Honing Your Craft

  • In her essay “Connie May Is Going to Win the Lottery This Week” in Sonny Brewer’s new collection, Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Connie May Fowler, while talking about the awful jobs she held before being able to write full time, throws in, nearly offhandedly, “Writing is a rough vocation made all the more difficult by changing delivery systems, archaic business models, and imploding economies. You write your heart out and some clown you don’t know takes a sucker punch at you in the media, and manners and tradition dictate that you remain silent.”

    To the best of my knowledge, I have never reviewed a book by Fowler, so I am not, literally, the clown she is referring to, but I have reviewed several hundred other books, so I am surely that “clown” to some writers. Read More

  • Of all the elements of craft, the one I seem to know least about is plot. However, that’s what I feel I need to know most about. I’ve been struggling with a sprawling novel for over a decade. I heard Madison Smart Bell read at Bread Loaf, then devoured his section on plot in his creative writing text. It was so well-written that I read about the narrative arc as if it were fiction, but I couldn’t put his advice into practice. The same with Janet Burroway. Advice just didn’t translate. Read More