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?
Workaholism and Learning How to Relax
Being a self-employed workaholic and knowing how to effectively relax is one of the biggest professional conundrums I've faced as an adult. And by "effective relaxation," I mean not chemically induced relaxation or pseudo-relaxation that is just another form of work in disguise. Accepting the necessity of down time is really hard when you're the… Continue reading Workaholism and Learning How to Relax
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.
The Writing Life Ain’t Easy, Kid
Today I'm thinking about how most people locate the center of meaning in their lives in their social identity, which is synonymous either with their career role or some caretaking role or both. But the artist finds the center of meaning in the act of making art. This is an important distinction to keep in… Continue reading The Writing Life Ain’t Easy, Kid
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 . . .