A year ago, Callan Wink submitted a short story to The New Yorker and waited to hear back from the weekly magazine's editors. A long wait ensued before the University of Wyoming student heard back, saying his piece was rejected.
But the editors of the long-running publication, known for its illustrated and often topical covers, commentaries on popular culture and eccentric Americana, told Wink they liked his style and asked if he had any other works worthy of submission. The New Yorker has more than one million subscribers and is published 47 times a year.
It was encouraging for Wink, a second-year student in UW's nationally-recognized MFA Program in Creating Writing. He had just completed a short story, "Dog Run Moon," which he quickly submitted to The New Yorker's editors. They bought his short story and the piece was published in the Sept. 26 edition. He also was interviewed in the magazine (link:http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2011/09/this-week-in-fiction-callan-wink.html )
Not bad for an aspiring writer who calls himself a "fly fishing guide in real life."
"This was the most recognition I have received," Wink says. "The New Yorker is one of the few publications that still regularly runs short fiction -- and pays -- so it was quite exciting to have my work appear there."
MFA Program in Creative Writing faculty member Brad Watson says being published in The New Yorker is quite an accomplishment for a young writer.
"Callan is an all-around good guy who also happens to be a terrific fiction writer, one of the best we have had through this program. He has taken his own raw talent and worked very, very hard and this is a great reward for him," Watson says. "A story in The New Yorker really can help launch a publishing career for a young writer. And, of course, it's great for the UW program for roughly one million New Yorker readers to see one of our writers in that magazine."
Watson says many of the program's young writers are publishing fiction, poetry and essays in prestigious national journals and magazines, winning national contests.
"This high-profile publication -- well-deserved -- by Callan only adds to our pride at how well our students are doing, and have done, in the six years we've had our MFA program," Watson adds.
"Dog Run Moon," is about a sawmill worker who steals another man's dog.
"Usually when I'm working on a story I save it on my computer using just a few words that seem to be indicative of where I want the story to go," Callan says. "In this case, those words, ‘Dog Run Moon', ended up sticking as the title."
His New Yorker piece follows Sid, a man who recently experienced a rather painful relationship breakup who moves to a different town and begins working at a sawmill. He ends up stealing another man's dog and is then pursued by the man and his accomplice, through the desert -- at night, naked and on foot.
"It is a fairly straightforward chase story in which the main character runs and thinks about his problems," Wink says.
Wink was born in Michigan but considers Montana his home, residing in Livingston the past eight years. He received his B.S. degree from Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman where he started honing his writing skills. He has had a few of his non-fiction essays published in small magazines, but none as prominent as The New Yorker.
After graduating from MSU, Wink wanted to find a writing program that could help take him to the next level. He was attracted to UW's MFA Program in Creative Writing because of its national prominence and the potential to receive funding.
UW's creative writing program recently moved into the top 30 programs nationally, according to Poets and Writers Magazine's yearly list. UW also was the top-rated program for student/teacher-ratio.
"I decided to come to UW's MFA program initially because of the funding they offer. Factoring in cost of living, the program here is one of the best-funded programs in the country," he says. "Besides that, when I came to visit, I was struck by the enthusiasm and talents of the faculty members. The opportunity to work with writers such as Brad Watson, Beth Loffreda, Alyson Hagy, Rattawut Lapcharoensap and Joy Williams factored in to my decision. Also, location was a large issue for me. I knew I wanted to stay in the west."
When he completes UW's creative writing program, Wink will return to his "real job" as a fly fishing guide, but will continue to write.
"My goal is to revise my story pile into a book-length collection within a year," he says. "After that, a novel, hopefully before I'm 30. And then, of course, the goal is to find someone crazy enough to publish these things."
Photo: University of Wyoming MFA Program in Creative Writing student Callan Wink.