Emily X.R. Pan

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There are still people who believe fantasy isn’t a valid form of literature. I used to be much testier about it. I used to have a bit of chip on my shoulder. Really not as much anymore.

I don’t offer explanations unsolicited, but if people want to talk about it, it’s my favorite thing to talk about. I talk about the history of realism and the fact that we equate realism and literary fiction as if they were the same thing. But you don’t have to go very far back past 1700 to reach people like Shakespeare, Spenser, Dante and Homer. Literature before 1700 was fantasy. There wasn’t any difference. It was all gods and monsters, witches and fairies. If you set it in a wider context, then people think, oh, right: Fictional worlds don’t have to look like our world in order to mean something.

Lev Grossman, on writing fantasy


What’s the best advice for an aspiring writer? To take a ride in an elevator of course! Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like losing oneself in the abundance of insights from countless renowned writers on their craft. Sometimes when our fellows are hitting a wall in their latest piece up in the writer’s studio, they just take a break for an inspiring ride up and down our adorned lift! Even better, anyone can contribute to this constantly evolving literary collage! If you have a favorite quote by a noted writer send it to us at info@centerforfiction.org.! 

The Life Cycle of a Story


It’s crazy to think back on the life cycle of this story. The summer of 2009…that means it took five years for me to get from the nugget of an idea about a guy and the weather to this piece that now lives on the Joyland Magazine website.

I wanted to document this as a reminder to my future self, for when I’m feeling bleak about my novels or whatever it is I’m working on. Everything starts as shit. Everything. There were so many times I believed the story was unsalvageable. So many times I thought I was giving up on it for good.

I was never certain I would be able to mold the piece into what it was meant to be. But somehow I did it. And now you can actually read the thing. Unreal.

One short story, five years. But in these five years I’ve learned so much. Who knows how long it’ll take me to get one of my novels through that same cycle? But now that I can look back and clearly see the path that I took in order to finish that story, I don’t care. The amount of time doesn’t matter. There’s a lot to reshape. A lot more growth to be had. I’m calm and I’m ready.

My virtual friend Emily (whom I met on MFA applicant message boards) on the life cycle of her story, which just got published at the awesome joylandmagazine

Thanks so much for this, sarahmarian!