November 23, 2020 § 6 Comments
By Dinty W. Moore
I have always been a doodler — in grade school, high school, hiding in the back row of large college classrooms, eventually in faculty meetings, and often just to pass the time while waiting in a doctor’s office. Having a pencil or pen in hand and some paper, or for that matter a little free space in the margins of a magazine, has always been calming for me, meditative, and amusing, all at the same time. So I was pretty darn excited to hear that Rebecca Fish Ewan had a new book out, Doodling for Writers. How do these little scribbles of ours improve our writing? In more ways than I imagined.
I was especially pleased by the book’s release because Rebecca wrote a stellar craft essay on the graphic form for Brevity and has been featured more than once — see here, and here — on the Brevity Blog .
I was so tickled that I decided to doodle a picture of her to celebrate:
And it was the most horrible doodle ever doodled. Worse even than the drawing I did of my friend Jackson’s Labradoodle:
But Doodling for Writers is nonetheless a clever, lively, funny little book, and the advice is sound. On pacing and voice, for instance:
“Voice and breath are inextricably linked. In poetry, line breaks indicate a breath. In prose, it’s, commas, that, signal, inhalations. When I draw, I become more aware of my breaths. The lines I lay down on the page keep pace with my breathing. If I want calm still lines, I slow my breaths, which in turn slows my heart rate, which then calms my hand so it can give me the line I need.”
Fish Ewan offers up a wonderful chart detailing the links between perspective in drawing and literary Point of View. She has excellent points and pointers as to how exploring our characters in ink can help us learn more about the folks we write about in our memoirs. The prompts throughout the book are brilliant!
I like also that she regularly advises tossing out the rules, like the one about how to draw heads, which never worked for me, unless I was trying to draw the head of a pig:
The real message of Doodling for Writers is that one corner of the creative brain can stimulate another corner, that drawing, or doodling, can happily stimulate the writer’s mind, and that, what the heck, writing can still be fun (like drawing.)
Dinty W. Moore is the editor-in-chief of Brevity and he drewed these pictures all by his self.
November 16, 2020 § Leave a comment
This week, The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction begins shipping from warehouses across the country (and becomes available at your local independent bookstore through curbside service or distanced browsing.) We are excited about early praise for the book, grateful to everyone who pre-ordered, and thrilled to hear from those of you who plan to give the book a test run in your writing classes next semester.
We also have two launch events this week, our West Coast Launch in Los Angeles and our East Coast Launch on the Three Rivers Coastline of Pittsburgh. We hope you will join us to celebrate!
Here are the particulars:
SKYLIGHT BOOKS, Los Angeles, Wednesday Nov. 18th at 6:30 pm PST (9:30 pm EST)
Best of Brevity co-editors Zoë Bossiere and Dinty W. Moore will be joined by authors Daisy Hernández, Nicole Walker, and Ira Sukrungruang. Following a reading of three brief (of course) essays from the anthology, there will be lively discussion about the flash nonfiction form and tips for those wanting to write, publish, and teach flash nonfiction. An audience Q&A will follow. You can pre-register here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/skylit-best-of-brevity/register
WHITE WHALE BOOKSTORE, Pittsburgh, Thursday Nov. 19th at 7 pm EST
At this East Coast event, Zoë and Dinty will be joined by authors Julie Hakim Azzam, Lori Jakiela, and Deesha Philyaw. Following a reading of their three brief essays from the anthology, there will be lively discussion about the flash nonfiction form and tips for those wanting to write, publish, and teach flash nonfiction. An audience Q&A will follow. Preregister for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/east-coast-launch-for-the-best-of-brevity-registration-127005140795
And here’s more on the book:
Featuring examples of nonfiction forms such as memoir, narrative, lyric, braided, hermit crab, and hybrid, The Best of Brevity brings you 84 of the best-loved and most memorable reader favorites from the journal, collected in print for the first time. Compressed to their essence, these essays glint with drama, grief, love, and anger, as well as innumerable other lived intensities, resulting in an anthology that is as varied as it is unforgettable, leaving the reader transformed.
With contributions from Jenny Boully, Brian Doyle, Roxane Gay, Daisy Hernández, Michael Martone, Ander Monson, Patricia Park, Kristen Radtke, Diane Seuss, Abigail Thomas, Jia Tolentino, and many more.
“The Best of Brevity feels like the condensed energy of a coiled spring. A vibrant collection, dynamic in its exploration and celebration of the flash form.”
-Karen Babine, author of All the Wild Hungers
September 15, 2020 § 2 Comments
The “Experiences of Disability” issue is guest edited by Keah Brown, Sonya Huber, and Sarah Fawn Montgomery. Artwork by Jill Khoury.
September 8, 2020 § Leave a comment
We are posting one of our September Craft Essays a bit early to celebrate the recent release of Rebecca McClanahan’s new book, In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays (Red Hen Press). In this craft contribution, Nancy Geyer talks with McClanahan, a frequent Brevity contributor over the years, about the crafting of her memoir, with a focus on conveying setting.
Here’s an excerpt,
Nancy Geyer: In one of your craft essays for Brevity, “Forest in the Trees,” you mention recurring patterns or motifs as a way to unify a book. They can also reinforce the feel of a place, right? I’m thinking of your squirrels and park benches.
Rebecca McClanahan: Yes, recurring motifs seem a natural way to unify a book and to situate the reader in a place. And you’re right about animals and park benches! Squirrels do indeed scamper now and then through the book’s pages, but quite a few other creatures make appearances as well—pigeons and ducks, including the duckling in the Hans Christian Andersen statue, and the dogs in the park, and even the baby bird that the homeless man shows me nesting in the lining of his jacket.
And yes, the park bench was such an important part of my experience of New York—not only as my own physical (if temporary) stake on the landscape and a place from which to view the scene, but also as an opportunity for conversations with strangers, who were always eager to share their stories and their sometimes strange but always intriguing wisdom. In that way, a park bench is where the public and private meet, right? Which seems to echo the experience of living in New York. At least my own experience during the time we lived there.
Now, take a moment to pop over and read the full interview here.
August 20, 2020 § 8 Comments
We are proud and happy to announce that The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction is now available for preordering (and free shipping too.)
Over the past 20 years, Brevity has become one of the longest-running and most popular online literary publications, a journal readers regularly return to for insightful essays from skilled writers at every stage of their careers. Featuring examples of nonfiction forms such as memoir, narrative, lyric, braided, hermit crab, and hybrid, The Best of Brevity brings you 84 of the best-loved and most memorable reader favorites, collected in print for the first time. Compressed to their essence, these essays glint with drama, grief, love, and anger, as well as innumerable other lived intensities, resulting in an anthology that is as varied as it is unforgettable, leaving the reader transformed.
With contributions from Krys Malcolm Belc, Jenny Boully, Brian Doyle, Roxane Gay, Daisy Hernández, Michael Martone, Ander Monson, Patricia Park, Kristen Radtke, Diane Seuss, Abigail Thomas, Jia Tolentino, and many more (listed here), The Best of Brevity offers unparalleled diversity of style, form, and perspective for those interested in reading, writing, or teaching the flash nonfiction form.
Get free U.S. shipping on your preorder (through November 17) using coupon code BREVITYSHIPSFREE at checkout.
May 8, 2020 § 1 Comment
The wonderful writer and teacher Sue William Silverman employs the format of a doctor’s prescription to bring to life an essay that interweaves humor, heartbreak, and extramarital affairs. An excerpt from Silverman’s brilliant and surprising essay follows:
Do Not Use this Drug: While reading Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, Wide Sargasso Sea, The Lover or any other material that might induce fear and loathing of love.
This Medicine Works Best: If you are currently brain-dead and thus susceptible to a profound change of heart. Be sure to avoid direct sunlight and hide shame in the darkness of night. Use sunscreen and protective clothing such as hair-shirt or widow’s full-length veil. A shroud is also appropriate.
Additional Possible Side Effects: If you develop a cough, your heart might be shedding emotional pus which is being absorbed by your lungs. Serious and sometimes FATAL bloody, messy problems could result from use of this drug. If you experience hallucinations SEEK HELP. It may mean you are experiencing LOVE for the first time. Ditto for severe nausea.
May 6, 2020 § Leave a comment
In Brevity’s new-this-week May 2020 issue, Julie Marie Wade explores a compelling moment of self-discovery she had while watching an acclaimed film, Yentl, at school in the early nineties. When she proceeds to thank her teacher for playing the film, it becomes clear she misinterpreted her instructor’s intentions altogether. Wade demonstrates how a rebuke—all the more hurtful from a respected authority figure—has stayed with her for decades. Here is an excerpt from the captivating essay:
I have never seen two women kiss like this before, and every time I think about their mouths coming together in the semi-light and the semi-dark, I feel that tug again. It means something that isn’t meant for words. Instead, I thank Ms. Curran for showing us the film.
May 4, 2020 § 2 Comments
The poet and essayist Brian Turner reflects on lasting moments of love on an island, shares memories of his late wife, the poet Ilyse Kusnetz, and converts the common housefly into a sensual and musical creature in Brevity’s May 2020 issue, published today.
Here is an excerpt from the essay:
I drank from a bottle of coconut rum. The rum added a sugary sizzle to our lips when we kissed. I can feel the tips of my fingers at the small of your back even now. Your hair brushing the side of my cheek. The fragrance of your hair after floating in the warm waters of the gulf, hour after hour, earlier in the day. The salt of the ocean on your skin.
There were days like this. Whole afternoons lived in suspension. Floating. Ruin stalled-out and gliding on its own silence, somewhere off in the distance.