Note One: Writing Tips from Our Teachers
From Meghan Ward (Blogging for Beginners, 4 sessions beginning April 6; Social Media Bootcamp, 1 session April 19; Advanced Blogging Workshop, 6 sessions beginning May 4; Edit Yourself: How to Make Your Good Manuscript Great, 1 session May 3)
There are many factors that go into building a good blog. One is to write succinct blog posts that either edify or entertain your reader. Another is to keep a regular blogging schedule, so your readers know when to expect your next post. A third is to take the time to comment on other people’s blogs. Posting a link to your blog posts on your social media networks is a must, but you have to give in order to receive. When you take the time to comment on other blogs, you’ll find that some of those people will comment on yours. Keep doing that, and before you know it, you’ll have a loyal audience who reads and shares your work with their own social networks, exponentially increasing your reach. We’ll cover these and other indispensable tips in my Blogging for Beginners and Advanced Blogging courses.
Note Two: Our Latest Favorite Book on Writing
From Lindsey Crittenden (Writing What Matters: Going Deeper in Your Fiction and Memoir, 4 sessions beginning April 8)
Every now and again I pick a book off the shelf that I bought years ago and haven’t looked at since. Last week, it was Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees, with its pencils-as-tree-trunks jacket art. Lerner, a literary agent, calls it “an advice book for writers.” It’s more like a chat with a savvy, droll friend about the foibles of the literary life. Lerner divides writers into certain types: the perfectionist, the golden child, the procrastinator, the wild thing, the dabbler. Chances are you’ll recognize one or two (or five or ten) aspects of your own creative process, in ways both affirming and (slightly) abashing. I chafed a bit at some of Lerner’s armchair psychologizing—but I had to agree with much of it. No matter what, you’ll nod and chuckle and feel reassured. Lerner is funny, unsparing, wise. She hands out tough love and reassurance—and best of all, by putting her finger on the aloneness we all feel as writers, she helps minimize its sting. I love books like this not so much for the advice they offer but for their support. Like a good class, a good writers’ group, or a good friend, they help us push on in what she fairly acknowledges is tough work. Lerner also blogs at betsylerner.com.
Note Three: What We’re Reading Now
From Zoe FitzGerald Carter (Making Your Memoir Read Like a Novel: Using the Tools and Techniques of Fiction to Enhance Personal Storytelling, 4 sessions beginning April 7)
The newly revamped New York Times Magazine features Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard’s darkly funny two-part series on tracing the “Viking Trail” from Newfoundland to the Midwest. In a nod to his six-volume memoir My Struggle, Knausgaard begins the story in a rundown hotel in St. John’s, deeply embarrassed at being unable to rent a car and begin his journey, due to a lost drivers license. Embarrassment turns to shame when the toilet in the room backs up. Not your typical New York Times travel piece, “My Saga I and 2” combines funny personal narrative with stunning descriptions of frozen Midwestern cities from Detroit to Duluth, and the history of the Norwegian migration. Along the way, he riffs on everything from Nabokov to the history of art to Bob Dylan to what makes America “American.” By using himself as both subject and observer, Knausgaard makes his journey across the snowy wastelands of Middle America into a literary and journalistic tour de force. Sly, funny and clever, Knausgaard’s saga is a must-read for those interested in literary journalism – or just looking for a great story.
Note Four: Winter Classes & Workshops