From The Threepenny Review—seven to one aren’t particularly good odds.
In the abstract, everyone would like to fall in love with a famous writer. It holds out the promise of fabulous love letters and, if one is very lucky, immortalization as the subject of a super-romantic poem. I mean, Keats’ beloved Fanny Brawne really lucked out, I think, with “Bright star, bright star / would I were as steadfast as thou art.” I would be thrilled if someone would write that about me.
But it’s not always like that. In fact, it usually isn’t. A few years back, the wonderful music critic Nitsuh Abebe took to his Tumblr to point out that, in fact, writers are actually sort of terrible to date. Selfish, too focused on writing, did I mention selfish? And though Abebe doesn’t cite specific examples, I will. Literary history is littered with them.
Of course, viewed in a certain light, nearly every famous writer has a checkered romantic past. But some are worse than others, on the relative scale of romantic tomfoolery. Here are some truly egregious examples from the annals of literary history, mostly men, which was not a conscious choice of mine but just sort of happened. Make of that what you will.
Read the whole thing at the above link.
What is neo-noir fiction? It’s contemporary dark fiction. It was built on the backbone of classic noir and hardboiled fiction, but it’s evolved to be so much more than that. It is a genre-bending subgenre that includes edgy literary fiction, as well as fantasy, science fiction, and horror. It also touches on niche storytelling like magical realism, slipstream, transgressive, and the grotesque. There is a movement out there, right now, one that has been heating up over the last ten years…
From the Huffington Post:
The guidelines for literary and mainstream fiction often differ from those of popular fiction such as romance novels, fantasy novels, crimes novels, etc. Although the guidelines for submitting literary and mainstream novels are similar, the content of the work is very different, and it’s important to distinguish between the two.
If your novel doesn’t fall into the genre fiction categories, don’t automatically assume it’s literary fiction. Literary fiction tends to focus on complex issues and the beauty of the writing itself, and your novel may rely more on action, which is the tendency of mainstream fiction. So how do you know if your novel is literary or mainstream, and how best to move forward if your book doesn’t perfectly match the definition of either category?
Answers at the link.
From Byliner, “George Orwell, Ann Patchett, and others on the blood, sweat, and joy of storytelling.”
“You can write any time people will leave you alone and not interrupt you,” Ernest Hemingway told George Plimpton in their classic 1958 Paris Review interview. “Or rather you can if you will be ruthless enough about it. But the best writing is certainly when you are in love.” Then Hemingway got shy: “If it is all the same to you I would rather not expound on that.”
From Mental Floss:
In August of 1815, Napoleon set sail for Elba, where the overthrown leader was allowed to keep his title of emperor, reigning over the island’s 12,000 inhabitants. Not every exiled person got to possess political clout, but for a collection of creative thinkers, getting banished from their homelands (or banishing themselves, for that matter) helped some of their most famous compositions see the light of day.
Read the full text here.
From brain pickings:
Wisdom on the written word
From The Atlantic:
Jonathan Franzen, Margaret Atwood, David Gilbert, Roxane Gay, and other writers share their thoughts on what makes an inviting and memorable opening sentence.
From brain pickings—The Writer’s Technique in Thirteen Theses, with this introduction:
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open,” Stephen King advised. “Do back exercises,”Margaret Atwood suggested. “Know everything about adjectives and punctuation, have moral intelligence,” Susan Sontag counseled. Each accomplished author seems to have a different secret to the craft of writing, but some of the most enduring advice comes from legendary German literary critic, philosopher, and essayists Walter Benjamin. Under a section titled “Post No Bills” in his 1928 treatise One-Way Street, found in his indispensableReflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (public library), Benjamin offers thirteen essentials of the writer’s technique, touching on familiar themes like the value of keeping a notebook (Virginia Woolf), the incubation period of ideas (T. S. Eliot), the role of discipline (Henry Miller), and the distinct stages of writing (Malcolm Cowley):