Being a Creative Writer in an Age of Anxiety

A colleague of mine, a self-employed commercial artist and science fiction writer I will call “Jim,” recently declared, “If you’re a man getting close to your 50s and you haven’t done something yet, don’t say you’re doing to do it someday because you probably won’t.”  Jim was criticizing another guy in the same industry, who… Continue reading Being a Creative Writer in an Age of Anxiety

On Forgetting One’s Humanity

Professional writers and artists sometimes forget that they are human beings. In the immense pressure to monetize their work, develop personal commercial brands, and get recognized as professionals (because without such things, capitalist culture regards an artist as a hobbyist at best), they can forget that their art is only one part of who they… Continue reading On Forgetting One’s Humanity

If the Roof is on Fire, Just Keep Writing

Write seriously for any length of time and you learn that it’s a lonely business.  Whether you’re writing essays, stories, poems, scripts, or novels, it’s just you and the page every day with no guarantee that your enormous investment of time, emotion, and energy is ever going to reach a satisfying conclusion.  As Charles Bukowski… Continue reading If the Roof is on Fire, Just Keep Writing

On Knowing If You’re Any Good

  If you’re a writer, you’ll live your life not knowing if you’re any good.  And you’ll die not knowing.  I think John Berryman said that.  After Phil Levine published his first book of poems, people said, yeah, but can you do it again?  Then he did it again.  Then they said, yeah, but have… Continue reading On Knowing If You’re Any Good

Writing the Hard Thing

If I could tell you the number of stories and novels I’ve begun writing and not finished, we’d be here too long.  But “not finished” doesn’t mean “discarded.”  It means what it says.  The difficulty comes when I’ve convinced myself that I’m one sort of writer (the consistent, cheerfully productive kind) as opposed the other,… Continue reading Writing the Hard Thing

Maybe being a success-bot isn’t the way after all?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJhUs1L_RQo

Surpassing Meritocracy: the Artist’s Way

There are many different paths to greatness, not just the ones most commonly identified by conformist culture.  As long as your basic needs are met, where you put your energy—how you pursue excellence—is completely your business.  Realizing this can be difficult and gradual. It seems true, even if we admit that discourses (value systems) will… Continue reading Surpassing Meritocracy: the Artist’s Way

Thoughts on Sally Yates

Woke up this morning thinking about Sally Yates—how standing up to President Trump seems to have dramatically influenced the course of her life, how I've watched part of her emotional transformation through social media, specifically Twitter, and how her public narrative seems to reveal and confirm things I've suspected about the nature of personal meaning… Continue reading Thoughts on Sally Yates

The Voice in the Fire

As I have said many times and in many different ways, graduate study in literature and creative writing is not easy for anyone, even in the most favorable circumstances. There is an inner, emotional, psychological, processual effort that no one talks about and an outer, technical, rhetorical, production effort that everyone takes for granted. Both… Continue reading The Voice in the Fire

Blame the Drugs

Today, there was flooding in London. I was supposed to be there. But because I have no cartilage in my knees, I often wake up in agony on barometrically improvident days. Dark days of lying on the bed, focusing on my breathing. Days in which it's hard to think, much less write. Days of codeine… Continue reading Blame the Drugs