Guest Bloggers

Is “Go Big or Go Home” Right for You?

Guest Blogger P.A. Cornell explores measuring success with writing . . . when can you call yourself a writer?           Not so long ago I was speaking with someone about how much I’m enjoying being a short fiction writer. I was trying to convey all the great opportunities that short fiction can offer: variety in setting and characters, finding your voice, etc. They kept nodding, but I could tell my words weren’t really penetrating, and when I finished, they said, “Okay…but why think so small? You’re working on a novel, right? I mean, go big or go home is where it’s at!”           Is it though?           In our society we tend to equate success with tangible things like fame and income, and this does have some validity, but is this the right measure of success for all of us? When it comes to writing, there are some very specific…

Guest Bloggers

Chug, Chuff, Hiss, Squeal, Off We Go

Today’s post is inspired by Nancy Julien Kopp’s blog post about using sound in writing. Nancy wrote: This morning, I was catching up on email when I heard the whine of a train whistle, blown several times. I wondered if it was the historic Union Pacific train, known as Big Boy, making its way across Kansas this week in celebration of 150 years of the Transcontinental Railroad. It was due to stop here in our town at 9:30 a.m.  The sound of that whistle made me stop and listen. I always liked to hear train whistles when I was a child. We lived across the street from the railroad tracks, so we were treated to that arresting sound on a frequent basis. I can remember being in bed on a summer night, windows open, hoping for the train to come by and announce its presence. When I did hear it,…

Guest Bloggers

You Can’t Wait For Inspiration

Today’s Guest Blogger post is about inspiration, by Suzanne Murray. Excerpted from Suzanne’s September 5, 2020 Creativity Goes Wild Blog Post. “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London Recently a new writing coaching client emailed me to say, “I haven’t been writing. I just don’t feel inspired.” I immediately shot a message back, “You can’t wait for inspiration. If you get nothing else out of our coaching together, this awareness will make a huge difference in your creative life.” No writer or other artist waits for inspiration before showing up. Painter Chuck Close said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” Flannery O’Connor, the noted Southern writer, described her habit of going to her office every day from 8 am to noon, “she wasn’t sure if anything was going to happen but she…

Guest Bloggers

All You Need Is Love

Today’s Guest Blogger, Lindsey Crittenden, muses about fiction and decides to take a risk. A few weeks ago, early planning started for an upcoming fiction class during which I’ll be giving a talk: What Is Fiction? Yes, it’s a question both daunting and exhausted. Nothing I can say here that’s particularly new. And I’m wary of definitions that suggest fiction is any one thing. Escapism? Moral duty? Truer than truth? Totally amoral? A pack of lies? All of the above. But the more I keep thinking, the more excited I get. Examples tumble out like toys from a cupboard, begging my attention—and they surprise me. I’ve taught fiction long enough to have the anthologized standards at the ready. You know, those classics with clear, dramatized change manifested in action or image: “Barn Burning,” “Araby,” “Roman Fever,” and, for a more contemporary example, a terrific Dagoberto Gilb story called “Uncle Rock.”…

Guest Bloggers

Suleika Jaouad and The Isolation Journals

Guest Post by Suleika Jaouad, creator of The Isolation Journals. The Isolation Journals was founded on the idea that life’s interruptions are invitations to deepen our creative practice. Suileika: When I started The Isolation Journals project, I had no idea so many would join me. In late March 2020, I was quarantining in my parents’ attic, having left New York City as Covid-19 was surging. I was no stranger to isolation. For much of my twenties, I was in treatment for leukemia, unable to travel, eat out, see friends, even take a walk. Now isolation was back—this time on a global scale. The Isolation Journals is an artist-led community and publishing platform that cultivates creativity and fosters connection in challenging times. We are in an unprecedented moment. This is one small way to stay grounded and hopeful to transform our isolation to connection. Suleika’s August 2, 2020 Isolation Journals Post: Today’s…

Guest Bloggers

The Three Questions

Guest Blogger Shawn Langwell shares smart writing tips, focusing on three important questions. Octavia E. Butler said, “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” Writing and leadership have a lot in common. Both require creativity, passion, and persistence. Both are conversations. And every good author as well as effective leaders know their audience. Each requires a level of confidence and humility to listen. To listen to the suggestions of an editor. To listen to the inner voice that says you need to sit your butt down on a regular basis and write. Or, upon awakening to listen and follow the conviction of a dream so vivid and powerful that the story just unfolds and becomes a book and a short…

Guest Bloggers

Storytelling: Family Secrets

Today’s Guest Blogger, Kate Farrell, author of Story Power, with her unique experience as a storyteller, shares methods to unlock family secrets, There’s nothing louder than a family secret—it pesters and pokes until someone speaks up. Secrets have a way of hiding in plain sight. There are always the whispered rumors, missing pieces of a puzzle, stories that keep changing. But just as shared family folklore can develop strength and identity, keeping family secrets can destroy trust. Secrets that persist, unspoken and misunderstood, can erode the very foundation of a family. Family members who are perceptive, who sense hidden truths, may become fearful or internalize guilt and shame. At the very least, family secrets isolate—family members from one another and the entire family from their community. Some family secrets are more harmful to keep than others. Those that were traumatic, that violated some taboo, or were life-changing are vital to…

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Nancy Julien Kopp and The Writing Fairies

Guest Blogger Nancy Julien Kopp writes about her struggles and success with Good Fairy/Bad Fairy. 2012 I’ve had a story swirling in the recesses of my mind for several weeks. One that I think would work for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Last night, I opened a blank page in Word and began to write the story. I wrote for well over an hour. The story seemed to be coming together nicely. I was aiming for 1200 words, and by the time I was ready to call it quits for the day, I had over 700 words and still a lot to be told. I didn’t take time to read over what I’d written, knew there would be time to do that in the morning. I got ready for bed, feeling satisfied that more than half the first draft was complete. I settled down in bed to watch the…

Guest Bloggers

The Gift of Writing

Today’s guest blogger, Nona Smith, relates her experience about how her book, Stuffed: Emptying the Hoarder’s Nest, came about. Eight years after our friend, Al, died, and two weeks after his wife, Linda, was put to rest, my husband, Art, and I stood on their doorstep, key hovering at the lock. As the executor of their estate, Art had every right to be there. But still, we felt like trespassers. He gave a small shrug and turned the key in the lock. We pushed the door open, walked inside, and gazed around at the chaos that greeted us. In the living room, twin oak desks stood in front of a window, their drawers exploding with old mail, catalogues, writing implements, and paper. A couch, laden with a mountain of stuffed animals, was sandwiched between two Tiffany floor lamps. On the floor, handwoven rugs were piled on top of handwoven rugs….

Guest Bloggers

Fiction. Nonfiction. Creative nonfiction.

What are you writing these days? Some people find it difficult to concentrate. Others are filling pages with poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and creative nonfiction. It might be a perfect time to chronicle what is going on in your life . . . if you write this as a journalist would . . . just the facts, that’s nonfiction. If you add vignettes and personalize your story, that’s creative nonfiction. Here’s what guest blogger Nancy Julien Kopp says about fiction, creative nonfiction, and fictional narrative. Most people are aware of the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Fiction is made up, nonfiction is true. There is, however, a differentiation between nonfiction and creative nonfiction. Nonfiction is generally expository in that it describes, explains or is informative. If you wrote about leaves in a forest in Montana, your readers would probably learn a great deal about the topic. You would write it as…