Road to Publication: Killing Your Babies Part Two

A memoirist always runs the risk of offending the living when capturing them in prose. But he also runs the risk of offending them by omission. In Part One of this series I discussed how I have reduced my manuscript of Committed: A Memoir of the Artist's Road over the course of the last year, in anticipation …

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A Passionate Defense of Journalists

Have you ever, in your line of work, had someone threaten to throw you off a balcony? That happened to a New York City television reporter the other night, and the one doing the threatening was a U.S. congressman. The episode itself--and the congressman's first attempt at an "apology"--demonstrates a phenomenal misunderstanding of the critical role …

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Rebecca Skloot on Producing Creative Nonfiction

Readers are embracing creative nonfiction like never before, even if they may not know that what they are reading is defined as such. That is forgivable, as writers, editors and instructors in the creative nonfiction space are still struggling with defining creative nonfiction, or CNF. Perhaps more accurately, they are struggling to define its boundaries …

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AWP Nugget: Immersion Writing

AWP, CHICAGO: Egads. I'm here to learn, but I wasn't expecting to find myself facing fundamental questions about my work-in-progress. I do live a life open to possibility, however, and you can't always control how possibility will manifest. Allow me to back up a bit. I attended a Friday morning AWP panel titled "The Writer …

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Is Journaling a Cure for Creative Blocks?

Do you journal? Many creatives do, particularly creative writers. Several best-selling books on breaking through writer's block and unlocking your muse advise daily writings in a personal journal. The process, we're told, clears mental cobwebs, sparks ideas, and empowers the writer to overcome the fear of the blank page. Talk to any evangelist for The …

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Showing AND Telling

"Show, don't tell." Is there a fiction writer out there who isn't sick of hearing that command? Consider this: when telling your own story, you must show and tell. This was the lesson shared recently by two masters of the personal essay--Keith Woods and Lonnae O'Neal Parker--at the "Write Your Heart Out" conference sponsored by …

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The Short-Order Writer

Can a grill cook become a master chef? Can a short-order writer aspire to more as well? I spent a summer in college working as a short-order cook, which taught me how to operate in auto-pilot. There's no time for reflection when you face a row of clipped order tickets from cranky waitresses knowing their …

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Forcing Myself to Share Oprah-Style

It was an axiom during my years as a working journalist: I must keep myself out of the story. Yet here I am, in my third decade as a professional writer, diving into the narrative nonfiction space. It's a new world for me, one in which agents, editors, and writing instructors all tell me I …

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