Dillard and Chee: Writing Teacher and Student

I just finished Alexander Chee's essay collection How To Write an Autobiographical Novel. The thing about essays written in the first person is the effect. As is true with first-person POV novels, you begin to feel as though you know the author. Of course you do not, but the conceit is there, and at times …

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Rules for Writers: A Baker’s Dozen

Here are some suggested daily habits for writers. It's OK if they are broken because that's what resolutions in habits' clothing are meant to suffer! Still, let us amuse ourselves as if rules are hard and fast: If you have little or no discipline around technology, keep a writing notebook. Buy the best damned notebook …

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The Possibilities in an “Endlessly Muddled Middle”

They say man is a storytelling animal, which therefor means he is a story-listening animal. Children love story time, of course, but adults do as well. Teachers know that high school seniors will be as rapt to a great story read aloud as kindergarteners will. As for movies and the theater and television? One big, …

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Why Is This Writer So Embarrassed?

Embarrassment. Like death and taxes, it's universal, only Ben Franklin overlooked it. Embarrassment is the title and subject of Thomas Newkirk's latest book, and although the target audience is teachers of students whose learning is compromised due to the big "E," it might as well be dedicated to all of us, especially writers and poets …

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“All Writers Are Amateurs…”

Readers love to read books about books, of course. And writers? They love to read about writers. Given the chance to interview an established author, developing and wannabe writers would most likely ask about routine and habit, as if it were some elixir they could purchase in aisle 7 of the local pharmacy, drink, and--voilà!--be …

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A Closer Look at Rilke’s First Letter to a Young Poet

This week marks the 115th anniversary of Rainer Maria Rilke's first letter to Franz Xaver Kappus. Franz sounds like a lot of young poets. "Dear Established Poet," he writes. "Would you please read my poems and tell me if I'm horrible at this?" If you read Letters to a Young Poet today (there are ten …

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What Lights YOUR Muse’s Campfire?

It's a fact of life: Famous writers inspire famous writers. Don't believe it? Doubting your inner Thomas? You need only read Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process, edited by Joe Fassler, wherein dozens of writerly-types share snippets of works that lit their muse's campfire. Curious, I read the book--mostly--and here are a …

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Writing Workshop: 10 Holiday Poetry Prompts

Today is the Winter Solstice, the official day for holiday poetry prompts. Yes, it's winter for all of us northern hemisphere types and officially summer for all of those people laughing at us from the southern hemi. Are we jealous? No. We have writing to do, and enough cozy indoors to do it in. Here …

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