Monday, October 1, 2007

Heidi Sits on Screen Porch

When Heidi Bell comes to town, it's always exciting. She brings cookies, molasses-ginger and chocolate chip oatmeal this time, and she has wicked and clever things to say, and Carla Vissers came down to complete our trio---we all got our MFAs together at WMU in 1998. Heidi had just read Andy Mozina's book (The Women Were Leaving the Men), so we made him come over and he brought his wife Lorrie (also my Christopher, Heidi's Adam and Carla's Eric were in attendance, as well as Dave Magson who dropped by casually when he got home from work at 11:00). As far as Screen Porch business, the wine and something colored like green poison and called an Appletini kept us from getting too serious, Carl and Heidi and I decided we would like to have a literary contest of some kind. I suggested that it only makes sense to have our contest attached to somebody elses' contest (such as WMU or Kalamazoo College, at which we would offer some additional prize to our own favorites among the finalists as Jaimy Gordon has done with the Gordon Prize at WMU), or else it makes sense to have our contest attached to a publication, to which we would give money from the entry fees and offer publication. On Saturday, we discussed Heidi's story featuring vignettes of human/insect interaction and my story in which a guy named Jerry becomes obsessed with a snake, much to the distress of his wife. We all decided my story needs a lot more work. I surmised that the writing life feels a lot like a long drawn-out nervous breakdown, but maybe all lives feel that way. If any of you have thoughts about contests, let me know. It would be fun to reward some of the more lively and light-hearted fiction being written today; it would be fine to have a number of contests associated with different institutions and organizations. Anybody who wants to be involved with organizing or judging some sort of contest, let me know. Another possibility is for the Screen Porch Literary Guild to give its own genius award every year. The winning prize could be some fudge candy, and of course the whole business would be kept secret. Some candidates that come to mind are: the writer Andrea Barrett, my carpenter Steve Barett, Alice Munro, Tim Gatreaux, and my mother for her cabbage rolls. Please make nominations in the comments area or email them to me.