Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the O. Henry Prize-winning authors free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments Caitlin Macy

I was thrilled to be included in the collection. As a writer, at least one of my (limited) achievement, one gets a shot in the arm about every four years or so, restoring one's faith in oneself; legitimizing oneself before one's peers, family, agent, mother-in-law; assuring oneself that putting "writer" on one's tax form each year is not a wildly self-delusional fraud. Picking up the mail one morning and seeing "The O'Henry Committee" as the return address on an envelope made my day, week, and month, and has been lovely to think about in all of the following months. It is so terrific to find out that the public--at least one objective reader!--has responded to one's work. Would that every day brought news from the O'Henry committee.

(author photo © Courtesy of the Author)

Writing Tips

Keep at it. There's nothing else to say, really, as everyone has his or her own method and has to find it for himself or herself. Nevertheless, one thing that helps me: when I'm uninspired to cook dinner, I find that if I get out a lot of cookbooks and browse through them, taking notes on recipes I'd like to try, making possible dinner-party menus, etc., by the end of my little tour, I'm clanking pots around and making a shopping list. I do the same with writing. When I feel totally dried up and uninspired--and true inspiration is rare for me--I go on a romp through my favorite books, reading a paragraph here and there, (sometimes a sinful chapter), remembering why I loved them, thinking about the writer's style, and, at the back of my mind, taking notes on where my book will fit in, on what I have to say and how, eventually, I will say it. This usually gets me in the mood. (The other tried and true means of motivation is to read some gossipy publication like The New York Observer and find a writing peer's name mentioned, with news of his latest success. See if that doesn't get you burning to write.)

About the Author

Caitlin Macy is the author of the novel The Fundamentals of Play. Her stories and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Fashions of the Times, Slate, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, and Seventeen. She is at work on a book of short stories, entitled Spoiled. She lives in London.

Writer's Desk

  • I am working on a book of short stories to be titled, Spoiled, as well as a feature script with my feature-writing partner, Amy Wilensky. It is such an obvious and (we think) brilliant idea that we can't believe no one else has done it; hence I'm not mentioning it.

  • Writer's Desk

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