In the nonfiction publishing world, proposals are supposed to be the acorns, watered by a generous advance, from which mighty oaks will grow.
Here I am again enjoying my five-month writer’s colony, tenants covering the mortgage and the cat back home, 5000 miles away from all the other mundane cares. One of the great paradoxes of our troubled times is that it’s cheaper for me to live in London than in the San Francisco Bay Area. This stripped-down life allows me to focus hard on my writing and enjoy the pleasures of a great city in my time off. My mental engine is madly racing. It’s exciting and exhausting at the same time.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about thrillers. About why recently I’ve been reading them compulsively at all hours of the day and night. Maybe the subject for a new book? I’m thinking about that. In the meantime I devour them at a great rate.
I am an unabashed Language Freak. Word Freak. Sentence Freak. Grammar and Punctuation Freak. I am deeply in love with what William Golding called “that massive instrument” the English language. For me putting words down on paper is like playing a finely tuned piano. No wrong notes, please! My instrument is too precious to misuse.
Moving back to London requires minimal adjustment, it’s as easy (as a writer once said about revision, compared to first draft composing) as sliding into a bath of warm oatmeal. No culture shock save for the first instant of wondering why dogs and babies are driving cars; all you have to do is exercise a little preliminary caution crossing the street and you’re done. Or maybe some mild culture shock, over here in the Land of Other People’s Problems, to learn exactly what the tabloid media judges important. “Horror on No. 77!” shrieks the top headline in the Evening Standard, the free newspaper everyone reads on the Tube going home after work.
Goddard MFAW faculty Victoria Nelson: The whole thing about risks is that you don’t know whether the risk is a good one or a bad one until after you take the plunge. That’s why it’s a risk.
GoddardMFAW faculty member Victoria Nelson on Oscar Wilde: Unbidden, a voice rose inside me: Oscar, get over it… How honest are we writers when we deliver our version of a real-life story in our memoirs and autobiographical fiction? Do we tell the hard truth about ourselves as well as the other guy? Or do we, every now and then, use our art to justify ourselves and settle scores–we poor victims with better words?
Goddard MFA Faculty member Victoria Nelson talks about literary life tests: the ones you face out there in the world after you graduate. “Pay attention to the outside cues…”
In our February residency I’m going to ask my students of memoir to imagine their lives as if they had made all the right choices and gotten everything they’d fiercely wanted and failed to get. In this moment, a few
About two thousand years ago the Roman poet Horace was writing a long critical paper in verse that he titled the Ars Poetica. One of the questions he asked in the Ars Poetica was: What’s the best place to start
“BETTER THAN GONE GIRL” proclaimed the headline on the Huffington Post story about the new novel by my longtime friend, writer C. E. “Buzz” Poverman, and I had to agree. I’d read and blurbed Love by Drowning in galleys and was blown away by
Welcome graduates and families and friends, welcome students, welcome everybody to the Goddard MFA in Creative Writing graduation ceremony here at Port Townsend. And congratulations, graduates, for successfully completing a rigorous and life-changing two years of study and writing. You