Red Pens and Other Ego-Paring Tools

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In “Dr. Deneau’s Punishment,” one of eleven excellent short stories in Lori Ostlund’s Flannery O’Connor award-winning collection The Bigness of the World, the title character despairs over the current trend in American schools to reward students for their mediocrity.  Under the new regime of the militantly optimistic, the red

Patterns and Need

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Our third guest blogger, Adrian Matejka, is a poet whose poem “Eighty-Eight Days in My Veins” appears in our Winter 2010-11 issue edited by Terrance Hayes.  Adrian will post on Fridays through April. Paul Hegarty said, “Noise is a system of judgments.” He was talking about the qualitative distinctions

Interview with Ed Skoog

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Weston Cutter, our second guest blogger, will post on Wednesdays through April.  Weston is a poet whose poem “The Invention of Color vs. The Song of EA” appears in our Winter 2010-11 issue edited by Terrance Hayes. Ed Skoog’s freakishly excellent debut Mister Skylight was one of 2009’s books

Dead Stories: When to Say When

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This week we welcome three new Get Behind the Plough bloggers to Ploughshares. The first is fiction writer Christine Sneed, whose story “The Prettiest Girls” appears in our Winter 2010-11 issue edited by Terrance Hayes. Christine will post on Mondays through April. Guest post by Christine Sneed The harsh

An Editing Strategy in Winter

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The best way to write is hoeing corn or chopping wood or milking cows or walking the roads. The boots I’ve worn out writing books! – Elliott Merrick   Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman   The last light falls across my backyard. The ground is covered in a

New Year’s Resolution

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Guest post by Fan Wu I was awakened at 3:36 a.m. by my two-year-old daughter’s crying. I went to her room and lay down beside her, as I always do when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Half an hour later she fell sleep, while I

Notes from My Dashboard

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Guest post by Greg Schutz “Writing a novel,” E.L. Doctorow has observed, “is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” For me, at least, the same could be said about writing short

Nightwood, Revisited

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Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman Or, perhaps I should say, Nightwood–finally visited. As readers may recall, I publically chided myself for my inability to get through a book I truly wanted to read–Djuna Barnes’ novel, Nightwood. Fond of her other work (Ryder, Creatures of an Alphabet, Ladies Almanack,

Of Mice and Horsemen: Point of View in ‘Lord of Misrule’

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Guest post by Greg Schutz Early in her National Book Award-winning novel Lord of Misrule, Jaimy Gordon offers two competing accounts a single conversation through two different points of view. Medicine Ed, an old groomsman at a rundown thoroughbred track in West Virginia, spies on an encounter between Maggie,

The Trouble with Happiness

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Guest post by Greg Schutz In 1873, Tolstoy famously opened Anna Karenina with a homily that has hounded fiction writers ever since: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Even though Anna Karenina ultimately complicates the notion of happiness and, furthermore, questions