This Writing Life

Hobart Journal last November. Bud Smith was the guest editor and he accepted 5 flash fictions, mostly all from journals that have gone out of publication. You can read them all here: http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/five-stories. I can’t share the “exciting news” part quite yet. Just know I am over-the-moon!!! Today was the beginning of Jonathan Cardew’s Ugly Real Beautiful: Let Your Characters Tell the Story. It’s our third Bending Genres weekend workshop of 2019, and all three (Meg Tuite in January; Alina Stefanescu in February) have been full so far. We only take 20 writers max, and our next opportunity, Sara Lippmann’s Mine What Matters, is more than half full already. So, don’t wait!!! More here: https://bendinggenres.com/monthly-workshops/. Today I also booked flights for Synergia Ranch, our first Bending Genres retreat on May 10-16. I am so excited for this! Also, we still have some openings for our second Bending Genres retreat at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, N.M. on July 21-27. Come write your heart out in the desert, eat gourmet food, laugh and dream with like-minded writers: http://retreat.bendinggenres.com And, I hope to see you in Portland at https://www.awpwriter.org, March 27- 31? I’ll be floating around the book fair needing a haircut, hiding in back booths at late- night readings, toasting friends like Bill Soldan, Karen Stefano, Len Kuntz, Jayne Martin and a plethora of other talents who have new books, or books being birthed soon. Please let me know if you have any signings or engagements. Happy writing! What are you reading lately?]]>

The Hardest Thing to Express

When I first began to publish more actively in online and print journals, around 2009 and 2010, there was a community called 52/250. I just ran into one of the three editors of 52/250 in D.C. at the AWP conference, John Wentworth Chapin! It brought back so many memories of that entire year, workshopping and showcasing our work as a supportive online community, and even more, using the venue as a vehicle for experimentation, pushing writing conventions, or “rules,” or boundaries. Being willing to fail on the page (as Beckett made famous- ‘fail better!’) Simultaneously, I was taking notice of the online journals that seemed to have pizazz, and moxie, the journals that published more edgy, experimental, or a range of writing that interested me. Among many was a site called The Nervous Breakdown, started by Brad Listi in the mid- 2000s. On a whim, after seeing the Joan Rivers documentary movie, I wrote a whimsical “review,” but not really a review, more a commentary piece about Joan. I decided to send it to The Nervous Breakdown, and although Brad was confused about what category of writing it was, he sent it to Cynthia (pictured above). She was the Arts & Entertainment Editor. She loved it, and published the piece: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/rvaughan/2010/07/a-piece-of-work-joan-rivers/ Then, a few months later after I’d seen a rather bizarre movie called “Inception,” directed by Christopher Nolan, I wrote another strange piece called “I Had a Dream” (Thanks Mr. King), and Cynthia again loved it, despite it being a sort-of fiction/ prose poemy/ creative non-fiction piece. She published it at Nervous Breakdown: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/rvaughan/2010/07/i-had-a-dream/ Years later, when RIFT (my last book, co-written with Kathy Fish) was selected as the Nervous Breakdown‘s Book of the Month Club (December, 2015), Cynthia sent me the most flattering congratulations “fan letter.” I was buoyed by her sweet, wonderful words and enthusiasm, and her referencing those earlier pieces she’d published in the journal. Her work, and her words are still online here: http://cynthiahawkins.net/blog1/ Dearest Cynthia, we miss you. I MISS YOU. The world seems slightly less lovely without you here.  I will miss discussing all things cultural: movies, actors, plays, etc. If you knew Cynthia, or are reading this and feel moved to help her family (husband, and two girls), you can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/CynthiaHawkins In short, I’m so grateful for everything you ever gave to me, and my writing, Cynthia. I hope that in our support of one another, I gave you as much encouragement and gratitude as you have towards me. Thanks for your bright light, your laugh, and your writing and wit.]]>

New York, New York: Big City of Dreams

states-of-terror On Saturday night, Paul Beckman hosted the Best Small Fictions 2016 reading! Same spot, KGB. This reading included mostly authors selected for the recently published anthology, expertly edited by Stuart Dybek and Tara Masih. Including, but not limited to: Britt Haraway, Anne Weisgerber, Dawn Raffel, Nancy Ludmerer, Courtney Sender, Ilana Masad, Dianca London Potts, Tina Barry, Eliel Lucero, Michael G. Maxwell, Karen Stefano, Paul Beckman, Len Kuntz, Meg Tuite, Bud Smith and me. I read my piece, “A Box,” which was chosen for the Best Small Fictions, 2016 (originally in RIFT, my co-authored book with Kathy Fish). kgb-riftbrooosbsf-group-shot And then, there was the general pizazz of being in in a city I love more than any other, with writer pals/ friends I adore, admire, revere, love: yesr-l-s-kwestvillemeg-mgm-me Overall, I would do this again, and again. Soulful, inspiring. Deeply satisfying. Please, sir, may I have some more?  ]]>

Readings, Raffles and more

10426125_10205375485565130_1045649562077628047_nLen Kuntz Sa Fe 2015 We went to Santa Fe for the TWISTED Reading Series, hosted by our pal, Meg Tuite: El Flacco and Meg Santa Fe Our featured reader was the exceptional Kate Braverman, and once Karen Stefano and James Claffey arrived, everything was A-OK! Meg’s Santa Fe reading circle rounded out the twelve readers. Also the Denver writers, with Sally Reno, Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman (at a Karaoke Lounge after the reading) : Kate Braverman and meReading in Santa FeThe gang Santa Fe 2015Len and me Santa Fe Last photo of me actually reading a new piece, “Keep it, Curt”: 10945029_1029094903774721_5854911798826018526_n Overall, it  was a festive event and a great extended weekend! RAFFLES: The winner of the January Raffle is…Julia Fiero!!! There were seventy-four entries and I asked a non-writer to select a name out of a hat (blind). Congratulations, Julia- I hope you enjoy Luke Goebel’s Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours as much as I did! February Raffle is Together We Can Bury It by Kathy Fish! To enter, simply comment here or on my Facebook Post, Twitter or Tumblr. This is another book you simply must have! And, my piece called The Fallow Heart, which is in my Addicts & Basements book, you can read at Fictionaut: “The Fallow Heart” by Robert Vaughan — Fictionaut And that, sugar plums, is a wrap…stay warm and informed.  ]]>

Family, Friends and Writing

Heidi and baby Rob Christmas Hiram Lake, 1993 Also, today is my dearest friend Andrea’s birthday. It is not polite to mention a lady’s age, but we’ve been friends for more than half of our lives. Besties. Roomies. Through thick and thin. Through drink and smoke. Through concerts by the dozens. And through it all, we’ve maneuvered our relationship with grace, with ease, supple support. I love you, Andrea! Thanks for so much laughter and our depth. My story, “Bacon and Eggs, 1977” is published today at Everyday Genius. This is from my upcoming story collection, Departures Or Arrivals. Michael Seidlinger chose it as he curates the month of August at EG, and wanted to represent writers’ works from a current project: Everyday Genius: Robert Vaughan Also, another short fiction piece, “No Face World Champ” was published recently at theNewer York, by Josh Raab and Chuck Young: No Face World Champ – theNewerYorkThanks, guys! Last weekend, I was in the city of my youth, Rochester, and was simultaneously reading a memoir by Sonja Livingston called Ghostbread. What a breathtaking book! Through her use of poetic prose and short chapters, structured like brilliant flashes, this book made me feel as if I’d learned something completely new about a city and region in which I was raised. I highly recommend it. I also suggest gathering siblings and loved ones on a frequent basis. Telling stories, various opinions on why this one got that name, or how grandpa fell into his potato soup. Or why it matters to have intelligent and diverse discussions! Thanks Mikel (Mike), Julia, Cheryl (Aldo), Satchi, Heidi, Jeff, Rob (Anna) and Trevor for being my family. And grateful for all of the friends who turned out for Trevor’s going-off-to-college party…thanks! Kick some serious butt: Rob, Anna and Trevor this fall.]]>

Room with a View: The Clearing, part 2

campusentrance1 Upon arriving at the Lodge, I was greeted warmly by Tammy, and shown my Loft room in the Professor’s Quarters building (same building, different entrances). Although the stairs to my room were possibly lethal, I had the best view on the planet! mainlodge The first morning, I had a taste of our entire week: five writers showed up to take the Mixing Genres course: Nancy, Pete, Jami, Siobhan, and Cate (would have been six, but one had a last minute family commitment). After a hearty breakfast, I worked my way through the woods to the Schoolhouse where we hosted the entire week of Mixing Genres in the Weaver Room: schoolhouse The workshop went great; here is a brief outline, some of what we covered: Monday: We opened with a quote by Steve Jobs. Talked elements of Poetry,  including poems by Marie Howe, Li-Young Lee, Stanley Kunitz, Dorianne Laux, David Wojnarwicz, and Ocean Vuong. We also tried a prompt called Making the Ordinary into the Extraordinary. And in the afternoon, we roundtable the new work. Handout from Ray Carver’s “On Writing.” Also, every day I met with one writer one-on-one so we could discuss whatever they desired. Tuesday: Discussed Mark Twain’s concept about Truth is Stranger than Fiction. Five Elements of a Story. “Read” by Kathy Fish, Russell Edson, Evelyn Hampton, Elizabeth Ellen, Len Kuntz, William Goyen, Brandi Wells, and returned to Kathy Fish. We did an in-house prompt on character, using photographs. In the afternoon, after a filling lunch, another roundtable. Wednesday: We chatted about the ever-evolving landscape of Memoir. Read and discussed Anais Nin’s prologue to House of Incest. Samuel Delaney, Lidia Yuknavitch, Kate Braverman, Mark Doty. Then we read the entire Yiyun Li’s “Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life”, published at A Public Space. We did another in-house writing prompt. And we round-tabled after lunch. Thursday: Biography: we read the forward of Shadows and Light, by Joni Mitchell’s biographer Karen O’ Brien, talked about D.T. Max’s Every Story is a Ghost Story: David Foster Wallace; Diane Arbus by Patricia Bosworth; Raymond Carver by Carol Sklenicka, and Cynthia Carr’s Fire in the Belly about David Wojnarowicz. 5 writing prompts on the board. Afternoon free. And so, I used the opportunity to do a couple of things I’d wanted to do: photos_labyrinthhomesteadmeadow I walked the entire labyrinth, and then soared through the breath-taking Homestead Meadow, following the footpath through deep woods to the Cliff House, Jens Jensen’s original private retreat: cliffhouse8 This is Jens, the founder of The Clearing, sitting on his Cliff House bed. I spent time inside of this small but incredibly special place on the campus. I really felt Jens’ presence more than once during the week, but no place more than here. Back in class, Friday, we discussed the essay, beginning with Bob Hicok’s “Prose Poem essay on the Prose Poem” which is the forward of the Rose Metal Press’s Field Guide to Prose Poetry. We also discussed Kate Zembrano, Ben Tanzer, Hilton Als, and Roxane Gay. We talked about all sorts of other things you might do with a writing career: radio, television, travel writing, literary journalism, plays, writers on craft (like Judy Bridges’ Shut Up and Write) We practiced our pieces for the Friday evening Camp night! Then we did one last exercise to honor one another and the great week we’d spent together. After Friday’s supper, all the workshops performed: first my writers read their original works, then a Jeopardy game by the Touring Door County group; the Wood Working workshop explained their shed they’d built, and finally the Novel Discussion group performed an impromptu performance. Afterwards we had refreshments and I joked “don’t drink the Kool-Aid!” When I returned to my sleeping quarters, there was a group of new friends drinking wine: Marilyn and John, Mary, Pat, Joan, Russ and Corky. A nice way to round out the week! What a wonderful week! Thanks Judy Bridges for this amazing opportunity. Thanks Mike Schneider, Kathy Swanson, Eric Rinkleff, Tammy Musiel, and Melinda Schaufer for not only making me feel welcome, but taking interest in what we are all there to accomplish. To everyone I met, and spoke with, laughed and cried, risked and debated: I cherish you. I will return.        ]]>

National Poetry Month: April 1-3, 2014

images   Russell’s poetry is dark, smart and infused with just the right amount of humor. Here is more about the collection: Eternal Patrol: Russell Dillon: 9780988228733: Amazon.com: Books And here is my reading of “Eternal Patrol: Robert Vaughan reads Russell Dillon’s “Eternal Patrol” – YouTube Yesterday, April 2nd, I also read the title poem from Laura Kasischke’s “Space, In Chains,” which is a phenomenal poetry collection and won the National Book Critics Circle Award: books   “Kasischke’s intelligence is most apparent in her syntactic control and pace, the way she gauges just when to make free verse speed up, or stop short, or slow down.”—The New York Times Book Review Here is my reading of “Space, in Chains:” Robert Vaughan reads “Space, In Chains,” from Laura Kasischke – YouTube What will I read today? More importantly, what will YOU read today? A subway poem? A billboard poem? Maybe it’s a conversation you have with a friend about poetry? I chatted on Facebook with Brian Alan Ellis the other day about Kenneth Patchen (among many other poets). Imagine how different our world would be if we spoke more about poetry than guns? If we read infinitely more poems than listen to stories that contain violence?

 
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Tagged- My Writing Process

Gay Degani 2 This is Gay reading at the HEAT reading, AWP/ Seattle (and a mini-me in the doorway!) For more information about how Gay keeps herself busy, and about her NEW NOVEL, the suspenseful What Came Before, check out Words in Place. And now, the questions: 1) What am I working on? My first full length collection, Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanismsofficially launched at the AWP Conference in Seattle, February, 2014: Addicts & Basements: Robert Vaughan: 9781937865238 I’m currently working on a full length story collection, Departures Or Arrivals. I also co-host a quarterly reading series called Middle Coast Poets: Middle Coast Poets Reading Series. We have our next reading on April 28 at the Riverwest Public House in Milwaukee, and the  current poets are Brittany Cavallero, Larry O. Dean, John Walser, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Paul Scot August and me. I will be teaching a workshop, Publishing Your First (or Next) Collection « Red Oak Writing for their Saturday workshop series. And I’m teaching a week long workshop, Mixing Genres, at The Clearing in Door County, Wisconsin: The Clearing Folk School::Classes I’m conducting Interviews for the new site, ENTROPY! 2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? I work as hard as I can to find the core of a poem or a prose piece. I hope that my work is the combination of heart and soul and fragments that make up a human being’s struggles to be alive, and possibly tumbling toward some other realm. I love words, and language, and for the most part, people. I’m unsure if it differs, yet I know I am the only me. So in that, somehow, there lies the answer. 3) Why do I write what I do? I suppose I am trying to make sense of the world, and of life itself. Through other people, characters and their voices, senses, I get to experience the world around me repeatedly. I can do things I might never attempt, and take on new experiences through them. I’ve also sensed, from a young age, that if I did not write, I might not still be here. I like to attempt the genres that scare me the most. And I write for more than me, too. For my Mom and Dad, for James and Mel, for all of those no longer here on planet Earth. 4) How does my writing process work? I’m not really sure, it morphs over time and depending upon each project. I try to stay as organized as I possibly can. Not an easy task! I used to submit a ton of writing, so that took more notebooks and jotting down submission data, keeping track of acceptances and rejections, especially those encouraging ones. I write best early in the day, just after coffee, before other items creep up, before social media is checked and instant messages and tweets are responded to. I also believe in my writing roundtable for solid feedback and work with two other writers in an online prompt writing weekly group. I am tagging Michael Gillan Maxwell and Bud Smith: Michael Maxwell (Michael Gillan Maxwell) is a Freelance Visual Artist, Writer, and Teacher. His work is award winning and heavily published and he is an all-around kickass fellow: Bud Smith (Bud Smith) is the author of Tollbooth, Or Something Like That, and his just released full length poetry collection, Everything Neon. He also is the host of The Unknown Show:  ]]>