Process, Uncategorized

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


Hour of the Wolf (1968)

"A minute is actually an immense space of time." My favorite moment from Ingmar Bergman's "Vargtimmen" (Hour of the Wolf) comes nearly halfway through the film. For the viewer, it is a test of faith offered by a artist assured of his craft who knows full well that time is the beating heart of film.… Continue reading Hour of the Wolf (1968)


Into the Woods

Nathaniel Hawthorne added the "W" to his name because of shame. His family was among the first Puritan settlers of Massachusetts, and one of his ancestors, John Hathorne, was a judge in the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692. In his fiction, he strove to keep "the inmost Me behind the veil," yet like all writers he couldn't… Continue reading Into the Woods


Questions, America

If you want to raise my ire in the classroom, just claim that facts and statistics are unequivocally better than any other kind of argumentative support. Personal or expert testimony are only 'matters of opinion,' to be avoided at all costs, at least according to many of my students. In a week I'll start teaching an American Literature… Continue reading Questions, America


Gratitude For An Audience

Well, the story's over. When I draft short stories, I usually let them run, drafting them in a matter of days once the initial idea finally takes hold (i.e. when I finally move beyond the page or so of notes and sketches that I usually begin with). Writing "Peel Away" as a series of posts, however, allowed the… Continue reading Gratitude For An Audience


Attempting Myth

The following passage opens a short story I'm working on called "It Has Always Burned." The working title suggests the central theme, which is the idea that every technology, even our very earliest one, results in unintended and often disastrous consequences, the illusion of control, and wrong-headed hubris. That we don't fully know the story about how… Continue reading Attempting Myth


Simple, Changed

Writing my first novel has been a struggle. I drove straight through a first draft in a little over a summer and re-wrote it almost entirely the following summer, finishing it, finally, in early 2014. Yet after rereading the second draft, I knew it still needed work. The first draft began after a podcast about Daoism inspired an opening… Continue reading Simple, Changed


Get Out of the Way

Stephen King writes that writing, when it's good, is "inspired play" for the writer, and he also claims that stories pretty much make themselves. Yet letting this happen this requires trust. And confidence. Some novice writers imagine themselves as puppeteers, controlling characters in order to make them do their bidding. "Yes, my little pets, we will take over… Continue reading Get Out of the Way


Kindness and Character

Most readers consider the extent to which they can sympathize with a character. When they encounter an unsympathetic character, one who is difficult or impossible for them to relate to, they toss the book aside. "Who cares," they may say. In truth, it is more about what the writer shows us than whether we can to relate… Continue reading Kindness and Character