I’ve never kept a diary. At least not since I was eight, when my father bought two blank journals and suggested that he and I spend time together every evening writing in our diaries. For several weeks we did just that, sitting side by side on the living room couch and recording the events of the day. One day I came home from school and found my diary in the wrong place on the bookshelf. When I inquired about this, my dad said, “I have to admit something to you. I was so curious about what you’ve been writing that I couldn’t help myself, so I went in your room and read it.”
One of the many reasons I envy Goddard students is that they have deadlines.
I’m writing to you today from the Amtrak quiet car, on a southbound train somewhere in New Jersey. Although the Amtrak Writer’s Residency Program is “currently evaluating the future of the program and do not have a timeline for when the next submission process will launch,” you can still pay out of pocket for a DIY Amtrak residency. That’s what I’ve been doing in 2017, now that my full-time teaching job is in Virginia and my fiancé is a theater director in New York.
Goddard MFAW faculty John McManus: The attorney general, having sought and won the presidency, set out to dismantle the government. He dissolved the White House Press Corps. He prank-called other world leaders, hanging up on them or threatening war. He trusted no one but his beloved daughter. He commanded the Joint Chiefs of Staff to declare DEFCON 1, just for the sake of the adrenaline rush it gave him.
Goddard MFAW faculty John McManus: I’m thinking this morning of Herbert George Wells, the science-fiction writer and prophetic humanist born 150 years ago this week.
Goddard MFA Faculty member John McManus writes, “I’m trying to resist the temptation to take the novel I’m close to completing after fifteen years, cut 325 of its 350 pages, and turn it into a short story.”
I’m on pace to read 116.8 books in 2015. It feels like something of a failure. In the U.S., 300,000 new titles were published last year. If all goes well, I’ll end the year having read 0.039 percent of that
“I have performed the necessary butchery. Here is the bleeding corpse.” –Henry James, to his editor, after being asked to cut a few lines from a five-thousand-word article for the Times Literary Supplement For years on my syllabi for fiction