Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An Index of Guest Posts from Authors of 2014 Short Story Collections

Hit parade: Antonya Nelson (top),
Ben Marcus, and Hilary Mantel
In 2014, we once again invited each author of a collection we received as an entry for The Story Prize to contribute a guest post to this blog. Out of 125 authors, 71 chose to participate.* Since 2010, the TSP blog has featured 337 guest posts from 328 writers.

According to Blogger's statistics, most 2014 guest posts received 300 or more page views. The most popular post, "Antonya Nelson's Ten Writing Rules," went viral (by our standards, at least) and has so far drawn more than 12,000 page views—by far the most of any TSP blog post and nearly five times as many hits as the next most popular we've ever had. The author posts with the second and third most hits this year were "Hilary Mantel's Ten Observations About Writing" and "Ben Marcus' 'Dear Writer' Letter"—both with more than 2,300 page views.

When we ask the authors if they'd like to contribute, we give them several options. One is to answer any or all of a series of questions, which we change somewhat each year. The 2014 questions were:

  • If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing?
  • Describe an unusual writing habit of yours.
  • Do you ever borrow characters or situations from real life, and has anyone ever confronted you about it, been angry or pleased? 
  • What's the worst idea for a story you've every had?
  • What's the best story idea you've had that you've never been able to write to your satisfaction?
  • What one story that someone else has written do you wish you had written?
  • Where do you do most of your work?
  • What do you do when you're stuck or have "writer's block"?
  • What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
  • What else (beyond books and writing) informs or inspires your work?

We also suggest some possible topics:

  • A literary touchstone (e.g., a book or books you have reread many times and return to often).
  • An aspect of craft you struggled to learn, and how you learned it.
  • Your publishing experience.
  • A letter to a young writer, a la Rilke.
  • A list of ten pieces of writing advice.

The last topic was a popular one this year, with about a dozen authors offering their advice. Contributors also, of course, had the option of coming up with their own ideas.

This index is in alphabetical order by last name, with author names linking to their book on IndieBound (unless a book wasn't available on that site) and the rest of the guest post titles linking to the posts themselves.

Molly Antopol Embraces Solitude
Jacob M. Appel and the Door to Eternal Life
Vanessa Blakeslee Hits a Nerve
Michael Blumenthal's Unusual Habit
Catherine Browder and the Unmet Mentors
Kelly Cherry Makes a List
Judy Chicurel and the Atmospheric Aura
Mark Chiusano on Finding the Right Cover
Diane Cook Writes from a Place of Fear
Tracy Daugherty on Walker Percy's Thought Experiments
Halina Duraj's Ruthless Story-Brain

Sean Ennis Puts in the Time
Elizabeth Eslami Embraces the Mess
Why Ali Eteraz Stopped Trying to Be an American Writer
Murray Farish's Writing Advice from Other Writers
John Henry Fleming's Writing Tips for the Tip Averse Writer
Amina Gautier Says: "Remember Who You Were"
Joseph Gentile: Eight Things All Writers Should Do at Least Once
David Gordon Talks to Himself
Nicholas Grider's Ten Pieces of Advice
If David Guterson Weren't a Writer...

Arna Bontemps Hemenway's Walk into the Otherworld
Jennifer Horne Wrestles with Her Conscience
Alden Jones's Writing Advice: "Don't Listen to My Advice"
A.L. Kennedy Gets Out of the Way
Laurence Klavan and the Sense of Unease
Phil Klay's Middle School Stint
Doretta Lau Does the Work
Peter LaSalle Considers John Cheever Across the River
J. Robert Lennon and the Sweet Spot
Deborah Levy and the Essential Obstinacy
Karin Lin-Greenberg: Notes of a Failed Cartoonist
Sara Lippmann Gets Over It
Jack Livings on Dealing with Rejection
Shelly Lowenkopf's Good News and Bad News

James Magruder and the Boyhood Tribulations
Hilary Mantel's Ten Observations About Writing
Francesca Marciano's Ten Writing Mantras
Ben Marcus' "Dear Writer" Letter
Elizabeth McCracken's First 21st Century Short Story Collection
Monica McFawn and the Pursuit of Clarity
Kseniya Melnik's Competing Passion
Jen Michalski Starts with a Dream
K.D. Miller Works with What She Has
Kyle Minor's Unwritten Time Travel Story
Dolan Morgan's Treatment for Writer's Block

Antonya Nelson's Ten Writing Rules
Kent Nelson and the Quest for the Right Cover
James Nolan and the Singular Element
Tom Noyes Keeps the Faith
Kathy Page Encounters Other Places
Vikram Paralkar and the Agent's Letter
David James Poissant's Letter to His 25-Year-Old Self
Nick Ripatrazone's Sacramental Vision
Eliza Robertson Rocks
David Ryan and the Crowded Room

Diane Schoemperlen Works with Words and Pictures
Aurelie Sheehan Sneaks up on Plot
Susan Sherman on the Significance of Place
Heather A. Slomski Prepares Herself
Justin Taylor and the Unwriteable Idea
Johnny Townsend Wrestles with the Truth
Lee Upton Breaks the Ice
Anne Valente on Fiction and the Language of Film
Marek Waldorf Paints a Picture
John Warner's Unlikely Inspiration
Christian Winn and the Search for Meaning
Kathleen Winter and the Scary Fat Boy Story
Jonathan Woods and The Hard-Boiled Tradition

* Whether or not someone contributes a post has nothing to do with the books we choose as finalists or for our long-list. We received 129 books, but some authors published more than one this year. One 2014 contributor to TSP, Jacob M. Appel, published two short story collections in 2014, but we only invite each author to contribute to the blog one time in any year. Appel's other book is Einstein's Beach House (Pressgang).