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Nina Schuyler's Blog

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Oct.03.2009
  What does your character NOT want to think about? I love this question because it takes you directly to the heart of subtext, that subterranean realm, which is the story itself, the real story. Subtext is what makes story feel so much larger than what's on the page. It's the implied, the...
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Sep.29.2009
  When workshopping became a verb, I took a closer look. What is this verb doing? What does it mean to have a story workshopped? As I've written in an earlier blog, some people have nothing good to say about this process. "...a combination of ritual scarring," writes Louis Menand in a...
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Sep.11.2009
  In the June 8 & 15th issue of The New Yorker, Louis Menand opens with the statement, "Creative-writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable poem." The...
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Aug.31.2009
  I'm on a fifth revision of a short story. Or maybe seventh. I don't really keep track; rather, I keep diving in, plunging under until it feels right, reads right. I don't mean I'm fiddling with words or moving sentences around. I'm trying something different. Something a bit terrifying. Each time...
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Aug.22.2009
  During a recent short story workshop, we were discussing word choice when one student confessed, "I never consult a thesaurus." Silence. But a door creaked open because what followed was a steady stream of admissions. "Me neither." "Never." "I don't even own...
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Aug.16.2009
  August 16th. It's the birthday of William Maxwell, the former long-time editor at The New Yorker magazine. Born in 1908 in Lincoln, Illinois, he lived to the ripe age of 92. He wrote his entire life, publishing six novels, three collections of short fiction, an autobiographical memoir, a...
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Aug.03.2009
In the Aug. 3, 2009 issue of the New Yorker, Nicholson Baker gives an account of his encounter with a Kindle 2. "Everybody was saying that the new Kindle was terribly important-that it was an alpenhorn blast of post-Gutenbergian revalorization." He was open to the possibility of a new...
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Jul.27.2009
  I was driving and happened to catch the end of an NPR interview with author, Nick Laird of Glover's Mistake. "...And I try to write about the Internet and what it's done to reading and writing. And it's definitely changed. It changed the level of discourse. You know, I've been trying to read...
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Jul.20.2009
  Fifteen years ago, long before the Internet blossomed, then, like a morning glory, threaded its way into nearly every aspect of life, technology investor and pundit Esther Dyson predicted, "Creators will have to fight to attract attention and get paid." Copyrights be damned because...
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Jul.17.2009
  In our book club, we were reading J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello when one of the members chimed in that she'd met Coetzee. He used to teach at the same university. "Cold, a cold man," she let everyone know. "Barely said a word at parties. He came across as not really liking...
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Jul.11.2009
  After teaching creative writing for years, I've found it's the endings of short stories that cause the most trouble. The trouble is of all sorts: the overdramatic, shouting-from-the-rooftop epiphany; the quiet whimper of something, but the reader is not quite sure what; the voice trying to sound...
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Jun.30.2009
  It's a Sunday afternoon and time has slipped out the door, along with chores and schedules and things that must get done. I'm fiddling around in the kitchen, doing-- I don't know what. My six-year-old son is sitting at the kitchen table with his good friend. I've folded white pages of paper and...
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Jun.24.2009
  For four years, National Public Radio ran a series called, "This I Believe," in which people generously offered the personal beliefs and core values that guided their daily lives. It's a fascinating exercise, not only for examining your life, but for unearthing the underpinnings of...
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Jun.19.2009
  A writer friend recently signed up for Twitter and was astounded at the plethora of "Tweets," or messages he was receiving. Another writer sitting at the table said he didn't even own a cell phone, but felt left out, or rather, left behind. For writers, there seems to be some self-...
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Jun.14.2009
  In this era of the confessional--what Hal Niedzviecki calls our "peep culture"-- when people's sense of privacy and decorum seems antiquated, a dusty old thing from the Nineteenth Century, is there a place for the interior in fiction? In today's San Francisco Chronicle, a mother gives...
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