15 September 2008

Learning to Write

My latest column is up at Strange Horizons: "Learning to Write".

I didn't realize this would be SH's eighth anniversary issue. Eight years of weekly doses of fiction, poetry, essays, articles, etc. An impressive accomplishment, especially given that everyone on staff is a volunteer. They're all a joy to work with, and I think the results are extraordinary in many ways, so congratulations to all of the various Strange Horizon writers and staff over the years.

The new column is a strange one, but then, most of them are. It's centered on Jules Renard's journals, recently reissued by Tin House Books, and appearances are also made by Jacques Roubaud's Some Thing Black and Gertrude Stein's How to Write.

By the way, if you ever teach an intro composition class or something like that, I recommend sticking Stein's How to Write on a shelf, and when a student asks you for the "secret" of writing (or anything to that effect), tell them it's in that book over there on the shelf. Tell them any page of that book will teach them more about writing than anything else. Then watch their face as they read. (Okay, yes, it's a little cruel, but still...)


  1. You cruel, cruel man.


    I'm taking a break from grading comp exercises and fantasizing about the Stein ploy.... : )

    Hope NH is treating you well!

  2. Oh, I highly recommend it, Anne -- I kept the book in my high school classroom for a long time, and at least once a year had the opportunity to recommend it to a student as an answer to their problems. They'd read a few sentences, and then slowly look up, a confused expression on their face, and say, "But, um, Mr. Cheney...."

    Eventually, I even had a student write a research paper about Stein, since she was so bothered by the fact that somebody would DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT that she wanted to figure out why.