Trouble Finding Your Voice? Try Memoir

I used to have a lot of questions, like “When should I add in detail, and how much detail is too much?” And “How can I know when to use free indirect discourse?” My writing teachers didn’t have good answers to these questions and neither did the writing textbooks I came across. But then, atContinue reading “Trouble Finding Your Voice? Try Memoir”

The Healing Grace of Friendship

My father, like most fathers of daughters, had no sense of fairness. On camping trips, he assigned my mother and me to dish duty while he and my brother built fires and checked fuel and lit lanterns. I asked to learn, and he always refused. Maybe he genuinely thought these were skills I’d never need.Continue reading “The Healing Grace of Friendship”

The Friends Who Can’t Be Bothered to Engage with the World

We all have boundaries. But some of us are ashamed of those boundaries or afraid to assert them because we don’t know how people will react. It’s a reasonable fear. I asserted boundaries with a landlord and ended up kicked out. It happens. But some of us just can’t work ourselves up to saying, “I’mContinue reading “The Friends Who Can’t Be Bothered to Engage with the World”

Guilt Is Just Laziness

I should be ashamed of myself. When I do something I shouldn’t–skip a workout, criticize someone in anger, or stay up so late I’m a bitch the next day–I feel guilty. And that’s usually where it ends. I check off the box that says I’m a good person and move on. It’s a problem. GuiltContinue reading “Guilt Is Just Laziness”

Perfectionism, The God of Destruction

I never understood before. As a writer, I’ve always been comfortable with drafting and revising and getting shit down on the page, trusting that with a lot of hard work and a fairy sprinkle of luck, it may become worthwhile. So when students and fellow writers came to me and said, “But I have toContinue reading “Perfectionism, The God of Destruction”

M.C.’s Top Picks for Caffeine-Free Kicks in Seattle

Caffeine is glorious. I used to gobble roasted coffee beans like candy and bask in the aroma of supermarket coffee aisles. But then last winter, I learned that caffeine was hurting me. It nudged me towards vertigo and migraines, leaving me so nauseous and unstable that I couldn’t work for two months. So, I had to cut back. WhichContinue reading “M.C.’s Top Picks for Caffeine-Free Kicks in Seattle”

To the Man on the Bus Beside Me

It isn’t you. But it’s not me, either. You saw the way I stiffened when you sat down, didn’t you? You saw me flinch. And now you think it’s because I think I’m too good for you. Or that I think I deserve a seat to myself. Or that I’ve got a chip on myContinue reading “To the Man on the Bus Beside Me”

Is It Wisdom, or Is It Perspective?

“They just don’t get it.” Two of my co-workers were commiserating about their teenagers again. “Right,” the other one replied. “They just don’t get how it makes other people feel. And they’re so hurtful. I tell them it’s just not nice to talk that way to grown-ups.” I decided to put my foot in it.Continue reading “Is It Wisdom, or Is It Perspective?”

The Abuser in All of Us

Last night at Elliott Bay Book Company, author Val Brelinski read from her debut novel, The Girl Who Slept with God, and posed an impossible question: Is it possible to love another human being–parents, siblings, children, spouses–and not in some way damage the other person? Or is that part of the nature of intimate relationships?Continue reading “The Abuser in All of Us”

The Power of Patience

So you’ve got a scene that just isn’t working. You tinker and hammer and outline and cluster, but it’s still a clusterfuck. I say you can either go ahead and write something you know isn’t any good, or you can let it simmer on the back burner for a few days. The trick with simmeringContinue reading “The Power of Patience”