My problem with the grand traditional novel—or rather traditional narrative in general, short stories included—is the vision of character, the constant reinforcement of a fictional selfhood that accumulates meaning through suffering and the overcoming of suffering. At once a palace built of words and a trajectory propelled by syntax, the self connects effortlessly with the past and launches bravely into the future.
Posts Tagged: writing
“Maybe you write because you’re lonesome. You might stop once you fall in love. Remember we’re each just a self and the page is always there.
Maybe you write because you have a story to tell. I can’t imagine the Herculean act of learning to write for just one story, but some stories burn like that, I’ve heard tell.
Sherman Alexie always loved to read, but it never occurred to him that he—or any other Native American, for that matter—could become a writer.
That all changed when he read a poem by Adrian C. Louis and came to the following line: “O Uncle Adrian!...more
Either in content or in style, in subject matter or in rhetorical approach, fiction that is too much like other fiction is bad by definition. However paradoxical it sounds, good writing as a set of strictures (that is, when the writing is good and nothing more) produces most bad fiction.
The school year has begun, and this essay from Tom Kealey illustrates an afternoon-in-the-life of a volunteer at the San Francisco tutoring center 826 Valencia...more
At the Tazewell County Justice Center, on a Monday night in May, five women gather for a creative-writing class. They microwave plastic cups of instant coffee, then drag chairs up to the conference table where we’ll write....more
One summer day in 1985, a doctor calls my mother and tells her that there is empty space where parts of my brain should be.
“I don’t understand it,” he says. “There should be muscle, and there’s nothing.” More tests, he mumbles....more
…nothing calls for the paper shredder like a story that the writer clearly hasn’t sat on. A story that hasn’t been rewritten, or rewritten enough. So many writers that I encounter send their work in so soon. It shows, it really does.
Policy Mic has a fun post about the four worst things people tell young writers about writing.
Perhaps the most important of these to disregard is “Good writers always write well”:
Imagine you are someone who has no idea how to play a guitar.
But writing poems allows me mastery over a miniature universe. For those moments or hours, I am God of my kingdom. No one tells me how things go. No one can argue against me when I’m writing poems. When I am writing, I get to speak....more
Lately, over crumb-laden dinner tables and cups of coffee and on windy hillsides I ask friends, family, and peripheral acquaintances whether or not they write in a journal....more
A lot of women people (as opposed to men people, or just “people”) are upset that Wikipedia editors have created a subcategory for “American Women Novelists.” But I’m not....more
In what job other than writing must you seek out frequent and concrete rejection? Okay, fine, but go get your own self-pitying rant....more
Start with a hook.
Vomit splashed on my shoes. Another bullshit night on the suck party circuit. (Too Nick Flynnish?) Or:...more
The life of a writer is rarely depicted as glamorous.
We do it because we must. But sometimes we also must do other things like eat, and pay for shelter over our heads, or support those dependent on us. In the age of of information inundation, with high reader demands and little money to go around, the situation is bound to get tense....more
Over at the New York Times “Draft” blog, Benjamin Nugent, author of Good Kids, breaks down the romantic notion that locking yourself away in the “primeval hush of the Midwest” is a certified boon to your writing.
Instead, Nugent discusses the “Victorian foil” of monomania and the way that too much alone time can actually be detrimental to the creative process:
Writing a book consists largely of avoiding distractions.
A glance, an explosive connection, or a kiss that brings on a divorce. Decisions to stay or go. A diagnosis dictating a body’s abrupt end, slow decline, or unexpected recovery....more
In Whip Smart, Melissa Febos unflinchingly chronicles five years in her early twenties when she was a dominatrix and heroin user. But the book is about so much more than those details....more
The Rumpus Book Club chats with George Saunders about Tenth of December, sudden celebrity, why escalation matters if you’re a writer, and how to stick with a story...more
Constance Hale, who has been called “Marion the Librarian on a Harley, or E. B. White on acid,” talks verbs, literacy in the Digital Age, and why “it’s wrongheaded to think that the path to glory is only through standard English.”...more
Exercises in Style has been one of the most beloved books in the New Directions catalog since they first published it in 1981....more
I wanted to be the author of my own destiny, of my own chaos: I wanted to self-activate: I did not want to live my life half-asleep....more
Halimah Marcus and Benjamin Samuel, the co-editors of Recommended Reading, discuss the ins and outs of editing an ambitious literary project....more
For our first interview of 2013, we sit down with the incomparable Zadie Smith for a thoughtful chat about identity, the pleasure of reading, and how to write honestly about the state of humanity....more
The place was called the Library Bar, but there weren’t many books and there were no drinks at that hour. So we had to sit there bookless and drinkless. It was awkward in a fabulous way. The whole thing felt like a Thaisa Frank story—the event seemed to float above reality as we talked about things like the insanity of writing a book…...more