Updating my blog has been a thing nagging at me in the back of my mind all year. I’ve never been one to journal but have changed the way I document events, free writing memories in storyscapes, scenes, diagrams. Instead of making notes like “never forget…” here and there or asking Peter, “Hey what happened when….,” I’ve been writing to recall the emotions tied to memories. I’ve stalled though lately. My preoccupation isn’t with the past long gone but the near past. My mother died recently, and I find that I grasp at every moment in the days before her sudden death, afraid she will slip away in my mind as easily as she did on Labor Day.
Many thanks to Anna B. Sutton for inviting me to join a literary blog tour about the writing process.
Anna B. Sutton is a writer & co-founder of the Porch Writers’ Collective. Born & raised in Nashville, TN, she received her BFA in Art Education & Painting from the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN. In 2013, she received her MFA in Creative Writing & Poetry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
While in Nashville, Anna worked at the Tennessee Young Writers Workshop as a counselor & assistant director. She also earned her teacher’s license & taught high school art in Cookeville, TN. In her time at UNCW, Anna served as the president of the Creative Writing Graduate Student Association, as an outreach teacher with Writers in Action, & as a counselor & instructor at the UNCW Young Writers Workshop. Anna also spent three years on staff at Lookout Books, a literary imprint housed in UNCW’s Publishing Laboratory. There, she worked with authors such as Edith Pearlman, Steve Almond, & John Rybicki. She has served as a reader for the literary journals Ecotone, Gigantic Sequins, Dialogist, Chautauqua, & Atlantis. In 2011, Anna became a web editor at One Pause Poetry, an online audio archive & resource center. She received a James Merrill fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center in 2013. She is now the Sales & Marketing Assistant at John F. Blair Publisher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Her MFA thesis, Playing House on the Bones, has been shortlisted in the Crab Orchard Poetry Series’ 2013 First Book & 2014 Open Reading contests & is currently looking for a home. Anna also is a participant in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project. This is a fundraiser project to support writers.
Four Questions About My Writing Process.
I was looking for a primer on the elements of fiction to help Henry with his English homework, when I ran across Making Shapely Fiction by the late Jerome Stern of Florida State University’s creative writing program. This is one of those read-worn books I forget about but end up running across about twice a year, pull off the shelf, and curl up with. It’s always a pleasure to re-discover it. Continue reading
I don’t write new work every day, but I’m constantly at work on my writing, no matter what type of writing it is–and it’s mostly revision. An essential feature of my approach to writing is mental work and engagement. What I want to touch on today has to do with the routine or habit of writing, and in particular, writing fiction. Continue reading
Since my good friend, Dave, linked me up to Retronaut, a carefully curated and indexed image archive, I have put in a good amount of time on the site from sheer fascination. I find myself browsing through the images when I need some downtime from whatever it is I’m working on or need some inspiration.
One of the games we play at the dinner table is What’s The Collective Noun For (throw out a noun). It’s not that snazzy a title, but we parents-on-the premises made it up on the fly to interest our kid in the more entertaining and provocative aspects of grammar. The game was a hit –for all of us. We had no idea such diversity existed in the English language to describe the collective identity of a group of things. Over the years, adding, but not using, collective nouns, to my somewhat private vocabulary has become a hobby. What I mean by private is just that: a vocabulary I cherish and keep to myself. While I have an ongoing love affair with the English language, for the most part, the conventions we utilize for day-to-day communication do not provide much room for whimsical or archaic words. The eccentric does not lend itself to clarity; it’s fair trade in the business of words.
Various friends have read and commented on versions of a short story that began in September last and grew into something entirely different over the six months of its evolution. No one yet has had the nerve to tell me that it’s pap and ought never to see the light of day. They’re leaving that happy task up to the journals. However, one question each reader asked with a sense of astonishment is, Did you really do this?
“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – wholeheartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”
Arthur Quiller-Couch, On the Art of Writing, 1916
My short story is in a wonderful tangle at the moment because I began to revise before I completed it. At the time this made all kinds of sense, primarily because the story required some tinkering on point of view. My experiment on expanding the point of view to two characters’ observations, thoughts, impressions and emotions seemed like a good idea at first but as the story progressed, one character’s perspective began to dominate. The draft needed some clarity in this respect. It was an easy fix that would have taken little time to correct. Then, I should have been on my merry way.