• Creative Writing,  first draft,  novel writing,  writing fiction

    At the Beginning – Again

    Walking through fog. With the headlamp on. Low. Paraphrasing a quote from E.L. Doctorow. This is what it’s like to write a novel. I keep telling myself that as I move forward, ever so slowly. These first infantile steps, as if I’ve never taken them before. “It’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” from E. L. Doctorow, The Art of Fiction No. 94, interviewed by George Plimpton in The Paris Review. But I have. Three times. I have conceived and birthed three whole, healthy novels. (Well, two healthy ones anyway. My first was ill-formed…

  • Creative Writing,  Finding your voice,  practical advice,  teaching creativity,  teaching writing,  tips and tricks,  writing technique

    Writing in 3D

    We’ve all heard it before. “Your character’s flat. You need to make him three-dimensional.” Sure, great. But what exactly does that mean? We all know we live in a three dimensional world. We learn it in grade school: a line, a plane, a cube… But how do you make a character three dimensional? Do you make him really fat? Do you give him a limp so he wobbles when he walks, thereby taking up more space? Believe it or not, I’ve tried both, and no, that’s not what it means. Three-dimensional means you have to dig deeper. Take that character with the limp, for example. It’s fine to describe him…

  • connecting,  Creative Writing,  Great Writers,  power of words

    Peeling the Onion

    In his insightful essay, Found in Translation from last Sunday’s New York Times, author Michael Cunningham peels the many-layered onion of the authorial relationship. His initial premise is translation, which one immediately assumes means language to language. And it does. Every book is re-formed into something completely new when it is translated, effected by the subtle shifts of meaning and even comprehension that come from refocusing through a different cultural lens. But the layers of translation go deeper than that. Cunningham points to the truth that all of us are writing works in translation – that our conception can never be wrought in concrete form without undergoing a kind of…

  • Creative Writing,  Finding time to write,  Finding your voice,  Great Writers,  Writers Resources

    The Best Gift for Writers

    You may have noticed that I don’t often blog about technique. For me, this forum is more about sharing the experience of writing. The truth about craft is that it’s all in the doing. We each confront the blank page or screen time and again. We learn to accept struggle, failure and critique, then go back to do it all over again. Colum McCann, winner of the National Book Award for his novel Let the Great World Spin, is apparently fond of quoting Samuel Beckett: “No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” How utterly true! But we all learn from each other. Certainly in this Writers Circle, we’ve done…

  • Creative Writing,  Getting Published,  Short Stories,  Writing Contests

    Writing Contests and Opportunities

    I came across several writing contests that look really intriguing: Narrative’s FALL CONTEST is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers. They’re looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Narrative is a high quality literary magazine looking for works with a strong narrative drive, characters that affect us as human beings, and with language, situation, and insight that are intense and total. They look for works that have the ambition of enlarging our view of ourselves and the world. • $3,250 First Prize • $1,500 Second Prize • $750 Third…