Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘Author Takes’

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A Late Invasion of the Territory of Words: Recording the Voices

“Along the way, listening to writers at my dinner table speak of their work, their contracts, their advances, their sales, their ratings on Amazon, their competitors, etc, I came to realize how much it takes to carve out a career as an author, to live by the pen. At my present age, none of these concerns are mine.” Elena Delbacno discusses the perks of publishing later in life.


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Propaganda and Product Placement in Fiction and Speech

Some of the most complex and weighty signifiers are brand names, celebrity names, clichés, and propagandist phrases like “axis of evil.” These categories overlap: celebrity names are brand names, brand names are propaganda, propaganda is cliché, etc. “Axis of evil” is a place to start because of its obviousness. No educated person I have met can vocalize this phrase without quotation marks implicit in the vocal texture. What do these quotation marks mean? I think they mean we don’t wish anyone to think we are complicit with the ideology behind the phrase. We use quotation marks to indicate awareness of […]


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The Thrill of Rejection and the Sensible Drunkenness of Success

A writer can never have too much (or too little) advice on how to handle rejection. Every rejection, no matter how discrete, invokes the sensation of being punched in the face, and it’s extremely difficult to be magnanimous while that’s going on. So here’s my advice: with a slight shift in perspective, it’s possible to find rejection thrilling. The first step is learning how to take a punch. (Having been raised in a boxing family, I acquired this knowledge early in life.) The second step is learning how to enjoy taking a punch. That’s the hard part. Once my debut […]


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From TV Screen to Novel and All the Wines and Teryaki Bowls in Between

It was October 2005, and professionally and personally, I was rudderless. Where had I gone wrong? In the preceding two years, I’d finished serving my grad school sentence and been released from Boulder. Back in Chicago, the city in which I’d grown up, I’d taken a one-bedroom apartment in a baseball-sodden neighborhood with scant street parking. I was halfheartedly teaching some community college comp and developmental reading courses (my sole qualification for getting the unclaimed developmental reading assignment: my willingness to take the teacher’s edition and my vow to learn something in the days before I’d have to face the […]


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How to Squeeze a Story Out of the Soul; Or, How to Squeeze the Soul Out of a Story

Something I often heard in my experience as an MFA student was that one should write “painfully slow,” making every sentence count by tinkering with each word before moving on to the next one. In short: the story stalls, or never soars. The sentence is god. Typically, creative writing courses focus on the language of scene, character, plot, and dialogue the way we learn the parts of speech. This is the predicate; it should follow the subject sounds incredibly similar to This is the denouement; it should follow the climax. Even at the graduate level, workshops expend their energy with […]




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