Author Archive

Of All Things: The Signature

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Congratulations! You’ve published a book, and people are lining up to buy it. Now begins the trickiest part of an author’s journey: signing your own book. You’ve read an excerpt, charmed the crowd. You’ve perfected the swooshy drama of your signature. Uncap your Official Signing Pen. Take a seat. Lined

Research Unleashed! And Leashed.

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I knew I had a problem when I started envying my dog’s cone collar. Now, my dog’s problem was a hot spot. Allergic, itchy, hot, and double-coated, my German Shepherd had chewed her hind leg raw over the course of a single evening. My problem was research. Engrossing, surprising,

WWTMD? (What Would Toni Morrison Do?)

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Lately, during the sad, unproductive stretches of writing my first novel, I stare at an empty page and whisper, “What Would Toni Morrison Do?” This is the closest I come to prayer. Please show me the way, I say to my favorite writers. Please give me the vision to

496 Words on Writing Flash Prose

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  1. Last year, I started writing a novel. Along the way, craving completion, I wrote and published seventeen pieces of flash prose. Instead of an epic, I accidentally created a flash chapbook. 2. Okay, maybe not accidentally. I took a break from the novel for a few months

Get Real! Or Maybe Don’t Get Real? A Conversation with Lincoln Michel (Part 2)

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Recently, on social media, Gigantic magazine editor Lincoln Michel questioned the label of “realism.” I write “realism,” and I’m branching into other genres, so I introduced myself and asked a few more questions. Our conversation, conducted over e-mail, spanned several days, topics, and now two blog entries for Ploughshares. Lincoln Michel’s fiction

Get Real! Or Maybe Don’t Get Real? A Conversation with Lincoln Michel (Part 1)

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Recently, on social media, Gigantic magazine editor Lincoln Michel questioned the label of “realism.” I write “realism,” and I’m branching into other genres, so I introduced myself and asked a few more questions. Our conversation, conducted over e-mail, spanned several days, topics, and (starting today) will also span two blog entries

WORKSHOP OF FIRE!!!!

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It’s your senior year of college. What kind of writer are you? Do you start writing a story eight hours before it’s due? Do you fictionalize your latest fight with your jerk-face manager or diva housemate? Does every one of your stories read like a screenplay? Like a poem?

Novelists, You’re Doing It Right

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  You’re trying to write a novel. Sometimes, it’s exhilarating: characters wake you in the night, yammering, springing into action. Sometimes, it’s excruciating: you stare into blankness, and finally, when the words arrive, they reek of your incompetence. It’s taking forever, this novel of yours. It’s ugly. It’s full

One Year In—Writing the Novel: Rebecca Makkai

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After one year of writing my novel, I took stock of what I’d accomplished—which seemed like very little. Would writing always feel like flailing? How do novelists find their way through? For guidance, I turned to published novelists, whose interviews are presented in the One Year In: Writing the Novel series. 

One Year In—Writing the Novel: Benjamin Percy

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After one year of writing my novel, I took stock of what I’d accomplished—which seemed like very little. Would writing always feel like flailing? How do novelists find their way through? For guidance, I turned to published novelists, whose interviews are presented in the One Year In: Writing the Novel series.