Feel-Better Stories

Last week, I discovered a genre I’d never heard of: up lit.

One article describes up lit as “the new book trend with kindness at its core . . . novels and nonfiction that is optimistic rather than feelgood.” Continue reading

Resources for Writers, Part 1

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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

The Magic of the Hour

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“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

Writing from Real Life

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Write what you know.

It’s one of the first things writers hear. While we could spend hours debating the merits of this precept, one particular aspect is currently on my mind:

Is it okay to write what I know when what I know is from somebody else’s life?

Recently, a man I know – let’s call him Fred – posted on social media about a situation he and his significant other – we’ll call her Emily – are dealing with – we’ll call it The Event. The Event is Emily’s problem, and it’s not going to be resolved any time soon. Because she’s in a relationship with Fred, he’s being kind and supportive. So far, so good. Continue reading