Close Your Eyes: a short story

A shooting star streaked through the clear mustard sky and burst apart, bombarding the plateau and the colony below with shrapnel. After a fragment with a bullet’s velocity shattered a dish on the colony’s communications tower, Arjun decided to climb the tower himself to repair the dish rather than pull construction drones away from their scheduled work.

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Ayad Akhtar on faith, identity and storytelling

Pulitzer Prize–winner Ayad Akhtar on faith, identity, writing and storytelling.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on failure

“I always consider the entire process about failure, and I think that’s the reason why more people don’t write.”

Zahir Janmohamed: Writer of Color

Essay in Guernica magazine on being asked to speak for a whole community and region rather than yourself.

I wanted to say I am not a political writer. My life has never been political, but sometimes, like that one time when I was dressed in my swim trunks and flip flops and flew to Miami with my friends and a TSA agent pulled me aside and questioned me about the nature of “my business in the U.S.,” well, then the story of my life is made “political.” I wanted to tell them that if being a writer is to endure loneliness then being a writer of color in America is to suffer banishment: the only boat off this island often being if I write a certain kind of story in a certain kind of way for a certain kind of audience, which is to say—and we do not say these words enough—for a white audience. But I could not get myself to say these things and instead I just stared at my brown fingers hovering above the black keys on my laptop, unable to type.

Almost the second draft

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Getting close to officially completing the second draft of my novel. Picked up a print-out of the book yesterday from Staples. I’ll start a full read-through next week and spend the next month or so finalizing the draft. A lot of positive changes came via my six-month mentorship at Banff. The book is currently 85,000 words (332 pages in this format), down from 91,000 when I started the mentorship. Before that started, I had already cut it down from the 120,000 words it was as an official first draft. Throughout the mentorship, I had this fantastic feeling of watching the book get better and better with each passing day. Now I’m curious to see how all the edits turned out.

How To Make Write

how to make write by grant snider

Grant Snider

Revisions

I’m finishing the first draft revisions this weekend. Hey, I’m going to Turkey next weekend (!). So I have to finish it this weekend—personal goal, one of my 2011 resolutions. Whatever it is by this weekend, that’s what it will be–though it’s still a first draft. What is it like? A little bit of Salman Rushdie, a bit of Michael Chabon and a bit of Looney Tunes. My literary role models right now are Chabon and Nick Harkaway.

The first draft…

Three years, eight months, and one hundred and twenty thousand words later, the messy first draft of my novel is done! Now to start reading it over. It’s messy, so this is like the alpha or something, like v 0.843. I’ll read it and spend a couple of weeks revising it before even considering it an official v 1.0 first draft (which itself is only the first of many future drafts…). I’m a little apprehensive, to be honest. This past year, I blazed through the draft. I was ticked off at myself for taking so long (never mind that I had a lot of structural decisions to make). Maybe 10 months ago, I was at something like 50,000 words, and now I’m at 120,000. So I really blazed through. I said to myself, “Don’t worry about making it perfect, just make it. It will be perfect later.” I kicked myself in the ass and have managed to end up with this thing, whatever it is, but I know I can do better—the gap between good taste and the thing I’ve made. Keep doing the work, that’s how you close the gap.

Tweeting and Writing and Deflating Like a Balloon

via Frank Chimero’s blog:

Writing 140 characters is difficult if one is trying to say something with poignancy. It’s hard to tell the truth in a tiny box, because the truth is so big and round and gray. Most things I write are crude and awkward, overly unrelenting, not capable of holding the necessary nuance for a confession or an insight. One can’t go too deep in a stunted format. But still, it kind of feels like writing because my fingers are flying, there is that sound of the keyboard, that row of letters getting longer, that momentum of the cursor pushing right. But, it’s not the same as lengthier writing, because it doesn’t necessarily take us anywhere.

Lengthier writing is hard, because it requires one to commit to it. One must be alone. One can not write in a group. One must step away, shut off the world. What do I think? How do I feel? What is this itch? How can I scratch it? Why am I so sad? Why did this make me happy? What’s it like being a father? Why did that project work? What did I learn?

Zadie Smith on style

Style is a writer’s way of telling the truth. Literary success or failure, by this measure, depends not only on the refinement of words on a page, but in the refinement of a consciousness, what Aristotle called the education of the emotions.

–Zadie Smith, “Fail Better