The Hill Country Years

I’ve spent the last few days running around my old home town, taking pictures and scribbling notes, overtly to document scenes in some of my stories and to refresh memories I rely on for my fiction, but also, I admit, just to relive some of my childhood. It’s a weird feeling, really, because I spentContinue reading “The Hill Country Years”

On a life, our liberty, and the pursuit of reading: a reflection on the life and work of Judith Krug

Two years ago, I had the great privilege of eating dinner with Judith Krug. My wife was giving a two-hour presentation on librarians in film at the annual conference of the Wisconsin Library Association, and as a member of WLA’s Intellectual Freedom Roundtable, she also got to meet and work briefly with Judith Krug, theContinue reading “On a life, our liberty, and the pursuit of reading: a reflection on the life and work of Judith Krug”

A writer is a writer: on understanding and humility

Today my university hosted a panel discussion with the six authors who were shortlisted for this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). I’ve long hungered for the kind of “visiting writer” experiences I used to enjoy in grad school at University of North Texas, and with this I had a chance to meet andContinue reading “A writer is a writer: on understanding and humility”

Judy Blume

Last night I drove with my wife and another university librarian (our education librarian, who oversees our children and young-adult literature collection on campus) to Madison to attend a lecture by Judy Blume. Blume’s speech was part of the larger Wisconsin Literary Festival underway this week, but her specific appearance was at the invitation ofContinue reading “Judy Blume”

“The Bullet Surprise,” courtesy of “beta amphetamine”

My friend Beth Ann Fennelly has a new book of of poetry out, Unmentionables, which I’ve been salivating for since I finished her nonfiction book Great with Child a year ago. I haven’t ordered it yet, but I’ve been thinking about the book, so to whet my yearning I’ve picked up an old favorite, herContinue reading ““The Bullet Surprise,” courtesy of “beta amphetamine””

Good-bye, New York

Good-bye, Manhattan. Good-bye, Hilton New York. Good-bye Best Western President. Good-bye, Chrysler Building. Say hi to the others — I’ll catch them next time. Good-bye, Broadway. Good-bye 5th Avenue. Good-bye 59th Street. Good-bye corner of Grove and Benton — what great Friends you made. So long, Times Square. You’re a little flashy, but I likeContinue reading “Good-bye, New York”

Three things: notes from yesterday

To try and catch up from yesterday, I’m sitting on the floor against an out-of-the-way pillar in the conference hotel, writing this over a tiny, cold, and weirdly tasteless portabella mushroom sandwich that cost $7.50. Anywhere else, this sandwich would have come from a vending machine and cost $1.25, but this is New York. WhenContinue reading “Three things: notes from yesterday”

On friends, lions, and Friends again

This morning, I woke early and walked the dozen blocks to the conference hotel so I could hit the first session of panel presentations on the schedule. The panel I attended was a discussion about creative writers and their careers as teachers. Strangely, every member of the panel managed to utter at least one witheringContinue reading “On friends, lions, and Friends again”

Writing vs. Writing

A friend of mine, a brilliant poet named Bri Pike, was writing in her blog about the distinction between writing as hobby and writing as serious craft, and I found her comments so interesting I felt compelled to respond. So did another writer-friend of mine, the essayist and memoirist Crystal Elerson. Our resulting three-way conversation,Continue reading “Writing vs. Writing”

The art of revising

Tonight, while discussing the new film Becoming Jane with my wife, Jennifer, I was struck by a thought about writers in film in general. The past several years, I’ve been keeping an informal, mental list of films featuring writers (or, at least, the films I’ve enjoyed)–films like Finding Forrester or Wonderboys or Stranger Than Fiction–even,Continue reading “The art of revising”