The Mark Blog

  • A Final Review

    The night before my final review and into that morning, I was filled with a sense of dread. I didn't know if I had successfully revised my manuscript based on the demands of the program, learning what I needed to learn as slowly as I did. This is not a feeling I’m used to. I’m used to learning quickly and excelling at things I do. Maybe that’s why I like writing so much - it’s difficult and engrossing and I have to really work at it.

  • If I Could Turn Back Time

    You know how when you first become aware of the existence of something, you start noticing it everywhere? Like a new type of car you hadn’t paid attention to? A Chevy Volt would be a good example. Let’s say you don’t even know what they look like, having never seen one, but after your uncle buys one and bores you to death telling you all about it when you’re just trying to watch the game, the next day you see ten of them on your commute into work. You know that feeling?

  • The Company You Keep

    How many writers does a society need? A social studies teacher once told me the answer was one. As opposed to other jobs, farming for instance, where many people are needed to supply food, only one good storyteller is needed in any society. The same ratio holds, according to this teacher, for the other creative arts.

  • Time's Up

    I don’t know where the time went. Less than a week ago, we had our last workshop. Now, in less than twenty-four hours, I’ll turn in my final packet. The time in between has been intense, a microcosm of the Mark Program and how these last six months have sped by.

  • "RE" Vision (or The Second Draft Is Always The Hardest)

    The second draft is always the hardest. I think Richard Russo said that in an interview I recently read. I searched the internet for interviews with him because I’ve been reading Nobody’s Fool and admire it greatly, and interviews remind a writer that it’s not all just pure magic (that other people possess and you don’t) that makes a novel or story come together. On the contrary, diligent, unglamorous work done by mere mortals (plus a little magic).

  • Psycho

    I hope people reading the Mark Blog are learning from my mistakes.

    The deeper I get into the story, the deeper the flaws appear to be. Painfully we’ve discovered another one.

  • Conflict

    I must have missed it in my creative writing education. Maybe I tuned it out because it seemed so obvious. Or maybe I submitted some work early on that made it seem like I understood how  all-important conflict is to our characters - like when I speak a small amount of a foreign language without an American accent and lead native speakers to assume I'm fluent, only to invite a barrage of speech I don’t fully understand. I never got the lesson.

  • Read Or Be A "Head-the-Ball"

    In the perpetual time-management crisis that is my life, reading can get neglected. But I can’t let this happen. Here’s why.

    Writers learn via three things that work in tandem: writing, getting feedback, and reading. Reading is key. It’s where the lessons learned through writing and feedback are encountered again and again, finally allowing the writer to “get it.”

  • A Little Celebration (Then Back At It)

    After we turned in our mid-program packets, it felt like the last day of school. I felt giddy. I’d worked intensely the last week and a half, shutting out all else. But then the work was done, the deadline was met, and I felt good about what I would turn in. I was in the mood to celebrate.