Support the Family of Writer, Brian Doyle, at Broadway Books – 5/31/2017

University of Portland - new faculty & staff photos

This last weekend, Oregon lost one of its most generous and active literary acrobats: Brian Doyle.  Please consider helping out his family in this difficult time by going to Broadway Books this Wednesday, May 31st, and purchasing as many books as you can afford to carry. A percentage of the proceeds from book sales this Wednesday will be given to his family to help offset medical and mortgage bills.

This Wednesday evening (May 31st), Robin Cody and I will be reading from Brian Doyle’s work, and from our own as a way to remember and honor Brian’s life and influence on so many writers and readers in the Pacific Northwest. Robin and I are donating sales of our books this Wednesday to Brian’s family, who could use the support and encouragement.  I hope you can help us pack the house with people who need literary comfort and joy during this difficult time.

Remembrance in the Oregonian


Brian Doyle Day, Wednesday, May 31st

Brian Doyle has read at Broadway Books dozens of times, has given the universe hundreds of thoughtful and gorgeously written essays and almost as many books, and wrote a beautiful piece for the store on our 20th anniversary. This fall he was diagnosed with brain cancer and is now in hospice. A GoFundMe site has been created by some of his friends to help retire the mortgage on his house.

On Wednesday, May 31st, Brian’s good friend Robin Cody will be reading at the bookstore, along with another Ooligan author, Brian Friesen. We are declaring the whole day Brian Doyle Day and will donate 20% of our sales the entire day (not just during the reading) to the campaign to retire his mortgage.

Many of our customers have asked what they can do to help Brian. Whenever you buy one of Brian’s books, you are contributing to royalty checks that will go to Brian and his family. On May 31st, however, ANY book you buy will help Brian’s family. In addition, Robin Cody is donating the profits from the sales of his books to the fund. Also, an anonymous (and very kind) donor has offered to match the Broadway Books donation to Brian’s fund!

Please join us for the reading that night at 7 pm – or at any time during the day — to lend support to the Doyle family.

Sally McPherson and Kim Bissell
Broadway Books
1714 NE Broadway
Portland, OR 97232


Praise for At the Waterline



“Brian is a talent, all right. Here’s a marvelous floating tribe of drifters and soul catchers, written with zest and grace at the waterline. While on board, wear a life jacket.”

Robin Cody, author of Ricochet River and Voyage of a Summer Sun

“At the Waterline is one of those books that hooks you on the first page but then slows down to reel you in. As the seemingly mundane events unfurl in the lives of an eccentric collection of river dwellers, Friesen’s novel gradually reveals a great truth: that every life—every life—hides remarkable drama and overpowering tragedy.”

Molly Gloss, author of The Jump-Off Creek and The Hearts of Horses

“Reading Brian K. Friesen’s At the Waterline is like witnessing a musical story performed at the piano for two hands—the baseline rhythm of river, current, wind, season, island, and boat all playing against the melodic shenanigans of the human: love, tragedy, secrets, the slow repair of a life, gruff age against brash youth, and the mysterious search for some hints of harmony through it all. Before reading the book I’d always wanted to live “on the water.” Now I have.”

Kim Stafford, author of 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared

“A quick and enjoyable read, especially for someone like myself who lived aboard for close to four decades. Friesen understands the dynamics of living on land and living afloat, and the commitment that’s required when a home is not a house. “You can’t stand with one foot on a dock and another on a boat for long,” he writes early in the story. While his characters lead dramatic lives, it’s the sensations of ordinary living aboard that captured me most: how it feels and sounds inside a boat, the way a passing outboard engine “filled the small room with its soft hum and then faded downstream,” how a passing wake takes time to reach you from across the water. The scenes of marina life ring true, from the helter-skelter arrangement of yachts, cabin cruisers, converted barges, and derelict boats, to the way people from every social and economic background—underclass to high privilege—find a balance that doesn’t exist in most land-bound neighborhoods. “It doesn’t matter how big or fancy your boat is,” says Jack, the crusty self-appointed harbormaster. “Life on the water just isn’t possible unless you’re hanging on to something else”—a statement that applies as much to the people on the dock as it does to lines and cleats.”

Migael Scherer, author of A Cruising Guide to Puget Sound and Sailing to Simplicity: Life Lessons Learned at Sea

At the Waterline Scavenger Hunt – This Saturday: 5/13/2017


As more teams are signing up, I’d just like to remind people that a few of Saturday’s challenges will be based on events that take place in the book. To get ahead of the competition, you might consider picking up a copy of #AttheWaterline at Powell’s Books, Inc. –

List of Businesses sponsoring the At the Waterline Scavenger Hunt and Book Launch Party.



Since 1966, the PSU Outdoor Program has been helping PSU students and community members access and enjoy the outdoors. #AttheWaterline is focused around the natural spaces that connect us to this beautiful place we call the Pacific Northwest, and the Outdoor Program does much to provide people with the opportunity to explore nature and make connections with other outdoor lovers. The PSU Outdoor Program is awarding a $25 gift certificate to a winning team for equipment rental. If you’ve been looking to rent a kayak or raft, this might be your chance!


Willamette Sailing Club is located on the banks of the Willamette River, and is the only small boat sailing club in Portland. Dedicated to dinghy, sailing, and racing, the club hosts numerous activities throughout the year, and serves as a community for the water loving members of Portland. The Willamette Sailing Club’s tight-knit community reminds us a bit of the Rock Creek marina where the quirky characters of #AttheWaterline live. Willamette Sailing Club has generously donated quite a bit of swag: from pint glasses to hats!



#AttheWaterline character Emma takes in the beauty of the nature around her by kayaking down the Columbia River. An engaging, relaxing sport, kayaking lets you explore your surroundings from the perspective of the water. No one knows this better than the Portland Kayak Company, located just steps from the Willamette River. Offering kayak rentals, demos, guided kayak tours, classes, and a wide range of boats for sale, they make it easy to explore the river in a peaceful, unobtrusive way. Portland Kayak Company has generously donated a 2 hour kayak rental, so winners of our scavenger hunt could channel their inner Emma and explore the beautiful Portland waterline by kayak!



In #AttheWaterline, coffee is one of those magical things that brings people from all different backgrounds and walks of life together. This is a philosophy that Nossa Familia Coffee understands as well. A Portland, OR based roaster, Nossa Familia’s passion is for roasting outstanding coffee sourced through deeply-rooted relationships. Nossa Familia Coffee has donated not one, not two, but six bags of their famous Full Cycle coffee to our final prizes!



A handcrafted, small-batch artisan popcorn stop owned and operated by local Portlanders, you won’t find a more unique gift than the fresh popped popcorn at Poplandia Popcorn. Using only fresh, premium, locally sourced ingredients, Poplandia creates popcorn that not only tastes, great, but that you can feel good about too. Poplandia offers a variety of sizes of cafe bags, tins, and party bowls so you can share this unique Portland treat with your friends and family, much like Marge from #AttheWaterline shares her Loaves of Abundance. Poplandia has generously donated a gallon bucket of their scrumptious popcorn to the event!


Oregon’s original craft brewery, BridgePort Brewing Company is a destination for classic English Ales and cutting edge hand-crafted microbrews, paired with elevated pub food. Visit the source brews, grub and brewery tours in a historical industrial setting. They’ve donated one of their beautiful glass growlers, along with a gift certificate to get it filled with your favorite BridgePort brew!



Bull Run Distillery produces some of the best single malt whiskey in Oregon. Distilled right here in NW Portland, their craft whiskeys, rums, and vodkas can be sampled right in their tasting room, which serves as the perfect place for friends and community members to meet and catch up, much like the characters in #AttheWaterline do at the end of a long day. Bull Run has donated not only two of their branded shot glasses, but also a full bottle of their finest straight bourbon whiskey, to be awarded to winning team members of age!


The Daily In the Pearl is a bustling breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot in downtown Portland, serving up comfortable, unpretentious, but undeniably delicious dishes. Many of their ingredients are locally sourced, and the cafe itself is a meeting spot where locals can sit and chat over a steaming cup of Stumptown coffee, much like the residents of the Rock Creek Marina. The Daily Cafe has generously donated a brunch for two!



Pacific Pie Company specializes in handmade sweet and savory pies. They make everything from scratch, using only the finest ingredients. Like Marge’s Loaves of Abundance, the pies of the Pacific Pie Company bring downtown residents together to break bread and enjoy each others’ company. They’ve generously donated a gift certificate to be spent on one of their scrumptious pies or sweets!


The Meadow is a beautiful Portland shop for craft made salts, gourmet chocolates, and handmade cocktail bitters, but it’s also a full service florist offering fresh cut flowers and bouquets daily. A uniquely Portland stop, the The Meadow offers the finest quality goods from all over the world. Their focus on and love for food, culture, and travel reminds us of adventurous Marge, whose Loaves of Abundance starter comes directly from Venice, Italy. The Meadow has donated a very nice starter set of their signature finishing salts from around the world!


Crafty Wonderland is a local retail store that features handmade goods and art from over 200 Portland area artists. Their dedication to local art also extends to the two large craft markets they organize each year, the next of which is happening May 20th at the Oregon Convention Center. Crafty Wonderland’s dedication to local artists reminds us of whimsical Marge, who moves from one art medium to the next, searching for her passion. They’ve generously donated a set of their uniquely Portland, handcrafted enamel pins!


Set in a quaint Victorian house on vibrant 23rd Ave, Lela’s Bistro offers authentic Vietnamese comfort food in a familiar, homelike setting. Lela’s is truly a local’s favorite. It’s a place to go where you know you’ll be treated like family, which is why they’re such a great sponsor for #AttheWaterline, where the Rock Creek marina welcomes any and all residents home. Lela’s has also donated a gift certificate, as well as a limited edition t-shirt designed by their current artist in residence.



Ancestry Brewing is dedicated to building a lineage of family crafted ales, one brew at at time. Family owned and operated, this brewery in Tualatin is an integral part of the community. It’s a place where families and friends can meet for some good food, and even better brews. Their community feel reminds us of the brews and chatter that bring even the most different characters, like Chad and Dory, together. Ancestry Brewing has generously donated a branded hat, a full-size growler, and a gift certificate to get that growler filled with your favorite Ancestry brew.


“At the Waterline” Comes into Port


12 years ago I started writing a creative nonfiction story about a quiet, enigmatic older gentleman who lived on his sailboat at the marina where I worked. A few lines of dialogue was all I could come up with. The character grew out of hand from there – and out of the realm of nonfiction – until he was an ex-Catholic priest with a life and a spiritual journey of his own. Then his life led to other lives. Yesterday, I held the print version of the finished book for the first time. I’m still not sure what to make of it: a little book born of great cost and effort. My family hasn’t always had me emotionally, mindfully present when I might have been. Sometimes it seems like the novel has been born more out or despair than hope or sustained effort. I can now dare to hope, though, that this story carries to its readers a spark of joy, even joy carried by sorrow, until it finds its way to the eternity that is in their hearts.


Here is At the Waterline in the Ooligan Press office slouching on the shelf just around the corner from Eliot Treichel‘s Oregon Book Award winner: A Series of Small Maneuvers:


You can now buy At the Waterline from the following online retailers:


At the Waterline Now in Stores!

cover w blurb

My first novel, At the Waterline is now available online and in stores. If you order during the month of May, 2017, from an independent bookstore anywhere in the world and let me know about it, I’ll send you a gift. If you are currently living on a boat, let me know, I’ve got an even better gift for you. You know you deserve it.  Thank you.

Elliott Bay Book Company Powell’s Books, Inc. Portland Monthly MagazineBroadway Books Portland Review Annie Bloom’s Books Eagle Harbor Book Company Queen Anne Book Company Powell’s City of Books The Book Bin – Salem The Book Bin – Corvallis – Barnes & Noble

At the Waterline Audiobook Giveaway!

Friends, Boaters, Readers,

I’m giving away FREE AUDIOBOOK CHAPTERS to people who pre-order my upcoming novel, At the Waterline before it is available in stores on May 1, 2017


Here’s the Deal:

You have (about) 1 week left to pre-order the print copy of the novel, At the Waterline, before it’s available in bookstores! Preorder it in the next week and I’ll send you 3 FREE AUDIOBOOK CHAPTERS! Pre-order 2 copies and I’ll send you 6 audiobook chapters. Pre-order 3 copies, and… You probably see where this is going. For every print copy of At the Waterline you PRE-order, I will send you 3 audiobook chapters.

Here’s What You Do:

  1. Preorder a copy of At the Waterline at one of the online bookstores listed below (or anywhere else you can find it)
  2. Send me a snapshot, picture, or screenshot of your receipt (email or social media) at my author email address:
  3. That’s it! I’ll send you a link to the first 3 audiobook chapters for FREE before the audiobook is available more widely in mid-May!

Online Bookstores:

More Ways to Get Stuff:

You will have several other chances to win additional audiobook chapters soon, but I will not make it this easy for you after May 1! You might as well get it over with and receive the entire audiobook for free by preordering 5 print copies NOW while it’s also on sale at the online retailers listed above. Keep an eye out for more audiobook chapter giveaways by following my social media handle @BrianKFriesen on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, PinterestGoodreads, or you can get on my mailing list to receive updates by emailing me at

Have you already preordered a copy of At the Waterline? Or 5? Let me know. You are very fortunate. I’m a gullible, gracious, trusting spirit. And it looks like you have read all the way down to the bottom of this long post, so you must be a generous person deserving of a little slack (slack – that’s a sailing term).

Thank you, friends, and many blessings to you.


Brian K. Friesen

Enter the At the Waterline Coloring Contest for a FREE Copy of the Novel!


Introducing the #AttheWaterline coloring contest! To celebrate the upcoming launch of Brian K. Friesen’s debut novel, we’ll be releasing 4 different coloring pages depicting various scenes from the book that you can download, print, and color yourself. When you’re done with your beautiful work of art, comment on the Ooligan Press Facebook post with a picture of your finished coloring page, make sure you follow both Brian K. Friesen and Ooligan press on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and you’ll be entered to win a free copy of this brand new book! Check out the very first coloring page below:


Brian K. Friesen Interview with Ooligan Press


My interview with Ooligan Press is now up on their blog: Interview with Brian K. Friesen 

Here is the interview in full:

  1. Did you add any scenes to the novel during the editing phase that you ended up loving?

There are many scenes that only exist because Ooligan editors pushed me to keep exploring more, keep developing characters more, and keep alert to underlying motivations in every interaction, in every scene.

One of my favorite added scenes is the very final one in the novel. After it was written and then edited a couple dozen times, I thought it was a good possibility for the end of a section late in the book, but I still wasn’t ready to settle on one thing if something else might present itself. I kept drafting various possible endings just to make sure. I liked a lot of what I came up with, but it was only opening up too many new details when the novel was already done. Cobi (Ooligan project manager) helped convince me that the ending was already there. So I polished it up and that final, inevitable sentence lands just right and brings the reader right back to the beginning again. The journey of two of the main characters culminates in that final line. It comes full circle. Without somebody else’s perspective, I think I would have missed it.

There are too many new scenes to count, really. I love one toward the middle of the manuscript that introduces a certain young woman (Emma) in a surprising moment with a character I thought had already made his grand exit from the book. But there he was showing up to speak like a proverbial Greek chorus, ushering in a shift in the narrative. It came out of left field, and it is so brief and yet so intimate and revealing. It came very late in the editing process.  It is one of the most poignant and purposeful scenes in the whole novel for me.

To offer a little perspective, I recently did a file compare (using Notepad++) between the final document of the manuscript and the version I first submitted to Ooligan. After all the content we cut and all the stuff we added, I see that roughly 2/3 of this final version is completely new content. That’s pretty amazing to me. Some of the themes and characters are the same, but they are much more thoroughly realized.

  1.     Did any minor characters become more important or major characters become less so?  

Two minor female characters ended up becoming much richer and more complex and essential. Especially Emma. My original draft definitely would have failed the Mako Mori test. Emma was significant only in relation to the main male character. She was a kind of romantic reward for him after he grew the hell up.  I was encouraged with each new draft to find out more about her. Now I think she inhabits the second half of the novel as a more fully realized character that has a journey of her own.

Early on, there was a lesbian couple that I thought for sure Oolie editors would want me to develop more, but we ended up removing those two characters when we saw that they were an unnecessary distraction in a section that was really about another character.  

  1.     What do you feel like you have grown most on as an author?

I’ve definitely grown in my ability to accept input from others into my writing. I had no idea how helpful and inspiring the influence of other voices would be.  I’m better able to trust in the instincts of readers and editors. I have other minds to thank for pushing me to develop characters and scenes that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I thought I was done with the book many, many times in the last year-and-a-half or so. This may seem like pandering or preaching to the publishing choir, but I really mean it.

The largest take-away for me is a broader understanding of editing: different pairs of editing glasses to wear at different stages of a writing project. I am prone to editing mostly at the sentence level and get really hung up with inner criticism at the level of sentences and words. Turning off the editing mind to consciously develop or explore is often very difficult. Those editing muscles are working hard to reveal what needs improvement and what is falling flat. They are the muscles you build up in the university, so you can be very skilled as an editor and a critic and still have to keep learning to free yourself up to create something new that the editing process has suggested. Some people might be able to edit as they go and are very lucid and flexible that way. I have moments like that, but mostly I’m skilled at sabotaging forward progress in writing.  Learning to be free is not a straightforward thing.  You are never going to remove all the psychological and physical and economic obstacles in your path. And if you did, you might not have anything interesting to write about, anyway.

All that to say that I found it liberating to place myself in the hands of the editors and readers at Ooligan Press, giving myself a kind of permission to compose new content or develop existing content or adjust the tone of a section, knowing that a team of thoughtful, discerning editors were there to take at least some of the critical burden.  They were a support rather than an obstacle or a threat.  It ended up being a formative experience for me and essential to the novel. The process was akin to getting a Master of Arts degree in manuscript development and professional editing and marketing – but without adding more zeros to the end of my hefty student loan debt. Most things are better in the context of a community. It turns out that this book is definitely one of them.

  1.     What was the greatest challenge you faced?

The choice to turn to the writing for 10 minutes here and there while also being prepared for interruptions from the people I love sometimes makes a creative existence seem impossible.  It is one thing to prioritize responsibilities in your life in an abstract way, but to live them out is quite another. It is not easy to turn on a dime when there is the urgency of being emotionally available as a husband, a father, a brother, and an employee. There is so much to be attentive to, and I am not very good at being intellectually and emotionally present all the time. Sometimes, the writing had to suffer and not be all that I wanted it to be. I try to avoid neglecting the people I love over the work. My day job suffered at times, and that’s not good. It’s such a privilege to have a full-time job.

I might say that the greatest challenge during the re-development and editing of this novel was good old-fashioned physical weariness.  Maybe that’s not a very interesting answer.  Like if someone asks you about the hardest part of being in a marathon and you say: “The hardest part was all the running, when I would rather lay down and go to sleep instead.” So, I could say the greatest challenge I faced in writing this novel was the not-sleeping part of writing it. I did fall asleep a lot while writing, late at night. I’d get to the end of the day, and it was already late, but there was more writing to do, so I’d just stay conscious and writing until I wasn’t conscious anymore. There were some crazy sentences that took strange turns.  I would jerk back awake and read what I had written in a semi-unconscious state and marvel at the turns of phrase. I should start keeping a list of those sentences, now that I think of it.  Or maybe I should get more sleep. That’s an unhealthy way to end the day and I recommend it to no one. It’s less dangerous if you are writing on the couch or propped up in bed rather than sitting at a desk. That way you don’t have as far to fall. Oh, that’s terrible. Maybe you should edit out this part of the interview.  Instead, just have me say: “There weren’t any challenges. I only write when I’m feeling inspired.”

  1.     Which character went through the most development during the editing process?

The female characters, for sure. Marge, the prolific artist, grew from being a mere name into an important character with her own arc of development. Emma really came to life, with several new sections written from her unique third-person perspective. I think she was developed the most. I have Ooligan editors to thank for pushing me to bring her to life as a character, and how integrated she is into the narrative.

  1.     Do you have any funny or enjoyable stories from the time you spent either working with your editors or on the manuscript?

There was some back-and-forth over a period of time between the team and I about a certain scene in which a certain young man meets a certain young woman, and I got stuck on wanting the introduction to play out in a way that I thought was funny and playful. It was essentially a trope from bad romantic comedies in which the clumsy love-struck guy meets the girl and makes a buffoon of himself, only my scene was having something like the opposite effect on the readers. It’s funny to me now. Maybe the editors don’t think so. I dialed back on the young man’s self-conscious, creepy interactions with the girl and turned it back in and heard back that pretty much everyone on the editing team hated the main character in that scene. So I dialed back more and resubmitted it.  “No, we still hate him,” was essentially the answer.  I’m glad that they persisted. It’s a much better section now, and there’s more depth to the humor, I think, now that the section is not trying so hard to be funny.

7.    Which part of the novel are you most proud of now that it’s finished?

There is a section I really like that takes place around the Thanksgiving holiday. A couple of stories are woven together in that section in satisfying ways. There are two Thanksgiving meals happening at the same time and I love how they work back and forth to capture the how a holiday can play out in spite of everyone’s best intentions. There is that unique kind of intimacy and vulnerability around the holidays. In that section in the book, a handful of characters come to a potentially devastating crisis point. It had to get worse for them before it could get better. I really felt that section captured the crux where longing and disappointment could drive the narrative forward.

8.    If you were to start a new novel today, what would you approach differently after this experience, if anything?

I’m glad for this question, because I’m working on another novel and I’m already finding myself digging some of the same pits that I dug and fell into the last time around. So it’s a good time to regroup and consider the possible answers to that question. I’m playing around with lots of characters who have their own stories and I can see that I am putting off some structural commitments and I’m also treating first drafts too much like late drafts. Too much messing with the rhythm of sentences and choosing specific, significant words when I don’t even know who the characters are or what makes them tick.  I’m going to throw most of this work away before I figure out what this next novel really needs from me.  And even then, I won’t know what it needs from readers or editors.  I’d like to limit the amount of time I spend obsessing over every single sentence every single day. It’s so easy to get lost in the weeds and mistake it for doing the important, careful work of an artist. I’d like to be able to relax my critical standards a little more in the first drafts – pace myself knowing that first drafts don’t have to be polished early on at the sentence level with quite as much care as I’ve given them in the past.  I know large chunks are going to be dropped altogether, and that’s harder to do if you’ve brought all your creative and critical faculties to bear on first drafts. If you are working with clay, you are going to have to be willing to throw away those first few ashtrays and warped bowls. Please throw them away. Anne Lamott said it much better in Bird by Bird: You’ve got to give yourself permission to write those “shitty first drafts“.

Going forward, I would also like to be more conscious of the bigger picture and purposefully set aside time to consider the work as a whole. I’d like to put the “whole-part-whole” idea into practice.  But what would that look like? That might look like sketching rough outlines and adjusting as I go, throwing out the ones that aren’t working.  Or moving 3×5 cards around on a big piece of carpet.  I’ve got a long way to go. No doubt I’ll do things the hard way in endlessly creative new ways! Sometimes that is the path where there wouldn’t otherwise be one.

8.     Is there any advice you would like to give to aspiring authors now that you’re almost published?

Run away! Take up photography instead! Watch Breaking Bad again! It’s a really complex, amazing show!  Find out if you are really just interested in consuming entertainment. There are plenty of great TV shows to consume out there. And they keep coming, don’t they? When will they make the last good TV show and be done with making things that I don’t have time to enjoy?  And now there’s a series based on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  I’m eager to see it, but I’m even more interested in hearing anything and everything that Atwood has to say about it.

I’m only partly kidding about running away. The biggest thing for aspiring writers I would say is that writing is hard work. You can’t sustain the fantasy that it should somehow be otherwise for you because you are more special or more committed than other aspiring writers. You aren’t sitting down to be entertained by the gods or to entertain yourself. At times it can be a thrill and it feels more like play, but we are easily deceived by whatever pleasures or rewards writing can offer.  Exhilarating work is still work.  Is it work, or is it play? And the answer is “yes.” Does it sometimes feel like it comes easily or naturally? Yes. But did it really come easily? No. Writing doesn’t offer the rhythmic endorphin hit you get scrolling down the screen clicking on memes. Are you up for the work it is going to take to become successful as a writer? It is going to be harder than you think. You are submitting to forces and to a process that you can’t fully control.  There is maybe a tiny bit more control if you self-publish, and there is no shame in doing that, but even that is going to introduce hard work. Probably harder than you think. If my next novel can’t find a home, I’m not above self-publishing it in some capacity and then moving on to the next project.

Another thing that comes to mind is the particular environment you are trying to learn and grow in. I’m finding my new work being nearly smothered by this post-2016 American landscape. If defiance toward the powers that be helps get you motivated, then great.  Write something beautiful as an act of resistance. Make sense of who you are and what you have to say by writing. But that kind of defiant passion probably won’t sustain you in the long run.  It’s going to be hard in the coming years to even hear yourself talk as an artist in America. The zeitgeist is like a big black hole of fear. Gravity is pulling people toward–or against–self-preservation.  Words like “peace” and “safety” and “empathy” are becoming ham-fisted and politicized. Some things that need to be said take longer than anyone has time for. I find respite in stories that haven’t been overly appropriated. Fables and sacred texts and poetry and novels. Instead of being dragged around by the nose into whatever the CEO of the United States of America is saying today, I try to take sabbaticals from it. If I give the tyrant a half hour of my day every day, and a huge chunk of my emotional attention, I’ve become lost. Take 5 minutes every single day to sow other kinds of seeds. Read a poem a day. One of the best things you can do as a writer. Read a poem every day. Vote with your wallet, no matter how little money there is there. Buy a book of poetry.

As far as becoming a writer goes, Mark Twain’s advice to someone who wanted to know if they were a gifted writer or not was to go write for 5 years and then they would be closer to an answer. I wrote for more like 13 years before getting a novel-length work published, though I wasn’t writing that whole time. Actually, I wrote a couple hundred pages of a novel with a friend in Jr. High, so it’s actually been more like 30 years. So waiting a set period of time for an answer to whether you are going to be a talented writer or not is a bit dubious.  Of course, Mark Twain was winking at us, as he often does. The truth is that there is no answer. There is only the work that is in front of you to do or not do. You find out what you really wanted to do in retrospect. “But I really want to write!” Be honest. Get help if you see that years of anguish are going by. Or let it go. No, really. Go help plant native vegetation along a suffering creek or river. Go build a tiny house. Learn to bake bread. Take William Stafford’s poem, You Reading this Be Ready, and make it your daily practice: “What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?”

Writing Podcast of the Week – 3/25/17


Behind the Scenes: How ‘The Writer Files’ Is Produced.

I’ve been hard at work recording and editing the audiobook version of my upcoming novel At the Waterline, so it’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything on this blog. Since I’ve been saturated with audio training and recording, I’ve decided to select a podcast this week that focuses more on the technical-audio side of the the writing world. I’ve benefited greatly in my audio-recording pursuits from The Writer Files podcast episode titled: Behind the Scenes: How ‘The Writer Files’ Is Produced.

The episode offers interviews with 4 or 5 editors and audio professionals that work on The Writer Files (and other podcasts on Rainmaker FM). In this episode, you’ll discover interviewing techniques, equipment recommendations, vocal warmup suggestions, advice, tips, tools, web apps, software recommendations, and many lessons learned over many years of recording. It’s a rich episode that helps you see what goes on under the covers of this and many other podcasts out there.