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writing craft

Edward P. Jones's message to the author.

‘Just Write a Story’

July 15, 2014

Though Jones was gentle about the story’s deficiencies, it was clear he was frustrated. I think this was because it was clear to him that the basics of humanity shouldn’t be that difficult to express. He spent an hour and a half going over the story with me sentence by sentence. In the end, his advice was simple: “Just write a story.”

Doug Bruns


We all know how Jane Austen wrote her books in the parlor, that most public of spaces. When she heard someone approach, she slipped her pages unobtrusively beneath the blotter.

Photo by Jason Florio

Talisman: Ganesh

It’s been almost forty years since I bought an image of Sri Ganesh, the elephant-​headed Hindu god, from a street vendor in the Chor Bazaar—​the Thieves’ Market—​in Mumbai, which at that time was still Bombay. I’ve had the picture, surrounded by a simple black frame and protected by a durable pane of glass, on my writing desk ever since. 

What’s Your Favorite Writing Prompt or Exercise?

July 23, 2012

While catching up on New Yorkers this weekend, I ran across a delightful piece by Rebecca Mead, "Earnest." (Read it online.) It's about Jeff Nunokawa, who writes one Facebook note per day. Mead writes: Nunokawa typically takes a literary quotation [...]

Writing Life: The Universal in the Particular

Enraged to discover that Germany did not possess any work by Michelangelo, his favorite artist, Hitler was mildly consoled to find a painting by Caravaggio—Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio—whom Hitler thought was the same person as Michelangelo Buonarroti. Next, he became enchanted by Correggio's erotic depiction of Leda and the Swan, though when his guide discovered him, transfixed before the painting, Hitler insisted he was only admiring the subtle play of light and shadow.