I once met a newly-retired cereal executive who asked me what I did for a living. I said I was a writer. He said, hey, what a coincidence, he was thinking of becoming a writer. “Hey, what a coincidence,” I
Goddard College MFAW alum John Schmidtke:
“Okay,” I said. “But just in case, what’s the residency’s theme?”
“Lust and fun,” Elena said.
My foot came off the gas a bit.
“Lust and fun?” I asked.
“Yes,” Elena said.
Let me pause right here to confess that while I attended Goddard, lust took over my life.
I cheated on my wife Mary almost every night for two years.
Though the newest version of the Echo is decent, you can get a better response to life if you use your own voice—i.e. the Personal Echo. The Personal Echo is in high demand because it offers the gift of someone else controlling your life, but doing it in a way that feels as if you are talking to yourself. And truly, what writer wouldn’t want that?
I was welcome to stay at her house as long as I wanted, but had to come with her out to the ranch to meet and feed her horse, Kansas.
To blog or not to blog–that is the question, writers. Whether it is nobler to essay than to blog is a serious matter, and not everyone can do it or do it well.Because to do it well, one must face the truth of blogging and accept it: it’s a genre. It has rules. It requires… attention to craft.
My purpose for reading literature critically rests on two sloping planes. On the first plane is pleasure—experiencing the epiphany of understanding, a resolution to my inquiring mind. In other words, the Aha! moment. It’s the immediate gratification of critical thinking, which may be a purpose in of itself. However, beneath that first pleasurable plane, for me, is the second, more self-reflective plane.
I am an unabashed Language Freak. Word Freak. Sentence Freak. Grammar and Punctuation Freak. I am deeply in love with what William Golding called “that massive instrument” the English language. For me putting words down on paper is like playing a finely tuned piano. No wrong notes, please! My instrument is too precious to misuse.
A writer’s most valuable tools are not the pen or keyboard but rather her ability to listen, to pay attention to things, and to know the right questions to ask.
“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.”
“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
Welcome to a table piled with a potluck of literature. If you think about it, all writers and readers are connected by our own ancient internet of literature.
What is writing for?
I confess that, after having taught creative writing for more than 35 years and read tons of student writing I don’t remember and tons of good and great books by good and great authors I also don’t remember, I sometimes find myself wondering if we really need any more new writing.
Last week I finished my first pass page proofs for Shadow Child, my new novel coming out in May. I started it in the year 2000. Holding those pages in my hands, with their elegant design and their printing marks,
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.
As soon as
you find your voice, you’ve lost it