Want a Creative Hot Streak?

Last week was an exciting one for artists interested in scientific studies of creativity. Researchers (Lu Liu, Nima Dehmamy, Jillian Chown, C. Lee Giles & Dashun Wang) published an article in Nature demonstrating that most artistic hot streaks are preceded by exploration as artists try out numerous forms and media. The researchers define exploration as a period of intense “experimentationContinue reading “Want a Creative Hot Streak?”

Story Structure Reflects Your Worldview

So last week I tried this wacky writing exercise I came up with. Wacky, because it’s time consuming. (If you’re feeling wacky, too, you can check it out on the Fiction Workshop syllabus under Week 4). Basically, I took a short story that wasn’t working. Well, okay, fine. It sucked. It really, really sucked. ButContinue reading “Story Structure Reflects Your Worldview”

Advanced Fiction Workshop Syllabus

It took me longer than planned after heat waves and migraines, but hey! It’s done! Here at last is the course syllabus for this semester in the Accessible MFA. Currently, I’m hovering around Week 4, but remember in this MFA (not accredited but open to all), each “week” can take as long as you want.Continue reading “Advanced Fiction Workshop Syllabus”

Fiction Seminar Textbooks: Part 2

Well, it took me long enough! But I did finally get around to finishing and reviewing my final three textbooks from last semester’s fiction seminar in the Accessible MFA. If you’re looking for books on writing craft and philosophy, check out the titles below to see if any of these sound good. (And by theContinue reading “Fiction Seminar Textbooks: Part 2”

What I Learned This Semester: In Praise of Slowness

I entered the first fiction seminar of my Accessible MFA convinced that I will never have a writing career. Five years ago, chronic illness had already destroyed one career. I was in my final year of my master’s program when I became sick. I lost jobs. I lost touch with mentors. I could no longerContinue reading “What I Learned This Semester: In Praise of Slowness”

Writing Residency 2021: 5 Things I Learned

That was one hell of a week! I learned a few things. Number one? Do not pack an entire week with only publishing, querying, and marketing workshops. Ever. If I loved business this much, I’d just go be an entrepreneur. Still, it was useful to dig deeper into the entrepreneurial aspects of a writing career.Continue reading “Writing Residency 2021: 5 Things I Learned”

The Writing Residency Without the Residency

Life is in chaos, medical bills keep rolling in, we’re moving within six months, and who knows what’s happening with this 100-degree heatwave hitting Seattle. But one thing I’m sure of? My annual homeschool MFA writing residency. Most low-residency MFA programs require at least two residencies for a cumulative total of 20 to 30 days.Continue reading “The Writing Residency Without the Residency”

Ableism and Classism Underlie the MFA Model

Every few years, a white man in the mainstream literary community publishes a curmudgeonly piece about how entitled, lazy, and whiny creative writing students can be. They often point to these qualities as the only things that hold back writers, aside from another likely possibility: a lack of talent. Recently, I came across just suchContinue reading “Ableism and Classism Underlie the MFA Model”

Three Literary Journals to Try If You’re New to the Neighborhood

Nineteen years ago, I served as literary editor for my college’s literary journal. It was a fun, demanding job that gave me a deep appreciation for the slush pile. For those new to this, a slush pile is a stack of writing that nobody asked you to send. But you sent it anyway. And backContinue reading “Three Literary Journals to Try If You’re New to the Neighborhood”

Fiction Seminar Textbooks: Part 1

It’s been a whirlwind of a semester. I had six textbooks, so today I’m going to share my thoughts on the first three. These are from the Art of series by Graywolf Press, edited by Charles Baxter roughly 14 years ago. Since an MFA student first recommended The Art of Subtext to me, I’ve beenContinue reading “Fiction Seminar Textbooks: Part 1”