Following one’s instincts

The more I read the more confused I get.  I just wanna write about stuff I’m interested in and stuff that I think will benefit readers.  Here’s what I wrote in the manuscript synopsis I had to turn in during my first semester: American society is increasingly secular and is undergoing increased polarization between the secular and religious as well as among faiths and denominations. In the 2012 presidential election we saw representation from two historically marginalized groups – Mormons and African-Americans. Clearly the influence of European-derived Protestantism is diminishing. And with change comes the potential for conflict. We see this in so-called “anti-sharia” bills and in massacres in Jain temples. Stories have the power to change perception and feelings – that’s what narrative is about, whether fiction or nonfiction. Understanding has the power to prevent or mitigate conflict. That is my over-arching goal with this manuscript: to tell stories that have the power to open minds. As I report and write more, I will have a more detailed view of how the stories will go together. So I just want to write about that stuff.  I don’t want to write a magazine article and then try to turn it into a nonfiction novel.  I don’t want to crack my knuckles and start an essay as though I’m composing a sonata.  I just wanna write about what’s going on and what I think about it.  I am driving myself absolutely […]

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Starbucks vs. Panera vs. home

I’m at Starbucks because I met a friend here and thought I’d go ahead and continuing writing while I’m here.  It’s just not the same as Panera and I’m not getting much done.  I’m not sure why.  Panera is bigger, so maybe that’s it.  Maybe Starbucks has a different vibe. Of course the option does exist for me to work […]

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By George I think…

…I’m getting it.  Over the last 36 hours or so I’ve had a sea change in my understanding of narrative writing and simultaneously in my attitude towards the special-interest magazine writing I’ve been doing.  This semester I was nervous about having time to work and also study – although of course I was also getting nervous about paying my bills, […]

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Replace the quotes – with what?

I’m reading Storycraft by Jack Hart, at the suggestion of my Goucher mentor, and it’s kind of blowing my mind as I try to free myself of standard journalistic writing and start writing more like a narrative journalist.  One of the things I must re-think once, twice or perhaps three times is the use of direct quotes.  Hart notes that […]

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Nuts, bolts, bridges and paths

<sigh> As I continue working on my first formal assignment in my MFA program at Goucher I am having all kinds of revelations about story, which is great but also creating challenges I never expected.  I have been writing like a journalist long enough that I can’t break the habit: Intro, quote, paragraph, quote, paragraph, paragraph, quote, paragraph, ending.  Like […]

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Profile as story

I am working on a profile as a school assignment.  In my continuing quest to free my brain of magazine writing, as usual my brain is full of challenges and confusion.  I’m using reporting from the story I wrote for the Chronicle about Mormon missionaries, and when I sat down to work on the profile I immediately started combing through […]

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