Writing Tips

The other day, I was waiting in a small parking lot to pick up a friend. A big black truck—so common here in New England—pulled in beside me. I had my car windows down to let in fresh air, but the pickup driver kept his engine running and had his talk-radio station on just a …

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     “Write what you know” is one of the more confounding pieces of writerly advice. It can, unfortunately, be interpreted as “write what you have experienced.” I say unfortunately because, for most of us, that would result in deadly dull fiction. I used to complain to my mother about having been raised in white-bread suburbia. …

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Back in the day, when I lived in New York in the 1980s, a new singer-songwriter was getting a lot of attention—Suzanne Vega. I bought her first album as a cassette tape, and then had to buy it again because I wore out the tape. Eventually I bought the CD, which I found recently when I was reorganizing my music collection. I immediately played it, and aside from being transported back to that other place and time in my life, I was struck—again—by Vega’s wonderful imagery and lyricism.

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