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“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares


“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant


“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus


“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction


“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper

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The Hard Stuff

I have not been in a running mood for several weeks. I don't know whether it's because the weather hasn't been warm enough to run outside, but I can't even convince myself to get on the treadmill at the gym. Running is the most efficient way for me to maintain my weight, and I've had no running injuries, per se. The only thing I can think of for my reticence is that, often, running is hard and in my dwindling free time, I want to do easy, relaxing things. Although I'm not even sure what easy is—I think it's just having a drink at the neighborhood bar.

But I always feel great after my run; notsomuch after a few whiskeys. I need to convince myself of the big picture. Kind of like proofreading. Last night the missus and I printed out and read through the latest incarnation of the story collection that I've decided to shop around. I've read it once on the computer and made a few edits, but we discovered, when I printed it out, that there were many, many more mistakes. It's strange, because half of the stories have been published online and I swiped the final version from the journal's website.

It makes me think that most journals proofread like we do at jmww, ie, infrequently. Sure, I'll read the story while I make its html page and spot check the html page for basic typos and formatting when it's online, but most corrections we make actually come from authors, who spot something after it's been published. So, assuming other sites function as such, each of my stories has a typo or two in it. Multiply that by 10-12 stories, and at 20-24 typos are in the collection. (Actually, I have to admit—there were more than 20.)

But this is not the fault of the journals. I need to take responsibility for my deficiencies. I'm a terrible typist; sometimes I even type a similar-sounding or -looking word rather than the one I mean. I don't write stories in longhand first, and I can't seem to find any errors while proofing my work on the computer. (Although, I admit, it's harder proofing your own work than the work of others.) What does this mean for the great electronic revolution? I don't know, exactly, except maybe I should advertise again for a proofing intern at jmww. Anybody interested? I write great recommendations if you need them, and I buy beer, too.

As for me, I am going to print everything important of mine out from now on—paperless society be damned. I already feel better that the latest version of my collection (big thanks to the missus) is very clean. I'm confident that it will be rejected on the basis of other deficiencies rather than sloppiness. ;) But this is a lesson I should extend to jogging, too. You can't avoid the hard stuff. You will become a sloth. Strong mind, strong body, strong work. You can rest when you're dead.