vid002: From head to heart

In this video, I fixate on one particular topic: Scott’s quest to turn his second book (a novel in progress) into a deeper story. And more generally: can you turn something formulaic (and in your head) into something deeper (and in your heart)?

Not only is Scott smart, he’s also funny. So you’ll notice that I can’t help but giggle through a lot of Scott’s stories. Sorry.

Regarding the making of this video: I forced myself to create it mostly through still shots with my iPhone (while also learning how to crudely edit video in Final Cut Pro!) just to make things awkward for me (and maybe for you too). Hope you enjoy it just the same…

Thanks again to all those who submitted hug photos. I hope I did those great photos justice.

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For more information about this half-baked series (and how to subscribe to it), check out The Creative Turn.

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tctpod-season1-02: The second big thing (with Scott Sparling)

In this podcast episode, I talk with Scott Sparling about the challenges of writing the second book. We talk about bringing a work-in-progress into your heart when it wasn't born in the heart. We talk about the egomaniacalness of comparing your work to the Beatles. We discuss the pros and cons of having a deadline for your writing project. We discuss bad book sales, writing in tree houses, stones on the beach, delusions of grandeur, depression, tenacity, stubbornness, and masturbating while writing. Enjoy!

Show notes:

Video inspired by the conversation

Meta links:

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17.5% less sucky

The week that John Gruber and Merlin Mann linked to my video tribute of their SXSW conversation, I started getting (temporarily) 8,000 hits a day on my website. As opposed to the previous 50 hits a day. I don’t count these things too closely, but it was a shocking change. I’ve had a few other notable spikes in attention. Once for writing about my Twitter code of conduct, once for talking about my failures with the New Yorker magazine, and once for talking about my failure to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book that discusses 10,000 hours.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because numbers are tricky. [Read more…]

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vid001: Marinating with Joan Didion and Telaina Eriksen

In this video, I fixate on two cool topics that came up during my conversation with Telaina Eriksen:

  1. Writing in the moment vs. letting things marinate
  2. Putting your thoughts within the context of a particular scene

I take an under-educated stance on why Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking worked so well.

I also find a way to stick my kid’s precious stuffed animal (Shaggy the Jaguar) into the video.

Related links:

For more information about this half-baked series (and how to subscribe to it), check out The Creative Turn.

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tctpod-season1-01: The depressing episode (with Telaina Eriksen)

In this podcast episode, I get to talk to my friend Telaina Eriksen about how she is able to write about grief and loss and death in her essays. I first met Telaina in 2008 when we both were in the Antioch University low-residency MFA program. I’ve been wanting to ask her about how she gets to these difficult places in her writing for a few years now, and this so-called podcast thingy gave me the chance… Join us for this delightful romp through grief and loss and death.

Show notes:

Video inspired by the conversation

Meta links:

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video: The Failure of the Intended Story (with Thaisa Frank)

This video is based on my interview for The Rumpus with the fabulous Thaisa Frank. She said a lot of incredible things about the writing process during our conversation, but there was one particular thing about the “failure of the intended story” that really knocked me out. Let me know what you think…

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You can find a list of all my videos here. And you can subscribe to my second-rate blog either by email or RSS.

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video: Obsessing (with Elizabeth McCracken)

In this first episode, I (pretend to) talk with Elizabeth McCracken about the challenge of writing when you’re not obsessed with your project.

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Consider subscribing to my second-rate blog either by email or RSS.

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I’m a Failed Publicist (+ New Video)

It’s been a tough month. A tough month with very little writing. A month of reading at bookstores around the west coast and doing interviews and doing a not-so-great job at publicizing the release of my novel. It is amazing how consuming even doing a bad job of publicizing a book can be. I can tell you that I’m not a natural at publicity. Follow my lame Facebook author page to get an idea. (I’m admittedly better at Twitter, but if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll learn more about my drinking and parenting problems than any book news.) Even though there have been plenty of moments this month when I want to hide in my attic and never confront humanity again, there have been some fabulous moments too, like when someone grabs me after a reading and says, “I made my husband read your book. He never reads fiction. But he loved this book… even the weird parts.” Those moments are worth a hundred hide-from-humanity moments (which gives you an idea of how many hide-from-humanity moments I’ve had lately)……

While I get my head on straight with how to proceed after this book tour, I wanted to share the video I used while on my book tour. I billed it as a “MAKING OF… VIDEO” for my book. It was my experiment at finding a fresh way to talk about a book while still keeping the audience entertained. It attempts to address one of the biggest questions I get about my book: What the hell is true and what is fiction? It also addresses another question I get a lot: How the hell did you piece this thing together? (I guess a lot of my questions have the word “hell” in them…)

Consider subscribing to my second-rate blog either by email or RSS. Or, to hell with my blog, just check out my book. Or, to hell with it all, never come back again.

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This isn’t your mother’s neurotic Jew novel

I’ve had trouble knowing how to talk about my novel, especially outside of my immediate literary community. The thing is that it’s a story that readers from many realms could enjoy (which is what I tell myself while quietly weeping at night thinking about that reviewer who hated my book). But there are caveats. Caveats that I honestly had no great way to talk through. Until Kristen Forbes did it for me. In this post on her blog, she shares how she talks to her mother about my book:

“Let me just warn you,” I said to my mom after she professed a desire to not only read Yuvi Zalkow’s book A BRILLIANT NOVEL IN THE WORKS, but also to attend his reading at Powell’s… And then I brushed on some of the more risque elements of the book, things like ass cutting and spanking.

[Read more…]

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in transition

I’m kind of obsessed with people going through transition and how they talk about it. Not just because I’m mean and don’t want anyone to ever be stable, but because some big stuff bubbles up during these periods. And I’m struggling with my own transition as things wind down with my book tour and I try to figure out where the hell I’m going.

I’m sure if you look at it a certain way, everyone is going through transition — everything between birth and death is transition. But all metaphysical bullshit aside, there are these two friends and bloggers who I’m a little obsessed with right now. These are two totally different people in totally different realms. Both going through transitions. Please don’t tell them I’m obsessed… they might laugh and point. More so.

[Read more…]

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