Thanks to all of you who participated in our survey, we’ve got brand-spankin’-new open hours at the writing center. That’s right, our awesome East Austin writing center just got awesomer.
Starting the week of September 17th, here’s the new deal (not to be confused with The New Deal, although we do retroactively support Roosevelt. Just sayin’):
In addition to these regular hours, WriteByNight will be open by appointment for free writing consultations. But you already knew that.
Here’s to community, creativity, and logging your writing time among friends. Learn more about WriteByNight’s writing center here, and then tell everyone you know.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the final installment of the WBN online book club’s discussion of Pym. It’s been a wild ride. We laughed, we cried, we witnessed not one but two civilizations crumble. Not bad in a month’s time.
If you’re just now joining us, don’t forget to check out our discussions of Volume I, Volume II, and Volume III. Note: Our Volume III post is feeling seriously neglected, so if the spirit moves you, do share your thoughts there before you do so here. read more
Meta, Meta and More Meta
“Turns out though that my thorough and exhaustive scholarship into the slave narratives of the African Diaspora in no way prepared me to actually become a fucking slave” (160), says our scholarly narrator Chris.
Aside from being a great standout line—I’m a fan of the cadence—it calls our attention to two important elements at play throughout the book: 1.) the meta-narrative, the way that Chris’s account of his Antarctic experiences mimics the slave narratives with which he is so familiar, and 2.) the limitations of scholarship, and by extension literature, to fully capture actual lived experience.
What statement, if any, do you think Johnson is making about the limitations of scholarship and/or literature? read more
Here we are, friends: Volume II of Mat Johnson’s Pym. I got some valuable feedback from a few of you fine folks that last week’s post was a little aggressive discussion-wise, so I’m going to do my best this time around to do less analysis and more inquiry.
Hang onto your hats, readers. Shit’s about to get real.
While immersed in Volume I, I had been wondering about Johnson’s preoccupation with disaster. On his way to meet Captain Jaynes in Manhattan, Chris confesses, “I didn’t like going near Wall Street. More specifically, I didn’t like going near high-risk bombing targets, it just wasn’t my thing” (71), and a few pages later, “I’d reserved a hotel room in Queens for the night; it was cheaper and safer than Manhattan” (75). In Volume II, we begin to understand these earlier moments as set-up for the Armageddon that finally arrives: read more
For the inaugural month of WBN’s online book club, we’re reading Mat Johnson’s Pym. If you’re a book club member, you already know that. If you’re not yet a book club member and would like to be, it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon. Simply use the comments section below to express interest, and either dive into Pym now or join us for next month’s pick (TBD).
Here’s a quick reminder of January’s reading schedule:
Jan. 1-7: Pym Volume I
Jan. 8-14: Pym Volume II
Jan. 15-21: Pym Volume III
Jan. 22-28: Pym Volume IV
A discussion of each volume penned by yours truly will appear right here on WBN’s blog within days of that volume’s completion. Please be sure to subscribe to WBN’s blog via email (in the sidebar to the right) or RSS so that you’re alerted to posts when they publish.
As riveting as these logistics are, what do you say we get down to business? Volume I, here we come. read more
Hello, New Year’s resolutions. Goodbye, productivity. Why? Because resolutions never work. They just don’t.
You know what does work? Other stuff that we’re going to tell you all about in a resolution-busting seminar hosted by the When I Grow Up Coach, Michelle Ward.
If you’re currently experiencing deja vu, rest assured, you’re not losing your mind. We blogged about this offering a few weeks back. We’re doing it again, not to mess with you—although we love to mess with you—but to let you know that there’s still time to get in on the interactive fun.
Running Over Resolution Roadblocks: How to Set, Start, & Complete Your Writing Projects in 2012 is now available as a recording, along with a 50-plus-page ebook, and the opportunity to ask questions via online form. Your (brilliant) questions will be answered by Michelle and me via MP3 next week. Act fast, ladies and gents. The Q&A forum closes at 5 p.m. Central on Monday, December 12th.
According to our knowledgeable friend the Internet, only 8% of people are always successful in sticking to their New Year’s resolutions. We don’t all make them, but I do. Counted among my (wildly unsuccessful) New Year’s resolutions are: quit smoking (excuse me while I take a puff); be nicer to my mother (when she stops nagging, I’ll stop yelling); and, of course, write more. Some years I write more than others, but this has very little to do with what promises I did or did not make to myself at the stroke of midnight between December 31st and January 1st. Rather, the intensity of my literary output has to do with whether or not I put out … literarily, that is. This has nothing to do with New Year’s magic and everything to do with planning. Strategy, ladies and gentleman, is key.
I don’t read enough. It shames me to admit it, but it’s true. After a full workday which consists largely of reading manuscripts, the thought of more reading at 11 p.m. is as unappealing as … well … writing. But that’s a shameful blog post for another time.
It’s not that I never read. It’s that I don’t read as often as I’d like. How not often? Well, now you’re just being nosy. Let’s just say that, in the cage fight of my life, Netflix kicks reading’s ass 9 times out of 10.
The two natural results of my end-of-the-day laziness are: 1.) the books I want to read don’t get read, and 2.) I feel like a hypocritical fool.
“If you want to succeed at writing, you must read!” I scold WriteByNighters on a daily basis. Yet here I sit beside a pile of books that’s been here so long it has become furniture. This simply will not do. read more
If you’ve come here today looking for a new installment of First Drafts, then you’re S.O.L., as our Jenna is still recuperating from her travails. So instead, we’re going way, way back in the archives to November 12th, 2009, to reprint a post from Justine called “Workshop Tips.” Because the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The beginning stages of a writing project, path or career can be frustrating. The desire to improve is strong, but the process is slow. Writing is like any other artform—music, fine art, etc.—in that practice and determination are the only means to the end: becoming truly great at what you do. read more
A recent interview with David in which he mentions the secret to literary output through self-loathing got me thinking about my own self-loathing, namely, the various missteps I’ve made in my writing career. There have been 8,556 faux pas to date—yes, I counted—and there will no doubt be many more. Here, I list 5 which represent the worst and the best of my experience. The worst because I cringe when I think about each and every one of them; the best because, in each case, I learned a valuable lesson. I’m going to shed my pride and share them with you now so you can a.) learn these lessons the easy way, i.e. by reading about them instead of living them, and b.) laugh with me. Or at me. Okay, at me.
Without further ado and in chronological order, my top 5 most embarrassing (un)professional moments, and how you can avoid them. read more
The publishing industry is changing … quickly. From the exploding popularity of e-readers to the mass closings of bookstores, it can be daunting to try and keep up. If you’re ready to take the future of your book into your own hands but don’t know where to start with self-publishing, we are here to help. WriteByNight is teaming up with TLC Graphics & Narrow Gate Books to offer a three-part series on all things self-publishing. From the starting steps all the way to design and marketing, these seminars will give you the know-how to make your book stand out.
Self-Publishing For Profit will teach you to lay the foundation needed to produce and publish a book that will drive readers to your product or service. read more
If writing, talking about writing, and meeting other writers are three things that appeal to you (and, let’s be honest, if you’re reading this blog, they do), then I would like to cordially invite you to the Austin Writers Loft Party.
Come out and join us for a night of eating, drinking, and schmoozing with writers of all genres and experience levels, from published writers and experienced editors to those just getting their start. This is a great opportunity to bring people from all corners of Austin’s creative and professional writing community together under one roof … for the first time. Can you believe no one’s ever done this before? read more
Today, we take a break from our regularly scheduled programming (tune in tomorrow for Jenna Cooper’s “First Drafts“) to talk to you about one of our longtime clients, Marcia Drut-Davis. We’ve been working with Marcia since 2009, giving her guidance and direction as she committed her memoir to paper. Now her book, Confessions of a Childless Woman, is complete and she could use your support as she moves forward. (Read more about Marcia on her website.)
In 1974, Marcia was featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes in a segment called “Three’s a Crowd” in which she shared her decision not to have children. She says the hours of interview footage were cut down to three minutes of pure propaganda; read more
In previous Writings From a Past Life we’ve printed childhood works and then David has gone off on silly and pointless riffs which have proven funny only to himself. (His words.) This week is different.
While doing research for an upcoming article, I got the chance to root around in the David Foster Wallace papers at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center. I unearthed lots of neat (neat? Come on) things (things? Come on), but one piece in particular caught my eye–a childhood poem written by Wallace, presumably for a grade-school class.
The folks at the Ransom Center were kind enough to let us print the piece here on our blog:
“My mother works so hard so hard and for bread. She needs some lard. She bakes the bread. And makes the bed. And when she’s threw she feels she’s dayd.”
Pretty powerful stuff. On the whole, I prefer to let you, our devoted readers, draw your own conclusions–and share them below, of course–but I will take this opportunity to point out a few tidbits which I hope you’ll find as interesting as I do. read more
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center which houses one of the most expansive and impressive rare book and manuscript collections in the world. Not only did I visit, I was given a personal tour of the facilities by Cline Curator of Literature Molly Schwartzburg. Molly, aside from being a lovely individual, was patient and generous enough with her time to tolerate my company.
(When push comes to shove, I’m not all that bad, but armed with a recording device, I’m on another plane entirely. Ladies and gentlemen, meet my alter ego: Journalist Justine, an amped up, zero-filter, news-hungry version of myself. J.J.’s done a lot for me over the years, but being grateful to her for my modest professional success and liking her are different issues entirely.)
One of the perks of journalism is that I get to see a lot of cool stuff that most people don’t. In this case, I got to see the inner workings of the Harry Ransom Center: the back rooms, the dark underbelly—give us a break, J.J., there’s no dark underbelly—the gears that make this giant literary machine turn. Most importantly, I enjoyed a private viewing of the newest addition to the Ransom’s permanent collection: the books and papers of the late David Foster Wallace. read more