NaNoWriMo Feature: Yvonne Garrett

For the final days of NaNoWriMo 2015, we’re featuring work from BLP’s editorial staff. Today we present Yvonne Garrett, BLP’s Senior Fiction Editor.


The day opened up into pale blue sky and a watery sunshine that drew her out onto the back porch. The house had two neighbors: a small, maybe 1920s or 1930s house across the street and further down the hill, a split level glass and wood thing that looked more like a bad dream than a place someone would live.  She stepped off the porch into the grass – it was damp on her bare feet. The yard was  framed by a hedge on the water side and a bank of giant rhododendron and pine on the other.  A trellis leaned against one wall of the house and roses struggled to stay upright. Someone had obviously cared for the garden but it was still rough around the edges. That was just fine with her, neatness made her nervous.


Craft Notes

When I do NaNoWriMo, I just write a first draft straight through without stopping to edit. I never know what story it is I’m going to tell until it starts to develop and to keep me going, I need to figure out where the story is happening. I’ve had a number of writing teachers say it’s important to know the space where the story is taking place, to describe place in detail. In this excerpt, I’m bringing one of the main characters outside a house she’s just moved into – she’s looking at where she is, where she has ended up. What does she see? How does she feel about what she’s seeing? These are questions I asked while I was writing this.


1) What is the hardest part of writing fiction?

Finding the time to write/staying motivated in the face of repeated rejections.

 2) What is the best writing advice you’ve received?

From several writing teachers: Read everything out loud – it’s the quickest way to catch weak spots.
From Chris Offutt (at Tin House Workshop): Draw a line representing your story: beginning middle end. Now get rid of everything from beginning to middle. You don’t need that.
From Dorothy Allison (Tin House workshop): You have to love your characters. All of them. Even the bad ones.
From Patrick McGrath (New School MFA teacher): Believe in yourself and don’t let rejection get you down.

3) What is your favorite writing time beverage?

Black coffee. Also, seltzer. Lots of seltzer.

Suggested Reading
Jeanette Winterson – all of it.
Marilynne Robinson – Housekeeping
Chris Offutt – Kentucky Straight
Angela Carter – The Bloody Chamber
Cormac McCarthy – Outer Dark


yg photoYvonne Garrett has an MFA in Fiction from The New School, an MA in Irish Studies (NYU), an MA in Humanities & Social Thought (NYU), an MLIS (Palmer), and is currently working toward a Ph.D. Her poetry, fiction, and criticism has been published in a wide array of literary journals and music magazines. Recent fiction appears in The Reader: The Brooklyn Writers’ Space Anthology and the NYWC Leaders’ Anthology. She is Senior Fiction Editor at Black Lawrence Press where she also edits the weekly newsletter Sapling.  She lives in the East Village and hopes to one day return to the Pacific Northwest where the guitars are loud, the men are tall, the air is clean and the beer is good. You can find her on the web at