The Surprising Flora and Fauna of Writer’s Block

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 . . .

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Poetry Two-Step

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 . . .

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Micro Storytelling

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 . . .

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The Book Contest Dilemma

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…

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Possum Skull Inspiration

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…

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Fast Writing and Slow Writing

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.

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