Archive for the 'Chapbook' Category

HEROES, ROLE MODELS AND THE SILLY FAMOUS…

November 26th, 2017

When I was in middle school I read a lot of young adult biographies. There was a whole section produced by the same publisher in the school library and I think I read most, if not all of them. I remember Thomas Edison, Booker T. Washington, Nellie Bly, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Marie Curie and […]

I HAVE EMBARKED ON A STOIC WALKABOUT…

November 25th, 2017

I received a birthday present from Oliver Burkeman this year: an introduction to How To Be A Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy To Live A Modern Life by Massimo Picliucci. In his weekly column Consumed by anxiety? Give it a day or two for the Guardian, Burkeman wrote: The next time you’re consumed by anxiety—which, given […]

MEDITATION ON KURT VONNEGUT: XVI…

September 6th, 2017

There is, I think, a desire among all writers, regardless of their experience, to discover some secret. I have found this to be true in my conversations, my readings of a library of books on How To Write and, most recently, in The Guardian’s My writing day series. No such secret, of course, exists. Kurt […]

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WRITER’S NOTEBOOK…

May 4th, 2017

The one piece of advice I would offer to any writer would be to record every thought you can in a series of analog notebooks that you will be able to reference throughout your life. In reading Charles Johnson’s The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling I came across […]

MEDITATION ON KURT VONNEGUT: XV…

May 2nd, 2017

I don’t know why I write. I can talk about needs and drives and magic and book store groupies (actually I just made that one up, although maybe there are hot, sexy women who hang out at bookstores for famous author signing; feck, who am I kidding?), but in the end I don’t have a […]

MEDITATION ON KURT VONNEGUT: XIV…

April 29th, 2017

I first, knowingly, encountered clinical depression in the early ’90s when a co-worker shared that she was taking Prozac so that she didn’t need to spend her lunch hours crying in her car parked at the back of the parking lot. Since then I’ve known quite a few people who suffer from Depression, some so […]

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 […]

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