The right story for the right time: context of reception and what it means for writers

It is hard for me to just not finish a book. I hem and haw, delay. I grudgingly slog another page. There are so many books I want to read, after all--why agonize, insist on finishing one I'm not enjoying? Is it the uncertainty of how to mark it on my Goodreads account, or something... Continue Reading →

Writing as Awareness: Forgiving George Orwell

A paradox of fiction writing (and perhaps too of reading) is the power of the storytelling to make us more aware of our real worlds. As the painter studies a subject and seeks to understand each detail of light, color, and shape, so we, when we write, are looking into things' hearts and seeking the... Continue Reading →

Sponging away patriarchy

My students and I these past two weeks have been exploring language and gender. We have considered how women and men might use language differently (conclusion: any differences there are are slight), and how language represents gender (see this fascinating though unsurprising, and ultimately disturbing look at the words books have most frequently used to... Continue Reading →

A Plotter Pantsing: what I’ve learned, and what I’m still trying to figure out

In Twitter's #WritingCommunity, the discussion of plotting and pantsing our stories is a common thread. Plotting, the careful outlining of a story before writing, and pantsing, the seat-of-our-pants, unplanned, accepting-what-comes creation of a story, each draws a crowd of strong adherents. Out foraging for mushrooms this week, we came across this beautiful chanterelle, late for... Continue Reading →

Conflict a copout?

I've been working on a short story recently. Unlike most of what I've been writing the last few years, it's solid realism. I didn't expect this to make it a particular challenge for me, but as I have been slogging my way through outlines, a first draft of one-and-a-quarter scenes, doubt has besieged me of... Continue Reading →

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