writing-1149962_1280Dear Nikki:

Thank you for sharing your new short story, “Oops I don’t have a title haha,” with the class. I look forward to discussing it in workshop. I read this story as an exploration of the narrator’s excitement and disappointments during a rock-climbing trip with a group of friends, and as a meditation on the drinking games and truncated sexual encounters that followed.

In many ways, this is an improvement over your last piece. Last time, we discussed the difficulties of creating a seven-tiered magical realm with a cast of hundreds in the span of a ten-page short story; limiting yourself this time to five main characters and a more approachable setting has paid off. I have a much clearer sense this time of what’s going on, who is human, and how many suns there are. Well done!

You deploy some vivid imagery in your descriptions of the characters’ expensive camping gear and the drinks they mix. For instance, when you write that “Blake was mixing together Captain Morgan and coke,” I knew exactly what drink was being made. (At least I think I did. Should “coke” be capitalized here? I’m not entirely sure what you all get up to these days. I’m starting to doubt myself.) You’ve also finally tried out some figurative language (hooray!): “It was hot as ass,” “We were tired as hell.” These images could perhaps be pushed a bit farther, but it’s a nice start.Continue Reading

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why “Do What You Love” Is Bad Advice

find a job you loveIn 2005, Steve Jobs gave a now-famous graduation speech at Stanford University. “You’ve got to find what you love,” he said.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

“Yes! This is the Truth about careering!” Said everyone, ever.

Or okay, most of us. Who read or heard it.
And who also are privileged enough to have lives in which such an admonition has any chance of being follow-able.

Oh darn.Continue Reading