On Not Releasing The Sea of the Missing (yet)December 5, 2011I’m not sure why I want to keep this one to myself. The Wisdom of Athena: On Standing in the CornerJune 10, 2011Suddenly she’s Omar from The Wire; she’s been arrested enough times to not take it personal. 30 days of music: 2011April 16, 2011 A Short Mockingjay ReviewApril 13, 2011Collins creates a compelling argument in three books, and long before she puts her message directly on the page, we have plenty of evidence to believe that “something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences.” Editing FatigueMarch 31, 2011 Personal ArmageddonsMarch 16, 2011A few streets over, there is a skull-covered truck that advertises the end of the world on May 21, 2011. I’ve been reconsidering my derision. The Poisonwood BibleMarch 14, 2011This story was rewarding, but exhausting. In many ways, it was like spending time with a friend who cannot stop talking, but you listen because they’re intelligent and interesting. Fabricating Stories, and a Writer’s ValueMarch 3, 2011I’ve never considered writing workshops or conferences — because in their session descriptions I hear echoes of the sure-fire formulas and motivation rituals that advertisers sell to aspiring authors with the promising of making them real. I object, both to these systems and to the insecurity they create by implying that writing does not make one a writer. Catching Fire, Misdirection, and Monkey TortureFebruary 26, 2011What struck me most about Catching Fire was the amount of thought that must have gone into it — and in particular, the diabolical creativity that built such a world of horror for the protagonists, but this is, of course, how great fiction is made. The Hunger Games, Dystopia, and Watching People Hurt Each OtherFebruary 19, 2011I’ve been thinking about the way we sacrifice strangers to preserve our own rituals and comforts — how these stories occur every day. Give us permission, through you, to have a flaw, because flaws are the norm. When you hide your flaws, you teach us to hide ours. I love to say that we are just waiting for one teacher - just one - to give us permission to be who we are now. You appear as this: big or small, straight or bent, that’s such a gift to give. The pain is in withholding it. Who else is going to give us permission to be free if not you? Do it for your own sake and we’ll follow. We are a reflection of your thinking, and when you free yourself, we all become free. Byron Katie Flaws and public perceptionFebruary 19, 2011 The WitchesFebruary 2, 2011In the end, there was no desperate struggle to fight against reality — to regain what was lost, instead there was a complete embrace of the new. That’s a beautiful thing. My Office on the Yellow LineAugust 30, 2010It’s Monday morning and I’m going 60mph between the King Street and Braddock Road stations. This means that I’m writing. Others know this place as the loudest and dirtiest part of the metro car – that 2-seat bench at the far end where people can be found sleeping or carving graffiti into the wall. Welcome to my office. Traveling with a Magical and Revolutionary DeviceMay 24, 2010My life is terribly imbalanced, and for that reason, every segment of my day is rationed. You may imagine how I welcomed the prospect of 7 days almost completely to myself. The problem was how to squeeze as much living as possible out of the experience. You may imagine how I welcomed the prospect of 14 hours of flying time, plus 8 hours on a train and even better, 7 days almost completely to myself. The problem was how to squeeze as much living as possible out of the experience. Four Writing Tools I Can’t Live WithoutMay 14, 2010Freemind, iSpeak It, Mac OSX text to speech, and a custom built program make up a set of tools that make writing easier for me. Why ‘The Hulk’ is a Wayward Transformation Myth, and How I’d Retell ItMay 13, 2010The idea of the Hulk should terrify us. Banner is an interesting and compelling character exactly because the consequences of his faults are so enormous. Instead, the villain is usually externalized, and his internal struggle is responsibly and predictably channeled. This changes the premise entirely. Rage is replaced by strength, and we’re left with He-Man – a nice guy who needs a slap to get his fight on, and a kiss to turn him back. It’s suddenly a weak story about Superman’s glasses. What I [Don’t] Like in a Novel, or, I Hate Sun-Warmed FlagstonesMay 12, 2010I marveled at perfect metaphors and watched the verbal cinematics unfold, but in the end, I found myself frustrated and praying for the sun to set on those “smooth, dusk-warmed flagstones that cooled like the color of a whispered memory …” and let me get on with my life. Why Avatar Was More Than a White-Guilt FantasyMay 11, 2010Whether Avatar will reach the status of Star Wars or The Matrix is doubtful, but I do think it represents a significant milestone in our shifting cultural values. Our thinking is changing, and the themes of popular movies, including this one, give us a way to measure those changes. How to Write a Story (If You’re Me)May 10, 2010… the problem wasn’t that I didn’t have any ideas – it was that I was trying to force a story for the sake of writing alone. One might as well insist on cooking any object close at hand – you’ll eventually get something, but what? The important thing here is that I had nothing to say. When attempting to write a story, solving that is the first step.