Archive for the 'Chapbook' Category

MEDITATION ON KURT VONNEGUT: XIII…

April 24th, 2017

The Utopian dreaming I do now had to do with encouraging cheerfulness and bravery by the formation of good gangs. —to Mark Vonnegut on 29 August 1972, p. 183 Kurt Vonnegut: Letters. There are a lot of good gangs out there like the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and Our Revolution and dreams only seem utopian […]

MEDITATION ON KURT VONNEGUT: XII…

April 22nd, 2017

Vonnegut, I fear, as a teacher at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is working with adults who have a reasonably solid conception of their career path. They were, after all, paying no small sum of cash for the privilege of working under his tutelage. As a teacher, I was usually pretty good at helping people […]

MEDITATION ON KURT VONNEGUT: XI…

April 15th, 2017

Meeting the expectations, or the imagined (ours not theirs) expectations of others is a fool’s errand. Most people, I’ve found, are too busy dealing with their own craziness and if they’re not, they ought to be. We all just need to get on with what we thing is right and let the rest of the […]

MEDITATION ON KURT VONNEGUT: X…

April 8th, 2017

I may have been blessed by my father’s decision to not give any great deal of good advice. In my life I can only recall three times when we discussed what I might do. The first was between 8th and 9th grades when he told me that he would do all that he could to […]

GIVING CHARACTERS THE WEIGHT OF SCULPTURE…

November 16th, 2016

I’ve read the Russians—Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Pushkin, Solzhenitsyn, &c.—but not for a very, very long time and not with a writer’s eye. The importance of the Russians in literature, however, is repeated again and again as I work my way through the Paris Review interviews. Simenon is no exception. The Paris Review: “The Art […]

WRITERS WRITE WITH HANDS, NOT THEIR MOUTHS…

November 15th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 9” with Georges Simenon: INTERVIEWER: Have you ever dictated fiction, commercial or any other? SIMENON: No. I am an artisan; I need to work with my hands. I would like to carve my novel in a piece of wood. My characters—I would like to have them heavier, […]

BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING, SORT OF…

November 13th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 9” with Georges Simenon My first face-to-face contact with a working writer came in the spring of 1981 when I took Daniel Keyes’ short story writing course at Ohio University. I learned a lot from Keyes, but the first lesson he taught me was that most writers […]

WRITING IS A VOCATION OF UNHAPPINESS

October 28th, 2016

Often when I tell someone that I’m a writer they gets this dreamy look in their eyes and tell that they wish they could be a writer. I don’t attempt to disillusion them, but in my mind I want to say: “No you don’t. You want to have written in the same way your present […]

THE REAL ART IS IN REVISION AND MORE REVISION…

October 23rd, 2016

Non-artists think that creating perfection is what artists do. They don’t understand the mistakes, the blind alleys, the concepts gone wrong that we face. If were fortunate to work in a forgiving medium like writing, we’re OK with the mistakes. We can revise, change, alter the work in ways that bring our conception into view. […]

MANIPULATORS & DEPICTERS OF MORAL PROBLEMS…

September 1st, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison. ELLISON: You know, I’m still thinking of your question about the use of Negro experience [How representative of the American nation would you say Negro folklore is?] as material for fiction. One function of serious literature is to deal with the moral core […]

RALPH ELLISON NAILS THE AMERICAN THEME…

August 25th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison. INTERVIEWER: Would you say that the search for identity is primarily an American theme? ELLISON: It is the American theme. The nature of our society is such that we are prevented from knowing who we are. It is still a young society, and […]

FROM PURPOSE TO PASSION TO PERCEPTION

August 23rd, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison. INTERVIEWER: Did you have everything thought out before you began to write Invisible Man? ELLISON: The symbols and their connections were known to me. I began it with a chart of the three-part division. It was a conceptual frame with most of the […]

THE JOURNEY FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT…

August 22nd, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison. INTERVIEWER: Can you give us an example of the use of folklore in your own novel? ELLISON: There are certain themes, symbols, and images which are based on folk material. For example, there is the old saying among Negroes: If you’re black, stay […]

EVERY SYMPHONY BEGINS WITH A SINGLE NOTE…

August 1st, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 7” with Joyce Cary: INTERVIEWER: Could you tell us something about your working methods? CARY: Well—I write the big scenes first, that is, the scenes that carry the meaning of the book, the emotional experience. The first scene in Prisoner of Grace was that one at the […]

MY CHARACTERS MUST NOT DODGE THE ISSUES…

July 30th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 7” with Joyce Cary: INTERVIEWER: Aissa Saved was the first one you published? CARY: Yes, and that was not until I was over forty. I’d written many before, but I was never satisfied with them. They raised political and religious questions I found I could not answer. […]

WANTING V. YEARNING, GENRE V. LITERATURE…

July 26th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 7” with Joyce Cary: INTERVIEWER: That’s what you meant, then, when you said that what makes men tick should be the main concern of the novelist? The character’s principle of unity? CARY: And action, their beliefs. You’ve got to find out what people believe, what is pushing […]

SCREW THE LIGHT, WRITERS STEP INTO THE DARK…

July 11th, 2016

Last evening I was able to spend a few precious hours with a shipmate who I hadn’t seen for some 30 years. Our conversation turned to my writing and the struggles I have telling the story I want to tell. I did my best to describe the mental state of writers as I understand the […]

CAPTURING THE IDEAS, THAT IS THE HARD WORK..

July 5th, 2016

Writers get asked “Where do you get your ideas?” all the time. Most attempt to be gracious and imply that such a task is hard grueling work requiring years of mental exercise. Henry James was blunt, and honest.. Asked once when he found time to form the design of a new book, James rolled his […]

YOUR MUSE WANTS TO MAKE HER ENTRANCE…

June 28th, 2016

I need the dark, in much the same Walter Mosley does, but I have no problem seeing the advantage to this particular ritual as well. Moving from the ordinary world into the creative world does require some threshold, some transition. For the morning writing, [Toni Morrison’s ] ritual is to rise around 5:00, make coffee, […]

GREATNESS IS THE EXCLUSION OF ALL ELSE…

June 20th, 2016

There is one very important lesson I’ve learned from reading hundreds of biographies in all fields: if a person is truly great, then they have zero personal life. If you know someone who is truly great and they have an exemplary personal life then either (a) that person is a very good liar, or (b) […]

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