As late summer sets in, I find myself lazy, distracted. Like the stockbrokers and lawmakers who spend August relaxing or taking their “recess,” I, too, will be taking it easy. Expect posting to be lighter than usual in the coming weeks, and try to take things slow, if you can.
Thanks to an onslaught of comment spam, which until now I’ve been dealing with manually, I’ve decided to turn on Blogger’s “word verification” to put a stop to it. It’s annoying because it adds an extra step to commenting here, but it’s the best solution right now. If a better way of dealing with the spam problem comes along, I’ll switch it off. For now though, it’s been added to the Commenting at The Millions primer (if anyone needs a refresher.)
Our ambivalence about the Kindle has been on full display of late. Still, when Amazon recently opened up its Kindle blog subscription program to all blogs it seemed worth trying, if only to satiate our curiosity about what it entails.With The Millions freely available for all readers, its hard to imagine why someone might be compelled to pay $1.99 to subscribe just to be able to read it on the Kindle, but now you have the option. (We only get 30%, which, as TechCrunch points out, is rather paltry.) If anyone tries subscribing, let us know. We’d be interested to hear how the experience is.Update: TechCrunch discovers a huge, embarrassing flaw in Amazon’s Kindle Publishing for Blogs Beta, that allows you to steal other people’s blogs and charge readers for them. Wow, that’s bad.
I’ve added some fiction writing classes to the Writing Workshops Los Angeles fall roster. If you live in the LA area, and you’re interested in participating in any of these, please email me at [email protected] to reserve a spot. All classes will be held in my Los Feliz home, where refreshments (and the occasional gourmet cheese) will be served.I’m especially excited about the Novel Writing Workshop I’m teaching, a course I’ve been devising since the day I began my own beast of a book…Introduction to Fiction Writing: Weekend SeminarSaturday, September 6, 2008 and Sunday, September 7, 200810 am to 3 pm (includes one hour lunch break)In this seminar we will explore the major tenets of fiction writing, including characterization, narrative voice, prose style, point of view, scene and summary, dialogue, and structure. Over the course of the seminar, we will continually return to certain questions: How can we use language to capture the uncapturable? How can a bunch of words on the page move us, make us understand what it means to be human? How can form and technique help us to improve as writers? In an attempt to answer these questions, we will look to published fiction for guidance, and dive into various writing exercises. Students will leave the seminar with the beginnings of several promising projects, as well as the skills to follow through with them.No prior fiction writing experience is required for this course, although more experienced writers will also find the course useful.New student rate: $125/studentEnrollment Limit: 8 StudentsNovel Writing WorkshopMondays, September 8, 2008 to November 17, 2008 (11 weeks)7:30 pm to 9:30 pmBecause the novelist faces different struggles and joys than the writer of short fiction, I’ve created an 11-week course specifically designed for those students working on longer projects.We will begin this class by discussing The Great Gatsby from a writer’s perspective, analyzing how Fitzgerald constructed (or failed to construct?) his masterpiece. From there, we will alternate weeks between critiquing students’ novels-in-progress, and discussing craft as it pertains to novel writing – in particular, structure, voice, character, and pacing. We will workshop one manuscript (up to 100 pages) every other week, devoting an entire class to each student’s work-in-progress. In our craft discussions, the writings of Aristotle, John Gardner, E.M. Forster, and James Wood will be explored; we’ll also do a few in-class exercises. On these craft weeks, there will be no outside reading or writing assignments so that students can give attention to their own novels, and to the upcoming workshop manuscript.To qualify for this class, you must have at least 80 pages of a novel manuscript written before the class begins.New Student Rate: $385/studentEnrollment Limit: 5 StudentsAdvanced Short Fiction Workshop IThursdays, September 4, 2008 to October 16, 2008 (6 weeks—no class on 9/11/08)7:30 to 9:30 pmThis 6 week workshop will be a deeper exploration of various fiction techniques such as voice, character, structure and point of view. We will spend the first two weeks doing in-class writing exercises and reading published short fiction from a writer’s perspective. The remaining 4 weeks of the course will be devoted to workshopping student work in an intense yet respectful environment designed to challenge and inspire every member of the class. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop one short story manuscript.New student rate: $325/studentEnrollment limit: 8 studentsAdvanced Short Fiction Workshop II (Same class as above, just a second section)Thursdays, October 23, 2008 to December 4, 2008 (6 weeks—no class 11/27/08)7:30 to 9:30 pmThis 6-week workshop will be a deeper exploration of various fiction techniques such as voice, character, structure and point of view. We will spend the first two weeks doing in-class writing exercises and reading published short fiction from a writer’s perspective. The remaining 4 weeks of the course will be devoted to workshopping student work in an intense yet respectful environment designed to challenge and inspire every member of the class. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop one short story manuscript.New student rate: $325/studentEnrollment limit: 8 students
As you may have noticed from the review we ran yesterday, there’s a new contributor at The Millions. I’ve known Ben since college, and we’ve talked about collaborating on projects in the past, so it’s good to finally work together on something. Since college Ben has spent a lot of time living in and traveling around Asia, and he’s spent a lot of time in Japan. Here’s his bio:Ben Dooley is a translator of Japanese and an aspiring novelist. He spends much of his time traveling with his trusty laptop. In his spare time, Ben makes beer, pontificates, and obsessively applies to graduate school programs in obscure subjects of dubious worth.Welcome Ben!