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Archive for August 2010

The small voice of truth clears its throat

Imagine yourself walking down the street.  You see a crowd harassing a man, pushing him, calling him vile names, bullying him… the man looks frightened.  Perhaps he is trying to protect someone he’s with, perhaps his wife or child.  The crowd, more of a mob now, past reason and spurred on by the force of…

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Antidote to arrogance

Once a week, I teach creative writing in a correctional facility for men.  We meet in a classroom on the lower floor of the prison, which one gets to by negotiating the usual labyrinth of corridors, past armed ‘threshold guardians’ of various sorts, descending flights of stairs going down, down, down, and a number of…

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Riding the tree roots

I wonder if you, like me, have ever found yourself sitting in the dark, tear-stained and brittle with anguish, listening to Tom Waits, perhaps, emptying a bottle of scotch, or a pot of coffee, maybe smoking cigarette after cigarette, staring out a fractured glass into the night, your soul blank, your stomach churning, your thoughts…

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Tell me what you want

Robert Olen Butler, in his book FROM WHERE YOU DREAM, says the one thing missing from almost every student manuscript he reads is a sense, in the beginning of the work, of what the main character yearns for.  He says fiction is “the art form of human yearning” and that  writers needs to place an…

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The Art of the Subtext

This book is part of The Art of series, put out by the excellent Graywolf Press. Each book in the series examines, I am told on the back of the book, “a singular, but often assumed or neglected, issue facing the contemporary writer of fiction, nonfiction or poetry. The Art of series is meant to…

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