The Yellow Manuscript by Jenny Maloney

New American Legends just picked up my longer-than-100-word short story “The Yellow Manuscript.” You can check it out here.

New American Legends

THE YELLOW MANUSCRIPT by Jenny Maloney

Sylvie Andrews found the dead man’s hidden manuscript in the false bottom of a drawer in his roll-top desk.

It was the stuff of daydreams for a graduate English major to be allowed into legendary novelist George Pickerman’s study in the first place. To find three hundred single-spaced typed pages which had never been seen before was like something out of an Indiana Jones movie; it was all Sylvie could do not to shout in triumph or pee her pants. A false drawer bottom? Really? Who did that?

Pickerman, who had been compared alternatively to H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King, had grown reclusive in later life — which drew even more comparisons, this time to J.D. Salinger. After his sudden death, his wife had made a call to the top graduate programs in the country for three or four Pickerman scholars…

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Edith Wharton on Writing a War Story…or a Love Story…or a Comedic Story…or a Story Story

In September 1919, Woman’s Home Companion published a lovely little nugget of story by Edith Wharton. “Writing a War Story” is the tale of Ivy Spang, a poetess-turned-short-story-writer. Working as a nurse in France during WWI, Miss Spang is commissioned by an editor at the magazine “The Man-at-Arms.” He tells her that he wishes her to write, “A good, rousing story, Miss Spang; a dash of sentiment of course, but nothing to depress or discourage. I’m sure you take my meaning? A tragedy with a happy ending–that’s about the idea.”

In order to write her masterpiece, Miss Spang heads off to Brittany and moves in with an old governess of hers. And, like every writer before her and after her, Miss Spang hits a snag:

Edith Wharton Quote War Story 1

And, if only Miss Spang’s snags stopped at the beginning.

But no, Miss Spang suffers through questions about plot — “People don’t bother with plots nowadays” she explains to her governess.

Questions about deadlines:

 

Edith Wharton Quote War Story 2

Questions about where to find ideas; the difference between subject and treatment; chasing Inspiration; collaborators; what to do once the thing is published. What do you do if no one reads your story? Whose opinions should you listen to? What does it mean to be a woman writer in a world dominated by men?

If you have a hot second, it’d be well worth your time to read this short story — written by the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize (1921 — for The Age of Innocence). All of the questions this short narrative poses show up a lot in Wharton’s work, which I’ll be talking about a lot in the next few weeks.

You can find a copy here,which includes a brief introduction to Wharton’s own participation in WWI relief efforts.

So, really, this blog post isn’t much more than a reading recommendation — but it’s an extremely enthusiastic reading recommendation. Let me know what you think when you’re done!

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Work Place Avoidance

I’m sure most of you are at work or doing something distracting you from writing. But RIGHT NOW: Write something creative–whether it’s on a piece of receipt you pull from the cash register you’re at, a scratch piece of paper from your printer, or on the very device you’re “cheating” at work with and then share it with the rest of us in the comments.

Introducing: Writing Desk II

A couple months ago, the new owners of the Damon Runyon Theatre in Pueblo gave us SET ensemble members an opportunity to dig through their stuff (and if you’ve ever been in a community theatre, you understand there’s always a TON of stuff) and take away whatever we wanted.

So we went down to P-town and shopped.

Shopping in Pueblo

^^^There we are, having lunch at Jorge’s after loading up the trucks. (I’m in the corner. If you feel like knowing who the other cool people are, you can find most of them here.)

Anyways, in the theatre was this roll top desk. Large. Dark wood. Had seen better days. There were bits of taped-on labels like: ‘hair ties’ and ‘glue.’ The kinda things you find backstage. But other than being fairly worn, it was in pretty good shape.

I already have a pretty nifty small roll-top desk (hereafter known as Writing Desk I), so at first I didn’t think I wanted it.

Then…I thought about it.

And thought about it some more.

And it wound up on the back of the truck.

And it wound up in my garage.

And I wound up refinishing it.

I mean, I haven’t showered in days between work, writing, and theatre…but the desk is done!

(The lighting in my garage sucks, so you get a close up for the color.)

(Also, special thanks to all those crafty people on Pinterest who recommended the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Love it.)

Jenny finishes her desk

^^^I’m in the corner.