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Reflections of a working writer, a university screenwriting professor, and the editor of Oregon Literary Review.

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Charles Deemer

Oregon Literary Review

MFA, Playwriting, University of Oregon

Writing faculty, Portland State University (part-time)

Retired playwright and screenwriter.
Active novelist, librettist and teacher.

Email: cdeemer(at)yahoo(dot)com

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Playwright Debra Neff Nathans

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Ron Silliman, contemporary poetry and poetics

Maud Newton
literary links, amusements, politics, rants

Darren Barefoot
Technical and creative writing, theatre, Dublin

Rob's Writing Pains
Journey of a struggling writer.

Mad, Mad World
Cara Swann, fiction writer, journalist, "reflections on humanity, random news & my life."

Random musings on a writer's life and times.

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Write Of Way
Samantha Blackmon's written musings on writing (composition and rhetoric).

Alexander b. Craghead: blog
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Rodney's Painted Pen
Rodney Bohen's daily commentary "on the wondrous two legged beast we fondly refer to as mankind." His pen runneth over.

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scribble, scribble, scribble
Journalist Dale Keiger teaches nonfiction scribbling to undergraduate and graduate students at Johns Hopkins University.

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William Gibson Blog
Famed author of Neuromancer and Johnny Mnemonic: The Screenplay.

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Joe Clifford Faust's "blog of a working writer: tracking writing projects, musings on the creative process, occasional side trips into music, media, politics, religion, etc."

A Writer's Diary
By Cynthia Harrison, who has the good sense to quote Virginia Woolf: "The truth is that writing is the profound pleasure and being read the superficial."

Bow. James Bow.
The journal of James Bow and his writing.

Michael Montoure's weblog about writing, primarily horror and speculative fiction.

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"A wry writerly blog named in honour of a minor character in a minor Shirley Temple film."

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downWrite creative
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Momoka writes short stories.

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Plays and Musicals -- A Writer's Introspective
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'Plaint of the Playwright
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Glenn's adventures in screenwriting.

Time In Tel-Aviv
Hebrew modern literature at its best, by Corinna Hasofferett.

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Robin Reagler's poetry blog.

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It Beats Working 9-5
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Stealing Heaven From The Lips Of God
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Robert Peake
Heart and Mind, Fully Engage ... a poet's website.

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The Writing Life...
"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."
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A friend over beer, Berkeley, winter, 1959

"And it came to pass that all the stars in the firmament had ceased to shine. But how was anyone to know?"
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After October 31, 2006,
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The Writing Life II

(Posts archived here are from 01/10/03 - 10/31/06)

Sunday, September 17, 2006  
On being a mentor
Over the years as a teacher, I've encountered a few talented young writers whom, for one reason or another, I've taken under my wing as "a mentor." This relationship usually begins with them; that is, first it becomes apparent that I admire their talent, and for a few this is enough to lead them to ask me the kind of writerly and practical questions that beginners ask of those with relevant experience. I answer as best I can, honestly, realistically, and from this, sometimes, a continuing relationship develops.

This experience is one of the solid rewards of teaching. I especially pride myself on making sure they understand the realities of the writing profession, in particular how important endurance and luck are in establishing a career. This means you have to be writing for reasons other than "success" or you may go nuts. Writing, for writers, becomes an existential act: I write, therefore I am. You can't teach anyone to do this. Either they are writers in the root of their being or they are not. Yes, there are "professional" writers who approach the craft as a job, and that's fine. Some are quite good at it. But the writers who interest me are the writers who cannot not be writers: they write because writing is breathing, without writing their hearts would stop. These are the ones who need encouragement because the world often does not welcome them. Writers need to survive: very, very few writers support themselves by writing what they want. For the writer, there are two worlds of existence, the world of commerce and the world of art, and the cross-over project becomes more rare all the time: indeed, most of the ones we see today, literary novels that are commercially successful, come from writers who established their reputations before the corporate makeover of the publishing industry (i.e. Philip Roth, E.L. Doctorow, etc.). When I supported myself as "a writer," I found precious little time to exist as a playwright. That's why I abandoned magazine journalism, which had been my bread and butter. In the 1980s, I learned how to survive on grants for a while, "the good old days." At any rate, the marketplace always changes and is always tough, and young writers need to find their niche in which they can exist, live with themselves, and have time to write what they really want to write, whether it's commercial or not. In the world of commerce, writers write "outside in" -- you write to sell. In the world of art, writers write "inside out" -- you write to learn something about yourself. In today's marketplace, it's more difficult to do both at the same time than it used to be. (Maybe the confessional memoir has become the vehicle that most closely permits this marriage.)

I feel for young writers today. I recall the Doris Lessing experiment in which she submitted a new novel anonymously and saw it soundly rejected -- before she resubmitted it under her own name to great acclaim and success.

We are creating a new form of being, Homo Consumerus, and artists everywhere are being marginalized. The hype does not tell you this. The hype tells you that there are artistic geniuses everywhere. The hype does not tell you that one hundred years from now, readers will not know most of what goes for "great writing" today. It's always been this way but technology has given the movers better tools with which to shape popular culture.

How long will it be before the corporate makeover of the Internet, which has been a great leveling force? It would be easy to do. It already has begun. The promise of radio, the promise of television, all succumbed to the tsunami of commercialization. Why should the Internet be any different?

Young writers will keep writing despite all this. I like cheering them on.

9/17/2006 12:24:00 PM | 0 comments

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