Writing Archive

Ethnographic Writing and Poetic Discipline

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One of the most important parts of my education, both as a writer and a human being, has been studying anthropology--and in particular, learning to write ethnographically.

How Food Stars in Peter Mayle’s Memoir

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Being a lover of food and memoirs, I have a dream of living in a foreign country, especially in Europe, for a year and writing about its food customs.

Review: WRITING HARD STORIES by Melanie Brooks

Sharply written, these intimate and insightful exchanges dispel the myth that perhaps we all, writers or not, have come to believe about our own narratives, our own lives: “The worst story that we can tell ourselves is that we are alone.”

The Storytellers: Arab-American Writers Have Something to Say

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Randa Jarrar, the president of the Radius of Arab American Writers—whose acronym RAWI, means “storyteller” in Arabic—was a teenager in 1996 when the organization first came into being. Now a published novelist, fiction editor of The Normal School, and professor at Fresno State, Jarrar attended early RAWI conferences

Writ in Water: Interview with Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins, author of the celebrated collection Battleborn and widely acclaimed novel Gold Fame Citrus, talks with me about writing and living the West, conservation and resistance and optimism in the world of Trump, and faith in the "California experiment."

Machine Language

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I recently spent a long weekend collaborating with friends on a narrative outline for a point-and-click adventure video game. Relying less on twitchy button-mashing and more on logic puzzles, conversation, and critical thinking, the adventure game genre is a good project for a writer.

The Learning Curve: Fact, Fiction, and What I’ve Learned

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This ability to slip in and out and between voices has been crucial for my style of work. I’ve always been involved in multiple projects at a time, and while I typically finish translating one book before moving on to the next, there are always edits coming back from

On Being A Witty Pig

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In November of this awful year I emailed my two brothers an article, which I thought really broke things down. This really breaks things down, replied one brother, sending me an article on how to deal with shunt trip fuses and boiler rooms...

Dogs in the Literary Imagination

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From Odysseus’s faithful Argos to White Fang to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Shiloh, dogs have occupied the centers and peripheries of human stories since we began telling them. It’s no wonder; dogs were first domesticated by hunter-gatherers (not, as many believe, by agriculturalists) over 15,000 years ago, the first species

Writing Fiction from Life

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Some writers that I know are at times so unsure of whether a story is theirs to tell that they will shelve a project for years at a time, waiting for some kind of permission to be granted, or for forgiveness, or for a death. But sometimes those things