the next writer in the series: january 1, 2016

I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

On the first of each month,
a guest writer
shares
how he or she spends the day.

stevealmond

January 1, 2016: Steve Almond

“Come prepared to rock,” Steve wrote this past October in his workshop description for the 2015 Writing by Writers Tomales Bay Workshop. And rock we did. The first day we wrote about our obsessions, the second day we worked on getting the reader in the car, the third day we made our characters snap, crackle, and pop, and day four was sex.

IMG_1531Steve’s writing first caught my attention after he wrote an essay for the July/August 2010 issue of Poets & Writers on using the Harvard Book Store’s Espresso Book Machine to self-publish a little book of stories and mini-essays on writing. I immediately picked up the phone and ordered a copy of This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey. I love its 30 bursts of writing advice. Here’s a sample:

#2: Writing is decision making… second guess your decisions without second guessing your talent.

#4: The Only 2 Qs About Which the R Truly Gives an S: Who do I care about? What do they care about?

#12: Get us oriented, establish the prevailing passions, build a sturdy ramp to the moments that matter, slow the fuck down.

#15: Your artistic unconscious is about ten times more powerful as an imaginative tool than your conscious mind. But it only comes out to play when you forget yourself and focus on your people.

#16: It has been my own experience that the path to the truth runs through shame.

#17: Plot is the mechanism by which your protagonist is forced up against her deepest fears and/or desires.

But you can’t buy this book in a store or order it from anyone but Steve. So email him to buy a copy.

Steve was the original Sugar, the one who envisioned Sugar as “a woman with a troubled past and a slightly reckless tongue.” And then he met that woman and had the good sense to ask her if she wanted “to take over as Sugar.” These original Sugars now host a biweekly podcast on WBUR. “The podcast fields all your questions–no matter how deep or dark–and offers radical empathy in return.”

Speaking of sugar, I’d never met another grownup who loved candy as much as I do. Leave it to Steve to turn that obsession into his second book–Candyfreak, a New York Times bestseller, winner of the ALA Alex Award, and the Booksense Adult Nonfiction Book of 2005. 

Altogether Steve is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto. His most recent collection, God Bless America, won the Paterson Prize for Fiction. 

In Tomales Bay, Steve read a hilarious new story that I can’t wait to read again. He has already published more than 150 stories in magazines such as Tin House, Playboy, Zoetrope, and Ploughshares, with several anthologized in Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies. 

His essays and nonfiction have appeared, among other places, in The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, Poets & Writers, and Real Simple.

In an earlier life he was a sports reporter and play-by-play man. He now lives outside Boston with his wife and three children.

Come back on JANUARY 1st to read how STEVE ALMOND spends his days.

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