The Writing Life: reflections by a working writer. The Writing Life

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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Finalist, Oregon Book Award

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Blogs by (mostly) creative writers:

"Can We Talk About Me For A Change?"
Playwright Debra Neff Nathans

Debbie Ridpath Ohi, a weblog for writers (resources)

Silliman's Blog
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.

Barbara Flaska's compilation of the best online articles about music and culture.

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

Alexander b. Craghead: blog
Writing, photography, and watercolors.

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.

Frustrated Writer
This one named Nicole.

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

The Unofficial Dave Barry Blog
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The Hive
The official blog of science fiction / horror author Terence West.

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

The Word Foundry
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.

By David Henry, "a poet's weblog from Aberdeen, Scotland."

Modem Noise
By Adrian Bedford, a "fledgling Pro SF Writer, living in Perth, Australia."

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

Real Writers Bounce
Holly Lisle's blog, "a novelist's roadmap through the art and ordeal of finding the damned words."

2020 Hindsight
By Susan.

downWrite creative
Phil Houtz's notes on the writing life.

Vivid: pieces from a writer's notebook
Blog of Canadian poet Erin Noteboom.

The Literary Saloon
The literary weblog at the complete review.

Rabbit Blog
The rabbit writes on popular culture.

This Girl's Calendar
Momoka writes short stories.

Twists & Turns
Musings by writer Michael Gates.

Plays and Musicals -- A Writer's Introspective
A blog by John D. Nugent - Composer, Playwright, and Artistic Director of the Johnson City Independent Theatre Company

The American Sentimentalist
"Never has any people endured its own tragedy with so little sense of the tragic." Essays by Mark W. Anderson.

Screenwriting By Blog
David C. Daniel writes a screenplay online. "I've decided to publish the process as a way to push myself through it. From concept to completion, it'll be here."
Official site of occult fiction author Sean-Alonzo, exploring symbolism, alternative history, philosophy, secret societies and other areas of the esoteric tradition.

Crafty Screenwriting
Maunderings of Alex Epstein, tv scribe, about life, politics, and the tv show I'm co-creating.

Letters From The Home Front
The life of a writer, 21, home schooled, rural living.

Venal Scene
The blog of bite-sized plays inspired by the news (by Dan Trujillo).

'Plaint of the Playwright
Rob Matsushita, a playwright from Wisconsin, "whines a lot."

I Pity Da Fool!
Glenn's adventures in screenwriting.

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

Big Window
Robin Reagler's poetry blog.

John Baker's Blog
Author of the Sam Turner and Stone Lewis novels.

The Writing Life With Dorothy Thompson
What goes on during a writer's busy day?

The Rebel Housewife
Not just a housewife!

Barry's Personal Blog
A running commentary on writing and the writing life.

Bonnie Blog
Maintained by Bonnie Burton of

Writer's Blog.
By easywriter. "From the walls of caves to cyberspace."

Flogging the Quill
Pursuing the art and craft of compelling storytelling, by an editor, Ray Rhamey.

Man Bytes Hollywood
Sharing tools, strategies and resources for the screenwriter's journey.

Mad for the smell of paper
A writing journal.

The Writing Life
A blog by Katey Schultz.

It Beats Working 9-5
A screenwriting blog by a young Canadian screenwriter.

Stealing Heaven From The Lips Of God
Writer & Artist, Dee Rimbaud reflects upon politics, religion, art, poetry, the meaning of life, the nature of God and why toast always lands butter side down on carpets.

Robert Peake
Heart and Mind, Fully Engage ... a poet's website.

Sidestepping Real
By Ren Powell, poet, children’s writer, essayist and editor.

Suggest a writer's blog

plagiarism blog

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."
J.D. Salinger

"All my best friends are writers and are dead."
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?"
The Half-Life Conspiracy

After October 31, 2006,
new posts are published at

The Writing Life II

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

Sunday, October 22, 2006  

Future and past
If former students and young writers who've recently crossed my path provide a link to the future, weak or strong as the case may be, I also just received a link to the past: an email from Marilyn Krysl (home page). I long have considered Marilyn to be one of the better short story writers in the country, as evidenced by her collections Honey, You've Been Dealt A Winning Hand, Westmoreland and Me and How to Accommodate Men. I met Marilyn in the late 60s when we were both grad students. She went on to the University of Colorado, where she taught for years, later headed the creative writing department, and from which she recently retired. We recently reconnected and I sent her a copy of my Oregon Book Award finalist Seven Plays, which she began reading.

She had this to say about reading my plays: "it's as though you're in the room
and we've been talking for hours, and you--the youness of you--is in the air,
redolent." I like that she sees my presence in my work -- and I can guess which characters most bring me to mind ha ha! Here is a drunken playwright talking to his audience during a "talk back":

"One more thing, and I'll shut up. Sure, we want answers. But what's to be done out there? Kierkegaard said that there are two ways: to suffer; or to be a professor of the fact that someone else suffers. In my humble opinion, we've got too many fucking professors. Sorry for the f-word, lady." (from The Half-Life Conspiracy)

Or the Moliere speech quoted a few days ago. Or a country singer saying, "You don't earn a goddamn thing in the music business, Red. You either kiss ass or you don't kiss ass." Or a dying old man:

"You get to be my age, you look back for what went wrong. What happened to the traditional American values? You used to go out and work hard for what you wanted. You used to get married for life.

"Well, I fault ourselves. I fault the kind of parents we became. We tried to save our kids from going through all the hardships we went through, and that was a mistake. We had the experience of standing in soup lines during the Great Depression, of being bombed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor — you don't forget experiences like that. They become rooted in the fabric of your being. Because those experiences are clear, they are without ambiguity.

"When a foreign country makes a surprise attack and sinks your navy, you don't get lost in rhetoric about whether war is right or wrong — you roll up your sleeves and get to work. You do what has to be done to defend your country. Everybody pitches in and works together as one big American family.

"Maybe you have to suffer to learn these things, and when parents of my generation started protecting their children from going through the hard times that we went through, we ended up doing them a disservice. We spoiled them, is what it amounts to. We gave them the idea you could get what you wanted without working for it, that the world was some kind of play thing for their personal and selfish amusement. Our children never learned how to pitch in and work together, all they looked out for is number one.

"When's the last time you heard of a marriage staying together for the sake of the children? Something like that is unthinkable today. Community and family values have gone down the drain." (from Famililly)

Or the closing chorus to my libretto based on Varmints:

We only went
Where greed will go
We only sought
What greed will seek
Since greed is good
We’ve done no wrong

We are the dead
Who did no wrong
We are the dead
Who did no wrong.

If you write inside-out, the writing that matters most in my book, your voice and values come out of the mouths and hearts of some of your characters. And if someone knows you well, she can read your words and feel your presence in the room.

The greater challenge, of course, is to bring to life the characters with whom you disagree. I might disagree with some of the thoughts above, for example. I'll never tell which.

10/22/2006 08:43:00 AM | 0 comments

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