writing life

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Vol. 56, Surviving by Percentages

Posted on 13 March 2007

Brooklyn, NY It’s been a year since my last KIS.list posting. Now, this doesn’t mean it’s been a year since I’ve thought about the KIS.list. I actually have a whole draft of a report on post-Katrina Mardi Gras, which I wrote last year after Mardi Gras 2006. I also have two incomplete posts—one on novel… »


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Vol. 50, Surrendering the Ego

Posted on 15 August 2005

Brooklyn, NY I’ve been tricked, had, hoodwinked, bamboozled. After years—10 to be exact—of working on the same high-concept novel, I have somehow been convinced to start working on a whole new novel. That’s right, completely new—from scratch! I remember when I was at Clarion West, one of our teachers—Jack Womack, told us that learning how… »


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Vol. 35, The Making of a Chapbook

Posted on 24 August 2003

Brooklyn, NY I cannot explain exactly why I decided I had to put out a chapbook at the Harlem Book Fair. The urge came over me and I committed to having it done. I called my friends at Exit the Apple/Inner Child Books to see if they wanted to share a table and sell their… »


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Vol. 29, Keeping It Real

Posted on 24 November 2002

Thoughts on Artistic Expression I was recently, once again, in discussion with my father about the students in his high school video production workshop. He teaches one segment to a student body in an impoverished high school and another in a more privileged magnet school. He mentioned that his students at the poorer school had… »


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Vol. 25, The Alchemy of Writing

Posted on 2 July 2002

A True Story She is a high-minded woman, and hates complaining, so she suffers the demands of her craft with little comment. She bows down to each of writing’s demands, barely stopping to consider the rationality of the requests. She works hard to save thousands, then blows it all on an intimate trip for two:… »


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Vol. 24, At Nommo Writing Workshop

Posted on 25 May 2002

New Orleans, LA Every time I come home to New Orleans I sit in on my father Kalamu ya Salaam’s writing workshop. It’s called Nommo and usually has a diverse group of six to eight active members at every meeting. The workshop is not for sissies. The evenings are long and the meetings are frequent…. »


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Vol. 18, Pitching: A Study in Frustration

Posted on 6 February 2002

New York, NY Pitching is a skill in and of itself. To be able to look at a magazine and create story ideas that fit with their thrust is a talent I haven’t mastered. Admittedly I haven’t tried very hard to master the technique. For me, the act of pitching steals away valuable writing time… »


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Vol. 15, 9-to-5

Posted on 23 December 2001

An ongoing conversation about j-o-b-s New York, NY Before I went away on the Thomas J. Watson fellowship (and before I’d worked an actual 9-to-5), I thought I had to work to feel settled in my life. These words from my student lips: “I can’t live without working. I’d go crazy.” Then I went away… »


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Vol. 13, Money and Art

Posted on 2 December 2001

Email Conversations with a Writer Friend New York, NY I’d noticed one writer friend constantly complaining about money. On stage, in private, whenever conversations about her work came up, one of her responses would be “Yeah, well, I ain’t got no money.” Her disgruntledness made me uncomfortable. I’ll have to excavate (as another friend says… »


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Vol. 10, The Universe’s Ripple Effects

Posted on 2 November 2001

A Ms. Magazine Intern’s Apartment New York, NY My parents brought me and my siblings up with a reverence for ancestors and a thankfulness for life, but with no real religious structure. They never set out to define God for us, nor did they even suggest to us that there was a God. Religion just… »