Writing amid our looming apocalypse

Writer/publisher Michael J Seidlinger is having a fascinating conversation on Facebook about the last book we’ll read before the end of the world. It’s a worthy conversation, throwing into bright light the things we value most about the books we read. I don’t have an easy answer, really. If the world ended tomorrow, I’d probablyContinue reading “Writing amid our looming apocalypse”

A Writer’s Notebook: literary retrospective

This week, another post based on a tutee’s assignment — this time for a high school student writing a final term paper. I’ll explain the assignment below (it’s an awesome one — this tutee of mine has a very cool high school English teacher!), but I ought to explain up front that I’m short-cutting myContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: literary retrospective”

A Writer’s Notebook: Descriptive outlines

Recently, I had the idea to write a new short story in a particular style, a genre I have practiced before but a long time ago. I’m out of practice. So I dug up some old examples and some new ones, and I started analyzing them for clues as to how to proceed. And thenContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: Descriptive outlines”

How to know when the writing is done

I started writing about good writing yesterday simply because it was on my mind — I’m neck-deep in three different stories right now, with two more on the sidelines, as I try to finish a story collection. But as soon as I posted it, I started thinking of a related discussion: How to know whenContinue reading “How to know when the writing is done”

How to know when the writing is good (or good enough)

When I was in grad school working on my doctorate, I took a class on the form and theory of poetry, with poet Bruce Bond. It was a fascinating course that taught me a lot, not only about poetry but also about my own approach to fiction. Bond has a way of asking provocative questionsContinue reading “How to know when the writing is good (or good enough)”

The Netherlands: Days 10.1 & 10.2 (the Great Volcano Standstill, 2010)

Day 10.1 Friday, April 16, 2010 Stranded still.  The volcano continues to spew, the European authorities in charge of their respective airspaces continue to freak out, many of our fellow passengers are growing irrationally angry, and it’s looking more and more like we’re in this for a longer haul than anyone would like. We wokeContinue reading “The Netherlands: Days 10.1 & 10.2 (the Great Volcano Standstill, 2010)”

The Road

It’s been a long time coming. When I first heard Cormac McCarthy‘s brilliant novel The Road was being developed as a film, I noted the release date on my mental calendar and held my breath. That was back in early 2008. When the movie finally did get released more than a year and a halfContinue reading “The Road”

The hardest thing about writing

I’m preparing one of my novels for submission, and I’m writing a synopsis.  I hate synopses.  Like all prejudice, it’s an irrational loathing–I always feel like I’m crushing the story, stripping away the beauty and leaving just a skeleton, and I can’t help but think that if people want to know what a book isContinue reading “The hardest thing about writing”

Barry Hannah

Barry Hannah will leave a gaping hole in literature.  His influence on my own work is strangely subtle and roundabout (I know him more for his influence on others–especially Tom Franklin–than for anything else), but when I think about the stories I’ve read, I realize how deeply effective they were.  For all the brashness ofContinue reading “Barry Hannah”

A Writer’s Notebook: Revision

I’m chest deep in a revision of my novel right now, but I’m also reading Alice Munro, who makes me want to work on short fiction. So I figured this week, I’d put my hands together and do a revision exercise on one of my long-problematic short stories. Because this is slightly complicated, I’m goingContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: Revision”