Jim Shepard Archive

“The Zero Meter Diving Team” and the Risks of Obedience

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I’ve long been a well-behaved person, and as an adult I have come to suspect that this isn’t one of my more admirable traits. This suspicion, I think, is part of what draws me so intensely to Jim Shepard’s wonderful heartbreak of a story “The Zero-Meter Diving Team."

Scaffolding

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As people who will die someday, and whose loved ones will die someday, we all live with at least one large dark truth from which we often try to avert our gazes. This tension—knowing a thing, but living as far away from that knowledge as possible—surfaces in literature too.

Launching

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Today, my first book launches. It’s kind of a wonderful word, launch: such propulsive force in its sound. Such muscular, fearless leaping. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d take a look at launchings of various kinds in literature. Not gradual beginnings, not slow evolutions into different forms, but sudden

The Past, Living

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For a person who loves writing and reading stories that take place in the past, I don’t seem to like the term historical fiction much. It tastes of dust to me. No doubt unfairly, I think of a certain kind of novel when I hear it. You know the

Dear, Dear: The Intimacy of Letters

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Nobody writes letters anymore. Sometimes the lament strikes me as cranky, romanticized (I once heard a radio interview with a woman who’d decided to homeschool her children in large part because their school had cut out cursive writing). But it’s true that I’ve saved many of the rare handwritten

Six New Tricks Your Dog Can Teach You About Writing

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Fans of the Ploughshares “Writers and Their Pets” series have probably noticed the majority of those blogs are about writers and their dogs. In my view this is because dogs are the best writing companions. For one thing, they never ask, “What’re you working on? or “Aren’t you done

From the Slush Pile: What’d She Say?

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So, we’ve talked about the beginning, the end, pluck, resiliency, and life—and yet here we are, still, wading through the slush pile. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? The world may never know, and how to have a reader pass

Roundup: Writing Centers

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As we launch a new blog format for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. Our roundups explore the archives and gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week. This week we have posts

Roundup: Ploughshares Readings and Q&A’s

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As we launch a new blog format for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. Our roundups explore the archives and gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week. This week we have posts

Interview with Chad Simpson, Author of Tell Everyone I said Hi

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Chad Simpson was raised in Monmouth, Illinois, and Logansport, Indiana. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly, Esquire, American Short Fiction, The Sun, and many other print and online publications. He is the recipient of a fellowship in prose from the Illinois Arts Council and scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’