Eudora Welty’s story, “Why I Live at the P.O.” opens like this: I was getting along fine with Mama, Papa-Daddy, and Uncle Rondo until my sister Stella Rondo just separated from her husband and came back home again. Mr. Whittaker! Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he first appeared here in China…

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Spring Semester classes begin this week at Ohio State University, a fact that leads me to thinking about beginnings in general and the openings of narratives in particular. More to the point, I’m thinking about the ways we get stories started when we’re not even sure what stories we want to tell. How, in other…

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I often get asked how long it takes me to write a novel. My standard answer is three years, but really I have no idea. It’s hard to pin down because how do we know when the writing begins? Oh sure, I know when I first put pen to paper, or first pressed fingers to…

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