Author Archive

One More Swing of the Club

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When I sat down to write this piece—my last post for Ploughshares—I knew I wanted to bookend my stint as guest-blogger with another yoga/writing essay. I wanted to talk about writerly humility; specifically, how I’ve come to a better understanding of humility through Child’s pose. I figured I’d describe

The Center for Fiction: “Away from the Rum Shop and Billiard Room”

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June 21, 2012, New York City. I’ve just spent the afternoon in meetings at the Grove/Atlantic offices near Union Square. Now I’m trying to hail a cab—no way am I riding the subway in this heat—to take me to The Center for Fiction, where Harper Perennial’s Cal Morgan and

First Drafts: Nonfiction (A Conversation with Lia Purpura, Jack Pendarvis, and Sven Birkerts)

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1. How do your essay ideas typically come to you? Lia Purpura: Let me reroute the notion of “typical” here. Single words, images, scents, incongruities, awe, toothache—all of these offer possibilities, though the moment of launch is always, at heart, mysterious. Knowing what starts you up shouldn’t in any way

Three Days at MacDowell: Journal Entries

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Around the time I began working on my MFA, I started to hear other writers talk about applying for residencies at “artist colonies.” I was new to the writing world, and I wasn’t sure what a colony was. I had the vague impression of a kind of commune: poets

Q&A: Literary Agent Anna Stein O’Sullivan

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Q: First things first: how did you become an agent? A: I resisted initially, spent five years trying to find a different calling, and finally realized that being an agent was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I worked for an agent (the

From Bennington to Book Tour: A Life-of-Letters Q&A

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Last weekend I had the privilege to travel up to Bennington College, where I spoke on a Life of Letters panel with friend (and fellow Ploughshares contributor/guest blogger) Megan Mayhew Bergman. Megan and I are both alums of Bennington’s low-residency MFA program; I graduated in 2009, Megan in 2010.

How Do You Get Past the Sirens?

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Several weeks ago I wrote a post called Why I’m Not On Twitter (Yet). I spoke about my compulsive/addictive tendencies as they relate to the Internet, and expressed my concern that joining Twitter might not be the best thing for me, my family, or my work. I received an

First Drafts: Playwriting. A Conversation with Beth Henley, Young Jean Lee, and Enrique Urueta

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I’ll admit up front: of all the literary genres, I know the least about playwriting. I’ve written fiction and nonfiction, obviously, and I’ve dabbled (mostly unsuccessfully) in poetry, but the stage play? Never attempted it. I’m not sure why. When I’m at conferences or artists’ colonies, I never miss

Regarding Recognition: A Response to Michael Nye, With Gratitude

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Dear Michael, Last week you wrote a response to my piece “Why I’m Not On Twitter (Yet).” It was called An Open Letter to a Fellow Writer About Twitter, and it was one of the most honest and helpful letters anyone has ever written to me. Thank you. You’ve

Why I’m Not On Twitter Yet

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Last fall, when I sold my debut story collection to Grove/Atlantic, a smart friend whose book had just come out (and was doing extraordinarily well) wrote to encourage me to get on Twitter, stat. He said it was far and away the best place to meet book people and