Category: Developing a Writing Life

“I Denigrate Myself”

I will start by saying that I do not have to explain myself to you.  Then I will go on to explain myself, out of some misplaced sense of...

“Up Above”

I learned, further, that brain was likewise a commodity. It, too, was different from muscle. A brain seller was only at his prime when he...

“Deadline Walking”

As a child, I wrote an epic poem about a unicorn, planning to perform a recitation of it during the annual school talent show. I spent days...

“In Taos”

In Taos, late one summer afternoon, my wife Linda and I came upon a festival in the plaza. There were booths selling Indian crafts,...

“Hearing Voices: Finding My Writing Community”

  At fifty-plus, I had started, but not finished, three utterly unrelated graduate programs before I found my way to the low-residency...

“A Strange Favor”

I am no stranger to oddity. In the early 1970s, I was standing in a voting line in Little Rock, Arkansas, chatting with a southern lady who...

“Why Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?”

The life of an author can be peculiar. Certain experiences ought to be grand events accompanied by trumpets and elephants, or at least a...

“You Can’t Write and Make Pizza”

I had a small group of friends over on a summer night—not my writer friends, but one of them was a book editor I used to work with a long...

“Just Short of the Words”

The land just east of the high school covers 22.4 acres, a slab of earth christened University Commons for its catty corner nature to a...

“From Authors Remote, Alien, Diverse”

“A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.” – T.S. Eliot When I...

“Chimney Flashing: How I Got Back into Writing”

I felt the need to accomplish something, so I climbed onto the roof and measured the chimney. I would build a flashing. I only recently...

“Writing Through”

The night of my first seizure, I was sixteen years old. I was taken to a hospital, scanned and poked. I trusted America’s healthcare...

“Writing in the Fallow”

Why am I here? Not getting married, not finishing an MFA, not moving to Oregon. I’m heading into the deep freeze of Arctic-Iowa,...

“In Dreams, Reality”

Many years ago, a Fiction Writing student asked me an interesting question: How do you write something original? I asked him to let me...

“Beyond The Fax”

I learned to fax at the age of twenty-six. As a receptionist for two publishers, inhabiting a little gray cubicle, I received calls, sliced...

“This Writer’s Secret to Doing What She Loves”

Do what you love may be the most overused advice in the career-improvement world.  A blogpost on the complexity of this directive went...

Book Festivals: Why Authors Should Spend the Money to Travel to Book Festivals”

Book festivals are a tradition I’m thinking a lot about lately. By the end of the year I will have taken Some Kinds of Love: Stories to...

“The Secret Uncertainties of a Writer”

You know something? The inner critic is mean. It loves to play on existing insecurities and drill into them as if debriding an open wound....

“What’s Your Book About? How to Make a Pitch”

When my first novel was complete, I sent it to an academic press. (You could do that then.) The editor liked the book, but decided it would...

The Writer and Her Time

The Writer begins when she is young. She doesn’t want to waste time. Reading is wonderful but writing feels better. After she finishes...

A Writer’s Writer: Colum McCann’s Thirteen Ways of Looking

Irish writer Colum McCann is best known for his National Book Award winning novel, Let the Great World Spin. Despite winning one of the...

“How to Improve Your Odds of Sticking to Your Writing Resolutions”

On the evening news not long ago a fitness guru offered three tips to improve your chances of sticking to your fitness goals in the New...

What’s the Big Deal about Leading a Writers’ Workshop?

Well, I’ll tell you. It probably teaches you as much as it does the other participants. Perhaps more. I led a workshop Saturday for my...

“Why I Love Literary Citizenship”

Much is being written lately on the topic of literary citizenship. Since this was the topic of my Master’s final research paper, I...

“Ten Habits of Effective Writing Critiquers”

Creative writing workshops can be a place where writers help colleagues shape their written work so that it effectively communicates the...

“Use Writing as an Excuse to Travel to Beautiful Places (and other Confessions of a Conference Monster)”

Up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the mornings were cold and the internet worked only after the sun came out and re-charged the cells...

“The Writer’s Brain on Data”

There is always another email to answer, another link to share, another picture to upload, another article to read, and always another...

“Seven Reasons to Attend a Writers’ Conference”

If you have never been to a writers’ conference, you are missing great opportunities.  You don’t need to be a writer to...

Eight Reasons to Consider Pursuing an MFA

  Okay, in advance, I confess. I have an MFA. You may detect a bit of bias in favour of MFAs in what follows.  So be it. Here are...

What’s the Big Deal about Public Readings of Your Writing?

Well, I’ll tell you: dry mouth, sweaty armpits, and the urge to call for your Mom. And the reason, of course, is that you are taking the...

A “Real Job”: The Legitimacy of Creative Writing

Over the course of my creative writing MFA, the topic of the work-writing balance has come up more than a few times. Some of my colleagues...

“Fostering Literary Community in the Digital Age”

A writer is accustomed to solitude. Writing requires a certain amount of isolation in order for words to become stories, poems and essays....

“The Overly Sensitive Writer”

Anne Lamott recently wrote an article titled “Me, the overly sensitive child,” adapted from her book, Stitches: A Handbook on...

“Learning How: Courses, Workshops and Tutors”

"Beginning writers must appreciate the prerequisites if they hope to become writers. You pay your dues — which takes...