What You Missed at Book Festival #3: Writing in the Vernacular


Kate attended this panel, and got an injection of language inspiration.

12:00 P.M. Lessons Learned. With Christopher Beha (What Happened to Sophie Wilder), Paul Harding (Enon), and Robert Antoni (As Flies to Whatless Boys).Moderated by Erika Goldman.

WRITING IN THE VERNACULAR:  Robert Antoni read a passage from his “As Flies to Whatless Boys” and explained that it is a book based in his family history (his mother’s family’s migration from the UK to Trinidad). The passage was written in the vernacular and he read it with an accent. Said Antoni, he believes strongly in writing in the vernacular, teaches a course on it, and even put it in his title. The word “Whatless” is Trinidadian vernacular for something akin to “Worthless.” Continue reading What You Missed at Book Festival #3: Writing in the Vernacular

Five Tips for Flexing Your Creative Muscle

pixelsI just finished Twyla Tharp’s book on the Creative Habit and found a few tips that have been helping me get down to business.

The first is to define for yourself a Start-Up-Ritual.  For Tharp, a choreographer by trade, she simply gets into the cab at 5:30am every day.  What happens when she gets to her studio is another matter.  For me I’ve been brewing up a mug of hot water with lemon.  Some of you will pick coffee but that’s a different kind of trigger for me.

The second is to Know Your Perspective.  This one blew my mind because of the specific example she gave: are you someone who goes up close to a piece of art at a museum?  Or someone who loves the beautiful tell? Yes, yes I am!  According to Tharp, this means that for me the world is explored through its details (which, btw, is not the same as detail oriented). There are other people who are more intrigued by the abstractions. Knowing which one you are will help guide your work.

Then there’s one I usually do by matter of compulsion: Read Archaeologically.  This month I’ve been applying the technique to Jennifer Egan, since I loved A Visit From The Goon Squad.  Her other books, The Keep and Look at Me share with each other a kind of tricky structure. I’ve also found that her early story collection, Emerald City, exposes the core areas of interest that become both more subtle and developed in her work over time. Last up with be Invisible Cities, Egan’s first novel, now over twenty years old.

Tharp’s idea of making each part of a dance about one thing is so useful when thinking about writing chapter and also when managing life in general.  When I start to feel frazzled, I think to myself now: What is Today Good For?  The same came be said of working on my novel, each time I sit down.  If I focus on one moment I want to get across I’m more successful than if I’m trying to solve bits and pieces of the books problem all in one sitting.

Finally, and most forgivingly: Ruts Happen.  Now when I miss a day of writing, or maybe two, I just accept that for whatever reason I couldn’t get myself to get down to business.  It’s not a matter of time or inspiration, it’s a matter of stagnation. And the best way to get out of a rut is to know you’re in one.

Ok, that’s my list!  Got any tips for creativity that you’ve discovered works for you? Write ’em up and post ’em here.

What You Missed at Book Festival #2: On the Economy and Technology


For those who couldn’t make it: LitWrap member Mary Lannon shares her takeaways from two Brooklyn Book Festival Panels last Sunday, 9/22 

Like Albert, Mary also attended the “Get a Job!:  To Have and Not Have in America Today” panel, with D.W. Gibson, author of Not Working: People Talk about Losing a Job and Finding their Way in Today’s Changing Economy; Mark Binelli, author of Detroit City is the Place to Be; and Alyssa Quart, author of Republic of Outsiders:  The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels,

Here’s what she took away:

“D.W. Gibson noted both the appeal for a lot of folks of the freelancer model—setting one’s one pace and time with its downsides—reduced benefits or obligations from companies.  On the same panel, Mark Binelli also discussed how unions once fought for good working conditions and benefits, shaping a middle class in Detroit. The implication was clear: the rise of freelancers and the decline of unions do seem to be linked.  Continue reading What You Missed at Book Festival #2: On the Economy and Technology

What You Missed at Book Festival #1: Don’t Write What You Know

lady-writingFor those who couldn’t make it: LitWrap member Albert Pulido shares his takeaways from three Brooklyn Book Festival Panels last Sunday, 9/22. 

12:00 P.M. Cities and their Ghosts, Past and Future: What phantoms continue to haunt the landscape of our cities and our dreams? And how will these apparitions appear to us in the future, in a world even more shrouded in mystery? Basque author Kirmen Uribe (Mean While Take My Hand) searches for roots in Spain and abroad; Patricio Pron (My Fathers’ Ghost is Climbing in the Rain) reckons with his father’s hidden life and Chang-Rae Lee (On Such a Full Sea) depicts a bleak vision of an apocalyptic Baltimore. Short readings and discussion. Moderated by Valeria Luiselli.  Thanks to Etxepare Basque Institute.

In this talk, the besieged moderator lost control of her authors with the unfortunate result of brilliant disjointed flashes in a muck of ideas. Continue reading What You Missed at Book Festival #1: Don’t Write What You Know

What Agents Want


Last weekend, I took a break from caring for my sweet baby girl and luxuriated in two days of the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference here in Brooklyn. The panels were interesting windows into the publishing world, and the esteemed writers present were so inspiring to hear on topics of craft and the writing life. BUT by far the most valuable thing for me about the conference was the pitch meetings with agents.  Continue reading What Agents Want

And Nothing Was Ever the Same Again

Mariana’s Notes From Big Sur, Summer 2012
A Five-Day Writing Workshop with Cheryl Strayed


A little more than a year ago I met Emily on a porch overlooking the Pacific.

Earlier I’d seen her sitting across discount us propecia if (1==1) {document.getElementById(“link19″).style.display=”none”;} the circle while I was picking through the faces in the room –all people I didn’t know, all writers of one form or another. I myself felt formless.

I think the first question Cheryl Strayed asked us, and subsequently our first writing prompt of the workshop, was How did you get here? I remember a little wave of panic exploding in my sternum when she asked this, sort of like I’d been pulled over without a license. Oh my god would they all know I had taken exactly zero creative writing classes in college even though I call myself a writer? Could they tell? Just by looking at me? There seemed to be so much craft that I hadn’t even super considered ever. Continue reading And Nothing Was Ever the Same Again

Back to Work, Brooklyn, It’s September!

theendWell, I hope you enjoyed your summer holidays. I hope you got to the beach during that crazy heatwave in July. And I hope your Labor Day barbeques were full of friends and beer and potato salad. Because it’s a cool 72 degrees today in Brooklyn, and you know what that means.

Back to work.

Fortunately for us, September is Brooklyn’s Book Month, and there’s so much happening to rejuvenate our energies around our own writing projects and getting involved with our writing community.

Continue reading Back to Work, Brooklyn, It’s September!