Chasing Your Dream

My last post talked about longings that we can’t quite explain and thus often disregard as irrational and unimportant. This post is about an excellent tool to help us recover those crucial, disregarded desires: a 30-day guided journal called Chasing Your Dream. It so happens that one of the dreams that runs in my family is the dream…

Turns Out, Fun Is Essential to Writing

Whether you’re an aspiring or accomplished writer, you’ve likely had moments (or years at a time) when you’ve worried that you just didn’t have what it takes. I certainly have. I’m a very methodical and analytic person, and for a long time, I thought that these personality traits might prevent me from ever producing a compelling piece of…

The Baltimore Review

The Summer 2014 issue of The Baltimore Review is now available online. On its site, you can read not only one of my recent flash nonfiction pieces, “Cop Cars,” but also some excellent poetry and fiction from writers around the country. My favorite pieces from this issue include: Vincent Poturica’s short story “Habte,” about an Eritrean immigrant at a child’s…

You Ain’t Smart Unless You Sound Smart

“[B]eing trailer park trash doesn’t preclude intelligence.” If only we lived in a world where this was not news. If only we lived in a world where this was not something a person could prove only by discarding the way of speaking they grew up with and adopting “standard” English. But we don’t live in that world. And that’s what…

The Importance of Readers

There’s a phase of the writing process to which I’m particularly resistant. It’s not the dreaming phase, where even the worst ideas look golden. It’s not the sitting-down-to-a-blank-page phase, where I hesitate to ruin those golden ideas by turning them into words. It’s not even the arduous process of writing an entire first draft, then a second, then a third. When things look like crap, with no trace of inspiration anywhere, I…

A Story for a Very Cold Day

It’s 10°F this morning, and there’s ice on the inside of the windows. First thing I did? Go out and check on the chickens. Who were out in their yard apparently as happy as ever. I took them a big pot of hot water since their regular water dispenser was frozen solid. And I threw them…

Do Negative Emotions Sharpen Perception?

Lots of people carry in their heads the image of the tortured artist: the writer/painter/musician whose brilliant artistic achievements spring from a soil rich with personal failures, miseries, addictions, and/or mental illnesses. Writing guru Julia Cameron persuasively argues that creativity does not require depression. Or agony. That well-adjusted artists are, actually, quite successful and productive–maybe even more so than the…

Mondays

Is it just me, or do most off days seem to be Mondays? It’s strange, because my Sundays seem so inspirational. I spend time with my family and read for pleasure. Usually that reading leads to one or two “aha!” moments, in which I jot down the solution to a problem that’s been plaguing me for the past…

A Matrix Poem

Lately, I’ve been playing around with creating a poem that reads two ways. All poems, of course, can be understood in multiple ways, but I wanted one with words that could actually be read in two different orders–and make just as much sense in each. Early on, I came up with the idea of arranging the…

A Gossiper of the Imaginary

“When you’re a novelist, you’re a gossiper of the imaginary.” -Jane Smiley, winner of the Pulitzer Prize It’s been awhile since I’ve written any fiction. Sometimes I think I’m too analytical to do a good job of it. I am, after all, a philosopher by training, and philosophy requires thinking very systematically, and favoring rigor…