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Creativity and the Aging Brain

“Don’t imagine you’ll have it forever. Use it while you’ve got it because it’ll go; it’s sliding away like water down a plug hole.” So said Nobel Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing of creativity. The author of The Golden Notebook, who passed away recently at the age of 94, said this five years ago when describing […]

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How I Failed to Avoid the Post-MFA Slump

I have a confession to make. It has been six weeks since my last serious effort at creative writing. One thing I’ve learned from interviewing artists is that even the best of them sometimes find themselves in a slump. And we can be very supportive of each other in these times, as I discovered when […]

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The Elusive Nexus of Creativity and Mental Illness

She insisted she killed people with her mind. She was a creator and destroyer of worlds. She also found new ways to comprehend the wisdom of Aristotle and earned four prestigious academic degrees across varying disciplines with top grades and high achievements. She struggled with a diagnosis of schizophrenia yet created a life for herself, […]

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How I Came to Embrace Goodreads

I can barely keep up with Twitter and Facebook, so when I accepted a friend’s invitation to join Goodreads–a social media network dedicated to books–I did so with reluctance. For months I allowed my account to remain idle. Then I searched Audible for a good audiobook to download for the long drive to Montpelier, Vermont, […]

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4 Steps To Slashing that Manuscript in Revision

My mission: Reduce a 384-page first-draft memoir manuscript to 300 pages. Why? Because I know a tighter book will be a more pleasurable read, and because I know it will be easier to sell a shorter book to a publisher than a longer one. I’ve spent the last two months revising the memoir I wrote […]

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How Does it Feel to Have Earned an MFA?

“How does it feel to have earned an MFA?” It’s a question I have heard frequently from well-meaning people, and I have had no answer. It has been exactly one month since I received my diploma in front of my wife, daughter and son in the grand chapel of College Hall at the Vermont College […]

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Mapping the Narrative Lines of Your Story

I’ll confess that this post is driven as much by defensiveness as it is a desire to educate. My recent review of the book Creative You and my interview with co-author David B. Goldstein has reminded me of something I’ve long known from interviews with artists; every creative has his or her own process. That […]

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MFA Nugget: The End of This Creative Road

MONTPELIER, VT: At 8:45 am I will give a one-hour lecture on creative writing craft, part of my graduation requirements in my MFA in Writing with the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Assuming that goes well, I will receive my diploma during our graduation ceremony this afternoon. At this 10-day residency, I have also given […]

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MFA Nugget: The Secret to Including Drama in Your Creative Writing

MONTPELIER, VERMONT: If you think this post on enhancing dramatic moments in your creative writing is going to feature craft tips, think again. Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing instructor Lawrence Sutin has some amateur psychology and insightful philosophy to guide you; that is, he did in his lecture here at my final residency, […]

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MFA Nugget: Richard Russo on Winning the Pulitzer and the Writing Life

MONTPELIER, VT: If you were a writer, what would be the first question you would ask a Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist? I’m having a hard time narrowing my list down to that one question, but Vermont College of Fine Arts President Tom Greene chose to open a public discussion here at our MFA in Writing residency with […]

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