The Year of Reading Women

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There’s an important essay going around that, if you haven’t read it yet, you should read now before finishing this post. It’s called On Pandering by Claire Vaye Watkins, who is known to me by her fantastic 2013 debut collection of short stories, Battleborn, which won five literary awards.

The essay is actually a speech Watkins gave as a lecture during the 2015 Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop. Either way, the content rattled me.

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Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

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You may have already heard.

But for all of us short story writers out there, who aren’t sure they have a novel in them, this is for you from Alice: “I would really hope this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.”

Embrace the Fiction of All Things

There was a wonderful essay in the New Yorker this past week, written by Keith Ridgway. Ridgway is a Dublin-born writer and author of six books, including one collection of short stories. He begins the essay, “Everything is Fiction,” by saying, “I don’t know how to write.” Continue reading

Drunk Texts From Famous Authors

There’s a funny piece in the Paris Review worth reading. It’s all illustration, a quick read and will bring a smile to your face. It’s called Drunk Texts From Famous Authors. Had John Cheever an iPhone, he might have texted a friend: “The club car on the 6:12 always seemed to me a pleasant spot to drink seven glasses of gin. Nothing is serious, but I am throwing up in my hat. I am throwing up in my hat.” Continue reading

Data Mine the Work

Yesterday in my post, The Exploratory Draft, I mentioned the interview I read in The Writer with Adam Johnson. Johnson, like many writers, believes that successful stories come out of hard work. You have to put in the hours. He writes at least 1,000 words per day and he keeps track of his progress in a spreadsheet. He notes, among other things, the day, the time, the place he wrote, the story, and the number of words. He said that over the years, he’s been able to “data mine” his spreadsheet to see where and what time of day he’s the most productive. Continue reading

Not-So-Literary Jobs of Famous Writers

I have a day job. I edit content for the Discovery News Tech website. I also have a life that fills up with lots of activities that have nothing to do with writing. So squeezing in the time to write feels just like that, a squeeze. Sometimes I fantasize about how wonderful it would be to not have a job, and simply focus all of my energy on writing fiction. But I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. I’m not alone in this wishful thinking, and that’s a little consolation. There are plenty of writers in the same boat, working a day job to pay the bills and squeezing in the time to write. You might be one of them. Take heart knowing that plenty have come before you, working jobs that had nothing to do with writing fiction. Here are a few: Continue reading