Why I love The PEN, indy publishers, and indy booksellers…

I am stunned and deeply honored to announce that Zazen has won the 2012 PEN Robert Bingham prize for 1stfiction.

Please click on the image to see the full announcement. Many wonderful writers are honored as well.

I would like to thank the judges, all great writers, Lauren Groff, Dinaw Mengestu, and Nami Mun. I strongly suggest you buy their work (and send them chocolate and whiskey because reading the insane amount of books they read is NOT for the lighthearted).

I would also like to thank the Bingham family for offering the kind of funding needed to support me while writing my current novel. I never knew Robert Bingham, but I am extremely grateful to be a part of the legacy left in his name and will show that by writing more and getting better at it.

I would like to thank the PEN for their work here and abroad. The PEN’s conviction in the writer’s voice and staunch protection of it moves me profoundly.  It evokes in me an emotion akin to patriotism, not in service to flag or country, but rather in deference of the human right to make things of beauty. I just can’t believe I have any part in something so damn noble and grand. You should all give money to the PEN, not because of people like me, but because of what they do for writers whose voices have put them in real danger. Support them because they support people like Eskinder Nega, the jailed Ethiopian journalist and blogger, and many others who need the protection of money and visibility. You can join the PEN by clicking on the image below and following the instructions…

joingthePENjoingthePENjoingthePENjoingthePEN

Or you can just give them money!

click image to go to the PEN donation page

Personally, I want to say that I have been so very fortunate. Many great writers never receive recognition for their work and I feel I have received so much. Winning this award is a cross between playing in the snow on Christmas and rolling down a grassy hill on the best sunny day. It’s just pure joy. But other things should also be said. The truth is, I often lack the emotional scaffolding to keep my chin up on my own. Zazen had supporters all along the way who convinced me to keep trying to get it published then get it in the hands of people who would care about it.

Here are a few of them…

Jay Babcock at Arthur Magazine for serializing Zazen on Arthur in 2009 and constantly trying to help it see the light of day. And I am so happy that Arthur is back in the world!

Richard Nash and Red Lemonade for publishing Zazenand staying behind it and me…

Check out Red Lemonade’s other authors http://redlemona.de/

And most importantly, the independent booksellers who got Zazen into people’s hands. They tweeted, they talked, they wrote blog posts, they made shelf talkers, they put it in their windows—they handsold the damn thing until made it’s way into the world and found its people. Nobody would have it if it weren’t for them Here are just a few…Powells, Broadway Books, Annie Bloom’s, WORD, Bank Square Books, Skylight, McNally Jackson, RiverRun Books, and many others. I have met only some of you, but I love you all. Thank you. You have given me a career.

 

and so many more….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Gerard Donaghy for the cool trailer!

My friend Gerard Donaghy made this video about the psychogeography of Zazen. We can’t really call it a trailer because the book has been out for a year, but then trailers do generally trail behind. Either way, it was fun to make with him. Obviously, it is also a wonderfully clever tribute to Jean-Luc Godard’s Week End. Enjoy!

click image or go to link below for video

 

 

I’m reading in San Francisco this coming Saturday (June 9th) with…

It’s my honor and privilege to read with Anthony Swofford and Raj Patel and other great writers at Writers With Drinks this Saturday. The show starts at 7:30 sharp and doors open at 6:30. We were going to do assigned seating like how those airlines do it, but instead went for festival seating like how The Who did it. So come early.

It will look like this only without the instruments and with different people

For real information you can go here:        https://www.facebook.com/events/294361363988086/

One of the other great honors I have while visiting San Francisco is getting to play a part in Hilary Goldberg’s animated existential saga The Deer In Between.

Michele Tea and Ed Wolf are the deer that decide the fate of human souls http://www.thedeerinbetween.com/

I will be the voice of a morel mushroom that is part of a political underground. Here are some of the mushrooms that seem to be abusing their power and have lots of secret meetings:

secret meeting

I have to say this is one of the highlights of my career so far.  If you need to get caught up on the drama here is:

Episode 1      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSVRSq5Vt-c

Episode 2     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwKunyqy2fE

 

 

My upcoming online class at Lit Reactor and a few thoughts about teaching…

Next week I start teaching an online class through LitReactor called Leading With Voice. There are still some spots open for those interested. At least I believe there are…Anyway, it made me think about what it means to teach writing. Teaching is a strange thing. There’s always something a little grandiose about saying, “Hey! I know how to do this and you should listen to me!”

I feel just like this sometimes...

And pushing aside things like making macaroni and cheese or tying your shoes, who really looks at an art form and thinks, “I know how to do this.”  ??

Yes. Now I see it all...so...clearly, Mr Dahmer...

Still, there is benefit in breaking open your own head and letting people see the inside of it. Sometimes it helps them break open their heads.  And this is largely how I view teaching. If I had a philosophy, it would go a little like this:

1) Instinct is better than knowledge. Yet a little insight and some perspective can be really helpful, and those things often come through other people.

2) The more you write the quicker you get sick of your bad writing habits.

3) The writer is always boss of her own work. And sometimes firing yourself is a good idea.  I do it periodically and can recommend it.

And…I’d like to thank the fine folks at LitReactor for giving me an online home. Join me there if you like.

Clicking on the image should take you to LitReactor unless I'm an utter dork at this. And if I am, click the link below.

Failing that bit of technology, click here for class info:

http://litreactor.com/classes/leading-with-voice-how-to-create-compelling-first-person-narrators-who-drive-your-fiction?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=litreactor&utm_campaign=vanessa%2Bveselka

And so I don’t forget–

Nothing says Easter like a violet geode. Fertile AND mineral?

 

Happy Easter Bunny.

Book news, gratitude, and fair warnings…

Okay, this is what happens when you hide from your own blog because it feels like a Sock Puppet Production.  You end up with a list.

I feel like there's something inside me that wants to reach out and grab the...

First off, I want to express my deep gratitude to Oregon Literary Arts for naming Zazen as a finalist for the Oregon Book Award Ken Kesey Prize for fiction.

I looked like this just yesterday

They said I was a finalist for life so I might just chip that into the rock over my grave 80 years from now.

your name here

And I would like to announce that Zazen will finally appear in French! At some point in 2013 éditions Lot 49/ cherche midi will translate and release the book and I plan to be there to watch.

Because the foreign translations will be attached to the gravestone by a chain.

I start French lessons tomorrow.

I think if I could speak French I could look like this

And…I will be at AWP and reading in Chicago, reading in Portland, reading in Astoria, reading to myself in my room…more on all of it soon.

Sock puppet.

I am in control. Drop the fish.

…and just because I felt the need for one more sock puppet to describe my internal process…