Grant Faulkner to speak at the Sierra Writers Conference | TheUnion.com

Grant Faulkner to speak at the Sierra Writers Conference

Hock Tjoa
Special to Prospector

Perhaps you or someone you know is participating in the National Novel Writing Month, Nanowrimo. November is the month in which writers try to write fifty thousand words each. When this annual Internet-based creative writing project started in 1999, there were 21 participants. In 2017, 300,000 took part world wide, writing over 3 billion words.

Grant Faulkner has been the Executive Director of Nanowrimo since 2014, but he is a “length-agnostic” champion of written storytelling. In 2011, he founded 100 Word Story, a journal to champion stories of exactly that length.

He quotes Baudelaire to say, “Who among us has not, in his ambitious moments, dreamed of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without meter or rhyme, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of the psyche, the jolts of consciousness?” And in his own blog he says that writing 100-word stories allowed him to nurture his “inner failed poet.”

Perhaps, life is more about what is unsaid than what is said (from the Preface to Fissures, 2015), in the “odd gaps of silence, irremediable interstices that sometimes last forever. A lingering glance averted. The lover who slams the door and runs away. Unsent letters… In the end, we don’t seize the day so much as it seizes us. We all have a literal blind spot in our eyes… None of us will ever know the whole story…We can only collect a bag full of shards and try to piece them together. This collection is my bag full of shards.”

Other shards have appeared in dozens of literary magazines. Example one, “John Cheever’s Dinner Guest,” appeared in Fiction Advocate, 2015.

Francine was the sort of woman who spoke in clichés, asked the price of everything. “What a charming setting,” she said of the dining room. “That highboy was a nice purchase.” When the conversation tipped to the topic of travel, she seized the moment to talk about her two weeks in Paris as an 18-year-old exchange student. “There’s nothing like Paris,” she sighed. We joked that she deserved to be stranded with a broken down car, get chased by a dog, marry a man with Tourette syndrome, something. She waved to everyone, though, unlike us. We couldn’t begrudge her that.

Example two, “Charms,” appeared in Fiction Southeast, 2015.

The sound of quarters dropping into the washing machine at the Laundromat. Things would be clean. The click of my mother’s pocketbook opening. Things would be paid for. She tossed her purse into the front seat. We traveled. A man in a midnight suit, starched shirt, narrow black tie. He patted me on the head and took a dollar from my wallet. Dinah Washington’s voice on the jukebox didn’t sooth. Mom wanted to buy painted scarves from museum gift shops. Her hand gripped the faux crocodile handle of her luggage. Mechanics can never be charmed, but at least she tried.

Grant Faulkner will be the keynote speaker at the Sierra Writers Conference on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. All events take place at Sierra College, Nevada County Campus, Grass Valley.


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