Today we'd like to share a piece published on McSweeney's - a reflection of the advice writers commonly give and get for improving their craft. "The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do" is by Colin Nissan.
Every novelist's work contains an implicit vision of the history of the novel, an idea of what the novel is. I have tried to express here the idea of the novel that is inherent in my own novels. -- Milan Kundera
Today the Mark Blog recommends The Art of the Novel by Milan Kunera, the Franco-Czech novelist and literary critic. It is a worthy read for any writer and anyone interested in world literature.
Below we've re-posted Haruki Murakami's New York Times essay, "Jazz Messenger," about how he used his knowledge of music to learn how to write fiction.
I never had any intention of becoming a novelist — at least not until I turned 29. This is absolutely true.
Since 1995, PEN In The Community (PITC) has proudly published the written work of thousands of talented youth and adults. Here we've compiled an archive of anthologies dating from the present to 2010. We will continue to add to the archive as we digitize books from previous years and those that will come in the future. Click on the covers of the anthologies below to download PDF files of each book.
ETHIOPIA: Journalist Eskinder Nega and five others convicted on terror charges.
Eric Layer was born in San Francisco and has resided more or less in Los Angeles for more than a decade. He was a 2011 Emerging Voices Fellow and has received residency fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain, and Foundation Obras in Portugal. His stories have been featured in The Rattling Wall, Palehouse, and The Medulla Review. He is working on his first collection of stories, tentatively titled Adults Only.
Natali Petricic was born in Long Beach, New York, shortly after her parents emigrated from Croatia. She received a BA from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Natali was a 2004 Emerging Voices Fellow. Her short stories have been published in Santa Monica Review, Rosebud, and Red Wheelbarrow. She is currently working on Leaf Boats, a linked short story collection. Natali lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.
Marytza K. Rubio is a writer from Santa Ana, CA. Her writing has been featured in Slice Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and The Rattling Wall. She is a 2008 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, the 2010 Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Scholar in fiction, and a 2012 VONA alum. Her story, Brujeria for Beginners, was a finalist for the 2012 Orlando Prize in Short Fiction. She is writing a novel, The Chicano Consulate.
Avi Lall is a writer living in Long Beach, CA. In 2007 he was a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow. His work has appeared in The Asian-American Writers Workshop and Porcupine Literary Journal.
Eduardo Santiago was born Cuba and grew up in Los Angeles and Miami. He holds a BFA in film and television from California Institute of the Arts and was a 2004 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow. He lives in Los Angeles with his dog, Lyon.
Mehnaz Turner was born in Pakistan and raised in Southern California. She holds degrees from the University of Arizona, The University of Texas at Austin, and UC Santa Barbara. She is a 2009 Emerging Voices Fellow in Poetry. Her short story, "The Alphabet Workbook," appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as The Journal of Pakistan Studies, The Pedestal Magazine, and An Anthology of California Poets. An English teacher, she lives in Southern California.
Soleil David was born and raised in the Philippines and now lives in Los Angeles. She graduated with high distinction from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a recipient of the Julia Keith Shrout Short Story Prize, andher poetry and prose have been published in Our Own Voice, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop anthology The Margins. She is working on a collection of poems.
Ashaki M. Jackson is an applied social psychologist, program evaluator, and poet who works with youth through research, evaluation, and creative writing mentoring. She is a Cave Canem and VONA alumna who serves on the board of VIDA: Women In Literary Arts. She is also co-founder of Women Who Submit. Her work appears in CURA and Prairie Schooner, among other publications. Author of two chapter-length collections—Surveillance (Writ Large Press) and Language Lesson (MIEL)—Jackson earned her creative writing MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles and a psychology doctorate from Claremont Graduate University. She lives in Los Angeles, California. Ashaki is mentoring Soleil David.
Peter H.Z. Hsu was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received a bachelor’s degree in English literature, and California State University, Los Angeles, where he earned a master’s degree in psychology. His fiction debuted in March 2016 in The Margins and is included in the Fall 2016 issue of Pinball. Peter is currently working on a short story collection.
J. Ryan Stradal is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest, which has been translated into 11 languages, optioned for film, and was the winner of the 2016 ABA Indie’s Choice Award for Best Adult Debut Novel, the 2016 Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Award, and the 2016 Midwest Independent Booksellers Choice Award for Fiction. Born and raised in Minnesota, he now lives in Los Angeles, where he is an editor-at-large at Unnamed Press, fiction editor at TASTE Magazine, and advisory board member at 826LA. He is at work on another novel set in his home state. J. Ryan is mentoring Peter H.Z. Hsu.
Kirin Khan was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and currently lives in Oakland, California. A Senior Analyst for YouGov, she has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Mills College and a post-baccalaureate in math from Smith College. Kirin is a 2016 VONA Voices alum and an upcoming 2017 Grotto Fellow. She is published in Uproot, sPARKLE & bLINK, and 7x7.LA. Kirin is currently working on her first novel.
Jade Chang has worked as an arts and culture journalist and editor for publications like the BBC, Metropolis, Glamour, and The Los Angeles Times Magazine. She was recently an editor at Goodreads. Jade is the recipient of a Sundance Arts Journalist fellowship, the AIGA/Winterhouse Design Criticism Award, and a Squaw Valley Writers Workshop scholarship. Her debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World (HMH) has been named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and was one of Buzzfeed’s 24 Best Books of 2016. The Wangs will be published in 11 countries and NPR said this: “Her book is unrelentingly fun, but it is also raw and profane—a story of fierce pride, fierce anger, and even fiercer love.” Jade is mentoring Kirin Khan.
Chinyere Nwodim was raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended Johns Hopkins University where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology and history of science. In addition to writing, she works in development at a regional community health center serving low-income populations in Los Angeles and Orange County. Chinyere currently lives in Los Angeles and is working on a short story collection.
Dana Johnson is the author of the short story collection In the Not Quite Dark. She is also the author of the novel Elsewhere, California, and the short story collection Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, Callaloo, The Iowa Review, and Huizache, among others. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California. Dana is mentoring Chinyere Nwodim.
Jessica Shoemaker was raised in Torrance, California, and earned a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from University of California, Santa Barbara. She now lives in San Pedro, California, and teaches middle school. Her fiction has appeared in Blue Skirt Productions, Fiction Southeast, and Lunch Ticket. Jessica is working on a collection of short stories.
Amelia Gray is the author of four books: AM/PM; Museum of the Weird; THREATS; and Gutshot. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, and VICE. She is the winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She lives in Los Angeles. Amelia is mentoring Jessica Shoemaker.
Photographs of Emerging Voices Fellows by Bill Kennedy.
People ineligible for the Emerging Voices Fellowship:
Emerging Voices is a rigorous fellowship based in Los Angeles with weekly meetings and an intense reading and writing schedule. With this in mind, participants must be willing and able to make an enthusiastic commitment to the fellowship and to their involvement as members of a group. If you are not a resident of Los Angeles and you are awarded the fellowship you will need to relocate for the seven-month period. Housing is not provided.
The Emerging Voices Fellowship originated as a mentorship project. The project grew out of PEN Center USA’s forum “Writing the Immigrant Experience,” held at the Los Angeles Central Library in March 1994, which explored the issues and challenges faced by first and second generation immigrant writers. It was evident from the forum that many of the culturally diverse communities of writers in Southern California were often isolated from the literary establishment. In the fall of 1996, PEN Center USA initiated Emerging Voices as a literary mentorship program designed to launch potential professional writers from minority, immigrant and other underrepresented communities. The program has now evolved into an seven-month writing fellowship for writers who lack access to a traditional writing education and seek financial and creative support.
Here’s a note from one of the fellowship’s supporter, Jamie Wolf, supporter of the Emerging Voices Fellowship program:
“The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation was established in 1948 by my parents, a young businessman and his fashion-editor wife, who clearly had a great deal of confidence in their eventual financial success as well as a genuine desire to contribute to the world outside themselves. As my father formulated it in the beginning, ‘Individuals fortunate enough to receive unusual benefits from a society have the distinct obligation to return meaningful, tangible support to that society—in the form of creative energy as well as funding.’ What this has meant over the years is a pattern of rewarding excellence and accomplishment by giving awards in the fields of medicine, art and literature. In the last several decades, as the younger generation has begun to have more of a say, the goal has modulated into an emphasis on more directly encouraging excellence and accomplishment—by funding programs as well as awards, thus concentrating on setting up structures for achievement, and utilizing the multiplier effect.”
PEN Center USA is generously supported by the California Arts Council, California Community Foundation, Herb Alpert Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Kayne Foundation, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and National Endowment for the Arts.
The 2018 Emerging Voices Application period will be open from May 1 to August 1, 2017.
The application period for 2018 will open Spring 2017.
For more info, please contact email@example.com.
PITC teaching artists collaborate closely with partner schools and community sites to develop a tailored curriculum that meets the needs of the participants. For schools, the program begins with a 1-2 day summer professional development session focused on integrating creative writing into core curriculum.
At schools, the program consists of 12 workshops taught over 12 weeks by the PITC teaching artist. 6-9 of the workshops will be taught in the host teacher’s classroom, with the remaining 3-6 workshops by the teaching artist held in other teachers’ classrooms at the school.
At community sites, the program consists of 6-12 workshops designed to meet the needs of community members. Often, these residencies can be an opportunity for participants to rediscover writing as a tool for growth, healing, self-expression and communication.
Participant work at schools and community sites is collected by the PITC teaching artist throughout the residency and published by PEN Center USA in an anthology that combines work from all sites, one in fall and one in spring. The anthology is presented at a final public reading for all participating schools and communities. The fall reading will be in December; the spring reading will be in May.
Both our PITC Writer in Residence program and our Guest Speaker program are offered free of charge.
If you are a teacher and would like to request a PITC Writer in Residence for 2016-17, please fill out a SCHOOL RESIDENCY REQUEST FORM.
If you work at a non-profit or community center and would like to request a PITC Writer in Residence for 2016-17, please fill out a COMMUNITY SITE RESIDENCY REQUEST FORM.
If you are a writer and would like to apply to become a PITC writing residency teaching artist for spring of 2016, please fill out a TEACHING ARTIST APPLICATION.
For schools or sites that don’t have the capacity to host a 12-week residency but would like to have a professional writer talk to students and community members, PITC’s volunteer Guest Speakers will arrange a one-time visit. The chance to meet a writer in person can be thrilling, and also life-changing for students and other people who have never had the opportunity to think of writing as a possible path in life.
Though most of our participating writers live in Los Angeles, schools and community sites outside of L.A. can still participate via Skype. If you are a teacher or community site leader and would like to request a PITC guest speaker, please email Executive Director Michelle Franke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a writer and would like to volunteer to become a PITC guest speaker, please fill out a GUEST SPEAKER APPLICATION.
At this time, all PITC writing residencies are paid for by PEN Center USA.
PEN Center USA is generously supported by the Herb Alpert Foundation, California Community Foundation, City of Los Angeles – Department of Cultural Affairs, The James Irvine Foundation, Kayne Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, UCLA Extension Writers Program, and Jamie Rosenthal Wolf & David Wolf.