Decoys

This week, we offer a third essay by Brenda Miller, in which she skillfully uses an chance meeting to draw a metaphor that allows her to more deeply reflect upon herself as a writer. Again, the weaving of the outer world with the inner world yields a rich essay and a transformative experience. The other … Continue reading

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On Thermostats

Last week, we posted Brenda Miller’s essay about how making metaphor both removes us from the moment we are in and sets us more deeply into meditation, helping us know ourselves and our inner worlds. In “On Thermostats,” she once again weaves the outer world of a writing retreat with her inner world as a … Continue reading

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The Case Against Metaphor: An Apologia

“Writing it all down,” is the phrase that ends Brenda Miller’s essay. That’s what we strive to do as writers. It is an ambitious striving, a striving that forces us to question our experiences and ourselves–can we possibly write it all down? Can we possibly get it down right? What would it feel like if … Continue reading

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The Limits of Skepticism

describes a time of not writing but enjoying the garden of a rented London apartment.  Her husband thinks she is avoiding her writing, but actually she is cultivating it. Sometimes writing is allowing the senses in without direction. In the garden, specific blossoms stir specific memories of her mother. Weimer sits and plants and remembers. … Continue reading

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It’s a Short Trip to Guilderland

Most of the time, I am one of the most annoyingly politically correct people I know. I am so PC that even the word “tolerance” strikes me as a tad intolerant. But there is one minority group I can’t stand, and I make no apologies for it: I cannot abide Guilders. Don’t bother checking your … Continue reading

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Alan Should Have Rented a Car

This essay is reprinted here from Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed by Mimi Schwartz by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 2002 by Mimi Schwartz. Available wherever books are sold or from the University of Nebraska Press, 800.526.2617 and on the web at nebraskapress.unl.edu. No further use may be made of these materials … Continue reading

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Fatherhats

After reading Jack’s instruction last week about narrating a day in your life to find material, you will be interested in looking into this story to find the quantity of details that come from such close observation, from the way one of the characters tugs at his beard and the other covers his ears and … Continue reading

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Since that First Night of Lit Halls

As you read this short story by magical realism enthusiast Tamara Sellman, pay attention to the ways in which the omniscient third person narrator reports the main character’s thoughts and ideas.  Techniques of magical realism allow readers to understand and accept the mother’s way of understanding what is happening. With this acceptance comes an ability … Continue reading

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Excerpts from My Sisters Wedding by Hannah Goodman

My Sister’s Wedding by Hannah Goodman (iUniverse, 2004) is a young adult novel that addresses alcoholism among family members and high school students from the point of view of a younger sibling who realizes her family is denying her older sister’s alcohol abuse and she is doing the same thing in a relationship with a … Continue reading

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The Flowering of Rabbit Hash

Writing It Real is happy to post an article this week by editor and creative fiction writer Jack Heffron. “The Flowering of Rabbit Hash” originally appeared this fall in Cincinnati Magazine.  Jack lives in Cincinnati where he works with Emmis Books.  As a fiction and creative fiction writer, Jack was hooked on an article idea … Continue reading

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Servings Per Container

After creating an exercise from which her fiction writing students wrote stories, Meg did the exercise herself.  She says, “In my story, a woman is suddenly afraid to leave a grocery store. Why? As I began the story, I didn’t know. I had this scrap of paper that said ‘Fear of exiting a supermarket.’ So … 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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Two Essays by Judith Kitchen

Yellow by Judith Kitchen (Reprinted by permission of the author from Distance and Direction, Coffee House Press, 2001, this essay first appeared in the Great River Review.) Lately the rush hour traffic begins before you have to put your headlights on. The season’s turned. I’m thinking back to summer solstice, thirty-five years ago, in Denmark. … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Writing and Publishing Personal Essays by Sheila Bender

This week I am sharing an excerpt from my new book Writing and Publishing Personal Essays, just out from Silver Threads in San Diego. The excerpt demonstrates the power of extended metaphor for writing the essay. **** Telling It How It Never Was to Find Out How It Is One of the exercises you can … Continue reading

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Villanelles by Writing It Real Subscribers

It seemed to me that if we copied Thomas’ technique of speaking in paired commands, we might write well.  Although I didn’t expect readers to necessarily write tight villanelles as a result of the exercise (I actually suggested repeating the lines throughout an essay), two Writing It Real subscribers sent me the villanelles they’d created … Continue reading

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Jiggs

Excerpted by permission of the author from Helen’s Garden: What we learned about life and love in a small country school, by Helen Mitchell, Niche Press, 2003. One of many stories in Helen’s Garden, “Jiggs” reminds us that we are all learners and sharing the process of one’s learning fosters friendship. Jiggs by Helen Mitchell … Continue reading

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The Lonely Voyage of Betty Mouat, Part II

In the latter half of Chapter III of Barbara Sjoholm’s The Pirate Queen:  In Search of Grace O’Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea, the author finds a woman who tells her the truth about women’s fishing history in Norway. “The Lonely Voyage of Betty Mouat” (c0ntinued) Excerpted by permission of the author from … Continue reading

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The Lonely Voyage of Betty Mouat

The Lonely Voyage of Betty Mouat We are pleased to present Chapter VIII of Barbara Sjoholm’s new book in two parts.  In this chapter, the author tracks down information on a woman who at age 59 was the sole survivor of a boating accident off the Shetland Islands in the winter of 1886.  Looking for … Continue reading

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Prose and Poetry from Northwest Poet, Naturalist and Nonfiction Writer Tim McNulty

In the few days he had between meeting his deadlines and leaving for a month at a remote fire lookout in the North Cascades National Park, naturalist, author and poet Tim McNulty took the time to answer some questions that I had posed to him about his career. In addition, he also graciously gave me … Continue reading

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Nancy Pearl’s Introduction to Book Lust

Copyright ©2003 by Nancy Pearl. Reprinted from Book Lust by Nancy Pearl with permission of Sasquatch Books. I love to read. And while I might not absolutely agree with the Anglo-American man of letters Logan Pearsall Smith, who said, “People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading,” I come awfully close to … Continue reading

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