OK, confession time: I’ve been looking forward to covering this theme for a while. 😉 And while revenge is typically considered a literary masterplot, such stories can highlight intriguing insights into what happens when someone seeks vengeance for a perceived wrong. So, with the help of a classic revenge novel (Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights) and a recent spin on superheroes (V.E. Schwab’s Vicious), I explored the theme in my latest post at DIY MFA. Which storytelling elements do these stories use to shed light on this dark, complex theme? You’ll have to read on to find out!
This week, a very special cookbook has come into the world: A LITERARY TEA PARTY, by Alison Walsh, founder and cook at Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. Yes, it’s exactly what you think – a collection of recipes inspired by classic novels and perfect for afternoon teas. Alison and I have been following each other’s blogs for some time; and after she invited me to write the introduction for the cookbook, I knew I wanted to have her stop in for a guest post. So here is Alison, with her tips on planning a fun and delectable tea party.
Tea has been my drink of choice since before I was old enough to work the tea kettle, so it’s no surprise that tea parties are my favorite way to socialize. Four years ago, my bachelorette party was a quiet Irish-themed tea party held with a few friends at my mom’s house, and it’s still one of my fondest memories. I’ve hosted a few teas of my own (and a hot chocolate party!) and even wrote a literary-themed cookbook on the subject.
What is it about tea parties that charms me so? For one thing, I love that they’re designed to facilitate rather than impede meaningful socialization. It’s so much easier to talk in someone’s living room over a cup of tea than in a noisy, crowded bar or restaurant. I also love how, despite having a reputation for formality, tea parties can be as fancy or informal as you want (think high tea in an English manor versus a child’s imaginary tea party with plastic cups and teddy bear guests).
Um…. Hi everyone. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
The short story is, I had to take about 2 months off from blogging here. It was unexpected, to say the least, and I feel badly that I disappeared unexpectedly like that. But don’t we all go through periods when life offline goes a little… well, nuts, and we have to rearrange our priorities temporarily? And now that things appear to be smoothing out, I think I’m ready to make a comeback.
And what an appropriate post to return with, right? I really do love this What’s Making Me Happy series, and for so many reasons. So let me share some of the things that brought much-needed joy and lightness despite the stress of the past two months. Feel free to share what’s made you happy recently in your comments. 🙂
I’m back with a new article at Writers Helping Writers! This time, I talk about the informational interview, a research method that writers can use in addition to books, articles, and documentaries – or when those resources don’t provide the information you’re seeking. Understandably, pursuing this kind of interview can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never conducted one before. So this post offers tips on all three “phases” of the process – before, during, and after the interview – that I hope will give other writers the confidence and clear vision to go after their own.
Every story, regardless of its length, pulses with literary themes at its heart. So for this week’s edition of “Theme: A Story’s Soul” at DIY MFA, I turn the column’s focus from novels to short stories. With the help of examples from authors Alethea Black and Ted Chiang, we’ll explore how short stories effectively examine their themes despite – or maybe because of – their word count restrictions and smaller “big picture.”
So, way back in August when I was at Writer’s Digest Conference, I joined several of my DIY MFA colleagues for a team podcast recording for DIY MFA Radio. 😀 It was SO much fun, and we talked about WDC, our tips on writing and attending literary conferences, and our DIY MFA “origin stories” (a.k.a. how we became involved with the site). The podcast is finally available for everyone to listen to on DIY MFA’s Patreon page for free. (In other words, you don’t have to be a paying patron to access it.) This episode is also a great resource for writers who are looking for tips on pitching their manuscript to agents.
It’s been a strange two months. Strange in terms of weather here in Massachusetts, since February was milder than average (our temps were close to 70 deg F a few days!) and March clobbered us with four snowstorms in three weeks. Strange in terms of life in general, too. My blogging time has taken a HUGE hit because of work and other things. So if I haven’t replied to your comments yet or visited your blog in a while, I’m very sorry, and I hope you understand why. 😦
Yet, as frustrated as I’ve been, I never cease to find “real-life magic.” So let’s use this What’s Making Me Happy post to highlight that magic, and also to catch up on things. How’s everyone doing? What have you been up to? Were February and March kind to you? (I hope so!) And what are some of the things that have sparked your sense of joy recently? Like last time, I’ll share three things from each month, starting with…
Happy Spring, everyone! Who else is looking forward to the weather getting warmer, the flowers to start blooming, and the world to soon turn green and lush and vibrant again? 😀
OK, maybe I was being overexuberant. But spring is my favorite season, after all, and after a super-productive winter on the creative front, I’m looking forward to carrying that momentum into the next season. Plus, I have exciting news to share on two of my writing projects! (No, the current manuscript isn’t done yet, but it’s getting there. *wink*) So, without further ado, let’s dive into this edition of the Creativity Corner.
In my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post at DIY MFA, I dive into a literary theme that’s difficult for writers to explore and painful for characters (and people in real life) to experience. Isolation isn’t the same as sequestering yourself during an illness or retreating somewhere to meditate. Rather, it’s a state of aloneness in which, because of your location or emotional state, you feel cut off from others. And when a story effectively illustrates isolation as a literary theme despite its challenges, it can offer intriguing insights about setting, relationships, and the human spirit.
Last year I read Sage Cohen’s Fierce on the Page, a collection of essays that encourages writers to transform their attitudes and habits so that they can unleash their creativity, overcome fears, and define success on their own terms – all ways in which they can practice ferocity in their craft. One of my favorite essays from the book is Chapter 14, “Build a Cathedral,” which Cohen begins with this allegory:
… [A] traveler in medieval times comes upon a stonemason at work. He asks, “What are you doing?” The man looks weary and unhappy. He responds, “Can’t you see I am cutting and laying down stone? My back is killing me, and I can’t wait to stop.”
The traveler continues on his way and comes upon a second stonemason. “What are you doing?” he asks. “I’m building a wall,” says the stonemason. “I’m grateful to have this work so I can support my family.”
As the traveler walks on, he encounters a third stonemason who seems to be doing exactly the same work as the previous two. He asks the man, “What are you doing?” The man stands up straight. His face is radiant. He looks up at the sky and spreads his arms wide. “I am building a cathedral,” he answers.
Wow. It’s such a simple tale, but the shift it made in my perception of my writing was like feeling the earth move under my feet.