Friday Favorites: Hitting the Third Rail

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I haven’t done a Friday Favorites post in a while, because I haven’t been reading that many books on craft. My view is that craft books are useful, in small doses. Sometimes they are good for inspiration, and sometimes they are good to help with a specific issue you are having in your work. It’s important not to get so heavily invested in reading about writing that you fail to actually do the writing. I’ve had a couple of books kicking around for a while, and at the urging of some friends who have read them I decided to pull …

Friday Favorites: TED Secrets for Writers

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Unleash the Master Within – Or, be passionate about what you write. With mastery of your material comes confidence that allows your passion to shine through. Nothing takes the place of having a real passion for the story you’re telling. And if you don’t have a passion for writing itself, for communicating your ideas through the written word, you will give up easily. Master the Art of Storytelling – Stories are compelling to the human brain. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, using stories to make your point allows audiences to respond to what you’re telling them. Stories are how …

Friday Favorites: No Plot? No Problem!

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From preparation, gaining allies, figuring out your physical space, creating incentives, getting food… and actually getting through the 1,667 words per day, and dealing with the mid-month slog and other challenges (illness, lack of support, sudden time crunches), this book takes you through the entire month of novel-writing drama. I highly recommend reading it before NaNoWriMo, so you can appropriately prepare. You can, of course, just show up on Day 1 and start writing, but knowing about and planning for the inevitable setbacks and challenges will help you keep to your goal. I like the just do it! approach, and …

Friday Favorites – Boston Book Festival

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This week heralded the controversial decision to award a Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan. Some applauded the idea, others found it strange or felt it was wrong to award it to a popular musician, no matter how influential as a songwriter. Part of the consternation that greeted the Nobel announcement stems from the fear that literary culture is already shrinking. There are so many great writers who do important, powerful work, in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, that standing up for Literature in the classical sense is seen as an important way of celebrating literature itself – as opposed …

Friday Favorites: The War of Art

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Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art is not just for writers. It’s a book for anyone who wants to overcome their Resistance to doing anything, whether it be a creative art form, exercising, starting a business, etc. As he says at the beginning of the book, “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”* I don’t know as I agree that the writing is the easy part – it’s …

Friday Favorites: Artist Date

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This past weekend, I took myself on an Artist Date. I went to Figment, a multi-media, interactive art event held at the Greenway in downtown Boston. There were all kinds of things to do – I added to a collective mosaic, abstract-painted in a group, contributed to a large chalkboard with the words, “Before I Die, I Want To…,” watched jugglers, listened to a HONK! Band (made up of various instruments and crazy costumes), watched kids making art, saw body-painted women posing for sketches, walked through the Silly Walks zone… it was a lot of fun, and reminded me that …

Friday Favorites from the MFA Residency

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One of the great things about being involved with an MFA program is the kinds of conversations you get to have about writing, and all the books and resources people mention that they’ve found useful or inspiring. So today, I’m going to share with you some of the bits and pieces that have come up over the last week or so. Bull – by David Elliott. A retelling of the myth of the Minotaur, in verse. With a very funky (and profane) Poseidon as narrator. He read from it and it was hilarious (of course – it’s by David!). Not …

Friday Favorite: Literary Agent Databases

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So how the heck do you find an agent anyway? It can be daunting to figure out, among all the hundreds (thousands?) of agents out there, who would be a good fit for your book. One way to do this is to look at books you’ve enjoyed, and see if the agent is listed in the acknowledgments in the back of the book. But for many, that might not be the best way to get to know who’s acquiring what types of manuscripts now. Similarly, print books go out of date so quickly, they are useful only in the broadest …