Candace Spigelman investigates the dynamics of ownership in small group writing workshops, basing her findings on case studies involving two groups: a five-member creative writing group meeting monthly at a local Philadelphia coffee bar and a four-member college-level writing group meeting in their composition classroom. She explores the relationship between particular notions of intellectual property within each group as well as the effectiveness of writing groups that embrace these notions. Addressing the negotiations between the public and private domains of writing within these groups, she discovers that for both the committed writers and the novices, “values associated with textual ownership play a crucial role in writing group performance.”
Spigelman discusses textual ownership, intellectual property, and writing group processes and then reviews theories relating to authorship and knowledge making. After introducing the participants in each group, discussing their texts, and describing their workshop sessions, she examines the writers’ avowed and implied beliefs about exchanging ideas and protecting individual property rights.
Spigelman stresses the necessary tension between individual and social aspects of writing practices: She argues for the need to foster more collaborative activity among student writers by replicating the processes of writers working in nonacademic settings but also contends that all writers must be allowed to imagine their individual agency and authority as they compose.
A Braided Heart provides a friendly, personal, and smart guide to the writing life. It also offers clear and original instruction on craft elements at the forefront of today’s emerging forms in creative nonfiction: from the short-short, to the braided form, to the hermit crab essay. An acknowledged expert in these forms, Brenda Miller gives writers practical advice on how to sustain and invigorate their writing practice, while also encouraging readers to explore their own writing lives.
“Brenda Miller writes so beautifully in these lyrical and ‘braided’ essays—personal meditations that take us deep into the miracle of writing itself. Her eye is always alert, her ear wonderfully tuned to the nuances of perception. The art of the essay is alive and well in her hands.”
—Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me
Beginning with “The Writer’s Wonderland—Or: A Warning” and ending with “You’ve Published a Book—Now What?” The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide is a must-read for creative-writing students and teachers, conference participants, and aspiring writers of every stamp. Directed primarily at fiction writers but suitable for writers of all genres, John McNally’s guide is a comprehensive, take-no-prisoners blunt, highly idiosyncratic, and delightfully subjective take on the writing life.
McNally has earned the right to dispense advice on this subject. He has published three novels, two collections of short fiction, and hundreds of individual stories and essays. He has edited six anthologies and worked with editors at university presses, commercial houses, and small presses. He has earned three degrees, including an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and taught writing to thousands of students at nine different universities. But he has received far more rejections than acceptances, has endured years of underpaid adjunct work, and is presently hard at work on a novel for which he has no guarantee of publication. In other words, he’s been at the writing game long enough to rack up plenty of the highs and lows that translate into an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to become a writer or anyone who is already a writer but doesn’t know how to take the next step toward the writing life.
In the sections The Decision to Become a Writer, Education and the Writer, Getting Published, Publicity, Employment for Writers, and The Writer’s Life, McNally wrestles with writing degrees and graduate programs, the nuts and bolts of agents and query letters and critics, book signings and other ways to promote your book, alcohol and other home remedies, and jobs for writers from adjunct to tenure-track. Chapters such as “What Have You Ever Done That’s Worth Writing About?” “Can Writing Be Taught?” “Rejection: Putting It in Perspective,” “Writing as a Competitive Sport,” “Seven Types of MLA Interview Committees,” “Money and the Writer,” and the all-important “Talking about Writing vs. Writing” cover a vast range of writerly topics from learning your craft to making a living at it. McNally acts as the writer’s friendly drill sergeant, relentlessly honest but bracingly cheerful as he issues his curmudgeonly marching orders. Alternately cranky and philosophical, full of to-the-point anecdotes and honest advice instead of wonkish facts and figures, The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide is a snarky, truthful, and immensely helpful map to being a writer in today’s complex world.
In Austin, Texas, in 2002, a group of artists, activists, and academics led by performance studies scholar Omi Osun Joni L. Jones formed the Austin Project (tAP), which meets annually in order to provide a space for women of color and their allies to build relationships based on trust, creativity, and commitment to social justice by working together to write and perform work in the jazz aesthetic.
Inspired by this experience, this book is both an anthology of new writing and a sourcebook for those who would like to use creative writing and performance to energize their artistic, scholarly, and activist practices. Theoretical and historical essays by Omi Osun Joni L. Jones describe and define the African American tradition of art-making known as the jazz aesthetic, and explain how her own work in this tradition inspired her to start tAP.
Key artists in the tradition, from Bessie Award–winning choreographer Laurie Carlos and writer/performer Robbie McCauley to playwrights Daniel Alexander Jones and Carl Hancock Rux, worked with the women of tAP as mentors and teachers. This book brings together never-before-published, must-read materials by these nationally known artists and the transformative writing of tAP participants. A handbook for workshop leaders by Lambda Literary Award–winning writer Sharon Bridgforth, tAP's inaugural anchor artist, offers readers the tools for starting similar projects in their own communities. A full-length script of the 2005 tAP performance is an original documentation of the collaborative, breath-based, body work of the jazz aesthetic in theatre, and provides both a script for use by theatre artists and an invaluable documentation of a major transformative movement in contemporary performance.
In this funny and perceptive collection, novelist and essayist Robert Cohen shares his thoughts on the writing process and then puts these prescriptions into practice—from how to rant effectively as an essayist and novelist (“The Piano has been Drinking”), how to achieve your own style, naming characters (and creating them), how one manages one’s own identity with being “a writer” in time and space, to the use of reference and allusion in one’s work. Cohen is a deft weaver of allusion himself. In lieu of telling the reader how to master the elements of writing fiction, he shows them through the work of the writers who most influenced his own development, including Bellow, Lawrence, Chekhov, and Babel. Rooted in his own experiences, this collection of essays shows readers how to use their influences and experiences to create bold, personal, and individual work. While the first part of the book teaches writing, the essays in the second part show how these elements come together.
Wendy Bishop and David Starkey have created a remarkable resource volume for creative writing students and other writers just getting started. In two- to ten-page discussions, these authors introduce forty-one central concepts in the fields of creative writing and writing instruction, with discussions that are accessible yet grounded in scholarship and years of experience.
Keywords in Creative Writing provides a brief but comprehensive introduction to the field of creative writing through its landmark terms, exploring concerns as abstract as postmodernism and identity politics alongside very practical interests of beginning writers, like contests, agents, and royalties. This approach makes the book ideal for the college classroom as well as the writer’s bookshelf, and unique in the field, combining the pragmatic accessibility of popular writer’s handbooks, with a wider, more scholarly vision of theory and research.
Naming What We Know examines the core principles of knowledge in the discipline of writing studies using the lens of “threshold concepts”—concepts that are critical for epistemological participation in a discipline. The first part of the book defines and describes thirty-seven threshold concepts of the discipline in entries written by some of the field’s most active researchers and teachers, all of whom participated in a collaborative wiki discussion guided by the editors. These entries are clear and accessible, written for an audience of writing scholars, students, and colleagues in other disciplines and policy makers outside the academy. Contributors describe the conceptual background of the field and the principles that run throughout practice, whether in research, teaching, assessment, or public work around writing. Chapters in the second part of the book describe the benefits and challenges of using threshold concepts in specific sites—first-year writing programs, WAC/WID programs, writing centers, writing majors—and for professional development to present this framework in action.
Naming What We Know opens a dialogue about the concepts that writing scholars and teachers agree are critical and about why those concepts should and do matter to people outside the field.
Fun and innovative exercises and prompts for creative writing students
Once Upon a Time in the Twenty-First Century: Unexpected Exercises in Creative Writing is a unique creative writing text that will appeal to a wide range of readers and writers—from grade nine through college and beyond. Successful creative writers from numerous genres constructed these exercises, including poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction to one-act plays, song lyrics, genre fiction, travel guides, comics and beyond. The exercises use a broad range of creative approaches, aesthetics, and voices, all with an emphasis on demystifying the writing process and having fun.
Editor Robin Behn has divided the book into three writing sections: Genres and Forms, Sources and Methods, and Style and Subject. In each section, Behn offers a brief introduction which explains how to get started and specific ways to develop one’s writing. Each introduction is followed by extensive exercises that draw on literature from classic to contemporary, as well as other art forms and popular culture. Examples range from Flannery O’Connor and Langston Hughes to Allen Ginsberg and Gertrude Stein, from Jamaica Kincaid and James Joyce to Arlo Guthrie and Harryette Mullen. Integrated within the exercises are apt examples of student writings that have emerged from actual use of the exercises in both the classroom and in writing groups. The book concludes with general advice and direction on how to get published.
Based on years of hands-on experiences in the teaching of creative writing in high schools, colleges, and after-school writing clubs, this volume of exercises offers inestimable value to students and teachers in the traditional classroom, as well as a growing number of homeschoolers, those who are part of a writing club or group, and independent writers and learners of all ages.
Michael Joyce's new collection continues to examine the connections between the poles of art and instruction, writing and teaching in the form of what Joyce has called theoretical narratives, pieces that are both narratives of theory and texts in which theory often takes the form of narrative. His concerns include hypertext and interactive fiction, the geography of cyberspace, and interactive film, and Joyce here searches out the emergence of network culture in spaces ranging from the shifting nature of the library to MOOs and other virtual spaces to life along a river.
While in this collection Joyce continues to be one of our most lyrical, wide-ranging, and informed cultural critics and theorists of new media, his essays exhibit an evolving distrust of unconsidered claims for newness in the midst of what Joyce calls "the blizzard of the next," as well as a recurrent insistence upon grounding our experience of the emergence of network culture in the body.
Michael Joyce is Associate Professor of English, Vassar College. He is author of a number of hypertext fictions on the web and on disk, most notably Afternoon: A Story.
His previous books are Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics and Moral Tale and Meditations: Technological Parables and Refractions.
Why do we need new art? How free is the artist in making? And why is the artist, and particularly the poet, a figure of freedom in Western culture? The MacArthur Award–winning poet and critic Susan Stewart ponders these questions in The Poet’s Freedom. Through a series of evocative essays, she not only argues that freedom is necessary to making and is itself something made, but also shows how artists give rules to their practices and model a self-determination that might serve in other spheres of work.
The Promise of Failure is part memoir of the writing life, part advice book, and part craft book; sometimes funny, sometimes wrenching, but always honest. McNally uses his own life as a blueprint for the writer’s daily struggles as well as the existential ones, tackling subjects such as when to quit and when to keep going, how to deal with depression, what risking something of yourself means, and ways to reenergize your writing through reinvention.
What McNally illuminates is how rejection, in its best light, is another element of craft, a necessary stage to move the writer from one project to the next, and that it’s best to see rejection and failure on a life-long continuum so that you can see the interconnectedness between failure and success, rather than focusing on failure as a measure of self-worth. As brutally candid as McNally can sometimes be, The Promise of Failure is ultimately an inspiring book—never in a Pollyannaish self-help way. McNally approaches the reader as a sympathetic companion with cautionary tales to tell. Written by an author who has as many unpublished books under his belt as published ones, The Promise of Failure is as much for the newcomer as it is for the established writer.
Relocating Authority examines the ways Japanese Americans have continually used writing to respond to the circumstances of their community’s mass imprisonment during World War II. Using both Nikkei cultural frameworks and community-specific history for methodological inspiration and guidance, Mira Shimabukuro shows how writing was used privately and publicly to individually survive and collectively resist the conditions of incarceration.
Examining a wide range of diverse texts and literacy practices such as diary entries, note-taking, manifestos, and multiple drafts of single documents, Relocating Authority draws upon community archives, visual histories, and Asian American history and theory to reveal the ways writing has served as a critical tool for incarcerees and their descendants. Incarcerees not only used writing to redress the “internment” in the moment but also created pieces of text that enabled and inspired further redress long after the camps had closed.
Relocating Authority highlights literacy’s enduring potential to participate in social change and assist an imprisoned people in relocating authority away from their captors and back to their community and themselves. It will be of great interest to students and scholars of ethnic and Asian American rhetorics, American studies, and anyone interested in the relationship between literacy and social justice.
This unique, comprehensive introduction to screenwriting offers practical advice for the beginning writer, whether college student or freelancer. Based on their experience as professional writers and as teachers in a large, successful screenwriting program at California State University, Northridge, the authors provide a progression of assignments at manageable screenwriting lengths for beginners. They lead students through development of a premise, treatment, stepsheet, and, finally, miniscreenplay—essential elements in writing a longer script.
A major feature of the text is the use of many example scenes from contemporary and classic American films, such as On the Waterfront, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Godfather, The Graduate, Tootsie, and more. Other scenes are drawn from international films and dramatic literature. The criticism of these scenes invites students to develop their own comparative models, while simultaneously providing exposure to the central analytical terms of good dramatic writing.
The authors also place screenwriting within the larger tradition of dramatic writing in order to put the beginning writer in touch with the wealth of art, experience, and practical ideas the drama contains. They provide an up-to-date, practical discussion of marketing and copywriting a screenplay, with addresses of relevant professional societies. Most importantly, they never offer an ill-advised shortcut or restrict students to only one way of thinking about a character, situation, or scene. In The Understructure of Writing for Film & Television, the student's thought and creativity are central.
In this encompassing and accessible introduction to dramaturgy, Felicia Hardison Londré promotes the dramaturgical essay as both an art form and as a method for improving creative writing skills. Words at Play: Creative Writing and Dramaturgy includes Londré’s essays on plays produced at several regional professional theatre companies interspersed with instructive examples for writing more clearly, economically, and compellingly.
Beginning with an introduction that outlines the purpose of the dramaturgical essay as well as its usefulness as a tool for teaching how to write for the theatre, Londré provides numerous examples of this specialized literary genre culled from program essays she has written for Missouri Repertory Theatre, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, American Heartland Theatre, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Words at Play: Creative Writing and Dramaturgy contains more than sixty complete essays and pertinent selections from twenty others.
Drawing on personal and professional experiences as a teacher and dramaturg, Londré considers plays from timeless classics, including those of Shakespeare and Chekhov, to contemporary favorites and a few unusual and largely unknown pieces. Words at Play: Creative Writing and Dramaturgy furthermore incorporates introductory paragraphs that are informal and personal yet cogent and critical, providing readers with object lessons in both writing style and analysis. Taking the reader into her confidence, Londré also shows how a dramaturg develops a print relationship with other theatre artists and the community. A foreword by Royal Shakespeare Company associate artist Barry Kyle addresses the evolving role of the dramaturg in Britain and America. Dakin Williams, brother of playwright Tennessee Williams, provides a letter.
Writer’s block is more than a mere matter of discomfort and missed deadlines; sustained experiences of writer’s block may influence academic success and career choices. Writers in the business world, professional writers, and students all have known this most common and least studied problem with the composing process. Mike Rose, however, sees it as a limitable problem that can be precisely analyzed and remedied through instruction and tutorial programs.
Rose defines writer’s block as “an inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than a lack of skill or commitment,” which is measured by “passage of time with limited productive involvement in the writing task.” He applies insights of cognitive psychology to reveal dimensions of the problem never before examined.
In his three-faceted approach, Rose develops and administers a questionnaire to identify writers experiencing both high and low degrees of blocking; through stimulated recall he examines the composing processes of these writers; and he proposes a cognitive conceptualization of writer’s block and of the composing process.
In drawing up his model, Rose delineates many cognitive errors that cause blocking, such as inflexible rules or conflicting planning strategies. He also discusses the practices and strategies that promote effective composition.
The reissue of this classic study of writer’s block includes a new preface by the author that advocates more mixed-methods research in rhetoric and composition, details how he conducted his writer’s block study, and discusses how his approach to a study like this would be different if conducted today.
In Writing Genres, Amy J. Devitt examines genre from rhetorical, social, linguistic, professional, and historical perspectives and explores genre's educational uses, making this volume the most comprehensive view of genre theory today.
Writing Genres does not limit itself to literary genres or to ideas of genres as formal conventions but additionally provides a theoretical definition of genre as rhetorical, dynamic, and flexible, which allows scholars to examine the role of genres in academic, professional, and social communities.
Writing Genres demonstrates how genres function within their communities rhetorically and socially, how they develop out of their contexts historically, how genres relate to other types of norms and standards in language, and how genres nonetheless enable creativity. Devitt also advocates a critical genre pedagogy based on these ideas and provides a rationale for first-year writing classes grounded in teaching antecedent genres.
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