“writing is a job like any other” and other angry ghosts - I really appreciate this post by Hilary Smith. Having spent the majority of my life since age 16 in jobs that depended on administration and organization and time management, adjusting to the life of full-time writing in a way that works for me has been a long learning process. I’m still always fine tuning, always analyzing and frequently judging in a way that isn’t helpful. Though it can certainly be unhealthy to buy into a myth of the “troubled artist” and self-fulfil the prophesy of that label, there is also something decidedly non-administrative about the creative life and I’m one of those people who would do well to accept that.
Meeting the Austins Again – This is a piece I wrote for the Los Angeles Review of Books, about my experience last summer of re-reading Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin Family Chronicles. Generally, re-reading childhood/adolescent favorites is a risky proposition, and though I wasn’t in love with the books this time around, I still came away from the experience understanding why L’Engle was such a big influence on me as a reader and, in other ways, as a writer.
To the Best of Our Knowledge – The Short Story – Are you a fan of short stories? Or do you wonder if you should be? This episode of TTBOOK is all about the short story. I particularly like the interview with Tom Perrotta on his experience editing the Best American Short Stories of 2012.
The Essay, an Exercise in Doubt - By Phillip Lopate. This one is about a month old now, but I’ve recently re-read it, still great. Great for writers, but also great for anyone who teaches writing.
Argumentation is a good skill to have, but the real argument should be with oneself. Especially when it comes to the development of young writers, it is crucial to nudge them past that self-righteous inveighing, that shrill, defensive one-track that is deadly for personal essays or memoirs, and encourage a more polyphonic, playful approach. That may be why a classic essay technique is to stage an inner debate by thinking against oneself.
Lastly, I guess this is a bit of a self-aggrandizement, but I really liked this.