Monthly Archives: September 2011

Airing the Laundry

I will be taking off the next three weeks.  My next post will appear Friday, October 21. I’ve never worried about offending anyone while writing.  Maybe it’s all those years of uncensored diary entries about mad crushes and revenge fantasies and how my mother infuritated me – but getting the words down about real people always came easily. The trick, of course, is when the time comes for those people to see those words.  Last month, Meghan Ward posted on her blog, Writerland, about the dangers of airing one’s  “family’s dirty laundry.”   Publishing words – however honest – about those … Continue reading

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Try, Try Again

Whatever works for you, I tell my students.  There’s no one way to write, no hard-and-fast rule that guarantees success, as much as we want one.  And yet, certain koan-like statements have made it onto my bulletin board or refrigerator.  My current favorite, from Samuel Beckett quoted by Colum McCann a year or so ago in the New York Times:  “Try. Fail.  Try again.  Fail better.” In my writing classes at UC Berkeley Extension, I emphasize process, the messy trajectory of moving a piece from first draft to polished prose.  So, last July, when Jane Anne Staw mentioned “process” as … Continue reading

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It’s About Time

This post continues discussion of the five components to a writing practice, as proposed by Jane Anne Staw in her excellent talk at UC Berkeley Extension’s Summer Fiction Intensive. How many of us say that we’ll write our novel, story, memoir, exposé, whatever, as soon as we have the time?  I wish I had a bag of peanuts for every time I’ve sat on a plane next to someone who, after asking the inevitable “What do you do?”, said to me, “Oh, I’d write, too, if I had the time.” As if all it takes is time.  Clear the schedule, … Continue reading

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