Process

Fiction Two Ways

Discussions about craft are important in any medium, but in writing they can be particularly insightful because the they are delivered through the medium in which they seek to explore. My favorites include Stephen King's On Writing and John Gardner's The Art of Fiction, and I recently added James Wood's How Fiction Works to the… Continue reading Fiction Two Ways

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Disorienting Clarity

About a year ago I read Diane Williams's "Four In Prose" in Harper's Magazine, and I could not get it out of my head. In her characteristically brief fashion, Williams uses all of fiction's signposts but sends readers off into another dimension entirely where meaning hovers just beyond the brink of understanding. This is true… Continue reading Disorienting Clarity

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Escaping Influence

A few weeks ago I wrote about my most recent writing's similarities to Cronenberg's body-horror flicks from early in his career, and the thought, once I'd put it into words, wormed its way all the way down the street to the library, where it forced me to borrow The Brood, Videodrome, and Naked Lunch. I'd… Continue reading Escaping Influence

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Rhythm, Sound and Sense

Words are fun. In an interview with Kendrick Lamar, the rapper talked about the pleasure of molding words to his own purposes, twisting them so that they rhymed or almost rhymed. Internal rhyme, end rhyme and rhythm are the backbone of rap and have been the site of the genre's most noticeable innovations beyond, of… Continue reading Rhythm, Sound and Sense

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Constant Revision

John Steinbeck once wrote that you should not get caught up in the language or style of a piece but should instead just plow through and worry about fixing everything up later. As a practical strategy for just getting ideas on the page, this is excellent advice. In order for a story to work you… Continue reading Constant Revision

Process

Celebrating the Halfway Point, but then…

The beginning of summer makes me nostalgic and reflective. Maybe it's because my birthday falls near the beginning of the season, or maybe it's because I am a teacher, meaning I've always--aside from a few quick years spent in the real world while I finished graduate school--associated summer with endings. The end of the school… Continue reading Celebrating the Halfway Point, but then…

Process

Necessary Halves

Observing the writing mind at work is sometimes humbling, often embarrassing.  My creative persona sits at his desk crafting sentences that will be quoted for decades, if not centuries, to come. At dinner parties, at the beginnings of great speeches, his words--the ones he's putting down right at that very moment--will be the measure of a man's learning, and… Continue reading Necessary Halves

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What Words Can Do

I'm still reflecting on Ursula Le Guin's speech at the National Book Awards last week. Because she's an Oregon writer, it received even more attention here in Portland, and the standing ovation she received at the end of the speech was well-deserved. She threw in the barb that writers relegated to genres always throw in when… Continue reading What Words Can Do