The penultimate state in our alphabetical series on State Writing Resources is my home state of Wisconsin. (Go ahead, get your Cheesehead jokes out of the way now.) Wisconsin — the Badger State, America’s Dairyland — in 1848 became the 30th state. Ninety years later, my dad was born in a tiny map-dot of a couple of thousand people called Richland Center. Seventy or so years after that, his son moved to New York City, the most populous area in the country, and he lives in a house where the only other person on his floor hails from … Richland Center, Wisconsin. There’s your small-world anecdote for the day.
But we’re here to talk about writing! Some featured names in Wisconsin writing include: Ellen Raskin, author of The Westing Game, one of my favorite books as a child growing up in Raskin’s and my hometown of Milwaukee; Glenway Wescott, whose slim novel Pilgrim Hawk is an excellent read, and whose Apartment in Athens I think will be even better, if I ever get the chance to tackle it; Laura Ingalls Wilder, no introduction necessary; Thornton Wilder (Our Town); and Liberace! Born in West Allis, WI.
Presented in no particular order, here are 15 Wisconsin writing resources, from conferences to local critique groups to literary magazines. If you are in America’s Dairyland or are planning a move there, these are some organizations you might want to take a peek at. read more
You have a great idea for a story. You spend weeks, months, or years writing it, devoting countless hours and immeasurable energy to the project. Finally, you reach those magical words: The End. Now what?
You know you’re in need of some manuscript preparation, but you’re so exhausted that the prospect feels like cruel torture. The thought of waiting even one more day to share your story with the world is equally unappealing. You want it done and you want it done now. So you tell yourself that your first draft is good enough (you hate revising anyway), and you send your book to print. Or you Google “editor” and hire the first result, crossing your fingers that she’ll perfect the manuscript for you. Or you send out for a proof, thinking grammar is all that needs attention.
On the day you hold your finished work in your hands, you’re disappointed instead of elated. Your story has plot holes you hadn’t noticed, your main character is flat, and the text is riddled with typos. What happened to the high-quality piece of writing you envisioned? You think, This is what I bent over backwards for?!
It’s been quite a long time since we’ve hosted a Great Beginnings, a series in which we explore and discuss the first line, or first few lines, of a work of literature. And now that our State Writing Resources series has reached its penultimate post (sad face), it’s time to get ourselves into another groove.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Charles Brockden Brown, a rather creepy dude (obviously! See left) who is considered the United States’ first full-time (i.e., financially successful) novelist, a writer much admired by U.S. Romantics such as Hawthorne and Melville and now best known for his handful of gothic novels, Edgar Huntly, Arthur Mervyn, Ormond and Wieland. It’s the first of those that we’re going to look at today.
The opening paragraph of Edgar Huntly, a book you can and should read in full: read more
Next up in our State Writing Resources series is the Mountain State, good ol’ West Virginia, the 35th state admitted to the Union, ranked 38th in population and 41st in area. Trivia, yo! Did you know that West Virginia was the only state to separate from a Confederate state (Virginia, obvi) during the Civil War? This was after delegates from the region voted against Virginia’s secession from the Union. In a vote where apparently only 34% of them showed up at the polls, West Virginians were like, “Peace out, Virginia.” That’s a pretty wild and wonderful story. Fitting then that the state’s present motto–after retiring “Open for Business”(!) and “Almost Heaven” (thanks to John Denver)–is “Wild and Wonderful.”
Some major players in West Virginia writing, past and present, include: Pearl Buck, who was born in West Virginia before being moved to China, out of which came her famous novel The Good Earth; Walter Dean Myers, whose YA novel Fallen Angels I must’ve read two dozen times as a kid; Scott McClanahan, whose Crapalachia is book we at WBN thoroughly enjoyed; John Knowles (A Separate Peace); Booker T. Washington, whose family, after emancipation, moved from Virginia to West Virginia, where Washington worked in coal mines to save up some money; and the distant Pancake cousins, Ann and Breece D’J, both of whom are known for writing fiction evocative of rural West Virginia.
Presented in no particular order, here are 10 West Virginia writing resources, from conferences to local critique groups to literary magazines. If you are a Mountain Stater or are planning to become one, these are some organizations you might want to take a peek at. read more
Hello, my name is Justine, and I’m a starter.
I start far more writing projects than I finish.
I have new ideas every day, demanding ideas that demand to be started.
I love the feeling of starting. I love it so much that I’ll take starting over continuing or (gulp) finishing any day of the week.
Yup, I’m a starter, and I’m not alone. I recently received the following email from writer Melissa M.: read more
Today we’d like to introduce the newest member of WriteByNight’s staff of consultants and coaches, Andy Wolfendon. Andy is a prolific ghostwriter, playwright, stand-up comic and lyricist, and has years of experience teaching writing at the college level.
Below is a Q&A with Andy Wolfendon, followed by a brief bio.
Where are you from?
The Singularity, by way of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Where did you study?
Got my Master’s at Emerson College, where I learned that the people who had the most game weren’t necessarily the best writers.
How did you get your start as a writer?
Writing and storytelling have always been survival tools. I faked my way through college by writing killer essays, and saved my a** more than a few times by telling a good story. I got into professional writing by way of comedy. I was an actor and stand-up comic, but finally realized I liked writing the material better than I liked performing it. That led to several years of writing scripts for the computer/video game industry and spec screenplays, and then finally back to my first love: books. read more
Libraries are popular writing havens for many of us. In theory, at least, they’re quiet and they’re calm, and no matter where you sit down, whether it’s at an open table or squatting in some forgotten stacks, you’re surrounded by books and, more importantly for some of us, the smell of books.
But is a library a good writing environment if it’s also your workplace?
In our latest “Writers at Work at Work,” “Ivan Glonstein” tells us that it is–with a few caveats. Including guilt and shame.
This series sprang from a conversation I had with a friend who told me that he works on his novel when his boss isn’t buzzing around. I asked for some brave volunteers to share their experiences with us of writing at work; so far we’ve heard from Raymundo, Jake, and Dana. Today we’re talking to:
Do you want us to use a pseudonym for you?
This first question already stumped me. In a sense, I want to say fuck no, I don’t care. I don’t care. But, everything has changed in the last half a year. I’m the sole breadwinner for a family of three, my wife and my daughter. Before, I could say, “Writing is so important to me that I’m willing to risk my job.” But now I suppose I shouldn’t be [redacted]. I should be “Ivan Glonstein.” read more
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