Good Luck NaNoWriMoers!

It’s National Novel Writing Month! And once again, I’m astounded by people who hate this project. (Has Laura Miller written her annual screed yet? I can’t wait.) Here’s a post from a while back:

NaNoWriMo: A Full-Throated Defense

What better way to tune up than to pull your favorite book off the shelf, study the first line or two, and enter our contest?

Onward and upward, everyone! Good luck with the writing!


Good Luck NaNoWriMoers!

It’s National Novel Writing Month! And once again, I’m astounded by people who hate this project. (Has Laura Miller written her annual screed yet? I can’t wait.) Here’s a post from a year ago:

NaNoWriMo: A Full-Throated Defense

Democracy, Tolstoy (again!), NaNoWriMo, and hate. A good post.

Onward and upward, everyone! Good luck with the writing!

At the Twilight’s Last Gleaming (Saying Farewell to a Dynasty)

Maybe it’s the fresh take on the space-time bending and head-blowing implications of Goodnight Moon, which has retroactively haunted my many thousands of readings of that book. Or maybe it’s just my usual interest in comparisons of Rome and America. In either case, I was struck by this passage:

The stagnation of the Roman Empire may carry important lessons for a more modern superpower: The United States. We too are a huge, rich, powerful nation that for much of our history has dominated the field of competitors. We too have a whole century of dominance – the 20th – under our belt. And if there’s one thing we don’t want to do, it’s turn into the Roman Empire.

What’s that, you say? You’ve heard enough of these theories about the demise of Rome and what it means for America today? Well…reader, I cheated! This isn’t about Rome at all, but about quite a different historical example. The undoctored quote is this:
Continue reading

Don’t Be Discouraged: You Are New!

Editor’s Note: In honor of springtime, I thought I’d rerun this post from last year, which remains one of the most popular posts we’ve had. Hope wins!

In an interview with Tinhouse’s J.C. Hallman, Walter Kirn refers to a common anxiety among writers:

J.C. Hallman: Do creative writers have an obligation to act as critics, to offer up alternatives to traditional critical methodologies and assumptions?

Walter Kirn: Creative writers have no obligation do anything, including their own creative work.  That’s what makes them “creative” in the first place, not merely productive.  That being said, a novel or a short story is an implicit piece of criticism.  It suggests that the job – some job; that of telling a story, say, or representing reality with language, or torturing reality with language – can be done better, or at least differently, than it has been done before.

Kirn’s right, of course – but at the same time, we all know how paralyzing this can be. There have been so many authors! Every story has been told! Everything’s been said! Blogging’s one thing, but who am I to presume that I can enter the world of writing a book that belongs on a bookshelf with all those authors I love and respect and admire?

Even the great Dr. Johnson suffered from a version of this internal narrative, giving up on writing poetry out of a belief that Alexander Pope had perfected the art, not to be surpassed.

(Ack, I hope I haven’t misremembered this – I can’t find the quote. In any case, I think the point still stands. Moving on…)

So what to do? You write spooky supernatural tales – good lord, there’s Stephen King dominating the field. You write historical novels set at sea during the Napoleonic Wars – but how can you top Patrick O’Brian? You feel drawn to write a story set in Dublin on a single day – well, hello there, Mr. Joyce! And on and on and on.

But guess what? Poetry didn’t end with Pope and Dryden. Spooky supernatural books don’t begin and end with Stephen King. There’s plenty of room for new stories, new books, new voices. And that’s where you come in: you can add your creative skills to the mix. And find your readers! They’re waiting for you.

Don’t internalize the gatekeepers. Break on through!

What They Knew #26

Just realized that yesterday I posted what may be the darkest, most morbid post yet. On Valentine’s Day.

Hey, at least it had “love” in the title!

In any case, let’s look at something more optimistic.

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

– Anne Frank

Three Bits of Holiday Cheer

Okay, enough with the bad news. The doom and gloom. The oh-so-bleak writing. Let’s bring ourselves into the proper mood for a December post!

How about this?

And this?

Or this?

We’re getting there, people… turning things around… and check back tomorrow for (hopefully) some good news from Jacke… some developments brewing…