The Ancient Art of Writing for Money

20 thoughts on what it takes and how to do it. 1. Nobody owes you time, money, or sympathy. Editors have hard jobs and need to balance a lot of concerns that writers don't. If an editor or some other client is spending time on you, take it as a compliment. This is true for… Continue reading The Ancient Art of Writing for Money

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

On Productivity and Publishing

I've written three books of fiction to date, all story collections; though, only one of them has been published.* This is not remarkable or typical in any sense, even if I do have the stereotypical writer's voice in my head telling me that I should be submitting to more book contests, etc. My submission schedule… Continue reading On Productivity and Publishing

On writing when you feel uninspired and dead inside . . .

Set a word count goal. My minimum goal is 7 pages per week, which comes to about 2450 words. Give yourself permission to write poorly. You are the worst judge of your own writing, especially in a first draft. You need to get around your hangups if you want to be productive.  The only way… Continue reading On writing when you feel uninspired and dead inside . . .

Moving Forward, Cutting Loose

So the holidays are over. I spent mine reading obscure horror stories from the 19th century and the nonfiction writing of various friends, drinking too much Tetley's tea, and enjoying myself at home. I mostly stayed in Oxford this year; though, I did have fun going to London on Christmas Eve. It is, without a… Continue reading Moving Forward, Cutting Loose

How to be Good

It was the beginning of a time when it was almost as if the novel itself didn't matter anymore. Publishing a shiny booklike object was simply an excuse for parties and glamour and goodlooking authors reading finely honed minimalism to students who would listen rapt with slack­jawed admiration, thinking, I could do that, I could… Continue reading How to be Good

Life vs. Death (or How I Keep Going)

1. Veritas vos Liberabit Karl Lessing and I decided to finish the five gallon jugs of flat Michelob his little brother had liberated from a frat party. It felt like a big decision. This was 1993. We were sitting in Karl's parents' garage, watching old footage of Tower of Power's “What is Hip?” on Soul… Continue reading Life vs. Death (or How I Keep Going)

Seeing the Cranes: Double Dickage, the Dragon Tower, and Felicia Day

I was sitting in a cafe across the street from Rundetaarn, a Masonic dragon tower in Copenhagen, trying to make progress with William Gibson’s novel, The Peripheral, when I realized it’s constipated with words and it wasn't going to get any more regular after 100 pages. It’s so self-referential, so overwrought and self-conscious that it broke… Continue reading Seeing the Cranes: Double Dickage, the Dragon Tower, and Felicia Day

Reyn til Runa: Seek the Mysteries

There is an emotional truth or reality at the center of a story I may be writing.  I have a fleeting sense of it and then I start off by trying to explore it, trying to get to the center.  Then I always stop.  Sometimes it's because I've forgotten that "fleeting sense" and consequently do… Continue reading Reyn til Runa: Seek the Mysteries