Culture & Literature
The Writer

The Writer September 2019

Since 1887 The Writer has provided the motivation, writing techniques, expert tips and compelling author insights that turn good writing into great writing. We’ll help you become a better writer, find markets for your work, understand the business of writing, follow industry news and trends, reach your goals, and more!

United States
Madavor Media, LLC
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12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
this writer’s block

Recently, I found myself spiraling face-first into a nasty bout of Not Writing. I had time. I had energy. I knew what I should write next. And yet the thought of opening my draft was so fearsome, I reorganized my sock drawer nine times rather than face the blank page. We have published dozens upon dozens of authors in our pages who say writer’s block does not exist. I happen to agree with them: There’s no plot tangle or weak character that can’t be fixed without a combination of good feedback, a determined mind, and ample amounts of butt-in-chair time. No, I don’t think writer’s block exists. But writers do get blocks, and it usually has little to do with writing. Mine was fear, plain and simple. I got close enough to the finish…

1 min.
2019 summer flash contest

Time is running out! Our summer writing contest will be over in a flash. Submit your 1,000-word short story or essay by Aug. 15 for your chance to win $1,000 and publication in a future issue of The Writer. We can’t wait to read your work. (And if you miss this contest, don’t despair: Our fall fiction contest is just around the corner.) The hottest books of fall 2019 When the kids head back to school, head to our blog to see the most-buzzed-about books of fall. We’ll also highlight upcoming page-to-screen film adaptations and share all the newest writing books hitting shelves this season. Survey: What should we cover in 2020? What do you want to see more of in future issues of The Writer? Take our reader survey and let us know –…

8 min.
enough with the trash talk!

The other day one of my Facebook friends who makes his living as a screenwriter-slash-writing professor posted some advice he’d received years ago from one of his own instructors: A crappy first draft is worth more than a nonexisting one. He followed the post with this endorsement: Words to live by. As an author and writing teacher myself, I read this counsel and had two reactions. First, is nonexisting a word? (Isn’t the proper term nonexistent?) Second, here we go again with the trash talking. I certainly agree that any start is better than a blank page. But why do so many writing authorities insist on name calling when it comes to first drafts? Take Ernest Hemingway, who warned his many disciples, “The first draft of anything is s**t.” And then there…

2 min.

Anthologies for authors These two star-studded tomes are worthy additions to your fall reading list. The Writer’s Reader: Vocation, Preparation, Creation Edited by Robert Cohen and Jay Parini Flannery O’Connor. Julia Alvarez. Zadie Smith. Jorge Luis Borges. Italo Calvino. David Foster Wallace. The table of contents in The Writer’s Reader: Vocation, Preparation, Creation reads like a Who’s Who of All-Time Writing Greats. And as the subtitle suggests, Middlebury College professors Robert Cohen and Jay Parini’s anthology is divided into three sections: Vocation, Preparation, and Creation. In the first section on vocation, readers can find titles like “My Vocation” from Natalia Ginzburg and “Letter to a Young Gentleman who Proposes to Embrace the Career of Art” from Robert Louis Stevenson; in the second, works like Henry Miller’s “Reading in the Toilet” and Ha Jin’s “Deciding to…

1 min.
back to work

Make your daily commute less painful with these fun on-the-go products. “Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.” —Rita Mae Brown BOOKBAG, MEET BOOK BAG Tote your latest bookstore haul home with this adorable library-themed sack. $19, amazon.com OLD-SCHOOL E-BOOKS This vintage-inspired Kindle case lets e-readers still experience the pleasure of having a bound book in their hands. $25, etsy.com LOVE YOUR LAPTOP Keep your computer snugly protected with this laptop sleeve designed with book lovers in mind. $39, society6.com LIT KICKS These bookish sneakers are bound to put a pep in your step on your way to work or play. $20-30, amazon.com A THIRST FOR BOOKS Stay classy (and hydrated) with these sleek S’well bottles from Out Of Print, currently available in Alice in Wonderland, Great Gatsby, and composition notebook designs. $35, outofprint.com…

5 min.
the post-book blues

When the author’s copies of my debut novel arrived at my house, I hugged the UPS guy. I thought about calling my neighbor, a good friend, over to celebrate. I thought about filming an unboxing video. I imagined I’d include my dog in this video. (At the time, Sprocket had some 350 Facebook friends, and exactly eight of them in common with me.) But really, it was all window dressing for what was actually growing inside of me. The hug and the Facebook post and the Twitter post and even the sentiment that I really should post an unboxing video – all of that was gauzy curtains over the huge black hole in my chest that was labeled NOW WHAT? And subtitled I AM SO BORED or WHAT IS WRONG WITH…