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

Solving climate change one slick magazine at a time.

Read my latest in Splice Today: https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/jonathan-franzen-can-t-solve-climate-change-for-anyone-who-matters  

The Peanut Gallery: Purveyors of Fine Hatred Since 1880

When I began teaching as a graduate student, publishing in magazines, and generally moving my life forward in visible ways, I learned a difficult lesson that accompanies progress: people don’t like it when you succeed.  They don’t want to see it.  They don’t want to know about it.  And if they become aware that you… Continue reading The Peanut Gallery: Purveyors of Fine Hatred Since 1880

Way Up High in the Manhattan Sky

Reeling this morning from my all-Trump-all-the-time ulcer-inducing news feed of despair, I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. I've been a compulsive news reader since I learned how. And, for the last few months, my morning habit has evolved into a kind of shamanic pathworking. Not the startup-bro takes ayahuasca at Burning Man… Continue reading Way Up High in the Manhattan Sky

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

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

Holding a Cup and Overfilling It

Holding a cup and overfilling it Cannot be as good as stopping short Pounding a blade and sharpening it Cannot be kept for long Gold and jade fill up the room No one is able to protect them Wealth and position bring arrogance And leave disasters upon oneself When achievement is completed, fame is attained… Continue reading Holding a Cup and Overfilling It