Blog Archives

The Challenges of Writing “I”

Iused to cry at weddings. Mostly now I find myself cringing. I miss the days when a tottering officiant spouted a bunch of canned pablum and all the bride and groom had to do was say, “I do.” Instead we

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

How to Talk to A Writer

There are some friends I avoid when I’m trying to write a book. Unaccustomed to being around writers or academics, these friends don’t seem to get how the whole messy process of producing something of publishable quality works. They are

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Presenting Without A Net

In an ideal world, whenever I was invited to give a talk or a lecture, it would go something like this: I would spend a few weeks thinking about what I wanted to say. After a sufficient percolation period, I

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Writers

Asked if he thought he had evolved as a writer, Patrick Modiano, the most recent Nobel laureate in literature said, “No, not really. The feeling of dissatisfaction with every book remains just as alive. I had a longtime recurring dream:

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

“It’s Really Good But…”

I’m at the kind of cocktail party where no one looks at you when they’re talking. Even your friends cast a restless gaze over your shoulder, trying to see who else is there, figuring out if a pass to get

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Habits of Highly Productive Writers

Many writers I know love Joyce Carol Oates—some even refer to her as JCO, as if she were a brand as recognizable as CBS or BMW. But just as often, the mention of her name is met by groans and

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Write a Book and Become an Employee of Your Former Self

I recently had a chance to catch up with Niko Pfund, president of Oxford University Press. In another life, 25 years ago, I was a young editor at the press and Pfund was an editorial assistant. Besides reminiscing about those days,

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Now I’m a Needy Author

One of the fun parts of being an acquisitions editor at Oxford University Press was, if I’m being honest, having an expense account in New York City. It was especially fun in the late 80s, when excess was a way

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Things You Should Know Before You Publish a Book

A few years ago I was desperately seeking a book contract. Things weren’t going well on the project I’d spent years working on, and I wanted a quick fix. In a frenzy I put together a crappy proposal for an

Posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

What Running and Writing Have in Common

When people ask me what running and writing have in common, I tend to look at the ground and say it might have something to do with discipline: You do both of those things when you don’t feel like it,

Posted in Selected Essays, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Uncategorized

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