SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page

Smoking With Nance Knauer

(Read the Story) June 15, 2008

W.P. Kinsella

W.P. Kinsella

You guest edited issue 3, then joined the SmokeLong staff for issues 4, 5, and 7. What do you, as an editor, look for in a story? What about your own story, “Johnny,” fits this criterion?

I look for short, vivid strokes that define character and setting along with understated emotion, something that lets the reader feel what the character wants without pointing to it directly. I think “Johnny” gets the emotion across, but not the life behind it.

Strong beginning! I especially love that cracks appeared in the angel’s folded hands and under the wings. How do you know when you’ve nailed an opening?

Ha! The only thing I know about beginnings is when I don’t nail it.

I like how subtle this piece is. I can’t say for sure who the angel represents, or why it’s such a source of contention between Johnny and his wife, but every time I read this story, I think I find a new clue.

That’s a good point. If readers don’t know what the character wants, or why, by the second read of a story, then I’m not doing my job. I’m still learning how to let the people in my work carry more of the weight than the symbols.

You’ve just about completed your MFA from Queens, right? Is that a low residency program?

Thanks, yes, I’m done! Queens University in Charlotte, NC, is run by Fred Leebron and Mike Kobre and is the only low residency program which includes distance workshops as part of their program. I’m one of those people who believe the MFA experience is valuable and sometimes necessary in order to evolve as a writer.

This issue marks SmokeLong‘s fifth anniversary, which has me thinking about longevity and growth. There’s no denying the literary arena is a fickle one, with journals coming and going, writers shooting onto the scene then falling into a long hiatus, editors changing houses, agents merging, and the trends! Don’t even get me started! How do you, as a writer, endure the ups and downs? Have you experienced any setbacks? What measures have you taken to grow

I am so grateful and so in awe of the folks like SmokeLong and FRiGG who continue to give us a place to display our work. Most of my ups and downs and setbacks have been confidence related. I’ve submitted very little, but that will change this fall which means lots of stumbling to come. How to endure the ups and downs? I just try and remember what an honor it is to be able to write every day. If that’s not working, I read like a maniac.

About the Author

W.P. Kinsella has published 15 books and more than 200 short stories, but he is best known for his award-winning novel Shoeless Joe, which was made into the highly praised film Field of Dreams. The New York Times has said that his work “defines a world in which magic and reality combine to make us laugh and think about the perceptions we take for granted.” In 1993, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2005, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia.

This interview appeared in Issue Twenty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-One

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Book Now!

Book SmokeLong Fitness now to begin December 1, 2023. If you’ve done a SmokeLong workshop before, you can join for just $300!