I’m going to be presenting a session at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop on Friday, a session called “Writing Stories That Matter.” In preparation for that event, I had to think about exactly what I mean by stories that matter. William Faulkner, in his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, said, “. . .the young man…

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I turned sixty-five on Friday, and it was a good day. I’d be lying if I said I never thought about the dwindling number of years left without a certain degree of apprehension, but for the most part I do my best to keep my focus on the here-and-now which still contains plenty that delights…

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Our friends, G. and S., came to visit last night. At one time, this would have been such a simple statement to make; on the surface it might have even seemed banal. These days, though, the ordinary fact of a visit carries with it a significance only available if one knows the context. Sometime in…

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Yesterday evening, Cathy and I drove down to the lake in Fryer Park, which is located off Orders Road about a mile from our home. It was a pleasant evening—humid, but overcast and with enough of a breeze to make things comfortable. We sat awhile on a bench overlooking the lake and then decided to…

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Since 2004, Akashic Books, an independent publisher in Brooklyn, has published a series of noir stories set in specific locales around the world. Although I’ve never thought of myself as a noir writer, I’ve been invited to contribute to two of the books in this series—Memphis, Noir, and the recently released, Columbus, Noir. In fact,…

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I’ve just returned from the Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers’ Conference, where I taught a workshop in the art of the novel. So much of writing a novel involves the shape we find for our material. I’m sharing this post from two years ago in hopes of helping those of us who are…

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My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting a book club in Casey, Illinois, last week, just about an hour from where we grew up. Casey has taken it upon itself to be the capital of the largest things in the world. We saw the world’s largest wind chime, the world’s largest rocking chair,…

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