CategoryBlog

Shaq, John Irving, Meryl, and Me

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This is NOT a photo of me and Shaquille O’Neal. However, she’s about my height, so this illustrates the story I’m about to tell you.   SEEING A FAMOUS PERSON is like seeing a mouse run in front of you. It’s startling. Larger than life. Odd, even. It suddenly transforms a routine stroll across the kitchen to check out the refrigerator into an adventure involving a spatula, shrieking, and a...

The Gender of God

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THE GENITALIA OF GOD is not a topic open to discussion among, well, almost everybody. It is at once sacrilegious to wonder what lies between God’s legs and heretical to not accept the commonsense dogma that God uses the door marked “Men” when He’s out to dinner and has had three glasses of iced tea. As an inhuman spiritual being, God’s gender is supposedly utterly unimportant, which is why we...

The New Alpha Male

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PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL players are thugs. They are hired to be thugs. If they are not thuggy enough on the field, they are mocked and shamed publicly for bad thuggery. The big business that is the NFL and its many media permutations depends upon the players’ willingness to be thugs. They are not hired to be heroes. They are not hired for their fine character. Americans need to disarticulate these...

Don’t Wait for the Muse

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Every now and then, I’m invited to speak to a group of writers. I prepare my notes and deliver my little speech about inspiration and style and the proper use of the semi-colon, and then someone asks the big question, the one I suspect is the real thing I’ve been invited to talk about: “Can you make any money at this?” I have been a freelance writer for 25 years. Except for a three-and-a-half...

The Terrible Responsibility of Words

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I am a writer, and words are my tools and my inspiration, my craft and my medium. Still, I do not always know what it is that I think about an issue or a person or a value until I am pressed to speak, and must pause and try to put those ideas into language. Oh, I have a sense about my beliefs and feelings—I have an awareness of what matters to me and how I feel about what matters to others. But...

Write Better-er

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I teach writing, so it saddens me to report this, but a teacher can make you only a better writer, not a great one. For that, an ineffable something is required—an instinct for language, a voracious appetite for crafting sentences that force previously content humans to break down and weep, and a love for the cadence and the weight and the heft of words. That ineffable something is provided by...