writing prose again for the first time in three years. My previous blog post
detailed why I hadn’t written, and why I had been unable to write for so long: the
catastrophic illness and death of my husband, Lee. Yes, I am finally writing
again, and I’m happy to be able to say that it feels good. But because it has been
so long, I’m trying to hold the writing that I’m doing lightly: of course, I
hope it amounts to something, becomes a publishable piece and thus, a product,
but instead of focusing on that I’m trying instead to appreciate and enjoy the process, and the simple fact that I am
once again able to spend a part of my day writing, as I’ve done for most of my
By Roy Hoffman, Spalding MFA Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Faculty
When you pack your bags for your next trip, whether a few hours from home or as far away, to an American traveler, as Buenos Aires, Rome, or Edinburgh, take along your travel writer’s sensibility. You’ll already have the tools in place—pen and paper, laptop and camera—so making a record of where you go, what you see, eat, and learn, is not a practical but perceptual challenge. Our senses become heightened by the excitement of travel, the allure of different landscapes, languages and foods. As writers we note it all in colorful detail in our journals and e-mails home. But how can we shape this material into articles or personal essays for a larger audience? Here are some tips—and questions—to keep in mind. Travel writing ranges from the service end—how to get there, where to find it, how to buy it—to lyrical musings about place. Travel writing also incorporates stories about interesting individuals in far-off locales. If you’ve got a publication in mind for your travel story, figure out what it’s about, who its audience is. Write for that reader alongside you, shepherding him or her along.
By Dianne Aprile, Spalding School of Writing Creative Nonfiction Faculty
“Don’t write with a pen. Ink tends to give the impression the words shouldn’t be changed.”
The poet Richard Hugo published those lines many years ago to underscore the necessity of flexibility and revision in the writing process. Presumably heeding his own advice, Hugo used a pencil to jot down his first-draft thoughts on the subject. But if ever there was good reason to trade lead for ink, this final version is it. Hugo’s words deserve the permanence of a waterproof, indelible ultra-bold Sharpie.
Why? Well, because his message is so important, there should be no risk of it being rubbed out or overlooked.
By Eleanor Morse, Spalding Low-Residency MFA Fiction Faculty
I’ve recently finished a book and a hush has fallen over my writing life, not just the stillness that comes from the end of a book, but something else. In a recent blog post, Robin Lippincott wrote eloquently about the silence that comes from personal grief. Although different, the silence I’ve been experiencing has a kinship with what Robin wrote about: a wordlessness connected with the sorrow of being a citizen of a country where lies and injustices have become commonplace, and where those who are vulnerable are ever more at risk.
By Sam Zalutsky, Spalding MFA Screenwriting Faculty
I used to read the New York Times cover to cover, every day. I’d start with the Sports pages (no lie!) and then move on to business, and then arts, and finally open the first section. Sometimes it was a challenge to take in all the events happening around the world, but I was raised by parents who saw the Times as the great American truth-teller, the arbiter of the news that mattered. And despite its many biases, it really is a great paper.
By Debra Kang Dean, Spalding Low-Residency MFA Poetry Faculty
Paul Gauguin – “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?”
When the Hawaiian Renaissance, a cultural revitalization movement, began in 1970 in my home state, I was a sophomore at a large public high school attended by students from the University district of Manoa Valley and two others between which I lived: the largely middle-class Asian district of Pauoa Valley and Papakolea, an area referred to as Hawaiian “homestead land.” A few months into the school year, I found myself in the company of an ethnically diverse group brought together by a common interest: track and field. Outside the schoolyard, Japanese investment and tourism were on the rise, and, a couple of years later, Ferdinand Marcos would declare martial law in the Philippines, which would bring an influx of Filipinos. I understood only in retrospect how this confluence of events had knocked me out of my comfort zone in the Islands. Continue reading “The Story outside the Story in Totem: America*”→
By Roy Hoffman, Spalding MFA Fiction & Creative Nonfiction Faculty
With art nearby when I write – from our Georgia O’Keefe kitchen calendar to the paintings, sculpture, and ceramics, many by friends, throughout our house – I find myself inspired, as a word person, by the color, shape, and texture of the visual. From the time as a college freshman I taped up a poster of Henri Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy” on my dorm wall, to trips to New York where, ritually, I visit the Metropolitan Museum’s Rembrandt room to gaze into portraits where time creases faces, I find, in art, places to lose myself, to dream, to learn, ever more clearly, to see. Continue reading “Writing with Art”→
By Jason Hill, Spalding MFA Coordinator of Student Services & Marketing
This past winter I led a pair of workshops at the Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning in Lexington, Kentucky. It’s a great place, full of people who come to learn and look for someone to help guide them. When I proposed the two workshops (one of which I co-led with my wife, Kelly) I did so thinking it would be good experience and could open the door for other workshops or similar opportunities. But as I prepared and then held the workshops, I realized something else: This too is something writers do. Continue reading “Being a Writer”→