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”

“It’s a real privilege to have talented friends”

Back in spring of 2015, I was looking for fresh material to bring into my composition classroom, and I happened to have a batch of students who were itching to break out of the essay rut and write in response to some literature. So I shared some widely-anthologized essays and some interesting editorials from major newspapers, butContinue reading ““It’s a real privilege to have talented friends””

Research tip #7: Check the map

So, I’ve finished a wholesale revision and final(ish) edit on my Civil War novel, the first draft of which started me on my whole “Researching for fiction” series a couple of years ago. And in the process of working over that text, I came across another aspect of research I’ve long been aware of butContinue reading “Research tip #7: Check the map”

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”

11-11: Southern fiction (Christopher Cook)

I began my love affair with Southern fiction, as most of us do, with Faulkner, but I didn’t get serious about studying the genre until I started reading Tom Franklin. His then-distinctive blend of gritty blue-collar stories set in a modern but familiar American South, a style of writing Franklin likes to call “Industrial Gothic,”Continue reading “11-11: Southern fiction (Christopher Cook)”

A Writer’s Notebook: The Writer’s Toolbox, sentence sticks

So, last week I let Jamie Cat Callan‘s The Writer’s Toolbox help me start a story. It was about John, an architect from Minnesota who is feeling guilty over abandoning his elderly mother in order to stalk the woman he’s secretly in love with. Don’t ask me — the Toolbox came up with this story. But that’s whereContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: The Writer’s Toolbox, sentence sticks”

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)”