by Kim Triedman My gym misses me. I haven’t exactly been pulling my weight lately. Or blasting my abs or busting my butt, either. In fact I can honestly say that from the moment I started writing my second novel this past September, I have gone through the gym …
By Robin Black This post first appeared October 11, 2011 What can renovating and reclaiming your home after years of neglecting it teach you about revising fiction? A lot more than I imagined, it turns out. My husband and I have lived in our house for sixteen …
Part voyeur, part inspiration, every Monday you get a glimpse into the lives of authors and other thinkers who share a picture of their bedside table, a view into what matters to them right now, the things that inspire them, that occupy their minds.
Karin Gillespie is a friend and a writer with a strong sense of humor. She’s also full of great writing advice. Below are excerpts of where she’s been on the web lately, with links to the full articles:
From A Master‘s in Chick Lit:
I’m a genre writer. Gary Shteyngart hasn’t blurbed any of my novels, and Marion Ettlinger has never photographed me for a book jacket. I’m more at ease with the sequins and shirtless men at the Romantic Times conference than I am with the serious eyewear at poetry readings. When critics describe my work, which is basically chick lit, they don’t say it’s emotionally astute, sweeping or a tour de force. They call it “a fast-paced screamer.”
Read the rest here.
From How I Got Published in The New York Times on My First Try (and What Happened Next)
One of my favorite movies is Julie and Julia. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the true story of a young woman named Julie Powell who cooks Julia Child’s recipes and blogs about her experiences. Powell is eventually featured in the New York Times and after the paper comes out, she’s deluged with calls from agents and editors. And later, of course, Amy Adams plays her in a Nora Ephron movie. What more could a writer ask for?
Read the rest at Writer Unboxed.
Kleon’s Show Your Work
Show Your Work 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered is the follow-up (in my mind) to Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist. You’ve created and now want to share with the world your work–what’s the best way to do that?
Not by becoming “human spam. They’re everywhere, and they exist in every profession. They don’t want to pay their dues, they want their piece right here, right now. They don’t want to listen to your ideas; they want to tell you theirs…At some point, they didn’t get the memo that the world owes none of us anything.” (124). You draw attention to your work by “sharing like an artist:”
As with Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work is packed with wise advice and clever artwork.
The writing is witty and concise, but also though-provoking. Kleon writes “The trouble with imaginative people is that we’re good at picturing the worst that could happen to us. Fear is often just imagination taking a wrong turn. Bad criticism is not the end of the world” (150-151). That resonated with me when I first read it, and still resonates reading it again. This is one of the reasons why the writing works in this book–Kleon writes it as it is. This book sits on my desk by Steal Like An Artist, easy to get to whenever I need it.
Kleon, Austin. Show Your Work. New York:Workman Publishing. 2014. Print.
This short, but chock full of creative advice book is one of my favorites. A lot of wisdom is packed into this squat, square shape form and post-it flags in a rainbow of colors mark my favorite pages. The book’s format is simple—black and white, a chalkboard on the printed page.
What really works in this book is its to the point advice on being creative (the full title of the book is Steal Like an Artist 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative). The first flagged page in this book is in the second chapter—“Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started.” On page twenty-seven, Kleon states: “In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.” Maybe you’ve already known this to be true, but for me, it was a gem that caught my attention and started me thinking. He then goes on to talk—briefly—about imposter syndrome, “a very real thing that runs rampant in educated people.” The clinical definition is “a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” (27)
That’s me, all right. Unable to shake the feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing, that I’m just “winging it” and someday someone will find me out. But then he finishes this section with “Guess what: None of us do. Ask anyone doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up and do their thing. Every day” (28).
I was hooked on this book from that point forward. I keep my copy on my desk, where I can reference it any time I need. Other thoughts from his book that resonated with me:
“The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use—do the work you want to see done” (48). In this section, he takes the old adage “write what you know,” and changes it up to “write what you like” and go from there. “If all of your favorite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew?” (48)
To learn more about the book, visit Steal Like An Artist where he lists the ten steps to unlocking your creativity and talks about how the book got started. He also states on this page that “A book is never finished, only abandoned, so I’ll be posting a lot of my continuing research on my Tumblr.” Also visit his blogger kit--too much good stuff to put here. You can take a look at the covers and some of the content of Steal Like An Artist.
Kleon is the author of Newspaper Blackout and Show Your Work.(subject of a future blog post)
Follow him on Twitter at @austinkleon.
Kleon, Austin. Steal Like An Artist. New York:Workman Publishing. 2012. Print
South85 Journal is the official literary journal of the Converse College Low-Residency MFA Program.
“I won’t change anything the first year,” I said to both retiring Editor-in-Chief Sarah Gray and Contributing Editor Rick Mulkey when I took over as Editor-in-Chief of South85 Journal this past December.
That was before I led my first staff meeting at the Converse Low-Residency MFA program, where I was inspired by the enthusiasm of the staff. Not only did all of the previous staff members (except Sarah Gray, of course) decide to stay, but quite a few new people joined us: David Colodney, Kristi Hébert, Rebecca Landau, Connie Thompson, and Jacob Allard.
I left the meeting with my mind racing with ideas about what to do with everyone who was interested in serving our journal. Improvements I knew we needed to make – like a weekly blog, a social media presence, a review section for the journal, and a brand – became possible immediately rather than in the months – or even years – to come. We now have a Blog Editor, a Review Editor, an Artistic Director, and a Social Media Director.
With these new positions, we have created a logo, redesigned our site, started posting to our blog weekly, begun conversations on Facebook and Twitter, and planned reviews for our upcoming issues. In addition, we have kept up with our regular task of reviewing work submitted to us for our 2014 issue.
So, if you haven’t visited our website lately (or ever), please stop by. If you like what you see, here are three ways you can support us… and none of them involving donating or spending any money: `
One of the most important things you can do for any literary journal to read it. As much as writers say they write for the love of writing, writers also want to be read. And without readers, there would be no reason for literary journals to exist. So, check out our past issues. If you like what you see, sign up for our e-mail newsletter, and we’ll let you know when the next issue is available. Also, visit our weekly blog for a little literary inspiration. You can subscribe to it using your favorite RSS reader, or sign up to receive posts in your inbox.
If you are a reader, a writer, or an artist, we want to see your work! If you love to read and want to tell others about good books, join our staff as a reviewer. If you’re a writer or an artist, you can contribute your work to our journal. Our reading period ends April 30, so don’t delay if you have something good to show us! We are looking for poetry, creative non-fiction essays, short stories, and visual art. Also, we have a weekly blog where you can share your thoughts on all things literary with other likeminded people. Visit our submissions guidelines page for information on all of these categories.
We are not a static, stuffy journal of the past! We want our readers and contributors to be a part of the conversation. Plug in by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. We are planning some fun contests using these two outlets starting this summer, so you don’t want to miss them.
Thanks in advance for your support! We look forward to seeing you online, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any ideas about how we can improve our journal.
Debby DeRosa holds a BA in English from the University of South Carolina-Columbia and an MFA in Creative Writing from Converse College. In addition to being Editor-in-Chief of South85 Journal, she is the Marketing Manager of Five Star Plumbing Heating Cooling in Greer, SC, and she freelances as a copywriter and content developer.
Voice-as defined (sorta kinda) by wikipedia-states “The writer’s voice is the individual writing style of an author, a combination of idiotypical usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).
For more thoughts on voice, check out these blog posts:
Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice
How Can I Find My Writing Voice?
What Is Writer’s Voice?
Know of any posts/articles/advice on voice? Post the links in the comments. (links not contributing to the discussion will be deleted)
Image Journal: Bridging Faith and Imagination. Their blog “Good Letters”
From Image’s About page: A culture is governed by its reigning myths. However, in the latter days of the twentieth century, there is an uneasy sense that materialism cannot sustain or nourish our common life. Thankfully, religion and art have always shared the capacity to help us to renew our awareness of the ultimate questions: who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going. Read more at the above link-Bridging Faith and Imagination. Publishes poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction
Ruminate From Ruminate’s About page: ru’mi-nate: to chew the cud; to muse; to meditate; to think again; to ponder. Ruminate is a quarterly magazine of short stories, poetry, creative nonfiction, and visual art that resonate with the complexity and truth of the Christian faith. Each issue is a themed forum for literature and art that speaks to the existence of our daily lives while nudging us toward a greater hope. Because of this, we strive to publish quality work accounting for the grappling pleas, as well as the quiet assurances of an authentic faith. Ruminate Magazine was created for every person who has paused over a good word, a real story, a perfect brushstroke— longing for the significance they point us toward. Please join us.
Unstuck publishes once a year. From their about page: Unstuck is an independent, nonprofit annual based in Austin, Texas. We emphasize literary fiction with elements of the fantastic, the futuristic, or the surreal—a broad category that would include the work of writers as diverse as Abe, Ballard, Borges, Calvino, Tutuola, and (of course) Vonnegut. In our pages, you’ll find everything from straight-up science fiction and fantasy to domestic realism with a twist of the improbable. We feature a mix of established and emerging fiction writers from both the genre and literary publishing communities. We also publish a limited selection of poems and essays. Interviews and Excerpts
by Rhonda Browning White
In the chapter titled “Paragraphs” in Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them , she suggests that some paragraphs can “be understood as a sort of literary respiration . . . Inhale at the beginning of the paragraph, exhale at the end. Inhale at the start of the next” (Prose 66). “The drama,” she tells us, “peaks in the center of the paragraph” (Prose 71).
I’ve thought of this often since reading Prose’s book, and when I come across a paragraph that really grabs me in a story, I examine it carefully, and I’ve discovered in many cases that the paragraph indeed has that feeling of a literary respiration.
For example, Richard Ford’s short story “Optimists” from his collection titled Rock Springs contains a paragraph that I feel concisely offers the first-sentence inhalation and last-sentence exhalation experience that Prose discussed. Ford writes,
The most important things of your life can change so suddenly, so unrecoverably, that you can forget even the most important of them and their connections, you are so taken up by the chanciness of all that’s happened and by all that could and will happen next. I now no longer remember the exact year of my father’s birth, or how old he was when I last saw him, or even when that last time took place. When you’re young, these things seem unforgettable and at the heart of everything. But they slide away and are gone when you are not so young (Ford 187).
This inhalation and exhalation of a paragraph is also found in Katherine Anne Porter’s short fiction titled “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” found in the collection by the same name. The selection that follows also serves as fine example of how to end a paragraph with what Prose calls “greater weight than what appears in the middle” (Prose 76).
He really did look, Miranda thought, like a fine healthy apple this morning. One time or another in their talking, he had boasted that he had never had a pain in his life that he could remember. Instead of being horrified at this monster, she approved of his monstrous uniqueness. As for herself, she had had too many pains to mention, so she did not mention them. After working for three years on a morning newspaper she had an illusion of maturity and experience; but it was fatigue merely, she decided, from keeping what she had been brought up to believe were unnatural hours, eating casually at dirty little restaurants, drinking bad coffee all night, and smoking too much. When she said something of her way of living to Adam, he studied her face a few seconds as if he had never seen it before, and said in a forthright way, “Why, it hasn’t hurt you a bit, I think you’re beautiful,” and left her dangling there, wondering if he had thought she wished to be praised. She did wish to be praised, but not at that moment. Adam kept unwholesome hours, too, or had in the ten days they had known each other, staying awake until on o’clock to take her out for supper; he smoked also continually, though if she did not stop him he was apt to explain to her exactly what smoking did to the lungs. “But,” he said, “does it matter so much if you’re going to war, anyway?” (Porter 156-7).
Just when we are lulled by this rhythmic list of Miranda’s and Adam’s busy activities, Adam’s declarative question leaves us breathless with its weight. The pressure the characters face of trying to fit so many experiences into time shortened by both illness and the fatal risk of war are impressed upon the reader by the ticking-clock rhythm of the paragraph, as well as the jarring mental alarm sounded in its final sentence.
Do the paragraphs you write breathe? Consider beginning an important paragraph with a sentence that sets up the reader or foreshadows a crucial moment to come (inhalation), then ending it with a sentence that takes away the readers breath (exhalation). Perhaps it’s the technique you need to breathe new life into an airless story.
Ford, Richard. Rock Springs: Stories. New York: Vintage, 1988. Print.
Porter, Katherine Anne. Pale Horse, Pale Rider. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1990. Print.
Prose, Francine. Reading like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007. Print.