anxiety Archive

On and Of the Page: The Life–Art Collapse

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A few years ago at a conference, I read a section from my long poem “Sublimation” in which the speaker describes a miscarriage that, in its vicious pain and effusions, wakes her up in the middle of the night. After the reading, as I was mingling my way toward

The Required Pain and Suffering: Writing and Love

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What, if anything, does writing foreclose in life or between people? Despite probably a million compelling counter examples, famous and anecdotal, to the Plath/Hughes model of artistic-romantic implosion, a master narrative about the impossibility of loving writers and loving while a writer simply…persists. It buttresses the imagined partition between

Grace Paley’s “Wants”: Activism and Civic Involvement for Writers

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  After years of dodging PTO meetings and volunteer opportunities, I became involved in a school overcrowding issue in my town because I didn’t want my children’s class sizes to become enormous. The problem seemed simple at first, but soon enough I was attending school committee meetings, spending hours

A Writer Writer: The Writing That Counts

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In an episode of HBO’s Girls titled “Free Snacks,” aspiring writer Hannah Horvath lands a job producing “advertorial” content at GQ. Characteristically sharp and observant, she immediately brainstorms circles around her coworkers; at this rate, they suggest, she could really make a name for herself. But Hannah isn’t interested.

Dear Advice Person Lady: Advice for Writers

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Writers are neurotic. Are we more neurotic than other artists? Definitely. And it’s time we had our own advice column. A Dear Abby for our literary breakdowns. And if I have to volunteer to be that person, so be it. The letters have been pouring in—which is weird, because

Of All Things: The Signature

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

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Creativity Is Neither Magic Nor Madness

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At the end of 2009, I was hunched in the passenger seat of a van, weeping down a midwest interstate. We’d just recorded an album with a Grammy-winning producer, paying for it with months of fan-funding hype. And we were touring to promote it, planning to release it ASAP,

Mother-Reader

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 3 Comments
In retrospect, I did everything wrong when I opened Emma Donoghue’s excellent story collection Astray. I didn’t check the author notes explaining the origins of each piece. I didn’t note the time: midnight. It didn’t occur to me that in a collection chronicling historical moments, there might be violence,

Relationship Rescue! Courting Your Long-Lost Writing

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 10 Comments
First, a confession: I’m lousy at prioritizing fiction writing. I let everything else in my life take precedence. I even let other writing take precedence—articles, book reviews, syllabi, comments on student work, status updates, replies to all. And yet, good things have happened to the fiction I’ve written. I