Answering the Why of Writing

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. – Ecclesiastes 12:12 (NIV) From third grade through my freshman year in college, I played the violin. I got so I could play well enough to sit first chair in our high school orchestra and chamber orchestra. You could say I […]

The Illusion of Measurability

Early last year I wrote about measuring outcomes. I pondered what I needed to measure to determine “success” in the context of writing, and I concluded that the only thing I could truly measure was how many commitments I kept. In retrospect, that conclusion was a bit unsatisfying. I find myself now circling back to […]

Looking at a Sonnet from the Inside

Constraint begets creativity, and the particular demands of the sonnet form are conducive to the kind of poetry that I am drawn to write, with a focus on vivid images or states of mind. A finished poem, if successful, feels complete; it’s hard to imagine it being other than it is – and so I’ve […]

DO Cross the Streams

Dr. Egon Spengler: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you. Dr. Peter Venkman: What? Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams. Dr. Peter Venkman: Why? Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad. Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”? Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine […]

The Art of Surprise

Lots of beginning writers pen stories with surprise endings. Surprise! your quirky narrator was actually a bowling pin . . . Surprise! they were on Mars the whole time! . . . Surprise! This is such a ubiquitous phenomenon that books on the craft perennially warn against using such trickery. Jerome Stern gives precisely this […]