Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘the writing life’

Shop Talk |

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, […]

Shop Talk |

On Writing Blind

I just finished teaching for the term, and this past class was a bit unusual: I had two legally blind students. All of my students were phenomenal, but I was particularly floored by the dedication of those two—one of whom did the class reading by listening to his computer read the stories aloud. This all got me thinking about the many things I take for granted, including the ability to stare at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike. Voice recognition software has come a long way, but it’s still not the smoothest tool for writers, as novelist Justine […]

Shop Talk |

"When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. This is great."

This has been making the rounds for a little while now, but it’s so inspiring that if you haven’t seen it yet, you really should. In a commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Neil Gaiman offers reflections and advice on writing, freelancing, and the artistic life—“everything I wish I’d known starting out… and the best piece of advice I ever got, which I completely failed to follow” You can also read the transcript at the University of the Arts website, but there’s something about hearing in English accent that makes all this sound so encouraging and […]

Shop Talk |

How to write more: Blackmail yourself?

Perhaps, like many of us, you’re the kind of person who won’t do anything without a (proverbial) gun to your head. But it’s hard to type while holding a gun to your own head, no? Leave it to technology to solve this problem: enter Aherk!, which describes itself as a free “goal-oriented self-blackmailing service.” Now in beta testing, Aherk! has three basic steps: Define a goal. Tell us what it is that you want to achieve and set a deadline. Put your ass on the line. Upload a compromising picture that will be posted to Facebook in case you fail […]

Shop Talk |

"My novel is going nowhere"

You may have said those words once or twice yourself, perhaps? (If not, please leave this blog. Now.) It may comfort you to know that you are not alone in that sentiment: even established writers think so, now and then—and have for decades, if not centuries. To prove it, Michael Hoffman has combed through the letters of Joseph Roth, finding every mention of his novel The Radetzky March, which would become his masterpiece. Here’s a sampling: November 20, 1930 Joseph Roth to Stefan Zweig: “‘The Radetzky March,’ it’ll be called, set in the Dual Monarchy from 1890 to 1914. I’ll […]

Shop Talk |

Rejection Love

I save rejection slips. In graduate school, someone mentioned an acquaintance who had wallpapered her bathroom with them, and I liked that idea. There was something honest and humbling about it. So when I started submitting my own stories to literary journals, I saved the rejections, imagining I might do the same one day. It would be a necessary complement, I imagined, for a living room mantel cluttered with prestigious awards, framed reviews, and my many excellent books. I’ve long since backed off both the wallpapering and the cluttered mantel, but I haven’t stopped saving the slips. And I have […]

Shop Talk |

I'd like to thank the Academy…

On Oscar night, no one listens to the thank-you speeches—except the people being thanked. Likewise, no one reads the author acknowledgements of a book—or do they? On The Millions, Henriette Lazaridis Power delves into the stories behind this oft-overlooked section of a book, from the Brontë sisters to Zadie Smith to Robin Black. And Power argues that the acknowledgements are more than polite thank-you notes; they’re an opportunity: Everyone reads the acknowledgements. In fact, for many of us, the first thing we do when we pull a book off the store shelf is to flip to the back. The writers […]

Literary Partners