A case can be made that films have a lot of advantages over novels and short stories. The moment the screen lights up, the world comes vividly alive. Everything is right there before our eyes. The action is viscerally immediate. How can the written word compete with that? Well, it does. The works that have…Read More
Short stories and essays, many believe, are nothing alike. And there are good reasons to believe this. Surely it follows, then, that thinking about a short story in the same way as we think about an essay is unhelpful. The exact opposite has the case for me. For decades in the college classroom, I taught…Read More
The conventional wisdom is clear. You should take these four steps when deciding on the journals to send your creative work (spoiler alert: I don’t really follow any of them).Read More
What has worked for me? I write something every day. No excuses. Even if I have only fifteen minutes, I write what I can in that time, often as quickly as possible, accumulating words on a page. Why does this help? Writing doesn’t become a choice. I don’t ask myself: Should I write today? Am I feeling inspired? Do I have a good enough idea? No. I write to find good ideas, to find inspiration, to find what surprises me on the page.Read More
I have had my share. More than, actually. After I earned my MFA, I spent nearly twenty years producing very little work, and none that satisfied me (or anyone else). Often, in fact, I was like Joseph Grand in The Plague (Camus) who could never get past the first sentence of his novel. That’s the familiar kind of writer’s block. Still, there are other forms that receive less attention . . .Read More
I have come to believe that writing an effective poem, and teaching the writing of poetry, begins with a poetry two-step.
FIRST DANCE STEP: Images create emotions.
This is easy enough to demonstrate . . .Read More
It’s one thing to tell a story in fifteen pages or in a novel. It’s a different matter, though, to tell a story in a tight space. What about a story in a one-page poem or in a 900-word flash-fiction piece? This is storytelling on the subatomic level. When I am trying to tell a micro story, I focus on something very basic . . .Read More
OK, I get it. I do. It can seem like a racket. You spend your $25 (or so) to submit your poetry or short story book manuscript to a contest. You know that the judges are likely to receive, depending on the prestige of the competition, somewhere in the hundreds of submissions. Say there are…Read More
Years ago my daughter found a possum skull in the woods behind our house. She washed it with a hose then left it on the retaining wall. A few days later, some creature must have run off with it, for it was gone. But that one tiny event has had a remarkable impact on my…Read More
Welcome! So where to begin? I have a confession: I feel guilty sometimes that I write poems and stories so quickly. I also revise quickly and send out work quickly for publication. Hemingway, I know, supposedly wrote 47 possible endings to A Farewell to Arms. And I have spoken to fellow poets and fiction writers who agonize through dozens of drafts of their work over the space of many years.Read More