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Currently Browsing: Writing

The Stories We Do Not Tell

rejoice that our lips
did not permit more stragglers,
more detail, more vulnerability
toward those to whom it does not belong.

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River Song

for the first time,
i don’t want to go anywhere.

i want to stand Here and let
the rushing water flow on its own,
past my toes, over my chilled skin;

let it pull my hair forward over my face,
blind me and pass me by
instead of carrying me along.

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Shaman Song

I dream each night of dark water. Pulsing, swirling, ever approaching, but it does not drown my toes. The threat, but never the reality. Waiting.

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Why publishing triggers impostor syndrome

We’re terrified to deceive you into thinking we’re “good enough.” We feel weirdly guilty for making every sale.

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That shelf in Kansas means everything

When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas…

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Driving at night

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night…

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Why the world needs you to write

Moments are slippery things. We can record them, but there’s no true way to relive them. A ratty T-shirt that smells like your old boyfriend is not your old boyfriend.

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Guest post: Yanking the door open

What makes an editor know on the first page whether she will like the story? Look over your work and answer the following questions.

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Ever found Neil Gaiman in your falafel?

Flipped the channel to the public television station and left that on for background morning chatter. The first thing I saw was a mini Neil Gaiman. Dispensing writing advice. From within a falafel.

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Magic space pens and secret answers

Have you heard the story of astronaut pens? At the dawn of the space program, NASA encountered a sticky problem. They discovered that ball-point pens would not work outside of our atmosphere. The government quickly went to work developing a special new pen which could write upside-down, at any temperature from freezing to boiling, on any surface known to man, at any pressure, and in zero gravity. People were hired and ideas were considered, developed, tested, discarded, and considered again. Hours of research went into the project, and it was made top priority in the department. It took  many manhours and twelve billion taxpayer dollars to come up with the space pen, but NASA finally got it down. Whew. Crisis averted. The Russians, of course had the same problem. So they used pencils. Okay, fine… truth be told, this is just an urban legend.  It never really happened. But it’s still a perfect metaphor for the plot problems you might be having. Are you wrestling with why your protagonist would feel the need to serve as whistleblower on his company when he’s been working there happily for twenty-five years with no issues? Does it not make sense that the daughter would fall in love with the gardener upon whom the whole rest of the story hinges? Do you have a handful of stubborn characters who just won’t do what you tell them? Forget them. Don’t get so stuck in your path that it becomes a rut. It’s your path, your story. You can make up whatever the heck you want.  Just write it another way and see what sticks. Assuming you aren’t staring down some giant deadline (and really, even if you are), what’s the worst that could happen?  You write something in a totally different direction, and toss it later to return to your original idea?  What’s the loss there?  That your creative juices are now flowing and you pushed the stubborn what-ifs out of the way? That you ignored some formula or outline that obviously wasn’t working so well anyway? Standing still is never a good idea.  Keep it moving. Even if it’s in a direction you don’t like. Even if the idea seems so freakishly simple that it sounds stupid at first thought. Let it go, and write something on the page. You can always go back later and fix it. Who’s going to read it if you’re unhappy with it in the end? Easy: no... read more

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