My glorious moment today came from the Longform podcast. Aaron Lammer interviews New Yorker writer Sam Anderson, who puts into concrete form the struggle I’m up against. I’m grappling with a super-sized project involving tens of thousands of document pages and dozens of hours of interviews and interview transcripts. This, an entire universe of content, … Continue reading A universe of content
Used to be I could write by hand for ninety minutes at a stretch. My first attempt at a novel, a quarter century ago, I wrote two drafts out longhand, sometimes squatting on my haunches in the African bush, copybook resting on my thigh. I wrote physically as much as mentally (that story, a shoddy … Continue reading Losing it
Micro-fiction channeling moments of truth. Walking the forests of the Shenandoah National Park last week, I thought about how I'd pass the days and weeks and months as a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. One exercise I settled on for keeping sane step after step was to craft a 100-word story each day out there. … Continue reading Ben’s Franklins
Poe’s Pigeon: “Poop Galore”
My son asks how my satire of The Raven is coming along. It’s stalled, I say, and explain the problem. The first seven stanzas, more than a third of the poem, have nothing to do with the bird. Yet the inspiration to write this satire flaps all around me, every day, unavoidable reminders of their own absurdity: … Continue reading Poe’s Pigeon: “Poop Galore”
A Novel Coronavirus Novel
Will sustained isolation lead to a baby boom or a novel boom? Long before COVID-19, the most recent novel coronavirus to come along, I’d toyed with the idea of writing a novel called A Novel. As is usually the case in the life of a novelist, however, I ran into a few problems right off … Continue reading A Novel Coronavirus Novel
COVID, or Covfefe?
Covfefe is the sound of an old man choking on his attempt to say "COVID" While forced isolation has us looking for ways to pass the time at home, I look for something meaningful to read and settle on Poe. The meandering path of my literary pursuit began this morning with Book Fight!, a Podcast … Continue reading COVID, or Covfefe?
When I’m Not Writing
This is what I write about when I'm not writing: Stuff I read The ice in my drink vs the bell around my cat's neck Titles of books I'd like to write The news Rage at the universe when the universe applies its whims inexorably against my wishes Politics Things I think are funny but … Continue reading When I’m Not Writing
Publication vs Glory
When I feel lonely in my writing I turn for companionship to John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction. The title provides added comfort, referring to Gardner's concise review of our trade as “Notes on Craft for Young Writers," implying that those who should benefit from it—and I benefit from it every time I open it up—are … Continue reading Publication vs Glory
BOGIE, or Why I Wrote Patchworks My second novel addresses gun violence in America. It didn’t start out that way. Patchworks' protagonist, a millennial grad student interning for peanuts within a government bureaucracy, didn’t appear until several months into writing. And, angry as I felt to see America shredded over and over again by episodes of massive … Continue reading Cube Farm
Thoreau, Hold the Joe
Noble and wise, Henry David Thoreau also could be irascible, judgy, and temperamental. In Walden, we learn why: a conspicuous absence of coffee. Take his list of supplies: Rice..... $ 1.73½ Molasses..... 1.73 Cheapest form of the saccharine. Rye meal..... 1.04¾ Indian meal..... 0.99¾ Cheaper than rye. Pork..... 0.22 Flour..... 0.88 Costs more than Indian meal, both money … Continue reading Thoreau, Hold the Joe