IN MEMORIAM OF A. CHEKHOV (“SOVIET ALIEN”),
WHOSE DRAMATIC PRINCIPLE STATES THAT A GUN HANGING ON THE WALL IN THE FIRST ACT MUST BE SHOT BY THE THIRD,
To promote the use of firearms in contemporary American literature, to enhance and augment the presence of firearms in canonical American literature, and whatever else the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) wants to do when they need a break from shooting Firearms (“Freedom Sticks”),
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled!
If you are a writer, or want to be a writer someday, just know that it is never too early to start thinking of yourself as a writer and building your platform.
Yes, you can start promoting your writing career now!
But what is a platform? This buzzword has been around for years, mostly in marketing circles and politics. In recent years, it has migrated to individual authors. These days, it is a question you might hear from an agent or a publisher. But even (or especially) if you self-publish, you would do well to know what your platform is, and how it can serve you.
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life follows a group of college friends throughout their lives, examining the powerful and painful love that can exist in deep friendship. The book covers a long period of time and takes on multiple perspectives.
What’s interesting to me about the way Yanagihara handles time is that she allows a very free-form drift through the past as characters reflect on their lives. The story itself marches forward, sometimes leaping ahead months or years, but the gaps are always filled in through a character’s reflection on the past.
It’s time we talk about the importance of taking breaks while on the path to publication. You can call it vacation, a day off, or a mental health day. No matter the label, it’s a positive thing and can have many benefits for your writing, as well as the people you’re working with in publishing.
I’ve read a lot of poetry books this past year. Probably more poetry books than in the years working since undergraduate, I’m a bit sad to say. But part of the benefit of being back in school is that you have to read. During graduate school this past year, I read a poetry book every week.
Why do we keep reading fiction? Where does a novel find its narrative thrust? What engine powers this story? Erin Kate Ryan talks about this in the context of Ishiguro's The Unconsoled in this blog post. You can explore narrative thrust further in her summer class at the Loft, "Narrative Thrust: Keep Your Fiction Moving, Your Readers Engaged", which starts June 14!
As I sat decompressing from a full day at AWP in LA this spring, I mindlessly scrolled through my email. My finger stopped abruptly when I hit a message from the nonfiction editor of a literary journal I had sent a piece to. It was good news; the piece would be published. Surrounded by other writers and friends, I sat back knowing the only person I wanted to tell was the only other person in the story, my friend Renee. The piece had been ten years in the writing. It began when we were just out of grad school and the actions of our youth were wearing on us, beginning not to apply. At that age, the invisible lines that if crossed allow habits to take more permanent hold were only a few feet away. We were still too young to see the damage, but too old to be so reckless.
I have heard from hundreds of thousand of people asking me what I’m reading this summer. Believe me. People are very, very, very excited to hear what I’m reading. What I’m reading is amazing, truly amazing. My friend who’s a famous writer, he says it’s the most amazing reading list he’s ever seen. It’s also not small. I guarantee there’s nothing small about me, nothing. Men read faster than women. Dozens of people have told me this, expert people. I don’t know, that’s just what people are telling me.
I remember very clearly the first time I submitted my poems for publication. I was home for winter break after my first semester in an MFA program and cocky as hell. I was a reader for a literary journal, after all, and I understood all about how the submissions process worked.
In my Writing Habit and Brain Science for Writers classes, my students and I make a weekly commitment for each of the Recommended Practices (Process, Product Time, and Self-Care). Each week’s check-in gives us an opportunity to notice, acknowledge, and celebrate our successes and/or to notice and acknowledge what’s not working.