Where Have all the Explorers Gone?

  A pair of images hangs over my computer. In one, Merlin points to the moon as Arthur curiously searches the sky. Above that is a panoramic photo taken when I was a Writing grad student at CalArts in 1999, the view from the deck outside my apartment where I often stood to gaze out…

Whale Watching

  Yesterday I felt most alone when I was in the crowd of whale watchers out on Bodega Head, scanning the impossibly immense gray and silver sparkling blanket of the Pacific for the elusive  black dorsal fins like tiny broken obsidian teeth jutting up from the surface, nearly invisible. Without binoculars or a scope, you’d…

Morning Rocket Fuel

    In the morning, I like to immediately jump into my latest work-in-progress. It’s like running to greet old friends, reuniting with loved ones. But sometimes, other writings burn inside me, rushing to the surface. Sometimes it’s an idea for a class I’m teaching, or it might be simply a snippet of dialogue or…

Discovering a Best Writing Practice

I find that if I’m too relaxed in my chair, slouching or sinking down, I automatically enter a relaxed state of mind, a kind of fuzziness that might aid the flexibility of my thoughts but hinder my focus. I want my words sharp and precise, well-chosen and passionate. Despite the stories of famous writers who…

Ghost Trees

On my drive to work before dawn, my eyes are drawn to the black treetops on the hillsides in silhouette against the gray-indigo sky. Threatening the bright, defined boxes of car and house windows, signs, and the automobiles themselves (crowded together on the highway like packages trapped on a stalled conveyor belt), these trees branch…