Being a full-time writer is a strange occupation. I work all day alone in a tiny cottage behind my house, hunched over my computer, lost in an imaginary world. If I weren't producing coherent literature some might consider this peculiar at best–or worthy of psychiatric intervention. Read More
I’ve been sitting at my computer wondering if it’s selfish to be staring at the screen, searching for the perfect word, when our democracy is under threat? What is my role in times like these; what can writers do?
Searching for writers’ impacts in previous eras I think first of the long, Read More
Did you plan to start on that new writing project yesterday, but then discover that your oven needed cleaning—urgently? You simply couldn’t stand the flaky grime one more day. Or the phone rang just as you sat down to begin and two hours later you realized you allowed yourself to get caught Read More
By Joan Steinau Lester
"I like Kamala Harris but I don't think she's electable," three female friends recently told me.
“You must have so much discipline!” non-writers exclaim when they discover my profession. “Do you write every day?” They gaze in wonder.
“A writing day is a good day,” I say. “The hardest part is not writing. When there’s too much else I have to do, so my mind won’t settle down. Read More
The details you use to ground your writing are like the spices you sprinkle on your food. They give it life and make it uniquely your own. When I cook petrale sole it’s too bland unless I splash ginger powder, garlic, and red pepper into the pan. Sometime I sauté a green onion, Read More
I’ve read books that start so well I think contentedly, Ah, this one I’m going to like; but fifty or seventy-five pages in the prose goes flat, the plot grows confusing or boring, and I close the book in disappointment.
Yet as a writer I understand: it’s easy to bog down Read More
Recently I was outraged after I finished the last pages of a novel I’d loved. “What?” I railed. “How could the author abandon one of the two main characters, let her disappear so completely I’ve no idea of her fate. Give me a hint. One sentence, please!” We do get a scene Read More
I love circles, especially in writing, where the author cycles back at the end of an essay or book to a reference from the opening. Joseph Campell’s book The Hero With a Thousand Faces defined this pattern in drama, myth, and religious ritual: a protagonist, forced from home, leaves the ordinary world to Read More
Every year we have the stunning Japanese maple in our back yard trimmed by a gifted gardener. Each time, I’m astonished to see the graceful structure of the tree’s inner limbs, their beauty revealed after excess branches have been cut away.
One of the great joys of writing, for me, lies in Read More