Showing posts from January, 2022

Notes From a Contest Reader

A Note That’s an Introduction and an Apology: this turned out longer than I’d anticipated. I hope it’s still helpful. Let there be light! I’ve written recently about three lenses through which one could revise a piece of writing. Today, I’m thinking about them again as writing contest season ramps up. A full blog post about those three lenses is here. Here’s a brief recap. The subject of your piece is what your draft is about. Your ambition for the piece is the final form you want it to take. The execution is how close to your ambition you come and how well you convey your subject. A Note about Contests: Most contests (and literary journals) rely on volunteer and/or anonymous readers—sometimes one, sometimes a team—for the first round of reading. (An administrator might have already tossed out entries or submissions that don’t meet the stated criteria—for example, word count or formatting.) These readers select the top entries--sometimes the top 6, 10, 12, maybe even 20 or m

Spiritual Dungarees

My mother, and hers, enjoyed Mrs. Miniver --the book, rather than the movie (which was also fine). A new furnace, heading to installation in the basement,  has a red-carpet moment. Meanwhile, the old furnace went out the back way. Yes, I feel sorry for the old furnace.   And as a result, Mrs. Miniver became one of my book-companions in early high school.  Mrs. Miniver is an upper-middle-class woman in her thirties in the thirties, who lives in London with her three children and her architect husband. They also own a summer house in Kent. She's an observer of life, rather like myself (and my mother and grandmother). I know I've written before about "eternity framed in domesticity," and how a parent has a different relationship with each child--not more or less loving, just different.  Note that the full text of the book, along with publication notes and commentary, is available here.  It's also a pleasant book to look for if you need a reason to browse used booksto

Lenses for Revising

Clouds of yesteryear. Y indeed. About a month ago, I had a brief conversation on Twitter about revision. Of all the things I’ve learned about writing, accepting the need to revise has improved my writing the most. But it was hard to actually DO. For one thing, my background in writing and editing professionally meant that my drafts were mechanically just fine. (The sentences made sense. Paragraphs flowed.) So far, so good. But what I was writing felt unsatisfying (and wasn't getting published). So beyond editing, I didn't know what to do.  Learning to revise took practice. As much as I enjoy revising, in the past year or so, I haven’t done much revision. Because (gestures at everything) reasons, and because I’ve been writing first drafts. While daydreaming (succumbing to the allure of thinking about the thing I'm not working on NOW) about how I’d approach revising a finished draft of a short (or maybe long?) piece, I found myself articulating changes through three lense

Things I’m Taking Into 2022

Lines of Light on Snow Sublime? Ridiculous? You decide. My plans for 2022 include # keeping frozen diced onions on hand at all times. I’ve enjoyed this hack, which I picked up from an Instagram and YouTube influencer, all year. There’s been much less crying and far less metric tonnage of onions spoiling because I've forgotten I have them. # listing a few fun things to do each month. I did this in December—small holiday/celebratory things I wanted to do—and it was nice to have that list to refer to. Doing difficult errands or tasks was happier when I could look forward to relaxing at home in a room lit by coloured lights and look at our evergreen swag (the getting out of which was two things). # following my own interests for “fun” reading and better focusing my efforts for “professional” reading. I have more to say aboutreading and year-end lists, here . # limiting and focusing my time on social media, both to spend time doing fun things (see above) and to reduce my exposure