Category Archives: Genre Writing

8 Great Horror Movies for Writers, about Writers

I’m a woman deep in love with the horror genre—the films, the books, the art, the freaky mechanized sculptures crawling across the floor. For this Halloween, here are a few great horror movies (in no particular order) that star some unfortunate, powerful, tragic, bloodied-up writers.

  1. Hush (2016)

This movie is amazing. It takes a very classic, often problematic premise—lone woman in the woods, no cell service, a mysterious masked attacker—and makes it new again.

2. The Dark Half (1993)

A classic Stephen King story, classic movie, Timothy Hutton, yes, yes, yes. This one might not be “scary,” but it’s a horror film through-and-through, and a great watch for anyone looking to be thoroughly creeped out.

3. Secret Window (2004)

Another Stephen King story, this is one of my favorite film adaptations of his work. Writers haunted by their work … and more.

4. TWIXT (2011)

Francis Ford Coppola, Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, Elle Fanning, Tom Waits, the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe for some reason … What more can I say? This is a (sort of?) comedy, (sort of?) horror movie, (sort of?) tragedy. Whatever it is, it’s awesome. An eerie surreal romp through some dark, dark woods.

5. Deathtrap (1982)

This movie may not be a “horror” movie per say, but it does have a good deal of murder, backstabbing, and writerly wickedness (not to mention some handsome young Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve).

6. A few other of Stephen King’s…Misery, Salem’s Lot, & The Shining (NOT the Kubrick version)

Because Stephen King is, first of all, amazing, and second of all, constantly writing about writers (I’m not complaining), I’ve decided to just throw in a good word for a bunch of his other adaptations. I’ll make a special note though about The Shining—forget Kubrick’s nonsense. Want an actually frightening film? Give the 1997 version a spin. It’s long—like, multiple disks long—but it’s absolutely worth it.

7. Sunset Blvd (1950)

There are few horror movies more classic or more unsettling than Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd, a movie about actors, a movie about screenwriters, a movie about artists (aka wild-eyed, lonely, self-absorbed, control freaks).

8. Capote (2005)

An eerily beautiful, deeply unsettling look at Truman Capote’s work in writing and researching his genre-bending creative nonfiction book In Cold Blood.

 

Happy Binge Watching!

6 Great Essays on Craft: Talking Plot, Sex Scenes, & More

1. Claire Rudy Foster’s “Considering the Sex Lives of Your Characters” for The Review Review

Allowing sex to take its proper place in a story adds the third dimension, a dimension of flesh, and sets the reader’s animal self twitching. Even the deliberate omission of sex begs the question: where did it go? Who are these comic characters, gleefully reassuring one another of their button-eyed innocence? It is possible to leave sexuality as an implicit force in the text, but suppressing it entirely does a disservice to both the reader and the story.  …

2. Emily Barton’s “Literary or Genre, It’s the Plot That Counts” for Literary Hub

We writers like to talk about elements of craft. Character, theme, setting, voice, point of view, language. But I seldom hear fellow writers talking about plot. When I first taught a seminar on non-traditional plot construction at NYU’s Graduate Writing Program, some students signed up because they hadn’t previously given the topic any thought. …

3. Alison Mattison’s “How to Write Coincidence the Right Way” for Literary Hub

One way to use coincidence and make it work is to have nothing turn on it. Coincidences feel illegitimate when they solve problems. If the story doesn’t benefit from the coincidence, it’s simply pretty and suggestive. Another way to make a coincidence work is to begin a story with it. Make it the reason there’s a story to tell in the first place. …

4. Bartleby Snopes’s Dialogue Writing Tips

One tendency people have when writing dialogue is to try to write everything exactly how it “sounds.” This often results in dialogue that sounds too slangy or forced. While you may know someone who says “like” after every other word or drops twelve “f-bombs” per sentence, this doesn’t translate well on the page. …

5. Linnie Greene’s In the Mines: A Craft Essay on Creative Nonfiction for Cleaver Magazine

In her MFA vs. NYC essay “The Invisible Vocation,” Elif Batuman argues that the classic maxims “Write what you know” and “find your voice” are sometimes damning, convincing writers that if they don’t know some sort of spectacular, novelistic trauma or oppression, their stories aren’t worth telling. …

6. Steve Almond’s “How to Write a Sex Scene: The 12-Step Program” for Utne

Nipples are tricky. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and shades. They do not, as a rule, look like much of anything, aside from nipples. So resist making dumbshit comparisons. …

Happy Writing!

Editing Your Novel? Give Adaptation a Try

First, the inspiration behind this post: I am incredibly proud to announce that I sold the teleplay version of my fem scifi novel-in-progress, The Fire Eaters! Huzzah! I sold the teleplay (not the book; important distinction) to an indie book publisher that’s now in the process of shopping it around Hollywood. But, regardless if it ever gets picked up by a studio (wouldn’t that be a trip?), I couldn’t be more proud that my story and characters have garnered such sincere interest. It gives me a real boost of confidence about the prospects for the novel as a whole.

The idea of adapting my own novel was a daunting one at first, even though I’ve adapted plenty of other books in the past. This was partly because I wasn’t even sure I wanted a film/TV version to be made at all (the novel, after all, is still what’s closest to my heart), and also partly because I plain wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to divorce myself enough from the book-version to make the plot and character changes that are (almost) always necessary when adapting for film/TV.

In the end, though, I decided to approach the adaptation as an exercise in revitalizing my energy/creativity/brutality for editing the novel: What subplots and characters truly are unnecessary? Could certain characters be combined, streamlined, or better developed? Could certain symbols and themes be cut, added, or made to work harder?

Stripping the book down to an almost purely dialogue format was also helpful in getting me to reconsider different conversations and dialogue-heavy scenes throughout the book. It allowed me to zero-in on conversations that sounded unnatural, but that I hadn’t noticed before due to all the crowding narration. It also helped me realize when certain conversations weren’t contributing anything at all, just taking up space.

Bottom line: If you’re feeling stuck or uninspired with one of your longer prose projects, try adapting it into a teleplay or screenplay format (and force yourself to be diligent and honest with the genre shift; no teleplays over 45 pages or screenplays over 110!). You might be surprised at how helpful an editorial exercise this can be. Alternatively, you can try your hand at things like Bartleby Snopes’s 8th Annual Dialogue-Only Contest. Submissions end on September 15th, but the perks and usefulness of the challenge itself apply all year long 🙂

P.S. If you’re interested in trying out some screenwriting software, I would recommend either Final Draft or Adobe Story.

Keep Writing! Keep Reading!

 

 

Feature image owned by KC Mead-Brewer

Novelist, Poet, Short Story Writer?

First, the good news (because Fridays should always start with good news): My flash fiction piece “Zebra Skin” has just been accepted for publication with Fiction Southeast! I couldn’t be happier about this–both because I happen to especially love this story and because I’ve been hankering for a spot in Fiction Southeast for…forever? Definitely ever since I learned that Aimee Bender was among their ranks.

Now, on to the meat and potatoes (or, if you’re a veggie like me, the cabbage and potatoes):

This past May, I hired on the tremendous Seattle-based editor Tara Weaver to help me tackle the monster novel that I’ve been working on for a few years now, (working title) The Fire Eaters. Not only was Weaver basically incredible (professional, kind, straightforward, sincere, creative, timely, and many other equally wondrous things), but she also helped something crucial finally click into place for me: I am not a novelist. I am a short story writer.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ll never write a novel — I’ve already written several rather dreadful ones, in fact — but it does mean that, at least for now, short story writing is where my heart lies. It’s where I boogie. And it’s all thanks to Weaver asking me a deceptively simple question: Katie, did you enjoy writing this novel?

I had no idea of how to respond. Of course! I wanted to say. Of course I enjoyed it–I love my job, don’t I? This is what I do!

And yet there was that little voice in my head: But did you, Katie? Did you actually enjoy writing this novel?

I ask, she told me, because it was clear to me as a reader when you stopped enjoying the writing of this book. In your short stories, though, there’s never a moment where I feel as though you stopped enjoying the process or the project.

It took a while for me to really know what to do with this information. I’m a writer. Of course I write short stories–I have no skill for poetry, and how else would I build up a resume to finally write and sell a novel one day? (Right?)

But then I had to ask myself: Well, would it be so bad if you were a short story writer instead of a novelist?

Novels sell. Short stories don’t. –This is the mantra I grew up hearing, reading, encountering again and again. But on the other hand, it’s not like my novels are anything worth selling at this point, unlike my short fiction.

So, next question: Well, what kinds of books do you most enjoy reading?

Short story collections. Hands down. Always. Whenever I have an author recommended to me, I always seek out their short fiction first and, if I can’t find any, more often than not, I’ll usually ignore the recommendation and move on to someone else.

This is a habit that I know not many readers share with me, but it’s one that’s served me well time and again. If you don’t have a short story for me, there’s little chance that I’m going to trust you with the amount of time that a novel demands of its consumers. Also, short stories are those blissful dives into the moment, into the now, whereas novels so often seek to drag me into the past with flashbacks, backstory, stock characters, and on and on. Or, as Katey Schultz so beautifully says in her article “What is Flash Fiction?“:

In an era of bombardment … we’re hungry for precise details and a widening of the moment. We’re anxious for an excuse to hold time and look closely.

–And this is an urgent, pivotal job of the short story, of flash fiction, of prose poetry.

Of course, this isn’t to say that short stories are somehow better than novels, but simply that they are different (albeit closely related) artforms, and thus demand different skills and serve different purposes.

So why this hesitation on my part? Why all this pressure to write a novel when they aren’t even my preferred go-to as a reader?

Well, here’s one reason–as Amber Sparks so tragically points out in her articleLet Us Now Praise Famous Short Story Writers (And Demand They Write a Novel“:

Most people really don’t like short stories. And that includes lots of critics, who often seem to regard short story collections as a warm-up for the real thing.

“The real thing” — aye, there’s the rub. In today’s world, short stories are still often looked down on as somehow lesser, somehow not as professional, not as artistic, not as meaningful, not as powerful, not as important as the grand Novel. And I played right into their hands by letting this slop infect my perspective.

I know I also often fall into a similar trap when discussing my writing career in general. As a full-time creative writer, I’m often made to feel badly about my career. As if writing was nothing more than glorified unemployment. When people learn that I’m a writer, their follow-up questions usually tend toward these paths:

But do you also edit? Are you planning to be a teacher? What’s your day job? Have you ever considered self-publishing?

To dodge these kinds of well-meant yet soul-chewing questions, I often simply avoid telling people I’m a writer at all. –But this cannot be the answer. We writers must stand up for ourselves. We cannot allow the misconceptions of others to define who we are or what our work-lives mean, just like I must also now proudly stand up for the short story as an artform that’s every bit as vital and meaningful as the novel.

As Kara Cochran says in her (tremendous!) article “A ‘Real’ Job: The Legitimacy of Creative Writing“:

Unfortunately, writers often perpetuate the stereotypes they fight against. … We often fail (or refuse) to define what it is that we do …. Maybe we feel guilty for our gifts, for having the means to pursue something for love over money, for having found something that makes us happy. …

The problem is this: all of this is self-perpetuating. Because convention tells us to accompany writing with a ‘real job,’ writers struggle to make writing a real job.

C’mon, fellow writers, let’s make this a real job.

I’m a short story writer. I love what I do and I’m proud of it. Whether you’re a novelist, short story writer, poet, a triple threat–own it. Love what you do and be proud of it. Own it–for art’s sake!

 

 

 

Journal Writing for the Body & Soul

Whether we realize it or not, we create and communicate stories about ourselves all the time. It’s in everything from how we answer people when they ask, “How was your day?” to how we remember past events to how we interpret different social situations and interactions. These stories we create reveal things about how we understand ourselves and our larger world, how we justify or blame or inflate ourselves without ever realizing it.

The challenge comes in when these everyday stories remain “unrealized,” or unedited. Left unexamined, these stories can become distorted in our minds until we’re believing things about ourselves and others that are hurtful, unhealthy, and even sometimes blatantly untrue. Because of this, a lot of people turn to writing as a means of pinning these stories down and taking control of them in a place where we can be honest with ourselves about where we are currently and where we’d actually like to be.

Now, I’m sure that, to some, this sounds fluffy or like so many other self-help quick-fixes. But there’s actually an impressive amount of research that suggests that expressive writing exercises and journals can do everything from “improve mood disorders to help reduce symptoms among cancer patients to improve a person’s health after a heart attack to … even boosting memory” (Parker-Pope, New York Times).

In one 2014 study from the University of Texas, it was found that “expressive writing may reduce cancer-related symptoms and improve physical functioning” for patients. They explained that “Expressive Writing”—that is, writing about one’s deepest thoughts, fears, hopes, and feelings—is a simple way to help patients better cognitively and emotionally process the experience of their illness. In other words, this transformation of feelings and fears into coherent, written narratives helped patients create some meaning out of all their pain and stress and chaos. It helped them exert some power over a situation that can make a person feel powerless. And regaining some power in situations like this can help not only reduce stress, but can help you gain a more optimistic outlook about the situation, can help relieve feelings of guilt or resentment that can come from needing help and care, and can even help you better communicate your feelings and needs to those around you.

Another study that was conducted in 2003, this time out of the University of Southern Mississippi, researchers took undergrad students who were suffering from PTSD and had them take up some regular expressive writing exercises where they wrote either about their trauma or on trivial topics. Surprisingly, it was found that “at follow-up, everyone reported less severe PTSD symptoms, impact, and dissociation, and fewer health visits to the clinic”—no matter if they were writing directly about their trauma or not. All that mattered was that they were making a regular effort to reflect honestly about themselves and their day-to-day lives.

In yet another study, married couples were asked to write about their most significant conflicts with their partner and then were prompted to revisit what they’d written with new prompts like this one:

Think about the specific disagreement that you just wrote about having with your partner. Think about this disagreement with your partner from the perspective of a neutral third party who wants the best for all involved; a person who sees things from a neutral point of view. How might this person think about the disagreement? How might he or she find the good that could come from it?

Among 120 couples, those who explored their problems through writing showed greater improvement in marital happiness than those who did not write about their problems” (Parker-Pope, New York Times).

Now, this isn’t to say that writing about ourselves and personal experiences is some kind of panacea. Multiple studies have suggested that expressive writing isn’t particularly helpful in lessening suicidal thoughts and feelings, for example. However, the research is piling up to suggest that expressing writing, in many cases, can in fact “change our perceptions of ourselves” and help us to better “identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health” and happiness (Parker-Pope, New York Times).

These benefits may come in part from the fact that by creating an intentional personal narrative, we’re actually engaging with one of humanity’s oldest and most unique instincts—an instinct to understand ourselves and our relation to the rest of the world. This desire was first made clear in the creation of cave paintings (thank you to Kate Thompson for pointing this out in her wonderful book, Therapeutic Journal Writing)—the earliest examples we’ve got of humans using art as a means of reimagining their world. Think about what a typical caving painting consists of: animals, people, landscape elements—things vital to people’s everyday experiences and lives. So why draw an animal when they could’ve just gone outside and looked at one for themselves?—it’s because there is some piece of us, some primitive call to use a written or visual medium as a way of making sense of our lives.

If this is starting to sound a bit fluffy again, consider why it is that we go to the trouble of making lists in our planners and calendars every week.

These are types of writing—building blocks of expressive writing and journaling—aimed at improving memory, lowering stress, and boosting our confidence about where we’re going and what we want to accomplish each day. List-making and calendar-keeping provide a solid framework for helping people approach goals of a single day, week, or month, and often help make those goals feel easier or more real in the act of writing them down, crossing them off, and so on. I imagine most people understand the odd feeling of accomplishment that can come from—not just accomplishing a particular task—but in crossing off a written reminder of said task.

Now, for a lot of people, the joys and benefits of keeping a journal comes up against a major roadblock: the fear of the act of writing itself. For a lot of people—even for members of my monthly Writing Group—writing is a nerve-wracking exercise no matter what it’s for. The fear of writing is a very common and very powerful obstacle.

The simple truth is, however, that when you’re writing in a journal or diary, you are entirely free of all rules and regulations around “good writing”—whatever that is. Good News: Your writing doesn’t have to use proper grammar or even have to make sense! And the details you choose don’t have to be “important.”

I have a very dear friend who constantly starts new journals, in all different styles, but never manages to commit to one for any extended period of time because every time she sits down to actually start writing, her stress around the act of communicating an idea as perfectly and lyrically as possible just paralyzes her. And when she finally manages to get past this first obstacle, when she finally gets that first perfect, beautiful sentence buttoned up—she faces whole new kinds of stress because, not only is the quest for perfection exhausting, uninspiring, and demoralizing, but she ends up struck with fears about whether or not her journal has any worth or value to begin with. All the time she says to me, “What if someone finds my journal one day, decades after I’m dead, and they can’t believe how boring I was?”

Fear of judgement is something nearly all people are prone to, I think, so the very act of maintaining a space where we try and lay fears of cosmic and social judgement behind can be particularly difficult.

Just know that writing down a mean or cruel or boring thought in a journal, doesn’t make you a mean or cruel or boring person—it only shows an acknowledgement of this feeling’s existence, and allows you to exert some control over it, allows you to maybe see the flaws in it, or perhaps simply reminds you to consider the good about whatever person or situation you’re writing about.

These fears certainly make their own sense—fears of inadequacy, fears of worthlessness, fears of failure—but they all also represent fears of the self rather than accurate fears about writing. But then these fears get conflated and confused and soon you’re anxious about writing instead of just anxious about yourself. And, in fact, it’s these very kinds of fears and anxieties that keeping a journal can help you challenge and overcome.

I know that for me—when I begin to get a panicky feeling about all the things I have to do, all the things I haven’t done, all the things I seem to only be doing poorly or failing at—as soon as I force myself to sit down and trap all of these fears and petty feelings in a written list or a journal entry, I’m able to see just how manageable it really is. I’m able to see how I was letting my panicked and negative, self-deprecating feelings get the better of me and put their own spin on my story, when, in reality, seeing them written down so small and in my own handwriting, it’s clear that it’s not as bad as it seemed before when it was all just swirling around unchecked in my brain.

But still, these journaling benefits necessitate people pushing through that initial moment of writing anxiety and get to the actual act of writing. And there are several journaling tricks that can help you do just that:

First, scrap the idea that every journal entry needs to begin with a date and then go on to tell a short, cohesive story. This is a complete myth. Then go ahead and also scrap the idea that a “successful” journal is one that you manage to write in every single day. The truth is: there’s no such thing as a “successful” journal or a “failure” of a journal. There is no success or failure when it comes to the world of your private, personal writing. There is simply writing or not writing.

As comedy writer David Sedaris explains of his diary writing habits:

“I’ve been keeping a diary for thirty-three years and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just whining, but every so often there’ll be something I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote. …” (New Yorker interview)

“Also, it helps to abandon hope. If I sit at my computer, determined to write a New Yorker story I won’t get beyond the first sentence. It’s better to put no pressure on it.” (New Yorker interview)

“… in my diary I’m not afraid to be boring. It’s not my job to entertain anyone in my diary.” (NPR)

And, the simple truth is, what makes a journal special, useful, and beneficial is what makes it unique to you. This means your own unique style of writing, this means your own unique writing schedule, this means your being really honest with yourself no matter if it seems important or petty or boring or mean.

Sedaris actually leads us into my next writing trick, and that’s using his diary-writing method of keeping two different kinds of journals at once: a list-making journal and a long-form journal.

Sedaris writes religiously in his diaries, keeping pocket-sized notebooks on him at all times, jotting down details throughout the day, and then returns to these lists the next morning when he sits down to write something in long-form about the previous day. Journaling in this way enables the writer to make meaning out of each day, to parse through the complexities of things, and see what there is to be grateful for and what petty things are better forgotten and forgiven.

Now, Sedaris’ journaling method doesn’t work for everyone, but it can have a twofold benefit: First, it can help you get into the habit of writing and thinking like a writer every day, and second, it will give you concrete things to look to when you go into your long-form journaling space, sort of like an anchor that keeps you from feeling overwhelmed or adrift in a sea of possible writing topics.

This detail-oriented technique may also be particularly useful for newer writers since it capitalizes on skills like list-making, which most people already engage in every day without ever thinking of it as “writing.”

Another technique—one that’s come in particular handy for me over the years—is written prayer. As a kid, I often found prayer difficult. It seemed to lack substance or weight no matter how hard I focused or tried. But then a friend of mine suggested that I keep a separate journal dedicated solely to prayer, and I found that not only was my prayer time enhanced, but so was my journaling.

I think this is in part because, when I approached a journal entry as a prayer, it felt automatically imbued with meaning and purpose and worth. It seemed to suddenly have more weight than all my previous journals had had and gave me a renewed sense of purpose and focus in my writing. This new, innate sense of worth also helped me better justify to myself the setting aside of time each day to sit and write in my journal.

And I believe it was this written prayer approach that eventually led me into the style of journaling that I use most regularly today: letter writing. For me, it was never useful to begin journal entries with “Dear Diary”; the idea of writing to an inanimate object just never worked for me. But writing an entry as if I were writing it to a fictional person—or even sometimes to real people, though they will never see said writing—I find tremendously helpful. My journals are now packed with entries that begin as letters to fictional people, and then transform into basically just letters written to myself, to different parts of me.

You can see this style of writing used as a device all the time, actually. It’s what James Baldwin used when he wrote The Fire Next Time as a letter to his nephew.

Ta-Nehisi Coates also uses this method in his most recent book, Between the World and Me, which is written as a letter to his son.

In this way, a letter transforms into a meditation, into a story about and by the author—a story about how the author sees themselves and the world, and how they wish to see themselves and/or the world transformed. And if we still lived in a world where long-form letters were regularly written and sent to others, we’d see that virtually all such letters are forms of storytelling, forms of meaning-making and experience interpretation.

Of course, sometimes this kind of expressive writing and story-editing can be its most beneficial and therapeutic when you find yourself in an emotional place that makes mustering the energy to write at all (let alone with purpose or intention) feel all but impossible. Writing during these painful times, however—times of anger or illness or grief or confusion—these are when expressive writing can sometimes be at its most powerful, its most useful. Writing during these kinds of times, often manifests as what Thompson calls Cathartic Writing.

“A scream on the page,” Thompson calls it. A cathartic “dump”—“venting, ranting, and emotional purging,” sort of like sucking poison out of a wound without the risk of unleashing that poison on others.

I haven’t been sincerely, deeply depressed or furious or sick often in my life—thank God—but when I revisit journal entries from the few times that I have experienced these debilitating situations, they’re often no more than one or two lines long: Why can’t I stop crying? Why can’t I stop hurting? 

But I know that these are the entries that—along with a slew of other support systems, of course—helped me find the strength to eventually break free of these unhealthy circumstances. By simply getting out that raw scream on the page, I was able to pin down to a piece of paper something that had before felt too overwhelming to even think about, let alone recover from. It gave me a clear path to answer my own questions and realize that I could stop crying, or would be able to soon.

Of course, as Thompson is also quick to point out, cathartic writing can’t be the Be All-End All of a journal. Cathartic writing can be a great crutch in times of need, but eventually it must be transformed into longer and more thoughtful writing if the personal narrative is ever to move beyond all that poison and panic and rage. If cathartic writing becomes the focus of an entire journal, it can become its own kind of poison—trapping you in an old, hurtful story rather than ever actually helping you to rewrite the situation and move forward from it.

Natalie Goldberg—another author to check out, her poetry is simply fantastic—writes about a funny saying in her book, Writing Down the Bones: “fighting the tofu.”

“Tofu is cheese made out of soybeans. It is dense, bland, white. It is fruitless to wrestle with it; you get nowhere. If those characters”—problems, fears, anxieties, or personal conflicts—“in you want to fight, let them fight. Meanwhile, the sane part of you should quietly get up, go over to your notebook, and begin to write from a deeper, more peaceful place.”

Don’t waste your time fighting the tofu. Let it go on the page, and then let it go in real life.

Alright, now, let’s get on to some actual journaling with a prompt to help get you started. The bottom line again is: Don’t be afraid. Don’t hesitate. And don’t lie to yourself. Be as shameless, fearless, and honest with yourself as possible.

There’s an old parable about two monks who are out walking one day when they come upon a stream and find a woman standing on the bank who needs help getting to the other side. Seeing her need, one of the monks picks her up and bears her safely across the stream. The monks keep walking after that, but the monk who stood by and didn’t help the woman is really agitated and upset, and he only seems to get more frustrated the longer they walk on. Finally the monk turns to his friend and says, “How could you do such a thing? You know it violates the tenants of our order for you to have carried a woman like that.” To this, his friend simply replies, “I may have carried her across the stream, but you’ve been carrying her ever since.”

    • Write about something that you’ve been carrying with you and then try writing about how you might set it down.

 

 

Happy Writing, everyone!

Sources Referenced & Further Reading:

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Kate Thompson, Therapeutic Journal Writing

Tara Parker-Pope, “Writing Your Way to Happiness,” The New York Times

Kathrin Milbury, Amy Spelman, Christopher Wood, Surena F. Matin, Nizar Tannir, Eric Jonasch, Louis Pisters, Qi Wei, and Lorenzo Cohen, “Randomized Controlled Trial of Expressive Writing for Patients With Renal Cell Carcinoma,” Journal of Clinical Oncology, DOI :10.1200/JCO.2013.50.3532

Eli J. Finkel, Erica B. Slotter, Laura B. Luchies, Gregory M. Walton, and James J. Gross, “A Brief Intervention to Promote Conflict Reappraisal Preserves Marital Quality Over Time,” Psychological Science, DOI: 10.1177/0956797612474938

PB Deters and LM Range, “Does Writing Reduce Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms?” Violence Victims

‘Let’s Explore’: David Sedaris on His Public Private Life,” NPR

Ask the Author Live: David Sedaris,” The New Yorker

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

 

 

Books for this Halloween

First things first…the finalists for this year’s National Book Awards!

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Image from NPR, “Finalists Unveiled For This Year’s National Book Awards”

I can personally recommend from this list: Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, Sy Montgomery’s Soul of an Octopus, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.


timthumbDeborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy is a terrific read. It’s got everything—witches, vampires, alchemists, murder plots, politics, dragons (well, wyverns, as Diana Bishop would correct me), the works. Harkness is a wonderful author, full of humor and action, but my favorite part of this series by far is its science history.


Anne Rice is always a classic when it comes to the creeps and crawlies, and her Mayfair series has everything you could want in a Halloween-time read.

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Things Withered smSusie Moloney’s Things Withered is spooky-meets-subtlety, capturing the eeriness of—as the title suggests—withering, of things not going according to plan, of things gradually, gruesomely dying.


For a fresh and truly haunting ghost story, definitely check out Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People.

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Notable Essays of 2014 – Congratulations!

Good news!

William Bradley’s essay, “Marked,” published by Cleaver Magazine, has just been named a “Notable Essay of 2014” by Best American Essays.

Congratulations, William Bradley! And a special thanks also to Cleaver‘s terrific Editor-in-Chief Karen Rile — her vision and hard work allow works like Bradley’s to find the audiences they so deserve.

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