by Kim Triedman My gym misses me. I haven’t exactly been pulling my weight lately. Or blasting my abs or busting my butt, either. In fact I can honestly say that from the moment I started writing my second novel this past September, I have gone through the gym …
I stumbled across this post this morning and wish I had found it sooner, but here it is. The sale date is tomorrow. Read on:
By Robin Black Any interest in having your prose or poetry manuscript reviewed by the likes of Philip Levine, Elizabeth McCracken, Ron Carlson, Tony Hoagland, or perhaps some other equally amazing author?? There’s an app for that. . .or anyway, there’s a website. And you’ll be …
From the South85 blog:
At the conclusion of an alumni weekend during the Converse College MFA residency, I sat with three friends/colleagues/fellow alum who gathered for one final moment before parting (again) to return to our respective homes after a fun-filled, raucous, inspiring time.
As we reflected on various moments, all of us anticipating and dreading the impending depression that results from returning to the “real world,” the thought for this blog post struck me.
Read the rest of Kathleen Nalley’s South85 blog post here.
Part voyeur, part inspiration, every Monday you get a glimpse into the lives of authors and other thinkers who share a picture of their bedside table, a view into what matters to them right now, the things that inspire them, that occupy their minds.
Good writing advice from Jeffrey Schrecongost at the South 85 blog:
Greed. Guilt. God.
The big ones, yes? The ways in which the three interrelate are what I seek to explore in my fiction. People who need more than they need. The pain of remorse. The nature of a faith that comforts some and confuses and disappoints others.
Read the rest of Jeffrey’s post at South 85.
Follow Jeffrey on twitter
Karin Gillespie is a friend and a writer with a strong sense of humor. She’s also full of great writing advice. Below are excerpts of where she’s been on the web lately, with links to the full articles:
From A Master‘s in Chick Lit:
I’m a genre writer. Gary Shteyngart hasn’t blurbed any of my novels, and Marion Ettlinger has never photographed me for a book jacket. I’m more at ease with the sequins and shirtless men at the Romantic Times conference than I am with the serious eyewear at poetry readings. When critics describe my work, which is basically chick lit, they don’t say it’s emotionally astute, sweeping or a tour de force. They call it “a fast-paced screamer.”
Read the rest here.
From How I Got Published in The New York Times on My First Try (and What Happened Next)
One of my favorite movies is Julie and Julia. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the true story of a young woman named Julie Powell who cooks Julia Child’s recipes and blogs about her experiences. Powell is eventually featured in the New York Times and after the paper comes out, she’s deluged with calls from agents and editors. And later, of course, Amy Adams plays her in a Nora Ephron movie. What more could a writer ask for?
Read the rest at Writer Unboxed.
This short, but chock full of creative advice book is one of my favorites. A lot of wisdom is packed into this squat, square shape form and post-it flags in a rainbow of colors mark my favorite pages. The book’s format is simple—black and white, a chalkboard on the printed page.
What really works in this book is its to the point advice on being creative (the full title of the book is Steal Like an Artist 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative). The first flagged page in this book is in the second chapter—“Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started.” On page twenty-seven, Kleon states: “In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.” Maybe you’ve already known this to be true, but for me, it was a gem that caught my attention and started me thinking. He then goes on to talk—briefly—about imposter syndrome, “a very real thing that runs rampant in educated people.” The clinical definition is “a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” (27)
That’s me, all right. Unable to shake the feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing, that I’m just “winging it” and someday someone will find me out. But then he finishes this section with “Guess what: None of us do. Ask anyone doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up and do their thing. Every day” (28).
I was hooked on this book from that point forward. I keep my copy on my desk, where I can reference it any time I need. Other thoughts from his book that resonated with me:
“The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use—do the work you want to see done” (48). In this section, he takes the old adage “write what you know,” and changes it up to “write what you like” and go from there. “If all of your favorite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew?” (48)
To learn more about the book, visit Steal Like An Artist where he lists the ten steps to unlocking your creativity and talks about how the book got started. He also states on this page that “A book is never finished, only abandoned, so I’ll be posting a lot of my continuing research on my Tumblr.” Also visit his blogger kit--too much good stuff to put here. You can take a look at the covers and some of the content of Steal Like An Artist.
Kleon is the author of Newspaper Blackout and Show Your Work.(subject of a future blog post)
Follow him on Twitter at @austinkleon.
Kleon, Austin. Steal Like An Artist. New York:Workman Publishing. 2012. Print
Support literary magazines–they need you!
River Teeth Journal–publishes non-fiction
Wips Journal-Works (of fiction) in Progress–focuses on fiction.
Superstition Review-publishes art, poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction
New Ohio Review-publishes fiction, poetry, and non-fiction
Contributor Gabrielle Freeman has started her own website–Lady Random. Her tagline: “Writing is your mistress. Submit!”
Also check out Rocko Rocket–creation of contributor Yolande Clark-Jackson
by Rhonda Browning White
During my MFA days, I kept a journal of important suggestions and bits of advice passed down to me by professors, instructors, visiting writers and my cohorts; epiphanies, ah-ha moments, words to live by, definitely words to write by. I still turn to these one-liners, these brief explanations, these light-bulb statements that point me in the right direction when I feel lost or need inspiration. One such statement came from my mentor, author Robert Olmstead, who said to my workshop peers and me, “It’s not about what you write, it’s what you don’t write. Make the reader do some of the writing. Invoke, invoke, invoke. Make the reader conjoin A and C. Leave out B. Don’t burn words.”
For years, I had spelled out everything for the reader. I wanted her to understand. I wanted to explain. In that moment, I realized that the best fiction—stories I love and re-read, are the stories that allow me to draw my own conclusions. And sometimes, in the re-reading, my opinion and conclusion changes. These stories become, for me, timeless.
Since then, I’ve sought short stories in which the narrative and its elements are not spoon-fed to us, stories where we are allowed to develop a relationship with the characters and draw reflective meaning from their experiences. Here are two examples I’ve found in The Best American Short Stories 2010, which we can examine and learn from to prevent ourselves from burning words.
In her story “All Boy,” Lori Ostlund writes of Harold, a studious and introverted child who is audience to the breakdown of his parents’ marriage (Ostlund 263-78). His father is gay. We know, without being specifically told, that Harold’s mother fears their son may have homosexual tendencies, so she protects him from being ostracized by teachers and classmates by telling them, “I guess Harold’s just all boy” (Ostlund 275). Ostlund never points out these things directly, but lets the reader reach this conclusion and determine for herself if Harold’s mother is in denial of her husband’s and son’s tendencies, or if she’s merely operating in the protective role of mother. Ostlund never tells us until the last paragraphs that Harold’s father is gay. We are allowed to experience this revelation as Harold experienced it; gradually, by applying our own knowledge and societal frames of reference to what is taking place. We experience for ourselves what Harold is thinking and feeling, so much so that at the end of the story, we want to usher him back into the safety of the womb-like closet, where he is protected from the harsh realities of the world.
We suspect from the opening line of Tea Obreht’s “The Laugh” that the darkest part of the story is over. “They were talking about the funeral when the lights went out” (Obreht 246). Still, suspense builds throughout as we learn that Neal, our narrator, feels guilty over some instance that occurred between him and best friend Roland’s late wife, Femi. He loved her, I inferred, though no steamy affair ever made print. Throughout the story, Neal does everything he can to protect Roland; physically, when he follows him into a pack of wildebeests without a loaded gun; and emotionally, when he places heavy sacks of flour into Femi’s empty casket to keep Roland from discovering that hyenas stole her body. Neal came face-to-face with one of these hyenas, though a pane of glass separated them. But the hyenas’ laugh, not their vile golden eyes, was what tormented him. “It was the laugh that made his stomach turn, and they laughed all the time, every night they were there, as if they knew their laugh made him wonder, made him want to come outside to them in the dark, or, otherwise, put a gun in his mouth” (Obreht 257). Yet, when the story ends, it isn’t the hyenas’ laugh that haunts him, it is Femi’s laugh. Again, the reader is left to her own inference, her own conclusion, based on her knowledge—not of hyenas, but of humans and human nature.
It is what we leave out, then, not what we put into a story, that provides the reader with a satisfying, poignant or devastating twist. Leave out the B parts. Let your reader reveal what has been hidden, let him write what is missing.
Obreht, Tea. “The Laugh.” Russo 246-62.
Ostlund, Lori. “All Boy.” Russo 263-278.
Russo, Richard, ed. Introduction. The Best American Short Stories 2010. New York: Houghton, 2010. Print.
Voice-as defined (sorta kinda) by wikipedia-states “The writer’s voice is the individual writing style of an author, a combination of idiotypical usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).
For more thoughts on voice, check out these blog posts:
Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice
How Can I Find My Writing Voice?
What Is Writer’s Voice?
Know of any posts/articles/advice on voice? Post the links in the comments. (links not contributing to the discussion will be deleted)