Farewell, PANK



PANK announced today that they would be closing down at the end of this year.  This is a drag on multiple levels.  One, they always had the best buttons at AWP and two, because being published by PANK is an awesome experience for any writer.  I would know — they picked up my story “Hotel Jesus” in March 2011.

“Hotel Jesus” was one of my turning-point stories where I began to see that I could play with form and format.  I allowed myself to explore the narrative voice rather than dictate it.  It’s a story driven by language and image, rather than plot, and it allowed me to start looking at characters who exist in the grey areas of morality.

It’s also hopelessly fucking sad, and I can’t remember what sort of terrible nonsense I must have had going on when I wrote it.  But I haven’t written anything like it since, which is too bad.  It’s a fascinating little piece.

Fare thee well, PANK.  You will be much missed.

On Keeping a Notebook

I got back into using notebooks a few years ago, when I cracked open a beautiful, untouched leather journal Jason brought me back from Italy as a present for my 23rd birthday.  It took a lot to write in that journal because I, like most writers who are gifted with beautiful journals, panic “It has to be perfect if it’s going in such a beautiful journal!”

But I got thinking about the notebooks I kept when I was living in New York City, these wild things filled with magazine clippings and pictures and fold-out pages of articles I wanted to save.  I thought about how good it felt to physically write, pen on paper, how much I enjoyed going back through old story notebooks from high school and after college, reading false starts, pithy observations and scenes that didn’t make the final draft.  I could trace the what was going on in my life through those notebooks even better than I could my own diary.  Fragments like What is a poem to a creme brulee? told me what I was thinking and feeling at an even greater depth than scrawling I love a man who will not tell me he loves me in my journal.

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I’m packing up writing craft books to ship out Monday, but I still have a few left to give away.

If you’d like one, just find me on Twitter (@libbycudmore) or leave a note in the comments section.  US only, please.


Cory Doctorow, Content

The College Handbook of Creative Writing, Third Edition (my favorite)

Writers Digest “HowDunIt” Series,  Cause of Death


In the continuing purge of stuff from my father-in-law’s basement, I came across a box of writing craft books from when I was first starting out.  I love craft books even though I rarely use them anymore; their pages stuffed with knowledge and promise and possibilities.

But just because I’m not using them doesn’t mean they won’t have value to someone else.  So I invite you, dear readers, to find me on Twitter or leave a comment if you see one from the list below that you would like.  No charge, no postage; if you want to trade me a book or a mix CD, I probably won’t say no.  First come, first serve.  The books are:

P.D. James, Talking About Detective Fiction

Cory Doctorow, Content

The College Handbook of Creative Writing, Third Edition (my favorite)

Writers Digest “HowDunIt” Series, Scene of the Crime and Cause of Death

One per person, please, and I’m sure I’ll post more soon.

All Hail Chicken Breakfast

Pictured: Happiness

Pictured: Happiness

Sunday mornings in Binghamton I used to go to Theo’s Southern Style Cuisine, a hole-in-the-wall joint that specialized in fried chicken that would save your goddamn soul.  They did a buffet on Sundays; mashed potatoes so buttery and smooth you could suck them through a curly straw, cobbler made of peaches and dreams, grits in a cauldron and the fried chicken, oh, the fried chicken!  Battered with magic, deep-fried in miracles…when Theo’s closed, it was like a piece of my soul had been ripped out.

But the lesson Theo’s taught me was this: Chicken Breakfast.

Chicken Breakfast isn’t just “oh, I have some leftover KFC, guess I’ll put it on a plate at 10 in the morning,” what are you. some kind of monster?  Chicken Breakfast is an EXPERIENCE, it’s a STATE OF MIND.  You have to give yourself over to Chicken Breakfast and let the spirit of Chicken Breakfast take over your soul.

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Idiot Box: Love In the Time of Rockets

Love in the Time of Rockets

James always had roses and photographs.  I always had schemes and costumes.  We drew maps, swapped clothes and identity, names like the backs of trading cards.  Always one more to catch, another to lose.  He fed the carp in the garden pond; I let the cat inside when it rained.  No man I’ve ever known had eyes as hopelessly big as his.  No woman he ever knew wore skirts as impossibly short as mine.

There are not words for love when hearts are made of silk and helium.  These days we drink tea from cups with broken handles and sing songs we forgot the words to.  For fun, we put on our wedding clothes one last time.  His smile is warmer than any Oklahoma heat wave. 

No one ever wanted us to win, but in whispers and rumor we got a happy ending no one ever predicted.  Roll credits, closing theme.  We’ll meet in again in the next episode.

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