My Words Fly Up

What to Read?

Late last Wednesday night, I finished the book I was currently reading: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. I read it quickly, mesmerized as I always am with how she presents the largely ordinary lives of largely ordinary people (they do have their quirks, their exaggerations, as all good fictional characters do) in

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Keeping a Process Journal

I recently read The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo. The author is a professor at Hunter College, where she began the college’s MFA in Memoir program, and has also published numerous books. In this particular book she assures writers that it’s perfectly all right to take a long time to complete a writing

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What You Know When You Revise

A student in my writing workshop has been working on a novel for the past year. When Vicki first presented the just-begun novel to class, she read a beautifully written prologue that followed a middle-aged man as he drove through the countryside outside of Memphis, back to where his father once had a farm. In

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Bribing Myself with Coffee

There may be a book about writing out there that doesn’t recommend writing every day, but I haven’t read it. Anne Lamott even recommends writing at the same time every day. I recommend it myself, as I wrote here. Do I practice it? No. Not since my oldest child was three or four, and that

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Beginning Again

Once a year or so, I teach a lesson in my adult writing classes called Beginnings. (I’ve written about this before, here and here.) I scour bookshelves—my own or the local bookstore’s—in search of excellent opening sentences. It’s not that easy. Many opening sentences, of fiction and nonfiction, are at least good, but too many

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The Long Process of Starting My Novel

I “started” my current novel nearly two years ago, prompted by the fact that I was nearly done with one novel—As the Crow Flies—and by a casual comment my mother made about obituaries. She was scoffing at the bland wording some obituaries used and how little they revealed of the person who had died. I

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In which I blog about the days I write and the days I don’t write; about teaching about writing; about reading (which is never enough); and occasionally about music, because sometimes a three-minute song can tell as good a story as a novel.

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