then Karl started reading Mama and he was doing a kind of Swedish-19th century-Japanese farmer-before-the-war look and that was her exactly. He flew us in. My mother in her headscarf and handmade sweater, her overalls setting off the security sensors; her clogs kicked off as we stood in front of her, waiting. I will never forget that flight.
“I love everything about all of you,” Karl said, when we arrived. “The family VonTrapp.”
“But modern,” the crowd beside him spoke.
“Yes, so modern.”
Papa played the banjo. Bette played mandolin, Lev on fiddle, Hal on accordion. I was on uke. And then, Freya began to sing and Mama joined on harmony (Pim peeking out from her sling, waving) and I can’t remember what happened next until the clapping started. Everyone stood; the mounds of hay that had been shipped into Paris, between us.
Eliza Tudor is a recent transplant from Silicon Valley to the south coast of England. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, PANK, Annalemma, specs, Weave, Punchnel’s, Paper Darts, The Flyover Country Review, graze, and the anthology, Mythic Indy. You can find her through www.elizatudor.com.
Image Credit: ©/ Dollar Photo Club