Suspend Your Disbelief

Celeste Ng

Editor at Large

Celeste Ng is the author of the novels Everything I Never Told You  (2014) and Little Fires Everywhere (2017). She earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Articles

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Novel-writing as performance art

What an awesome and terrifying idea: novelist Silvia Hartmann will write her next novel live on Google Docs and let anyone who wants to follow along—and send her feedback on her work. (Via.) Hartmann explains in a press release on her website:     This project, known as “Hartmann Book Live” aims to go one step further and give fans the chance to not only see the manuscript being typed, but to also comment on the storyline and provide feedback as the novel develops. […] On Wednesday, 12th September at 9am the author will let her social network followers know […]


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Writer, Reject Thyself

Okay—so perhaps your take-home message from the recent Giraldi-Ohlin incident was “Oh my god, I hope that I never get a review like that.” Unfortunately, at some point, every writer usually gets some harsh feedback—in a workshop, in a review, or from a reader. (Discuss: which writer is most fortunate, and why?) Anyway, when you receive said harsh feedback, your options are: A) Lash out at reviewers (pretty much never a good plan) B) Curl up under chair with bottle of whiskey and/or teddy bear C) Develop thicker skin, keep head down, keep working on next project Should you choose […]


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Is there such a thing as a perfect sentence?

Recently, Publishers Weekly posted a provocative list of “5 Perfect Sentences.” Here’s one, from “A Romantic Weekend” by Mary Gaitskill: He was beginning to see her as a locked garden that he could sneak into and sit in for days, tearing the heads off the flowers. Now, I love this sentence, but the list raises the question: is it perfect? It’s beautiful, sure—and over at BookRiot, Greg Zimmerman has a wise and thoughtful post about what makes a beautiful sentence. But what does it mean to say something is a “perfect” sentence? Perfect might not mean lush, or beautiful, or […]


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Earn your internet access—by writing

Writers are full of tricks to get themselves to actually WRITE. We’ve covered a lot of them here on FWR: positive reinforcement (with tools like Written? Kitten!, which rewards you with photos of cute cats), fear (with apps like Write or Die, which plays annoying noises—or deletes your work!—if you stop writing), and flat-out self-blackmail. Here’s yet another addition to your arsenal, O Writer In Need Of Motivation. A new program, Blockr, lets you set goals and blocks you from the internet until you’ve completed them. Says the Blockr site: Today, the sirens we face are glowing rectangles. As Odysseus […]


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Sticks and Stones: On Harsh Reviews

Does anyone actually believe that words can never hurt you? Come on, people—we’re writers. If there’s anything we believe in, it’s that words have power: to inspire, to move, and—yes, I’m afraid, to wound. “Mean” reviews (and their counterpart, “too nice” reviews) have been a topic of much discussion for the past few months, but things reached a frenzy this past week when the New York Times published a scathing double-review of Alix Ohlin’s new novel and collection, Inside and Signs and Wonders. Writers everywhere jumped up to defend Ohlin, defend Giraldi, and question whether harsh reviews have a place […]


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You know what the classics need? Explosive sex.

Poor Jane Austen. First there were the zombies. Now, reports the UK Huffington post, an adult publisher has been inspired by 50 Shades of Grey and plans to add “explosive sex” to the classics: Some original fans of Jane Eyre might be unhappy to discover that the female protagonist has “explosive sex with Mr Rochester” in the publisher’s erotic edition. In Wuthering Heights, heroine Catherine Earnshaw “enjoys bondage sessions” with Heathcliff while sleuth Sherlock Holmes has a sexual relationship with his sidekick Dr Watson in the new e-book. Claire Siemaszkiewicz, founder of Total-E-Bound Publishing, which is releasing the titles from […]


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No fellowship? Make your own.

So maybe you didn’t into MacDowell this year, or Bread Loaf, or [insert highly desired writer’s conference, residency, or program here]. You’ve got two options: Sit and mope. Make your own. Two fiction teachers from Boston’s Grub Street, Adam Stumacher and Jenn De Leon, describe how they decided to craft their own “writing fellowship”—and managed to write for an entire year: One afternoon last fall, we looked at each other over a kitchen table cluttered with self-addressed stamped envelopes and statements of purpose, and we reached a decision. This year, we were not going to wait for permission. This year, […]


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99 problems but a blurb ain't one

There’s an art to book blurbing, as anyone who’s tried to write one can tell you. Over at the Kenyon Review, Jake Adam York takes a stab at classifying them. For example, there’s the “Lavish” type: The genre of the recommendation letter, a friend once observed, is hyperbole. Everything has to be stated in the superlative, so one reads for degrees of overstatement, hyper- and hypo-hyperbole, becoming a progressively more sensitive seismograph, searching out quavers and tremors or microscopic proportion. The blurb is a clear cousin or sibling, at least in the most common form in which sparrows of adjectives […]


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What Don Draper is reading…

I am an unabashed Mad Men fan, and this past season was possibly the best—but I will admit that a few times, I was able to tear my eyes from Don Draper in PJs to look at the book in his hands. You know you’re a word-nerd when you watch TV and realize you’re scoping out what the characters are reading. Leave it to Flavorwire to compile the actual reading lists of Rory Gilmore, Don Draper, Daria (whoa ’90s flashback) and more. Rory reads The Bell Jar. Don reads The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Daria reads Being […]




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