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

Writing out a few sentences by Nakamura to see how they feel.

There was something evil in the glow of the room's blue lights.  I felt the weight of the man on top of me.  He could no longer move.  His eyes were closed.  I stared long into his face.  I realized that I wanted him.  I wanted the passion he had until a moment ago.  I… Continue reading Writing out a few sentences by Nakamura to see how they feel.

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

Nine Thoughts on Making Art

You don't need to be famous to be an artist. You just need to make art. You don't need to make art in any particular style or volume or at any particular rate. These considerations come from industries interested in art as a product that can be sold, irrespective and ignorant of the creative process.… Continue reading Nine Thoughts on Making Art

Etiquette When Working with Creative People

No matter how dreadful their work may seem, keep these things in mind before you dismiss them as artists: You may not understand their creative project. (You may not be the best audience member / reader / consumer of their work.) They may be developing in a way that isn't obvious. Their work may be… Continue reading Etiquette When Working with Creative People