Tag Archives: Brevity

Tim Elhajj in Brevity

Trusty blue nova

I’m pleased to announce that my story, Sobering, appears in the Winter 2011 issue of Brevity.

Brevity has this to say about the issue:

The Winter 2011 issue of Brevity offers eighteen concise essays — rich examples of the experimentation, illumination, and surprise that can come with the very brief form.

Included is one our briefest essays yet, from the esteemed Steven Barthelme, and some of our favorite authors returning for an encore, including Richard Terrill, Lance Larsen, and Tim Elhajj. Meanwhile, Linsey Maughan graces us with her first creative nonfiction publication ever, and more than a few graduate student authors display their growing talents and strengths.

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Tim Elhajj in Guernica

A portrait of Tim Elhajj as a young seaman

I have a story up this morning at Guernica, a delightful online magazine that rides the slim line between mainstream news site and literary journal. I am so proud of  my story, An Unfortuante Discharge Early in My Naval Career. I am so pleased it found a home at Guernica.

I have tried with varying amounts of success to write about this experience before. I have always known I would write about it again one day, but I probably wouldn’t have attempted it this time around were it not for a brief craft essay written by Kerry Cohen that appeared on Brevity early this year (discussed here).

Once I started writing, the story came surprisingly quick, but I had a bit of trouble with the ending. I’m not a very political person, but Gay Rights is one of the few issues I do feel strongly about, and I wanted to find a way to present my feelings in an overt fashion, but it kept coming out wrong—like a writer who knows he is not very political, but who nevertheless tries to make some deep political statement known.

Despite these problems, I started sending it around. I received a lot of positive comments, but most pointed to the unsatisfying ending. I started thinking about the wisdom of trying to sound like a particular type of writer. Not that there is anything wrong with overtly political writing, but I’m the kind of writer who likes to let the story to do its own talking. I needed to find a way to let the story speak for itself. What you’ll find on Guernica is what I came up with.

There is one line in particular that I won’t share here, but of which I am particularly proud. I suggested to my wife that this very line might one day find its way into all my future bios. She laughed. I hope you’ll agree that this story is a powerful political statement, but it’s more than that to me because it’s uniquely mine: not that reveling in one’s own sexuality is a terribly original idea, but it’s told in a way that could only have come from me. Huzzah!

Many thanks to Katherine Dykstra, the wonderfully smart and supportive editor from Guernica, who had some great suggestions for this piece. Also, thanks to William Bradley, who introduced me to Guernica by posting something about it to his blog earlier this summer. I have learned more about the shape and breadth of creative nonfiction by following William’s blog than by following\reading any other single blog or book. My man.

And, of course, I want to thank my wife Holly, and my oldest son Tim, who have both been so supportive as I write about all manner of nonsense from my past. Thanks you two: I don’t say it nearly enough, but I’m really grateful for your ongoing support.

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Brief Craft Essay by Kerry Cohen

 

Kerry Cohen is my latest dose of inspiration. I particularly enjoyed her essay in the craft section of the latest Brevity.

Cohen is talking about being abused as a young girl, but also acknowledging how hard it is to accept that she enjoyed those feelings and even came to chase after those feelings. I can completely relate to this from my own adolescent experience experimenting with sex. Her memoir is about promiscuity, and in some ways it is not the same as what my experience was (adolescent boys are rarely considered promiscuous, and I’m not sure I’d classify my experience as abuse, but when you mix adults, adolescents, and sex, the results are always bound to be a little dodgy). Yet this perverse sense of shame for enjoying something so physical seems very familiar.

I am trying to write a childhood memoir myself. It is very slow going. I have actually had to set it aside for now because it just seems too big to tackle, and too hard to get a firm handle on. But I often think about picking it back up and essays like this one give me a certain amount of encouragement, a certain amount of hope.

Here is the link to Cohen’s latest memoir, “Loose Girl, a memoir of promiscuity.”

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William Bradley in Brevity 32

William Bradley is the Ethical Exhibitionist. He is also an insanely talented writer. His work is featured in the latest Brevity, which just hit the Web.

One day, my dad came home at lunch with the newspaper—fresh off the press—in his hand.  “Do you know this girl?”  She looked more interesting in black and white.  “She’s missing,” he said.  “Her parents think she was kidnapped.” 

Julio At Large” by William Bradley

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Brevity Blog Features Tim Elhajj on Writing, Jimi Don’t Play Here No More

hendrix-200a

This week the Brevity Blog is featuring Brevity 29 authors discussing the stories they wrote for the latest issue. The idea here is to discuss the “origins or inspirations” for the stories, and the Brevity Editors even discourage blatant car salesmanship from recently published authors (only stealth car salesmanship will do!), so you know this isn’t just another marketing gimmick. It’s the real deal, folks.

My post went live earlier tonight.

Here is a short excerpt:

This story, Jesus.

The end of [Jimi Don’t Play Here No More] takes place in 1988 when my oldest son was three-years-old. I’ve been telling this story for ages now, but only to other addicts and alcoholics, usually at some type of 12-step meeting. I only recently started telling it to civilians, which is difficult because people never know what to say when I get to the end.

Check out the rest of the post.

And keep watching the Brevity blog for more Brevity 29 authors. This is an awesome issue. I am looking forward to reading Beth Westmark discussion of Tenderness, myself.

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Tim Elhajj in Brevity 29

brevitylogox 

Brevity 29, the January 2009 edition, has hit the Web. I’ve got a story in this one, so I’m excited.

I’ve also still got a job, despite the carnage to the Seattle tech industry this morning. Good luck to anyone who may have lost theirs today. And if that’s not enough to make me feel grateful, this afternoon the police responded to reports of an armed gunman in the woods behind my kids’ elementary school. No one was hurt, but the school was locked down when Holly went to pick them up tonight.

Jesus. You gotta hope the dead don’t rise with the moon tonight.

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Brevity, Briefly

The Brevity blog is now using the Journalist theme, which includes a little word balloon for the tag line. I love how it makes the old dude in the Brevity icon look like he is offering concise writing advice. 

I have a piece forthcoming at Brevity, the magazine. It’s an essay called Jimi Don’t Play Here No More. Most of the authors who published stories in the recent issue of Brevity have also written blog posts on the Brevity blog. These posts offer the writer’s opinion on their piece or some insight into how it was written. Even though I hadn’t been asked, I already wrote a blog post about my story, Jimi Don’t Player Here No More. Can you tell I’m excited?

This is my first published story about using dope or my ordeal in New York City.

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Tim Elhajj at Brevity

I’ve got an essay appearing in a special mid-summer bonus edition of Brevity 27. This is a companion piece to my Modern Love essay from earlier this week. The Modern Love essay examines my relationship with my son, while the Brevity piece explores my relationship with Dad.

The Brevity piece also appears on the Brevity blog, a great place to discuss creative non-fiction, truth in memoir, or the concept of a mid-summer pick me up.

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Close, But So Far


1-5-2008 008

I almost got one past the editors over at Brevity.

Alas, it was not meant to be. I got the rejection slip on Valentine’s Day, but was pleased to see that the editor, Dinty Moore, said my story (20/20) had been “deliberated carefully and enjoyed.” 

Today I spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon submitting more of my work. You have to expect rejection. Competition is tough. You have to revel in even being considered.

It’s only a matter of time.

And submissions.

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