Category Archives: Writing

We are always looking for great work. Have you considered submitting to Ploughshares?

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why You Should Plan Experiences

It’s mid-October, and some of us are gearing up for NaNoWriMo, or NaNonWriMo. Some of us are just inspired by the changing seasons, and want to finally try some new thing we keep putting off. Or maybe we just want to actually read one of … Continue reading

Posted in Roundups, Writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drunken Acknowledgments, 2 A.M.

A book is a labor of love, and this novel would not have been possible without the help of several people, and several bottles of wine—the last of which I’m enjoying right now. Infinite thanks to my editor, X, who … Continue reading

Posted in The Writing Life, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Escalating Conflict

In fiction, only trouble is interesting. For the conflict averse, instilling a story with juicy conflict may take some practice. Someone who has read many drafts of many of my short stories once dubbed me “Anca Did She Forget the … Continue reading

Posted in Writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Writers with Responsibilities: Ode to the Late Bloomers

Julia Child didn’t start cooking until she was close to forty and I didn’t either. For me it wasn’t the Le Cordon Blue School, but a need to finally be heard. I found my voice after my fourth child was … Continue reading

Posted in Writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Episodia 2.10: Writing About Other People

I spent the past few years writing a memoir about a secret I kept throughout my adolescence, and the book is set to debut next Tuesday. When I was ten years old, a beloved piano teacher in my small hometown … Continue reading

Posted in Writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Experiments in Perspective

A crucial lesson I learned early on in my attempts at writing fiction is that every character is you–and not you. Characters have parts of you inside of them because you wrote them. But they are still not you. Chris … Continue reading

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to the Literary Jungle

Several times a year I am the recipient of emails or phone calls from friends, colleagues, parents, or complete strangers in search of writing guidance. Often the messages begins, “Hello, my name is Barbra. My daughter wants to be a … Continue reading

Posted in Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Power of An Author Who Can Share Her Insides

At least sixteen years ago, maybe more, I read Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation and saw myself. These days, it’s de rigueur to dismiss Wurtzel as a chaotic, self-involved mess. But back then, after receiving a diagnosis of chronic depression with bipolar tendencies, I ate … Continue reading

Posted in Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to School Special: Thoughtful Imitation

I didn’t study creative writing as an undergraduate; it wasn’t an option. When I enrolled in the MFA program at University of Washington, what I craved more than workshop (which I’d experienced a few times in continuing education settings) was … Continue reading

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Ploughshares Round-Down: The Calvary Film and the Purpose of Art

“[T]he barrier between one’s self and one’s knowledge of oneself is high indeed. There are so many things we would rather not know! – James Baldwin John Michael McDonagh’s film Calvary begins with priest Father James (played by Brendan Gleeson) preparing to … Continue reading

Posted in Ploughshares Bloggers, Roundups, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment