Shop Talk

On Worldbuilding and the Question of Resistance

In fiction, you can feel good about resistance without actually resisting anything.

Jan 19, 2021
Don’t Submit. Pitch.

Writers, take note: A submission says, please pick me, I’ll be waiting. A pitch says, catch me or you’ll miss the ball.

Sep 17, 2018
The Tides of Success: A Two-Artist Marriage Confessional

You loved his talent first. You hope that he will not love you less, for all that you do not now achieve.

Sep 06, 2018
How Publishing My First Novel at Twenty-Five Almost Ruined Me for Life

I thought I was the exception to every rule about writing being a hard living. I got exactly what I deserved.

Mar 27, 2018
On Envy, the MFA, and Writing Under Capitalism

“No one had told me to prepare myself for this—for wanting what someone else had.”

Mar 19, 2018
How to Coauthor a Book and Stay Good Friends

“You should absolutely burn a penis candle before doing anything important.”

The Long Haul: What Creative People Can Learn from Diana Nyad, Tommy Caldwell, and Frigate Birds

Can writing change the shape of our organs? Do brains warp into book-making shape?

Jun 29, 2017
Deal or No Deal: Why Being a Literary Agent Doesn’t Make It Easier to Write a Book

To all the wonderful would-be authors out there: Do as I say, not as I do.

Jun 27, 2017
How a New York Times Bureau Chief Wrote His Memoir

Eat your meals standing up. Don’t sneak onto Mt. Kilimanjaro.

May 15, 2017
When I Think About Giving Up Writing

I was happy raising my kid, living my life without worrying about writing.

Mar 20, 2017
Voice Lessons: Six Meditations on Language and Authenticity

The works of June Jordan, Albert Camus, and Edward Said reveal the power of voice in literature.

Mar 01, 2017
How to Write a Screenplay in a Café

“Whether or not I find the café I want, the screenplay is waiting.”

Dec 07, 2016
Blank Books and Letting the Ink Dry

“What ideas burn so brightly that they should besmirch generous, bare pages?”

Out in the Middle of Somewhere: On Being an Urban Writer at an Artist Residency in Rural Wyoming

My book was set in an office cubicle in New York. How was I to benefit from being in this rugged mountain landscape?

Aug 12, 2016
Count It All What? On Titling My Novel

“The idea that a title could dissuade a reader was not something I had even considered.”

Jul 20, 2016
Speaking Into the World

“Poets of color, particularly black poets, are often pigeonholed.”

Jul 13, 2016
Finding the Words: on writing and amnesia

“I sit quietly. I tell myself, ‘You’ve done this before.’”

Jun 06, 2016
At Austin Airport

“I had been selected for a ‘random’ scan of my hands.”

Mar 24, 2016
The Escapism Business

It was an all-expenses-paid trip to a resort in Mexico, a travel writer’s dream assignment. Or not.

Feb 25, 2016
The Marvelous Bonfire

On translating Finnish literature into English.

Feb 04, 2016