It is with a huge amount of excitement, shock, and joy that I am able to announce that I have been awarded a 2014 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship in Prose for my novel-in-progress, 1985. I am incredibly proud, and humbled, to have received this prestigious honor.
It is, honestly, something that I have not fully processed. I've known for quite some time, since I received a mysterious phone call from a D.C. area code incredibly early in the morning one day back in November, and ignored it. After checking my voice mail, I realized that it was something I wished I'd gotten up early for. I can neither confirm nor deny how much ecstatic giggling or celebratory dancing took place in my kitchen that morning, but you can probably extrapolate.
I want to express my sincere and most heartfelt thanks to the selection committee and everyone at the NEA for selecting my work. I would also like to thank everyone who has helped me get to this point--you are too plentiful to name now, but believe that you will get full credit in the Acknowledgements of the book...whenever I finish the thing.
Both the release and the full list including this incredibly grateful writer, are linked below.
List of recipients
Press Release Here
Today at Necessary Fiction, my short story "Man in Motion" is live. The story was selected by Jamie Iredell as part of his month-long stint as writer in residence for NF, during which he'll be focusing on Atlanta writers. I'm especially honored grateful to be included, as there are some real luminaries from the Atl. literary scene being featured there this month.
This story is named after the subtitle of the song "St. Elmo's Fire" by John Parr (better read the story before someone figures that out and removes it from the internet forever as punishment for my brazen lameness). The song is featured prominently in the film of the same name, which features prominently in the story.
"Man in Motion" comes from my just-completed, not-yet-published novel, 1985, but its roots go back a lot farther. About five years ago, my wife (then girlfriend) and I took a trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with some friends. We flew standby, which ended up being sort of an ordeal, made worse by the fact that I have a fear of flying. On the trip back, the two of us separated, and so I found myself alone, terrified to fly, wondering when Meagan would ever find her way back to Atlanta. After I touched down in the Atlanta airport, I was loitering near a Dunkin' Donuts, listening to my iPod, and I just broke down. The stress of the day (and the stress of what happened on a pretty disastrous trip) got to me, and I started openly weeping in the middle of the airport.
While I was crying, my iPod shuffled over to "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan. As a longtime fan of Dylan's, the familiarity of the song comforted me, and I sat listening to the song on repeat until my wife called to let me know she'd gotten on the next flight South. Later, this seemed ironic to me, that a song that had been written in protest had served to comfort some whiny dude who missed a flight. For years, I carried around this thought, this seed of an idea: art's dual role of making us uncomfortable about what makes us complacent, and comfortable when we feel lost. As someone who usually prefers the former type of art, it's an open question for me. Is it okay to let art comfort us, to console us?
It took many false starts and many failed attempts before I found a situation and a character worth using to exploring that idea. Once I found a way to attach those concerns to Manny (who I've already written about in several other as-yes-unpublished stories), the piece almost wrote itself. That's not a testament to me, but a testament to this character, who somehow manages to take me over like a benevolent demon from time to time.
Oh, and here's the video for "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)." Enjoy?
Matt Sailor puts words here.