Weekly Status Memo

Industry news. Writing advice. Long-form reads. Handpicked for you.

April 26, 2019

Hey. How’s it going?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how people tell stories. My family, for instance, tells them with an attention to detail bordering on the absurd.

Maybe yours does, too.

I can picture my grandfather, still at the table after dinner has congealed on our plates, telling story after story. He’s packing a folded paper towel into his fist to have something to do. The details come in conversational hiccups: “Nancy, what was the name of the road next to ours, the one the Joneses lived on in 1968?” “They didn’t move in until 1971, Earl.” (Of course, none of this is even tangentially related to the emotional nugget of the piece, that my uncle threw his arm out before he could pitch at the college level.)

It can be easy, reflexive, to find this type of storytelling annoying, but as time grinds on, I’m finding it endearing.

Not in the written medium, but in the oral tradition.

When it comes to orality, sometimes the storyteller has more leeway to tell the story for themselves. In these cases, this attention to detail isn’t so much for us, the listening audience, as it is for the teller to remember, to immerse himself in that long-ago moment as much as possible, for as long as he can.

Whether you strain your scenes to bursting with details or share just enough to move the plot forward, today’s newsletter is for you. You’ll get tongue-in-cheek advice for finding a literary agent and a curated list of essays that sheds new and critical light on the tired MFA vs. NYC debate.

I hope you enjoy and that—maybe, just maybe—you can find it in your heart to write a humorous supporting character based on your own detail-oriented gramps soon.

Happy writing,
Jessica Hatch
Hatch Editorial Services

P.S. I’m actively accepting new clients for June 2019! If your novel or your memoir needs a little lovin’, contact me here.

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“How to Find a Literary Agent in 10 Easy Steps. (Yeah. Right.)” Shaunta Grimes. The Everyday Novelist.

Screenwriters are making history by walking away from their agents, but luckily, for most authors, literary agents are still worthwhile to have in our corner.

However, while literary agents are at the least phenomenal businesspeople and at most your new BFF, it can take time to find the right fit.

With her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, middle grade author Shaunta Grimes walks writers through the practicalities of bagging an agent, including the write, wait, repeat cycle.

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“MFA vs. NYC: A Reading List.” Compiled by Jacqueline Alnes. Longreads.

Pardon my French, dear reader, but I am so f@#king sick of this being a binary question, and so I’m grateful that this curated list of essays challenges that black-and-white thinking. (So glad we as a writing community have leveled up our commentary on this issue!)

In fact, some of the authors listed here, like Minda Honey for Lit Hub, take it a step further by challenging the lack of diversity and the plentitude of privilege in both settings.

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“I Could Live Without Speaking.” Chelsea Hodson. Hazlitt.

Chelsea Hodson is one of my favorite writers working today. I’m a sucker for contrasts, so her economy of language mixed with her ear for lovely phrasing is at once so sweet and so cutting, so forthright and so mysterious, that it’s easy for me to obsess.

Here, she challenges herself by writing a four-part essay modeled after the sentences in Edouard Levé’s Autoportrait. The concept might sound pretentious—constraints and performance art are a big thing in the Hodson-verse—but then you start reading and you can’t stop.