"Transitional Drafts: Close Your Eyes and Jump"

In his essay “After the Workshop: Transitional Drafts,” Robert Boswell presents a revision process that sounds downright tedious. Each new draft, he advises, should be written with only one or two problems in mind. The drafts, then, are transitional because they’re not complete drafts.

Boswell’s proposal involves a lot of hard work, but it is far from tedious. If writing and “finishing” a story is about crossing a river, then Boswell’s method provides a much better strategy than attempting to ford that river all in one go. Each transitional draft is like a stepping stone. You swim out to one. Rest. Then you let the river take you a little further downstream. Maybe you notice a turtle, pass some otters, and see a doe and her progeny sipping from the water. There’s another rock. Good, now where? The more time you spend on and in that water, the more of the river you’ll see. In other words, the more that you work at a story while also giving yourself up to it, the more of the story you’ll be able to receive.

"Installation Art and the Novel"

image

Martha Baillie talks here about reconnecting with her book in a physical way, of reclaiming it from the marketplace by taking its pages and doing weird things with them.

My manuscript has no marketplace, but I still like this idea. Of course I like the thought of books as cigarettes, burning down as you take a drag. But I also like the idea of books as cancer causing, because people have been predicting the death of the printed book for long enough, it’s time books inflicted some damage of their own. And I like that it reminds me of my uncle teaching us how they rolled joints in prison (page from the Bible and a Band-Aid). 

But seriously, what would you do with your pages, if you were going to do something other than sweat over them? Would you make a pillow out of them and rest your head on it at night? What if you made wallpaper out of your book, and covered the walls with your words?

On second thought that’s a terrible, crazy-making idea, but you catch my drift. 

—N.

As a group, Millennials are as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have used a library website. Among those ages 16-29, 50% reported having used a library or bookmobile in the course of the past year in a September 2013 survey. Some 47% of those 30 and older had done so. Some 36% of younger Americans used a library website in that time frame, compared with 28% of those 30 and older. Despite their relatively high use of libraries, younger Americans are among the least likely to say that libraries are important.
Major new Pew study looks at millennials’ reading habits. This particular finding is striking — all the more reason to partake in the Knight Foundation’s 2014 NewsChallenge, which seeks breakthrough ideas to “leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities.” Because, lest we forget, “when a library is open, no matter its size or shape, democracy is open, too.” (via explore-blog)

Me, Myself, and Muse

Even the most inspired and creative writers struggle with writer’s block!

In this excerpt from New York Public Radio’s “Radiolab,” psychologist and author Oliver Sacks and Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, discuss their experiences with writer’s block and their own strategies for overcoming it.

Liz Gilbert’s advice is particularly useful for the highly stressed, over-caffeinated students among us—sometimes it’s just better to sweet-talk your muse than fight it!

http://www.radiolab.org/story/117294-me-myself-and-muse/

J.

If you can’t write, research.
This summer I stuffed my car full of peanut butter, kidnapped my friend Tess from Philadelphia, and drove to northwest Kansas in order to live in a Super8 for 5 days and eat terrible salads at the local restaurants. 
Along the way I choked on a brisket and onion ring sandwich, participated in the western tradition of rodeo spectating, stared into a freezer full of rattlesnakes, learned the art of “mutton busting,” and got a bad case of trucker arm.
In Oberlin, KS (pop. 1,200 more or less), I met up with local reporter Ladd Wendelin. He kindly gave me and Tess the grand tour of abandoned towns and homesteads, as well as interviewing me for a feature in the paper.
This is that feature. Ladd was too kind and insisted on calling me an “author” even though I protested that I was really just a student. I guess “New York student explores county” doesn’t have the same ring of pretentiousness to it.
I didn’t get too much writing done, but I like to think I made up for it with experience. Sitting at my desk plodding away at my thesis can’t really compare to watching a grown man try to stay atop a seriously pissed off bull for 8 seconds.

If you can’t write, research.

This summer I stuffed my car full of peanut butter, kidnapped my friend Tess from Philadelphia, and drove to northwest Kansas in order to live in a Super8 for 5 days and eat terrible salads at the local restaurants.

Along the way I choked on a brisket and onion ring sandwich, participated in the western tradition of rodeo spectating, stared into a freezer full of rattlesnakes, learned the art of “mutton busting,” and got a bad case of trucker arm.

In Oberlin, KS (pop. 1,200 more or less), I met up with local reporter Ladd Wendelin. He kindly gave me and Tess the grand tour of abandoned towns and homesteads, as well as interviewing me for a feature in the paper.

This is that feature. Ladd was too kind and insisted on calling me an “author” even though I protested that I was really just a student. I guess “New York student explores county” doesn’t have the same ring of pretentiousness to it.

I didn’t get too much writing done, but I like to think I made up for it with experience. Sitting at my desk plodding away at my thesis can’t really compare to watching a grown man try to stay atop a seriously pissed off bull for 8 seconds.

The Moth Radio Hour at Avram Performing Arts Center during the Southampton Arts Summer Writer’s Conference. 
The Crew (starting at the top row and going left to right): Alissa LeClair, Adrienne Unger, Chris Byrd, Joe Birone, Carla Caglioti, Lou Ann Walker, Emily Gilbert, Julie Sheehan, Julianne Jones, and Ali Simpson.

The Moth Radio Hour at Avram Performing Arts Center during the Southampton Arts Summer Writer’s Conference.

The Crew (starting at the top row and going left to right): Alissa LeClair, Adrienne Unger, Chris Byrd, Joe Birone, Carla Caglioti, Lou Ann Walker, Emily Gilbert, Julie Sheehan, Julianne Jones, and Ali Simpson.

Them Dames: Jules Feiffer’s ‘Kill My Mother’

Bravo to long-time member of the SB Southampton faculty for another rave review of his first graphic novel. Here’s an excerpt: 

“Jules Feiffer’s Kill My Mother is a tribute to film noir and detective fiction….But Kill My Mother isn’t mere pastiche. The story is a thoughtful meditation on female identity and whether the not-so-simple art of murder can ever be defended as a moral necessity. It is a story about stories, the myths we have to create in order to keep putting one foot in front of the other….I know what I think: Kill My Mother is terrific.”

—Laura Lippman, New York Times Book Review (front page)

.

Professor Feiffer’s graduate seminar in the graphic novel will be offered at Stony Brook Southampton, Spring, 2015