I’m posting early this week because I’ll be in West Virginia visiting two campuses of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, a land of mountains and switchbacks and steep roads that don’t run straight. On Monday, I’ll be talking to the students there—students who have been reading my work—even though it means I won’t…

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Writers, like long-distance runners, tend to hit the wall at some point of the composing process, that point where the writing threatens to shut down, when we feel totally disengaged from our material, and the words are wooden, or won’t come at all. In my own case, this has led to hours of staring out…

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When we construct a narrative, either in fiction or creative nonfiction, we have to build a believable world from the particulars we create or remember. Our first obligation, then, is to notice everything. Joseph Conrad says, “My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you…

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