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Archives for : Thea Swanson

MARS

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Read my little collection of dystopian flash fiction.

Erica & Gabriela Made Me Cry

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Or maybe I will say weepy. But still. I don’t get weepy at work. Work is work, and it is important to me to keep my emotions–the raw ones, like anger or sadness–clear of my office. Emotions–the big ones–get in the way at work. At least, at my work.

Yet here I was, opening a gift that I felt I didn’t deserve. A gift left for me, thanking me for my help when I was out sick during a two-day meeting that Erica, Gabriela and I co-organized by email, across the country. This was the second year in a row I have been out sick when they have arrived.

My gift wasn’t a box of chocolates. It wasn’t a mug or an office plant. My gift was a soft, leather journal, from a one-of-a-kind shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, miles away from my Seattle office. This gift was a journal with white stitches that edge a caramel-colored covering that smells of care.

The quote on the journal is what did it, I think. It’s what pushed me over the edge, what made me break my rule:

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”

Virginia Woolf’s books sit high on my shelf in my bedroom. They are books I’ve taken with me from New York to New Jersey to Washington, books I haven’t been able to part with, even in my most dejected state. And here her words come to me again, from two, kind women who made their way to my place of work, armed with many things to ensure a successful meeting, and among those things, an offering to me that unbeknownst to them was exactly what I needed. And there it was: one of those raw emotions, spilling over me as I sat in my chair, my door closed, steeped in gratitude.

Give Me YA Fiction

Contemporary Young Adult Fiction is a blast. The voices are real and the humor is strong. I don’t remember having this much fun reading novels written for my age when I was in high school. I had to read Flowers in the Attic to get my thrills, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t written for teens. Certainly, there was nothing for teenagers that was this frank, nothing that spoke in the voice of the teen, expressing those thoughts that we only expressed to our friends. Certainly, these wonderful books I’ve been reading these last few weeks would have never made it to press.

Are you thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy? If so, crack open Dumplin’ (hilarious and timeless) or Into the Wild Nerd Yonder (hilarious and relatable) and enjoy what you missed reading when you were sixteen, when it wasn’t aloud, when you had to tell your secrets to your friends and maybe didn’t know that thousands of other kids were feeling just like you.

C’mon. Have some fun.

After the Pie

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Thanksgiving Day Two: Such a treat it is to work on my YA novel at home instead of on the ferry and bus. My writing companions, Charlie and Cornelius, anticipate the final version.

You Will See MARS in 2017

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In 2017, Ravenna Press will publish my collection of dystopian flash titled, Mars.

The world will crumble, so let’s read about it.

This Piece Was Revenge

His Grace

This one‘s for you, Orthodox clergy. Oh, yes. Pray for me.

American Short[er] Fiction Finalist

Grumpy Fish

Cheer up, Grumpy Fish: I’m a 2016 American Short[er] Fiction Finalist! Look around, why don’t you. Life is grand.

My Interview in Sonder

Thank you, Sonder, for asking me stuff. I enjoyed sharing. Thank you for publishing “Smitten Boys,” too.

Warmed by Toads

Toad Suck Review

I stayed home from work today because I’m sick, which was an opportunity to write, despite my achy body. It was an added treat to get my colorful copy of Toad Suck Review in the mail, shipped from the Department of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas. I turned the pages, which always fills me with a small amount of dread. I’m always afraid to look at my words, afraid I will see something in my story I don’t like. Afraid the editors will have made a mistake with my text.

The issue is thick, since it is annual, so I decided to go to the Table of Contents instead of paging through. “Central Market Women” did not appear under the “Fixion” category, but since they have other clever section titles, I kept looking, thinking maybe there was a “Flasch-Fixion” section as well. Instead, I found my story under “Nonfixion.” I thought for a moment about my story, about how in the story, blood spontaneously flows from wrists of shoppers; about how debit cards slip from hands and fly all the way to the rafters; about how arms spin until they rip off. I chuckled. Obviously this was a mistake. I can’t believe that the editors who chose this piece believe these events to be true, nor can I believe the young, ambitious writing students placing the pieces in the issue actually thought these things happened. No, instead, I was warmed by a different scenario. I imagined tired, hungover students throwing accepted pieces together at 2:00 am, past their deadline, not really caring anymore, and sending the issue off to production without looking back. Yes, it warmed me. It warmed me, too, to unwrap the issue, to free it from the entertainment section of The Echo, the university’s student paper. And it warmed me, before that, to first see the white, square, return-address label, Toad Suck Review, Dept. of Writing, etc., cut out and taped with nothing more than exhaustion, care, dedication and passion, just as I had done hundreds of times only with my name on the return address, shipping my story, my submission, to such places as this, in hopes that someone on the other end, in that university or basement office, would be warmed by what was inside.

All the Words We Cannot See

Seattle Growth

I can’t bring myself to write non-fiction these days–my thoughts, I mean. Opinions. Even these little, infrequent posts are tortuous because they are meaningless, in the scheme of things. Words flood the world now. Readers scroll and scroll. I don’t know what the readers/viewers are looking at when they scroll. I wonder, when I see them, if they are bored.

Though I use my commute-time to write fiction, there are long minutes during the commute when I cannot sit and open my computer, and that is when I scroll on my phone. When I’m standing in the ferry terminal, waiting for the glass doors to open, I scroll and scroll on FB or Twitter, mostly bored. Sometimes I am not bored, like when I’m researching facts for stories, or sending out a story, or typing an email to a friend. But often, I am scrolling.

My phone broke a couple of weeks ago, and during my phone-less, standing minutes, I completed All the Light We Cannot See. Yes, it was another weighty thing in my bag, but my life is now changed, not in any remarkable way, but in the way that comes when I step away from the scrolling through all the words that fill my eyes and step into all the words that fill my mind.  I also finished a slim book, a little gem called Heat by Stephanie Dickinson.

I’ve got a new phone now. It’s bigger and faster. I haven’t read any books since I got it. But I will, I will.