One afternoon in March 2003, I received an unexpected phone call from writer Julianna Baggott. "I've got a crazy idea," she told me. "It's so crazy, I feel a little nervous even bringing it up."
Article Archive: The Practical Writer
Articles from Poet & Writers Magazine include material from the print edition plus exclusive online-only material.
Perhaps because many writers and their adherents are poorly paid and often go unrecognized, they cultivate a variety of myths—some about the creative process, others about the profession itself—to justify what they do, to cheer themselves up, to inhabit a mystique.
In April 2003, an agent sat down with me, pointed to my manuscript, and said the words I had been dreading: I think this should be a novel. I shuddered. I was no novelist. I was a minimalist, a votress of the goddess of gesture, a worshipper at the altar of the succinct. I was a short story writer.
From the beginning the founders of the Associated Writing Programs and other pioneers have argued that, through effective creative writing programs, students can attain lifelong skills of critical thinking, empathy for others, and an understanding of the creative process, the key to all innovation. The schools featured in this article—Knox College, Oberlin, and Sarah Lawrence—have been working to make undergraduate creative writing degrees a hallmark of their respective institutions for some time now.
Is it against the law for an American literary journal editor to publish a translation of a poem by a member of a terrorist organization? Is it illegal to translate it? Learn what writers need to know about the Patriot Act.
For some writers, community service comes naturally. But for those of us who are accustomed to guarding our precious writing time with our lives, the very thought of adding another activity—no matter how worthy—is daunting. We watch in awe as fellow writers teach, mentor, and travel to remote locations to give workshops to populations ranging from the incarcerated to the homeless to senior citizens. Why do they do it? How do they find the time and emotional energy? Is it possible to serve others without neglecting one's own work?
For writers seeking a structured learning environment without geographical or scheduling restrictions, the Internet can be a viable alternative to the bricks-and-mortar classroom.
As more and more literary journals develop online counterparts to enhance, complement, and extend the presence of their print editions, editors—despite their love of the physical object—are finding new was to take advantage of the cost-effective and virtually boundless medium.
Should an author simply count herself lucky to have landed a book deal, or should she fight for what she wants during the various stages of publishing it—the editing process, cover design, and promotion? Before deciding, it's important to understand what obstacles might stand in the way before encountering them and what to expect from all the effort.
A new publishing model is emerging. Companies like Context Books, MacAdam/Cage, and McSweeney's Books are breaking with what has become standard publishing practice, and authors, agents, and the media are taking notice.