When I was young, I treated recipes with undue reverence. I assumed that the unknown creators possessed knowledge and wisdom that I did not, to the point where, at age eleven, I consulted the back of the SpaghettiOs can to see how long I should cook them and at what temperature. (The instruction to “cook until heated through”—no time, no temperature—left me flummoxed.)Continue reading
For fourteen days, I wrote 1,000 words every day. Regardless of whether I had anything to say, I wrote. I produced words, sentences, paragraphs. I met the challenge.
I expected that at the end, I’d have developed a new writing practice that would have me writing 1,000 words a day forever.
What I didn’t expect was to be so freaking exhausted. Continue reading
Tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day!
Those who haven’t celebrated this holiday before may have a few questions. While I am not a bookseller and I have no affiliation with any bookseller, I do have a teensy bit of experience in buying books.
So, let’s consider a few basic questions: Continue reading
The best-laid plans of women, writers, and lawyers often go awry.
~ Robert Burns
Okay, that’s not exactly what he said, but you get the idea.
This week, I had the opportunity to see this delightful principle in action. Continue reading
Everybody tells you that success requires persistence, lots of trying and failing and trying again. Of course, those people have usually already succeeded. Continue reading
Novella: a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel.
So here’s the situation. You sat down to write a story. You didn’t think about form or length. You just wanted to tell this particular tale. When you finished, you found that it was 20,000 words long. “Gee,” you thought. “That seems kind of long for a short story.” And then you did a little research, and you found that most literary journals want stories of less than around 5,000 words (some less than 3,000).
Whenever I talk with someone who’s venturing into the weird and wonderful world of writing, I inevitably get this question: “Do you know of any books that would be good for me?” As a matter of fact, I do. The bookcase in my front hall houses dozens of such volumes. Some are essays about writing and creativity; some are about the writing life (such as Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life); some focus on craft; some are resources on specific topics I’ve written about or intend to (Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook is a gem for those writing about murder); some contain writing prompts or odd facts designed to stir up the muse (The Book of Useless Information, by Noel Botham and The Useless Information Society). Continue reading
“I don’t have time to write!”
If I were to conduct a scientific survey of the reasons people who say they want to be writers don’t write, I’ll bet that this would be #1. There are plenty of others—family and work would likely rank as #2 and 3–but as often as not, I imagine those would be tied into #1.
It doesn’t help that books and articles routinely bombard the poor time-deprived writer with advice that seems impossible to follow. In predictable, frustrating, and often sanctimonious fashion, nearly all of them proclaim the same thing: Writers write. If you want to be a writer, you must find or make the time to write. Continue reading