500 Years of da Vinci’s Notebooks

Thursday marked the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. In the chaos of the week it was lost to me, which is too bad because I meant to write about it then. It first came to my attention in October 2017 as I read Walter Isaacson’s magnificent biography of da Vinci. I remember thinking […]

Plotting, Pantsing, and Game of Thrones

When it comes to writing I am a pantser. That is, I don’t plan my stories out in advance, I don’t outline. I start with an idea and some vague sense of how I think things will end, and work toward that, discovering things along the way. It is the only method that works for […]

Not Prolific

Some truths are harder to admit than others. When I started to write with an eye toward publication, I wanted to be a prolific writer. This should be no surprise to people who know my history. I have been, to a large degree, influenced by unusually prolific writers. Isaac Asimov is perhaps the best example, […]

The Diary and the Lens

I. The Diary I was listening to an old playlist over the weekend, and on it were a few songs that reminded me of my college days. Those days are a quarter century in the past, but the songs drew forth memories like a rod draws lightning. Some of those memories were surprisingly specific. I […]

Writing with Vim

I am back to writing with Vim again. I have been flip-flopping among writing tools, and finally settled back on Vim. For those who are not familiar with Vim, it is a text editor that has been around forever. It is not for the feint of heart. It can be somewhat difficult to learn, especially […]

Rules of Storytelling

At a recent meeting of my writers group, there was a lot of talk of “rules” for writing during the critiques. Among the advice offered was “it’s better to use short sentences in thrillers” and “try using at least three senses in description.” These kinds of “rules” bother me. They are more about the brushstrokes […]

A Writer’s Daydreams, 2019 Edition

Back when I started writing and submitting stories as a junior in college way back in 1993, I used to daydream of what it would be like to have a story accepted by a magazine. I’d be walking to class and imagining getting a letter back from an editor telling me that they liked my […]

Writers Debates

Writers can be a contentious lot. A thread I saw on Twitter yesterday reminded me of the kinds of things that polarize writers. While there are many topics over which writers can disagree, two jumped out at me as being particularly overdone these days: Traditional vs. self-publishing. Don’t work for free vs. write for “publicity” […]

Breakthrough at the Writers Group

It is easy to write about writing when the writing is going well. Words are flowing and there is often the desire to share the joy I experience as a writer when that is happening. When the writing is not going well, it’s not as easy to write about. When the writing is not going […]

Organizing My Writing

If computerization has done anything over the last 40 years, it’s made it harder to find what I am looking for. This is anecdotal, of course, but prior to computerization, people seemed to have a much easier time organizing what they wrote. I am always impressed when reading essays or letters by E. B. White, […]

Letters vs. Email

The proper definition of a man is an animal that writes letters. Lewis Carroll If I were making a New Year’s Resolution, I’d resolve to write more letters. In several recent books I’ve read (E. B. White On Dogs, Bing Crosby, Swinging On A Star, Will & Ariel Durant: A Dual Autobiography) letter-writing is the main form of communication. I am envious of all of that letter-writing. I […]

An Evolution of First Lines

Recently, I’ve been struggling with fiction writing. While the desire to tell stories has returned, I’ve felt as if the ability to do so has fled. I know that this isn’t necessarily the case, but if there is one thing I have learned with this recent bout of–let’s call it what it is–writer’s block, it’s […]

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