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James Buchanan's Blog

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Sep.16.2011
  So the great MFA debate takes another turn. Last night I read with some interest an essay published on Slate.com by a writer vigorously complaining about Poets & Writers MFA program ranking system. As a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program he was excised by the fact that P&W...
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Sep.15.2011
The other night I went to a reading by Sven Birkerts of his new memoir at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass. It was a nice reading for a number of reasons, not the least of which was observing how he has structured the book and his reasoning behind doing so. Essentially, the memoir is...
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Sep.14.2011
I just received a press release for a new Web-based services that allows people to store all of their music in the so-called cloud. Their pitch is that users can finally free themselves of cords and USB ports and all of the many hassles of digital music by keeping their songs and albums in their...
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Sep.13.2011
When I first started writing it was actually possible to earn a living writing for magazines and newspapers. Unless you gained entry to the upper crust of the magazine world--a place primarily reserved for the connected--you wouldn't get rich, but you could afford your rent and bills and a modest...
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Sep.12.2011
The question I have been thinking on lately is when does a change requested by an editor equate to being a poison pill? What I mean is, when do the changes requested by an editor go too far and require a writer to pull a piece from consideration? I haven't really had this situation come up with my...
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Sep.09.2011
This past weekend I had one of those moments where I looked up into the blue sky and thanked God as I watched my friend/love mow her yard for the first time. On its face, that may not seem like such a God worthy moment. I mean, mowing grass for the first time? What's the big deal? Well, in many...
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Sep.08.2011
I am working with an author as a ghostwriter on a memoir about his son who managed to survive horrific injuries as the result of a motorcycle accident. One of the things we are writing about and we just had a long discussion of is a topic we are calling People Who Inspire and People Who Disappoint...
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Aug.23.2011
A few nights ago I sat down to try and flesh out the first few pages of a new short story that I had been turning over in my mind for a few weeks. I had come up with a way to get into the story and wanted to see how it worked and how the writing flowed as I moved along into the second and...
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Aug.15.2011
I just wanted to take a moment to quickly note that two pieces of mine have been published. The first is an essay for the latest NPR This I Believe book, which is on fatherhood. It is in bookstores now and is titled His Difference is His Strength. It is about my son and his struggles with ...
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Feb.09.2011
Kicking and screaming, I have been drawn into the business side of being a writer.  I have never had a sense for business and have, to be honest, seen being in sales as a pejorative rather than anything else, which is wrong of me because I have great friends who are in sales. However, I have come...
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Feb.04.2011
Any writing course or lecture I have ever taken or seen at some point comes to the concept of "Show Don't Tell." It seems easy enough, display through your writing the emotions and events of your story rather than plainly stating these things as a matter of fact to the reader. What it...
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Feb.03.2011
A friend recently sent me a snippet from an interview with a relatively young, published author (I believe she is about 30 years old, which in this business counts as young if you have published a few books) and the author was talking about how she writes. Rather than setting some daily word count...
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Feb.01.2011
It's about 4am as I write this and I have been up since about 3:30 am, which seems to be about usual for me. I don't think I actually sleep through the night more than about two or three times per week, though recently I went two weeks without sleeping through the night. The funnny thing about...
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Jan.26.2011
My View While I Wrote
By mid June of 2006 I had already undergone six weeks of radiation treatments, which included carrying a chemo pump that was attached to my body through a needle inserted into a port surgically installed just under the skin on my upper left arm. Earlier that same month, on my 41st birthday, I had...
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Sep.30.2010
I've spent much of my life disconnected from the larger world around me even as I fancied myself to be something of an observer. I am an observer because I watch people and am fascinated by the many variations of us that are out there. It really is something very amazing to see even in my small...
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