By Leslie Daniels, Spalding School of Writing Creative Fiction Faculty
One of the things I love about writing well is its wildness. You’d think there would be rules or a path, a recipe even, to the deep heart of your writing, but there is not. You must find it anew for each piece.
By Katy Yocom, Spalding School of Writing Associate Director of Communications and Alumni Relations
This is the time of year when students and alums start sending me GIFs of impatient cats, with captions like “Me watching my email for news about Paris.”
I know you’re eager to make your plans. I swear we’re not holding out on you; we’re just putting the final touches on the residency. And in that spirit, even though final details are still in progress, here’s what I can tell you.
By Debra Kang Dean, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Faculty
For any circuit the electrical current is directly proportional to the voltage and is inversely proportional to the resistance.
As a consequence of my bewilderingly high scores in the electronics section of the battery of tests I had to take before enlisting in the Air Force, I was recruited into the field of ground radio repair. It turned out to be a poor match since I never really got beyond being able to read schematics; I console myself by believing that one need also have mechanical sense to do well, and my scores on that part of the test had been dismal.
By Elaine Orr, Spalding School of Writing Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Faculty
I recently had the good fortune of a one-week writing residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, not a long retreat, but long enough to crack open my novel-in-progress, roam around in it and warm it up. Anyone who has written a novel knows that if you leave it too long, it goes cold, and it’s frightening to go back in. It’s like entering a winter abode with no means of heat. And who knows if things have gotten worse while you were away. Maybe the furniture is shabbier than you remember, the cupboards barer, the wallpaper flapping off the walls. It really can be like entering a haunted house.
By Eleanor Morse, Spalding School of Writing Fiction Faculty
Ocean Vuong, a soft-spoken and brilliant Vietnamese-American poet and fiction writer and a 2019 recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, said, “Often we demand of the American novel to be cohesive, a monolithic statement of a generation, but having grown up post-911, cohesion was not part of my generation’s imagination, nor our language, nor our self-identity, and I felt if I were to write my version of an American novel, it would have to look more like fragmentation.
By Julie Brickman, Spalding School of Writing Fiction Faculty
Years ago, when I was writing my first novel, I got into a new relationship. For the first few weeks, it colonized my mind and I parsed every word, gesture and intuition for meaning. One night, deep in dreamland, I got a phone call. It was Kendra Quillan, my protagonist. “Where are you?” she said, and hung up.
By Fenton Johnson, Spalding MFA Creative Nonfiction and Fiction Faculty
“Nothing induces silence like experience,” wrote Flannery O’Connor, an observation that comes to mind more often as I grow older. On occasion I have considered that the best way to teach creative writing might be for the workshop to read together, first in silence and then aloud, a paragraph by a master, then sit with that paragraph in silence for the next two hours. These thoughts come particularly to mind now because, in teaching my most recent Spalding intensive, I neglected to conclude my workshop with the admonition with which I conclude all my workshops, i.e., forget everything I’ve said, open your heart, go out and look at the world, and write.
Have you ever turned the last page of a good book and wished you could sit down and have a meaningful conversation with the author? I had just finished reading an advance copy of Three Ways to Disappear by Katy Yocom and decided to act on that impulse.
Writers tend to like stories about the way that other writers write, the processes and habits and superstitions and the curious little quirks that define a writer’s methods. And bound up with this interest in writerly process, there is also a related obsession with something less glamorous, less romantic: speed.