Category: Writing

Progress by Retreat: Three Kinds of Writing Success

This month, I’m looking forward to spending five days in the Santa Cruz mountains at the Northern California Writers Retreat, an annual gathering of authors. The workshops will be led by an agent, a freelance editor, and a visiting author. There’s yoga and food and solo cabins. Basically it’s a dream come true for any self-employed … Read More »

Holy objects

My grandmother, Millie Kanaan, wasn’t big on giving gifts. She kept a wad of cash in a bathrobe pocket, and crinkled fives and tens made their way into our hands for birthdays, departures, holidays. She bought us sweets, or sent us home with fushettes–fried Syrian bread dough and homemade chocolate icing. Five years ago, she … Read More »

Maybe Merry

As the year ends, it’s easy to focus on the ways in which this holiday season could be better. The health of grandmothers is too present: mine and her sadness in the face of her first major holiday in a nursing home; my wife’s grandmother on hospice; the neighbor’s who passed away suddenly two days ago, which I … Read More »

Love Letter to the Weird Things

When you have a job in books, you read all the time. And it’s true: I spend literally every single day of the week reading manuscripts on one or two computer screens, hands hovering over the keyboard, usually poised on the seat of my chair in something like a crouch or a perch; a chiropractor’s nightmare. People ask if … Read More »

Shoplifters Will Be Shot

In the heat of the Ferguson protests, it was hard to look at Darren Wilson’s corn-fed, supposedly bruised face and not suspect you’re looking into the eyes of white privilege. Or flat-out racism. If anything, the months since the verdict–verdicts–have showcased the ease with which an individual can become a synecdoche, an effigy, or a martyr. I … Read More »

A reminder to self and others

Orwell died this day in 1950. Here’s Knopf’s form rejection of a “stupid and pointless fable” called Animal Farm: Likewise, in a spirit of defiant optimism, I’m calling this year Project 2015. It’s going to be a year of positive thinking, hard work, laughing at old rejections, and readiness for the future. Read all about it … Read More »