Ten Things I Learned…

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Ten Things I Learned Teaching and Writing

1. I don’t write what I already know—I write what I want to know. To find answers to questions that burn round me like Johnny and June’s ring of fire.

2. Like Adam in the Garden, a writer names the world. Old names, new names, everything—names. A rough-cut sawmill log is called a cant, a rough-cut board a flitch.

3. Metaphors—saying one thing is like a dissimilar other—hint at mysterious webs of cosmic meaning.

4. Language is alive. I open myself to words and forms evolving in social media, music, science, and technology—Twitter, Facebook, Folk Alt, Jangle Pop, Rap, eReaders, Bosons, Colliders, iTunes, Apps.

5. Characters are people—I get to know them; ask what they want; let them surprise, disappoint, and hurt me.

6. I refuse to write about someone I thoroughly dislike. No empathy, no interest.

7. I read grammar/punctuation handbooks with spiritual fervor. Meditate on the nuances of subjunctive mood and proper use of the en dash.

8. Even in a “final” draft, I find something that needs fixin’. I want the gravy right.

9. Writers are readers—voracious, persistent, promiscuous, deliberate, compulsive. I am most naked without a journal, mechanical pencil (0.9 mm lead), and book.

10. I don’t fear the void or mess: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” But, yea, there was light. And there will be light—so I write.


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