The Most Promising Fictional Characters are Obsessed

“Our most promising fictional characters are obsessed,” says Meg Files, Writing It Real correspondent and author of Write From Life: Turning Your Personal Experiences into Compelling Stories. “They’re looking desperately for love or passion or parents or fame. They’re searching for answers to questions they can barely ask. Their obsessions offer writers a way to … Continue reading

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What is Poetry?

When I walked into an independent bookstore recently and saw Apprentice of the Flower Poet Z. on a table of new fiction paperbacks, I picked it up because of its title and then read the first of the back cover blurbs: “A splendid satire of literary life…Annabelle is the perfect naïf, the babe in the … Continue reading

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An Idea to Launch Essays

Three days ago, the weather grew suddenly cold where I live in Port Townsend, WA, and for the last two mornings there has been light snow and frost on our roofs and on the ground.  This is not typical weather for Western Washington, so when I arose and saw sudden snow falling fast and sticking … Continue reading

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Niche Dating Essay Yields Results

Last Valentine’s Day, I read an essay in The Seattle Weekly by Marilyn Meyer, a friend of mine who had raised a family in Seattle the same years I had and who, having survived remarriage and divorce a time more than I, was single again.  Dating was getting harder as she got older, and at … Continue reading

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Keeping a Writer’s Journal

I am currently teaching an online course entitled Journal Like the Pros for Writers.com. Each week, participants use prompts and examples I send to them to comb their memories and observations and put words on the page that surprise them with wit, charm, and poignancy. The entries the participants send affirm the idea that when … Continue reading

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Prompts Inspired By In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal, edited by Kitchen & Jones

Janice Eidus, author and Writing It Real correspondent, currently teaches creative nonfiction for the University of New Orleans and uses writing prompts with her students based on the essay anthology In Brief, a book I discussed in my December 16, 2004 article. This week, she shares those prompts with us, and I offer a demonstration … Continue reading

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An Interview with Humorist Judy Gruen

I have been enjoying humor writer Judy Gruen’s essays since she published her first collection of them, Carpool Tunnel Syndrome: Motherhood as Shuttle Diplomacy, and began an Internet newsletter to deliver her humorous column, Off My Noodle, to a wide audience. She has since written a second book entitled, Till We Eat Again: Confessions of … Continue reading

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Revenge of the Chihuahua

These essays first appeared in “Off My Noodle“. Revenge of the Chihuahua by Judy Gruen I have always had a secret hankering to take bold and dramatic action to further the cause of liberty. Sadly, I have had few opportunities to foist my valuable opinions on the public. Heck, I haven’t even served on jury … Continue reading

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