“The week I was to graduate from Harvard Law School, I received an envelope enclosing two letters. One, from the Dean, threatened to withhold the diploma at commencement from everyone who had not paid their tuition and fees in full; the other, from the Alumni Office, begged the new graduates (provided that they did in fact receive their diplomas) to start making large gifts to the Law School. I did not attend commencement, and I did not make a gift. Far too many years later, this experience became the inspiration for “The Idea of a Virtual University.
“The reason for the decades long delay is that I had to develop the right tone to write about this experience. If the tone is angry or off key, what should be funny becomes angry and sarcastic. Time helps. Some of my best stories came from ideas that bothered me for years until I finally had the right words to begin. If it’s worth writing, it’s worth the wait.”
It seems like we just finished up Vol. 1, No. 1 but tomorrow is February 25 and that can only mean … we’ll be opening for submissions again. Get your best fiction, poetry, nonfiction and flash fiction together and submit. We look forward to reading your work!
While wandering around a cemetery near Grimesland, NC, I took out my trusty journal and began to sketch the position of the headstones, trees, and integral parts of the microcosmic landscape. In doing this, I noticed that two headstones, one belonging to Georgia Joyner (b. 1934, d.1968) and the other labeled as James Wooten (b. 1897, d.1975). I took a photograph (attached) of these memorials, lined up like Stonehenge in their perfection, and the image reminded me of how children stack dominoes perfectly in line so that they will fall according to plan.
With this idea, I noticed the dates on their headstones. Obviously these two wouldn’t have been children in the same decade, but both lived in times when dominoes were common toys. And thus the writing process began…
“Grandma’s House” began as an exercise in a graduate creative writing course. For the life of me, I can’t remember the prompt; I doubt it had little to do with the story’s final form anyways. I wanted to write a story about the intermingling of happiness and sorrow. One of my favorite themes in writing is the way in which one thing can lead to its opposite: joy to despair, good to evil, or vice versa. (I’m not always a pessimist.)
“To this end, I took two elements from my childhood. The first was my grandparents’ house: I have plenty of good memories (and even better cookies and pudding) from there, and I wondered what it would be like to live in such a place, filled with memories, for so many years. I combined it with my greatest fear from childhood: tornadoes. I’ve never been through one, thank God, but it’s been close, and I wondered what would happen if someone’s entire life–we’re talking generations here–was stripped away in a matter of minutes. What would that person be going through? Would someone who hasn’t been through it even understand? The answer is “no, of course not,” and the result is “Grandma’s House,” which may not answer any questions, but it certainly raises a few–if only in my own mind–and that’s good enough for me.”
We got a nice little piece about What The Fiction posted on the ECU News Blog. Check it out. Many thanks to them for getting this up so quickly.
Link to ECU News Blog
We’ve had a couple of donations since the first issue came out and we certainly appreciate it.
Just a word about that: we won’t solicit for money, other than the Paypal tab on the website or if you need info on where to send a check. The editors take NO compensation or financial benefit from What The Fiction. Any funds we take in will go towards printing an end of year anthology of the best of our journal. That is it. Even the contributors get nothing at this time (although we do plan to give them at least one contributor copy).
So, if you ever do send money, feel free to ask what our balance is or if we have spent any. We’re an open book. This project was never designed as a money maker, just a place to give voice to more great writing.
Finally … after some late nights are hard decisions, What The Fiction has hit the Internet!
We’ve finally got that first issue up, with some great poetry and fiction for you to read. We’ve also got some cool cover art work. Be sure to check it out ASAP and tell all your friends.
Enjoy the issue while we catch our breath.