Compression and Expansion in the Short Story

I heard Hilma Wolitzer say once that writing a novel was easy; you just brought in all the family. Her point was that the form of the novel invites a larger world than that of the short story. The novel makes room for a large cast of characters and events as well as a broad…

Read More

Another School Year: Fail Better

Autumn Semester classes get underway this week at Ohio State University, and as they do, I’ll enter my thirty-sixth year of teaching. I know I’ve written about this before, but two stories bear repeating. My mother taught elementary school for thirty-eight years. She found plenty to keep her busy in her retirement. She helped my…

Read More

Let the Details Do the Work

I’ve just returned from a week at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers’ Conference, where I taught a workshop focusing on the novel. Six novelists sat in a room with me for two hours and fifteen minutes each day, and together we workshopped excerpts from their novels in progress. We also used The…

Read More

To Form a Community of Writers

I’m off to teach at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers’ Workshop. If you’re ever in the market for a summer writers’ conference, I highly recommend this one. It’s all about the craft! No agents, no editors, and none of that toxic atmosphere of “who’s made it, and what do I have to…

Read More