Embracing the Personal

Embracing the Personal

“It all just feels so… personal.”

N is a new student of mine, one who has worked in the theater industry for years, but never written a play before.  He called me before our first week of class, and I could tell he was feeling intimidated by the process of playwriting.  We discussed some exercises he could do and some of his favorite plays and playwrights, and I think I assuaged the majority of his concerns.  His one lingering reservation:

“It’s just so personal.”

From Fear to Yearning to Write Fiction Now

From Fear to Yearning to Write Fiction Now

“Fiction is the art form of human yearning.” – Robert Olen Butler
“We are living in the most fearmongering time in human history.” – Barry Glassner
“I think what we need to do is to remind people that the Earth is a very dangerous place these days. That ISIS is trying to do us harm. And that the president’s commitment is to keep the country safe.” – Sean Spicer

Amtrak Writer’s Residency: Rail Tale

Amtrak Writer’s Residency: Rail Tale

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.

On Deadline and On Holiday

On Deadline and On Holiday

On deadline and on holiday?  How is a writer to cope?

Thanksgiving is here and my desk, which is usually covered with story notes and research books is now also covered with cookbooks and shopping lists.  My laptop windows range from comic book scripts to “how to cook a turkey in 45 minutes” articles.  Needless to say, it is a confusing time for a writer.  When you are on deadline and on holiday, how is a writer to cope?

The Fries Test: On Disability Representation

The Fries Test: On Disability Representation

Twenty years ago, I edited Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out, the first commercially published multi-genre anthology of writers with disabilities writing about disability. The anthology was published by Plume. In the introduction, I wrote: “Throughout history, people with disabilities have been stared out. Now, here in these pages — in literature of inventive form, at times harrowingly funny, at times provocatively wise — writers with disabilities affirm our lives by putting the world on notice that we are staring back.”

Call and Response

Call and Response

The entire play is built on this invisible structure of call and response.  The call is the spoken word. The response is flesh.  The word made flesh.  It is tied to the Yoruban concept of Nommo, which loosely translated means: “speaking makes it so.”  Nommo is also a Dogon word from Mali that refers to the power of words to create reality and build community.  You will also find this idea in the book of Genesis.

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