Simple Writing Advice For October

This will be the shortest post ever. Writing advice for October:

  • Write fewer articles.
  • Write fewer adverbs (or no adverbs at all).
  • Start sentences with verbs to push forward action. Let the reader assume the subjects that correspond to those verbs.
  • Trust your reader. Explain less. Write the action and the dialogue.
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“Failure as Fuel, Staying Hungry, and Wolf Naps” – PBH on the CNF Podcast

Here’s my new interview on The Creative Nonfiction podcast with Brendan O’Meara:

Click to listen.

When you have friends like this…

After my outlaw (what I call any former in-law) failed to meet up with me last night, he sent me the best email I’ve received this month. His nickname is “C-Murder,” thus his sign-off:

“I missed your call last night, after I failed to check my calendar during the day.

But that was before I got drunk in the back yard and passed out in the shed after dinner.

I hit my head on a stack of snow tires that don’t have any studs left. Except the one that lacerated my forehead. 

I woke up somewhere in Creswell without pants. Bleeding profusely from above my left eye. Your voice mail came through sometime around 9pm. 
I sat on the railroad tracks and cried.
I’m sorry. 
I’m free tonight though. My house? So-and-so made plans to go out. 
C Murder”

New Interview On Too Shattered, Failure, and What’s Next

This interview just came out today. I talk about my new novel Too Shattered For Mending, what a real writing process looks like, having no talent, hip-hop, and my next book – An American Afterlife:

Click to read.

Release Readings For Too Shattered

Book release week for my new novel Too Shattered For Mending (Knopf, Random House):

  • Reading at Tsunami Books, Eugene, Oregon, September 13th, 7 PM.
  • Visiting Rogers High School, Spokane, Washington, September 15th, all day.
  • Reading at Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, Washington, September 15th, 7 PM.

Look for copies of the novel at your local independent bookstore, or order online by clicking one of these links:

Maybe I’m A Dirtbag?

I realized – last night – that I was going to see my mom (who’s here, visiting from Arizona), and that I smelled terrible and couldn’t remember the last time that I’d showered. Friday maybe? Or maybe it was Thursday? I know I paddled the river on Saturday, which is pretty much the same as showering…

Since that river bath, over the next five days, I’d climbed twice, biked six times, gone for a run, played soccer twice, and lifted weights four times. Plus there’s that whole Summer Sun Angle (Heat) = Sweat thing.

I’d also mowed the lawn, worked in the yard, gardened, and picked up dog poop in the sun three times.

For my mom, I took a shower.

A Few Good Book Recs

I was asked for a few book recs in an email yesterday, and I realized that I should probably share my response since I love it so much when people tell me about books they’ve enjoyed. Here’s what I wrote:
“This year, I loved The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (National Book Award), Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (National Book Critic’s Circle Award for Poetry – although it reads more like essays), James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird (National Book Award), Kevin Barry’s short story collection Dark Lies The Island, and Welch’s The Death Of Jim Loney (which felt eerily close to my current mental state with a brain injury).
Bryn Greenwood’s All The Ugly And Wonderful Things was DISTURBING but she wrote it beautifully.
Also, I’ve read ten of the Best American Short Stories collections.
Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow was hard but good as well.
In the last few years…I loved all three Patrick deWitt novels + Lean On Pete & The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin.”