• That Ticking Clock: The Handling of Time in...

    on Jun 28, 18 with No Comments

    Cary Holladay As an element of craft, time is generally regarded as a tool of setting, akin to place. Yet it is multidimensional, a voyage through past and future. Equally mysterious is the present, deemed by T.S. Eliot “the still point of the turning world.” First, a true...

  • Summer Flash Fiction Contest $500 prize

    Summer Flash Fiction Contest

    on Jun 25, 18 with No Comments

    South 85 Journal is relaunching Converse College MFA program’s Julia Peterkin awards, starting with an all-new summer flash fiction contest. Like past awards, the contest will honor Julia Peterkin, an 1896 graduate of Converse College. In 1929, she won the Pulitzer Prize...

  • Photograph by William Crawford

    The Spring / Summer 2018 Issue Is Here!

    on Jun 15, 18 with No Comments

    The Spring / Summer 2018 Issue of South 85 Journal is now available online. Creative Work We are pleased to present work by the following contributors: • Artwork – Roger Camp, Richard Corso, William C. Crawford, Ann Schlotzhauer, Louis Staeble, Mauricio Paz Viola, and...

  • Mindful Writing

    5 Prompts for Mindful Writing

    on May 17, 18 with No Comments

    Diana Raab Mindfulness is about living in a very conscious way so that we can devote full attention to whatever we are doing. Mindful writing is a good way to escape from the chaos of our daily lives, and can also help us uncover our authentic voices and inspire the writer...

  • From Short Story to Novel

    on Apr 19, 18 with No Comments

    Gwen Holt Short stories are the bread and butter of the writing industry. They are easy to pick up and read in one sitting, easy to teach in one semester, easy to edit and comment on in a reasonable amount of time. That’s doesn’t mean they’re easy to write. A lot of blood...

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  • Rejection.. No Big Deal?

    on Nov 11, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    If you’re taking your writing seriously, then you probably have a space, time, even specific snack or drink you take to your writing spot to work. My own routine requires a big mug of tea, my cell phone in another room, the door shut, and some classical music.  I used to think in a little way that if I did everything in my writing routine on time and stayed ultra organized all the time, then maybe the journals I was submitting to would know it and publish all my poems.  This is wrong and stupid.

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  • Frivolous Reading

    on Nov 11, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    As a third-semester student in an MFA program, I have spent the last few months in the local library poring over books and rifling through periodicals.  The librarians there have grown accustomed to seeing me untidily sprawled in the aisles or else haunting the study carrels for hours on end.  In addition to writing a paper, I’ve devoured numerous books on the matter of craft and diligently read the work of poets that I’ve found useful to my paper topic.  In a funny way, I’ve had a good time.  I was genuinely interested in the topic of my paper, and I enjoyed the poets I was reading.  Overall, it was nice to feel that I was making some headway on something useful.    

    The day after I turned in my paper I went to the library once again.  After plucking my scribbled sticky notes from the pages of several books and dropping the heavy volumes in the return box, I turned my attention to a matter I had anticipated for weeks: the gathering of as many frivolous, unwholesome books as possible.  I got together a pile of about fifteen books that I had been burning to read during all the weeks I was pegging away at my paper.  Some of these were books that I had read and loved in childhood, but others were by authors and poets that I had discovered in recent years.  A couple were random impulses chosen either for their beautiful cover art or an interesting description decorating the book jacket.  But all were books that I would have classified firmly as “pleasure” reading.  These, I was sure, would never become source material for any great academic papers.  I took the books home with me and I have been reading happily for about a week. 

    As I read, however, I became aware of a curious phenomenon.  All at once, book-related habits from childhood were reappearing.  They accompanied me to the supermarket in my purse, snoozed under my pillow at night, and beckoned to me appealingly from the dinner table.  When I read the books I had loved as a child, I found myself perking up at passages I had always loved, finishing sentences in my mind before the pages had even turned.  Reading through the old books and the new, I was reminded of why I had wanted to devote my life to writing to begin with and the power of a book to sweep you off of your feet with the beauty of its language and the charm of its characters.  Although it was a completely unintended result, I found myself scribbling down more and more ideas for poems or stories as my pile of books dwindled. 

    Although my studies have been important to me, and I have read many fine pieces of literature over the past eight or nine years, I can no longer feel that there is any type of reading that is entirely frivolous or unwholesome.  The most unassuming little book might speak volumes to you as a writer, and might influence some great change in your work.  As writers, we must always be open to the work of others, and must constantly reevaluate what influences are helping us most in our writing lives. 

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  • Reps, Sets, and Prose: Writing Exercises

    on Nov 2, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    Exercise is good for you. It keeps your heart healthy, helps you lose weight, and may one day enable you to outrun a hungry tiger. Writing exercises have similar benefits for your writing life. They can help illuminate aspects of character, breathe life into a dull setting, or plant the seed of a future story.

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  • One Magician Watching Another Magician Doing Magic

    on Oct 27, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    Some time after I started seriously writing and studying the craft, I noticed I was having trouble really enjoying movies or getting caught up in the mystery and marvel of a book or a story. Throughout the entire experience, I realized that I had successfully plotted every event, character interaction, and motivation into a graph-like form in my head. It felt a bit like blasphemy, turning an artistic experience into a quasi-math. Yet, for better or worse, my head was full of quantifiable plot lines and character-arcs and dialogue patterns and motifs and symbols. Even watching plot based commercials was becoming exhausting.

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  • The R.O.I. of Writing

    on Oct 14, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    Imagine for a moment that an executive approached you with a job offer: there will be long hours staring over a computer, countless hours of research and reading, loads of letter-writing, mailing, emailing, editing, revising documents to conform to the recipient’s idiosyncratic wishes, networking with peers, professional development demands, travel, public speaking, conferences, teaching, and, of course, producing work. Successful candidates will be confident, inspiring, innovative, relentless, engaged with the world around them, emotionally and intellectually available, curious, inquisitive, and possess a strong backbone as well as the ability to refute or defend a position at a moment’s notice. By the way, there is little to no compensation for this position.

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