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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PANK 5: Wrestling the Dog

Pick up the latest issue of PANK, PANK 5, turn to page 115. There you will see one of my favorite stories (at least of the ones I've written): It's titled, "Wrestling the Dog (or Who I Am. What I Am Not).

(They identify me as "Rion Scott"in this journal, but "Rion Scott" is dead. As is "Rion A. Scott." It's Rion Amilcar Scott until the casket drops.).

The story doubles as the opening chapter of my novel that is currently making the agent rounds and it is, as 2pac would say, The Realest Shit I Ever Wrote.

The story features these sentences that I'm particularly proud of:

"Gods don't often speak to mortals. They send down commandments and parables and holybooks, but no conversation. Gods are incapable of conversation."

"Life isn't all about survival, but it is some."

"Really, I am a dead man. A restless one. The sort who needs to surface from time to time to smoke a joint or take a shot of rum."

But the story almost never happened. The opening of my book was initially something very different. It was essentially a bunch of words attached to the beginning of the narrative. It was as if someone said. I'm tired of writing this shit, but it needs an opening. Actually extending the narrative seemed like an incredible expenditure of energy after all that writing.

So, I lazily typed up some words and slapped them onto my book and told people: Here, read this.  

Read it they did, and people said: Um, this is not very compelling. Which didn't bother me, I just said: Well, you're wrong. Months down the line, my wife (then girlfriend) read it and said: Um, this is really, really not very compelling.

I don't know why her critique was so much more devastating; why at that moment, I realized what they said was true. Since I had to acknowledge the criticism as true, it was all so utterly depressing. I couldn't imagine writing any more on this project. At least not then. I was literally tired of it.

I cut my self off and sat around in my apartment with the shades down. I spent days just lying on the floor*. No one noticed. After maybe three days, I turned my attention back to the manuscript and the story just sort of flowed out of me.

I sent it around to publications that had rejected me and given me good feedback or publications known for their feedback--a way to trick the literary world into workshopping my shit. PANK, where the editor had given me some pretty good feedback, came back, not with criticism, but an enthusiastic acceptance. Which lifted me off my apartment floor.

I'm enjoying the folks I'm published alongside. Kyle Minor has a great short thing called: "How to Make a Bullet." My friend Eugenia Tsutsumi shines with: "Imported Marie." 

Go get the issue. Here are some stories from that issue:

This is How it Begins by Troy Urquhart

The Customer by Rob Roesnch

Implications of an Unkempt Coiffure by Josh Kleinberg

Exchanges by Tasha Matsumoto

Self-Portrait, With Birds by A. Papatya Bucak

*This may or may not be true.

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