The Engines of Nonfiction: Kindling Surprise

This thing is a large plastic container I bought in the duty free section of a German airport on the way home from my aunt's funeral a few years ago. My mom was with me, shaking her head and laughing at this most irrational purchase. It was FILLED with my most favorite candy, called in … Continue reading The Engines of Nonfiction: Kindling Surprise

Workshopping for Story and Narrative

By Shelley Evans, Sonya Huber, and Bill Patrick You’ve got a terrific idea. It would make a great short story or perhaps even a novel. You know it would. Or maybe you’ve just finished that once-in-a-lifetime immersion opportunity, following detectives or migrants or crusading doctors for a year, and you have notes and photos and … Continue reading Workshopping for Story and Narrative

Introducing Shelley Evans, New MFA faculty member at Fairfield!

Shelley Evans began teaching for us as a guest faculty member in Summer 2015, and we are thrilled to welcome her to our regular faculty in the Fairfield Low-Residency MFA. She showed an amazing movie she wrote about the true story of a transgender teen's murder, "A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Arajo Story," and … Continue reading Introducing Shelley Evans, New MFA faculty member at Fairfield!

Writers Read. We Read a Lot. Here’s How to Manage the “To Read” Lists.

If you're just starting an MFA or undergraduate creative writing program, or if you're not in an academic program but making the choice to devote your energy to writing, you might feel completely overwhelmed by your new awareness of all the book titles zinging around your ears. I remember when I started my MFA program … Continue reading Writers Read. We Read a Lot. Here’s How to Manage the “To Read” Lists.

Baking Cakes: A Female Memoirist’s Question-esto

You are a female memoirist. You sometimes feel like an unreliable narrator of your own story. You are part of a vast machine of culinary production, and you feel strangely removed from the formulaic confection you have helped make. The problem is the series of cake pans you have been given, the containers into which … Continue reading Baking Cakes: A Female Memoirist’s Question-esto

Twelve Fiction Pet Peeves

I'm reading fiction for Dogwood today, and here's what I'm noticing in stories that strike me the wrong way. Some of these, of course, irritate me because I have done these exact things when I used to write fiction. 1. When a main character’s first problem is that he or she is bored. 2. Puns … Continue reading Twelve Fiction Pet Peeves

Your book is taking a long time to write

Your book is taking a long time to write. You see updates on social media about the release of other books, and you get a racing hopeless feeling inside, as if your little book with its million little legs were trying to climb up a mudslide. You have been through this draft so many times. … Continue reading Your book is taking a long time to write

Activist Memoir: Oil and Honey

I wrote an essay recently, "The Final Bakesale," in As It Ought To Be, about the challenge of conveying climate change as a narrative that grabs people emotionally. Bill McKibben's memoir, Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, is a fantastic braided story that addresses this very issue, weaving back and forth between … Continue reading Activist Memoir: Oil and Honey

How To Publish Your Book

I am gratified in a hopeless kind of way whenever I get asked questions about books and publishing, because it is very nice that the person asking might believe I could answer such questions. So I wrote this long series of lists as a response, because I am very bad at answering this question, for … Continue reading How To Publish Your Book

Virginia Woolf

From Virginia Woolf's "Moments of Being" (and thanks to Marilyn Bousquin for delving into this book and reminding me of its beauty): “And so I go on to suppose that the shock-receiving capacity is what makes me a writer. I hazard the explanation that a shock is at once in my case followed by the … Continue reading Virginia Woolf

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