On mothers writing about sex…

Interesting post on BuzzFeed of all places: Madonnas And Whores: On Mothers Writing About Sex.

I don’t tend to think of the authors I’m reading as anything but “authors.” That is, I don’t wonder if they are parents or assign them that designation or any other. I do think it’s odd how many people get fiction confused with real life, as if the author cannot write about anything that she hasn’t personally experienced.

Junot Diaz on people of color in MFA programs

Read Junot Diaz’s piece in The New Yorker about his experiences in the Cornell MFA program.

I was in an English literature/creative writing program in the early 1990s, and I can remember only one assignment of a book-length work by a person of color, which was Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston. I cannot recall being assigned anything written by a person who was not born in the UK, US, or Western Europe. Granted, that may be a function of the classes I chose to take, but the core canon definitely excluded non-white, non-Western points of view.

I don’t know if things have changed. Judging from the comments on Diaz’s piece, I’d say not very much. 

From the piece:

“In my workshop there was an almost lunatical belief that race was no longer a major social force (it’s class!). In my workshop we never explored our racial identities or how they impacted our writing—at all. Never got any kind of instruction in that area—at all. Shit, in my workshop we never talked about race except on the rare occasion someone wanted to argue that “race discussions” were exactly the discussion a serious writer should not be having.”

Does discussion of race matter when teaching literature and writing? Should it?

Daily Writing Practice…

Successful writers often suggest writing daily, whether you feel like it or not. Daily writing practices differ but all seem to serve the same purpose: warming up the writing “muscle” before working it out. I think William Stafford’s practice is a particularly adaptable example. Check it out on PowellsBooks.Blog – Four Elements of a Daily Writing Page in William Stafford’s Practice – Powell’s Books.

Want to be a writer?

Want to be a writer? No, a real writer. You know, a person who writes, everyday. Well, this little piece will tell you the simple secret to becoming a real writer: How To Push Past The Bullshit And Write That Goddamn Novel: A Very Simple No-Fuckery Writing Plan To Get Shit Done « terribleminds: chuck wendig. Great advice!

Oh, and here’s a handy infographic if you’re one of those writers who doesn’t like to read.

Famous Last Words

A question on Quora asked: What are the most famous final passages from books or stories? Here are my votes for the top five. Feel free to add your favorite last lines in the comments.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” — The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“and yes I said yes I will Yes.” — Ulysses, James Joyce

“He loved Big Brother.” — Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

“‘It is a far, far, better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far, better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.’”– A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“‘After all, tomorrow is another day.’” — Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

And five other good ones I missed:

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” — Animal Farm, George Orwell

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?” — The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

“I been there before.” — Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

“But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.” — Emma, Jane Austen

 “I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.”  — Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (not a book I personally liked, but this is a great line)

I looked through my favorite books on LibraryThing and added a few more last lines that have significant meaning for me.

“Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” — Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

“Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” — The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

“I am legend.” — I Am Legend, Richard Matheson

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” — The Dark Tower, Stephen King

“He says that he will never die.” — Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy

“And then I woke up.” — No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy

“So this is what everybody’s always talking about! Diablo! If only I’d known. The beauty! The beauty!” — The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

“And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.” — The Shipping News, Annie Proulx

“He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” — To Kill a Mockingbird