As usual, it has been far too long…

So, for today, I am going to update just on some writing things — what I have been doing and what I have been using.

1) Writer’s Studio

Since January, I have taken two successive 10-week level one classes with the Writer’s Studio in New York (both times with Lorraine Babb as the instructor). They have been  so helpful. I like the online format (assignments, critiques from class members and teacher, online chat; all once a week). The assignments (so far, at least) focus on a sample piece (alternating between story excerpts and poems), a discussion on particular aspects of technique that are obvious in the piece and then the exercise of replicating such technique. The critiques have been useful, the assignments are nicely varied. Awesome. I am planning on taking a level two class in the fall.

2) Duotrope

Duotrope is a website that does a few really amazing things. On the one hand, it is a listing of markets for writers (whether fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and whatever length) with deadlines, contests and such. But, when you make an account, you can also track your own submissions (including which piece you submitted, its length, its type and content). The database tracks the stats to let you know how quickly different markets respond and what their acceptance rate is (of course, not all journals/etc have enough data for accurate numbers). I like that there are listings for journals/etc that I have never heard of (smaller markets and more specialized ones and such). Of course, it can be a time sink, but it has real practical value as well.

3) Story a Day

I talked about this last year, but May is shorty story month (write a story — of whatever length — each day for the whole month). I didn’t manage 30 stories this year (I bailed about half way through, but you can read what I did do this year and last on my part of the site), but I find this so incredibly useful for generating lots and lots of story ideas. And there is something about trying to write an entire story each day, which a beginning, middle and end, that is really challenging. I seem to have settled into a pattern of writing stories somewhere around 700-900 words for this purpose. I don’t know what that is, as I usually write short stories of somewhat greater length (2500-3500 words), but I think it has something to do with sitting down and doing the whole thing in one session. Regardless, the stories I have come up have proven to be good beginnings for more polished work.

That’s it for today. I promise — truly, really, honestly promise — to post more often. Of course, given that my last post was just over a year ago, I’m not making any promises about what, exactly, ‘more often’ means.

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