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Art Craft Creative writing workshops

Mosaic

Lyric essay is a hybrid creature. It has the legs of memoir, the musculature of a polemic and the wings of poetry. Make it the way you would a mosaic out of fragments, shiny shards of memory and bits of string. Use a lyric essay to make an argument without ever stating your point or […]

Categories
China Craft The Shanghai Quartet

Oh god

The god I grew up with was the Catholic God: all-knowing, all-powerful, fierce in his retribution and tender in his forgiveness. The gods I spend my time with these days are a whole other ball of wax. Petty, self-indulgent, more interested in a game of mahjong than the plight of mere mortals. Meet the Chinese […]

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Art Craft

Shadow Box

I love shadow boxes. I don’t mean the practice of sparring with yourself (though this is a worthy act that bears repeating). Think of a literal box, perhaps protected by a glass front, inside of which resides a world of whimsy. Think of it as found poetry in three-dimensional form. Shadow history Sailors were the […]

Categories
Craft Creative writing workshops

Writing the Other

I grew up reading Louise May Alcott. I still have copies of all her books: dog-eared, broken-backed, and beloved. On the rare occasions when I get sick, it’s a toss-up between Alcott and Jane Austen as comfort reading. One of Alcott’s books, Eight Cousins, features a white character (Annabel) who marries the “highly satisfactory Chinaman”, […]

Categories
Craft The Shanghai Quartet

Getting to Know You

When I write fiction, I have no idea where the story will end. Something sparks my imagination ⏤ an overheard conversation or an image glimpsed from a train window. Maybe I can sense already the character I want to portray. I might have a general direction of where that character will go. Or not. By […]

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Craft

Soundscape

For a writer, sound is finicky. It’s difficult to describe in words, let alone render onto the page. Cliches abound. Babbling brooks, birdsong, a lover’s sigh. And yet, to reach for that sensory detail of sound can make or break a piece of writing. Think of how we feel when robbed of our sense of […]

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Craft

Serendipity

I started writing in high school. My metier then was parody of the sort that only a teenager could find funny. From parody, I went to poetry, from poetry to prose, from novel to short story to the personal essay. My road has been anything but straight. Of course, not all my writerly moves have […]

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Books Craft Travel

Writing on the Road

On the road sounds mythic, doesn’t it? Think about Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation. Or, if you’ve been binge-watching old movies these days, you’ll know all about Bing Crosby and Bob Hope on the road to some place exotic. Writing while on the road is a whole other ball of wax. Could I do […]

Categories
Craft Japan Travel

Kyoto Craft

There’s something about Kyoto that pleases me. There are grand castles and breathtaking gardens. The people are kind and the food is great. There are more places in Japan like that but Kyoto is special. The lamp glow is soft, the paper screens crisp, the incense seductive. It can’t all be a coincidence. I suspect […]

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Craft

Before and After

Every writer needs a good editor. Finding a good editor is easier said than done. You might get lucky, as I have, in finding serious feedback in a creative writing class, a critique group or a writing conference. But feedback and editing are two different animals. You need the former while you’re still writing. Feedback […]