Posted by @ 5:32 pm on December 9th, 2009

This is not the Carles Tao Lin but some other Tao Lin. Or maybe this is Carles.

This is not the Carles Tao Lin but some other Tao Lin. Or maybe this is Carles.

Seattle’s alt-weekly, The Stranger has a yearly fundraiser called Strangercrombie. It’s an auction. People bid on prize packages. The prize packages are weird. This year, for example, one of the prize packages is a driving tour of Seattle music landmarks with Long Winters’ frontman John Roderick.

The Stranger books editor asked if I would participate. I said sure. He asked what sort of writerly service I could provide. I said I would be happy to spend an hour with the winner of whatever writerly package I was a part of discussing the proper use of white space in a piece of fiction. And then I said I would also be happy to tell the person why they shouldn’t write a story in the second person.

My contribution to this charity prize package—which is called “The DIY MFA, Semester Two” and includes Maria Semple and James Morrow offering advice on one of your stories and a graduation dinner with Ryan Boudinot—is listed on auction website as: “…a beer or two with Matthew Simmons…” Pressed for space, they have summarized my contribution. This is okay. I have some observations, though.

Observation #1: it’s going to be at least two. Probably three or four.

Observation #2: another way to “win” a beer or two with me is to walk up to me on the street and say, “hey, want to get a beer?” This will be successful frequently.

Observation #3: I maybe have a problem.

I also have some annotations.

Annotation #1: I will talk to you about white space. I really will. Even over a beer or two. I will bring prepared notes. I will bring a couple of photocopied stories.

Annotation #2: I will bring a small pile of books along, too. For you. You can keep them. They will be books that have helped me be a better writer. They may also be books by HTML Giant contributors and readers, if any of you HTML Giant contributors and readers would like to donate some books. Drop me a line.

Annotation #3: Tao is also a part of the auction. He is offering a lovely prize package. Right now, the prize package that I am a part of is beating Tao’s by $4.


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