November 8, 2019

November 3, 9:00 a.m. I'm sitting in my car in the parking lot of the Flyways Waterfowl Museum and Laser Arcade (yes, you read that correctly) in Baraboo, Wisconsin. At this time of the year, the building is boarded up. Sheets of cardboard cover the glass entrance. Unmarked snow covers the ground. The bare-limbed trees, abandoned parking lot, and gaping holes of the museum's second-story windows make this the perfect setting for a slasher movie. But I'm feeling fine.

My college friend and I have just finished a weekend in Devil's Lake State Park, where we camped in an outrageously spacious nine-person tent, hiked through snow, and slept in too many layers to count. The trip was a success, and I'm prepping for my drive back home.

I tu...

November 19, 2017

I’m three semesters into my MFA in Creative Writing, and I’m burned out. It’s been a tough semester. I’ve felt elated at times while brainstorming the full trajectory of my novel and writing to bring that outline to life...and then discouraged and stalled when I’ve had to revise that outline and rework those pages again and again.

Part of this discouragement, I'm sure, is because I have a hard time taking certain critiques. The more my novel seems to be becoming someone else’s work, the less I am interested in it. I no longer care about the novel, because it no longer has the heart and soul that only I can infuse into it.

Part of this discouragement, too, is that at 27 years old I am not attempting to create my masterpiece. My magnum opus. My...

July 2, 2017

I just completed my third residency in the Antioch University MFA in Creative Writing program. Here are some of the key themes and threads I’ve teased out from those 10 days.

Revision / First Scenes

After the rough draft is finished, after the raw material is there on the page, it’s time to interrogate the novel and ensure that every element has earned its right to be there.

  • Every character serves the main character in some way, either as a foil to highlight her qualities, or as a guide, or as an adversary, etc.

  • Every event/scene is necessary to and furthers the plot.

  • Every setting/piece of description/detail is relevant and ties in to theme or character development.

  • Every word choice/stylistic element is appropriate for the...

April 30, 2017

I recently returned from Futurescapes, a three-day writers workshop at the breathtaking Sundance Resort in Utah. It was a tremendously valuable experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone writing in the science fiction/fantasy genres. For those who don’t, there are still dozens, if not hundreds, of workshops out there for anyone seeking to improve their craft and make connections.

Here are seven tips for those considering a writing-related workshop/conference.

1. Go. Just go. It is worth every penny to get a variety of opinions and critiques on your work, to meet influential people in the industry, and to build a community of your peers.

2. Know when to take critique. As the writer, you know your story the best. If the critique you receive...

March 26, 2017

My mantra for the past several months—and it’s a good one—has been “Chill the heck out, Meg.”

Feel free to insert an expletive if you like. I often do.

This mantra is a reminder to breathe, a temporary salve against the chronic stress and uncertainty that comes from being a creative person trying to make it creatively when the rest of the world (and my bank account) suggests I go get a real job.

This type of living raises a lot of questions, and often offers few answers.

There are always the more practical questions that come up:

  • When am I going to be paid for my writing?

  • Will I have an audience who enjoys what I write?

  • When am I going to go back to a full-time job?

  • Will my writing career be a success (whatever that even means)...

October 7, 2015

She pauses, pen poised above the page, hesitant, dreaming.

Words dance in a tumultuous fury in her mind; images flash like spark off a fire.

Suddenly, with no space for breath, no fully formed thought, the pen jumps forward in her hand.

Ink stains the pristine white page, artistic whorls and curves that combined tell a story. The story. Of the writer, of her mother, of all who touched her and shaped her, of the ones who came before, of the light illuminating these words on the page and the writer in her chair.

But no, there is no writer there. There is no subject, just verb. No doer, just action.

Zen in the art of writing.

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