It’s never too early to start learning about poetry, and memorizing it not only for personal enjoyment, but also with the intention of sharing joy or beauty with others. Poetry Out Loud helps high school students feel the impact of poetry, and facilitates the process of memorization and presentation. Through the competition, they are likely to discover meaningful poems that they will then carry—and share—for a long time after it ends.
Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties is a short story collection that is full of great sex scenes. The scenes are diverse in terms of groupings as well as style and objective. Some are steamy, some are quiet, and some are horrifying.
Machado uses many smart techniques in the depiction of sex, but I'm particularly struck by the attention she pays to the breathing of the reader...
Calling a client to tell them that a publisher has made an offer on their book will never cease to be a thrilling experience, especially if it’s a debut. Neither will seeing a client’s book out in the wild, being read by a fellow subway passenger or perused by a stranger in an airport. It’s just exhilarating to see something you love so dearly actually become a part of someone else’s everyday life.
We saw how the sharing built community, created empathy, and helped the writers grow. As we talked, we became committed to the idea of helping students not only write their stories but share them. We realized that not everyone wanted or was able to write a 300-page memoir, but almost anyone could fill a 32-page book with snapshots of their life.
I think agents often seem like scary gatekeepers or like we're here to take advantage of an author, but that couldn't be farther from the truth for most of us. We want the best for authors. That means turning down projects that we know we can't do right by and when we do sign an author, we're with them every step of the way. An author's success is our success too and we will work as hard as we can to make sure that author gets the best deal and the best editorial guidance from the first book until their last.
I often find that there are many myths about publishing, despite the fact that the intended audience is already a naturally curious and resourceful group of people. Writers, as a practice, will ask many valuable questions; my goal is to help bring an understanding to a few of these “unknowns” of publishing. A deeper understanding will help in the larger picture, specifically in sidestepping unrealistic expectations along the way.
Even after I knew the intent of one character to harm another, both options (that she would or would not go through with the act) felt equally possible. Or maybe it's that they felt equally impossible. The suspense was chilling; the action itself was even more so, offering not a relief, but a fresh horror. This effect is incredibly compelling, but hard to achieve.
... I'm going to look at a much earlier detail, one that does important work to make the "inevitable surprise" possible.
I have never had to do anything like this before, and now I wish I had. Finding poise and confidence at a young, formative age is so essential. While I can stumble and stutter and still carry on after whatever happens in my own presentation, I like to imagine an alternate reality where I am excited to share these stories that I am very proud of, rather than nervous about how exactly to present them in the first place. I still remember the exhilaration, in my junior year of high school, when my English teacher asked each student to bring a poem to recite to the small class, and I sped through Margaret Atwood’s “Variation on the Word Sleep,” standing in front of the whiteboard. Each of us, that day, brought something close to us that we wanted to share, and it was a really wonderful and intimate moment spent appreciating the words and stories that other people carried, and made their own in those brief moments.
"I think I write more in the winter because I get easily distracted in the summer. That said, I think I’m more of a gatherer in the warmer months, my creative process is very fragmented, so I jot things down or immerse myself in experiences/experimentation when it’s warm. In the winter it’s ugly showerless isolation, where I play chicken with my own emotional vulnerabilities and fears to attempt getting at something that at the very least feels honest—even if it isn’t any good. I binge-read in waves and spurts."
This is my gentle nudge that if you’re a writer, you never forget your own reader experience. That you remember any book you write just isn’t for you, it’s for your future readers. Assuming that if you write it (the book), they’ll find it (the book) is unrealistic. And when a person takes the valuable time of reading your book, the highest level of respect is given if they find a story they can connect with and hopefully want to read again. Or even better, they enjoy your writing so much, they commit to reading all the books you write into the foreseeable future.