Drawer Time

Even as I share this writing rule, I am breaking it. Which is, of course, the artist’s prerogative. Dr. Lenz strode before the class, his flashy flamingo dotted tie and Chuck’s winking at us mere undergrads as if to include us in the joke. The joke of the academician who finds everything witty and ironic, […]

Dropping the Eff Bomb

Back to however many days of writing in reading. I lost a few days there. I know my world view is narrow. I realize that there are more than two different kinds of kids. But it seemed to me growing up that there were only the two very specific kinds: Kids who swore and kids […]

Choking on Mana

When We Were on Fire, by my dear friend Addie Zierman, is available today and I could not be more excited for her, for you, for your chance to read her finely wrought words. Addie is not just a stellar storyteller. She is honest about her faith foibles and quick to dispel my maternal compulsion […]

Cliche: Where is thy Sting?

A few years ago, in a sudden compulsion to read something new and different, I chose the new book from a highly acclaimed and bestselling American author. I had seen her name everywhere, and so I figured, turns out wrongly, that America knew about which she spoke. While I’ve been told to give the author […]

Breaking Rules

Photo: Jenny Downing Time: 7:30 am Where I am: Ensconced in my soft blue chair awaiting the coffee water to reach a boil. Where I’m supposed to be: oh, about mile 5 of a fourteen mile run Last night, I checked, nay, I double checked my alarm clock. I looked carefully at the time and […]

To Be or Not To Be

“Jeeves shimmered in with the glass, and stuck it competently on the table.” “Jeeves filtered in with the tea. ” “He moves from point to point with as little uproar as a jellyfish.” “He trickled into my room one morning with a good old cup of tea and intimated that there was something doing.” My […]

Fraught Club

“I didn’t want to see you.” “They told me.” “I was afraid that I’d still love you.” “I hoped that you would.” “My fear, your wish—both granted.” Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card They—those writer types who stand at podiums and pontificate and those freshman creative writing professors—they have a refrain, a mantra, a phrase that […]

Who is Your Character

Mostly I chose this photo because it makes me laugh, but it does work with characters. Doesn’t it? My 31 30 days of reading to write is an indulgence. And a discipline. In a class I took many moons ago, I remember reading a book on characters. I don’t remember the book or the author […]

Reliable Narrators and the Role of History

In 1921, violence erupted in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when armed African American men—many of them returning veterans—tried to protect a young black man from lynching. By the time the Tulsa race riots were over, at least 10 whites and 26 African Americans were dead. In one African American neighborhood, white rioters burned 35 city blocks to […]

Literary Homes

I don’t have a book quote today for my 31 days of writing on reading so I can write. What I do have is this: homes in books I’ve read. I always read fiction with an eye in the homes, such as they are. I like to imagine I know, that I can see, of […]