Sunday, December 6, 2015

"A writer is..."

I love when writers talk about what writers are.  Here are a few descriptions I've
come across recently...

A writer is a world trapped in a person.  - Victor Hugo

A writer loves the dark, loves it, but is always fumbling around in the light.
- Joy Williams

By Kevin Lucbert

Friday, September 4, 2015

on writing - a few quotes on short stories

When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in
love with the world around you.  - George Saunders

Great short stories and great jokes have a lot in common.  Both depend on what
communication-theorists sometimes called "exformation," which is a certain
quantity of vital information removed from but evoked by a communication in such
a way as to cause a kind of explosion of associative connections within the recipient. 
- David Foster Wallace

The great thing about a short story is that it doesn't have to trawl through someone's
whole life; it can come in glancingly from the side.  - Emma Donoghue

Thursday, August 13, 2015

illustration - kate pugsley

Mermaids, old ladies, lovers, swimmers, and cast aways, all of them blushing...
Currently loving these illustrations by Kate Pugsley.  She claims inspiration from
travel, whether it's a far trip or simply walking through her home city of Chicago.
She roams, looking for flashes of shapes, color combinations, plants, structures,
faces.  These little fragments fuel her creativity.  We should all take note, try to
remain as open to the world as she is...

As a matter of fact, anything that you want to use too quickly is suspect.  You
need time... That's the way it works.  You collect all these things without
knowing really what, if anything, you're going to do with them - old rags and
scraps.  - E.L. Doctorow

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

a dreamer's wisdom - jack london

I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow,
than a sleepy and permanent planet. 

- Jack London

Thursday, May 7, 2015

photo stories - places as storytelling heavyweights

The sense of place is as essential to good and honest writing as a logical mind;
surely they are somewhere related.  It is by knowing where you stand that you
grow able to judge where you are.  Place absorbs our earliest notice and
attention, it bestows on us our original awareness; and our critical powers
spring up from the study of it and the growth of experience inside it.  It
perseveres in bringing us back to earth when we fly too high. It never really
stops informing us, for it is forever astir, alive, changing, reflecting, like the
mind of man itself.  One place comprehended can make us understand other 
places better.  Sense of place gives equilibrium; extended, it is sense of direction
too.  Carried off we might be in spirit, and should be, when we are reading or
writing something good.

- Eudora Welty

I like this idea that a full comprehension of one place - say, the place in which we
grew up - can help us to understand other places better.  If a writer has let one
place into herself, future places - real or imagined - states, towns, buildings, even
fascinating rooms - might better get in too.  All the better for conveying these
places to others.

By Vanessa Morrow

By Jake Messenger

By Rachel Chew

Monday, April 27, 2015

on writing - the rarer wisdoms

Bring all your intelligence to bear on your beginning.
- Elizabeth Bowen

One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it,
all, right away, every time.  Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the
book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.  The impulse to save
something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now.  Something
more will arise for later, something better.  These things fill from behind, from
beneath, like well water.  Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have
learned is not only shameful, it is destructive.  Anything you do not give freely and
abundantly becomes lost to you.  You open your safe and find ashes.
- Annie Dillard

By Jen Corace

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

photo stories and a note on writing intimacy

In a written story, intimacy can be communicated through a variety of things, in a variety
of places, via a variety of senses, but in utilizing these, it's most important for the sake of
the reader for something unique to be communicated, something past cliche, something
impossible to grasp if the scene were portrayed on film.  This is the power of words, after
all, to tell a story - a truth - better than most other mediums can.

See these examples:

He moved his fingers down her whole spine, one by one by one, and during the time it took
to do that, his brain remained absolutely quiet.  It is these empty spaces you have to watch
out for, as they flood up with feeling before you even realize what's happened; before you
find yourself, at the base of her spine, different.
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender

Unthinkingly I straightened, so that she would think better of me.  Such was her presence.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin

The skin of her hand looked transparent in the light, on the edge of his desk, a young girl's
hand with long, thin fingers, relaxed for a moment, defenseless.
- Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

He wants only her stalking beauty, her theater of expressions.  He wants the minute and
secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, then foreignness intimate like
two pages of a closed book.  He has been disassembled by her.  And if she has brought
him to this, what has he brought her to?
- The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

So, these photos.  What could words add to the storytelling present in these photos?  How
could words take these images of intimacy from slightly distant to up-close, vivid,
unforgettable?  What might be said beyond describing the light, the assumed sensations
of touch?  What details might be added to take a scene from typical to truly intimate,
almost disarmingly so for the reader?

By Hana Haley