Writing Stats Since Graduating from Rosemont MFA

Every year I make a chart of the number of pieces I’ve written that year. I’ve been doing this since 1985. Here’s the chart updated to include 2014. You may click on the image to see more detail:

2014 Writing Stats

Here’s the same information show by the type of the piece:

Writing by Type

New Semester at Rosemont College

Next week I start a new semester at Rosemont College. I’m taking three courses: Novel Craft (basically everything one needs to know to write a novel without the topic, characters, setting, plot or theme — it’s like a having a cookbook but no access to a grocery store); Literary Theory (a discussion of all the ways people can be involved in the pursuit of writing excellent and important literature without actually writing any literature); and my thesis which is going to be a book of poetry.

I started studying a dictionary of poetical terms and I’ve found 45 different terms related to the word “rhyme”: amphisbaenic rhyme, analyzed rhyme, apocopated rhyme, approximate rhyme, backward rhyme, beginning rhyme, broken rhyme, caudate rhyme, chain rhyme or chain verse, cross rhyme, crossed rhyme or interlaced rhyme, double rhyme, echo rhyme, embryonic rhyme, external rhyme, eye rhyme, feminine rhyme, full rhyme, head rhyme, historical rhyme, identical rhyme, imperfect rhyme, initial rhyme, interlaced rhyme, internal rhyme, ironic rhyme, leonine rhyme, light rhyme, linked rhyme, masculine rhyme, multiple rhyme, near rhyme, nursery rhyme, oblique rhyme, part rhyme, partial rhyme, perfect rhyme, polysyllabic rhyme, rich rhyme, sight rhyme, slant rhyme, suspended rhyme, synthetic rhyme, triple rhyme, vowel rhyme.

By the time I’m done with my thesis I will know what every one of these things are.

Here’s the thing though: rhyme has almost nothing to do with the type of poetry I write. My poetry almost never has rhymes, but maybe one of these 45 different types will give me a chance. Anyway, thought it was cool. Hope someone out there finds it useful.

Two Things That Are Going to or Should Happen

1. Penn State University should start a research center devoted to the study of child abuse. They should study the techniques that men use to lure children and their parents into danger. They should study the way institutions like Penn State and the Catholic Church hide the perpetrators. Penn State should become the center of a new field of scientific research devoted to studying child abuse. But…and this is extremely important…they should audit themselves continually because a research center such as this would attract perpetrators who would wish to learn the techniques people use.

2. Twenty years from now (this is written in 2011) everyone is going to realize that all the time and energy they’ve spent organizing their photographs and videos on their Macintosh computers is in danger of disappearing into the ether when they die. Companies should start forming now to preserve people’s photos into perpetuity – much like a cemetery keeps the memory of people physical being there should be a place to keep a person’s digital being.

Creative Nonfiction

I’m taking a course in Creative Nonfiction with Anne Kaier at Rosemont this semester. Anne is an excellent teacher. Creative Nonfiction is hard to define. I think of it as “Telling truth through story.” By this I mean that when one writes Creative Nonfiction one makes a promise to the reader that one will stick to the truth, in a “whole truth and nothing but the truth” sort of way. That’s the nonfiction part. The creative part comes in telling the story in as engaging a way as possible. “Whole truth and nothing but the truth, but let me put some lipstick on this pig.”

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at a a literary magazine called Etude. They bill themselves as “New voices in Literary Nonfiction” (Literary Nonfiction is another name for Creative Nonfiction). They produce an excellent quartly journal. Each quarter they include a column discussing the craft of Creative Nonfiction called on Craft.

I’ve linked into the magazine here. Links go to the home page for each particular issue and directly to the on Craft essay for that issue. Enjoy.








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Starting new semester at Rosemont

Last night I started a new class at Rosemont College. It’s called Modern Creative Non-Fiction. We are going to read nine books in nine weeks: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sklott, Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, Italian Days by Barbara Grizuitti Harrison, Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham, The Pine Barrens by John McPhee, Best American Essays, 2009, Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace, Vanished Gardens: Finding Nature in Philadelphia by Sharon White.

I’m very excited to get started. I ordered all the books from Amazon this morning. I want to write about the experience of reading and studying these books on this blog, and I intend to do that. I get great joy out of reading great pieces of writing. I’m especially excited about David Foster Wallace and John McPhee. Stay Tuned.

Rome and Amalfi

Been writing a lot over here in Italy. Will post somethings once I get home and am able to re-write and edit. These days it seems all I do is re-write and edit. Still working on Collected Short Stories from May. About 85% completed with second drafts. The goal in May was 120 short works of fiction, essay or poetry all 120 with second draft status. Not quite done yet but I have until November when I start my next novel (which is already written in my head).

Hemingway’s Six

There is an interesting discussion about Hemingway’s famous six word story here.

I started thinking about this and I wondered if Hemingway’s particular ordering of those six words were the best possible ordering. I wrote a simple (six line) C++ program to permute the six words and print out all 720 different combinations of the words “For,” “Sale,” “Baby,” “Shoes,” “Never” and “Worn.” I couldn’t even begin to be able to figure out what to do with the puncuation so I left that as it was. I then scanned through all 720 variations of the six words. Except for “Baby shoes: for sale, never worn” which was pretty good here is my conclusion: Hemingway is a great writer.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Not a story
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NaShoWriMay 2011 – II

This is insane but I wrote a second 50,000 word book in May, 2011 called Blooming Glen, 1959-1986, R.I.P. In this book I figuratively walk up and down the two streets in my town and recount everything I can think of related to every place in my town. I thought of a lot. Each property in town is given its own three or four page flashy treament. I tried to write the entries as a mixture between memories and flash fiction pieces. There is so much potential here. I’m really glad I got this all down on paper. I will serve me as a source of material for a long time I think. Here is the table of contents.

As you can see I didn’t even start this work until the end of the month and then I rushed to finish it before May 31. I also completed a large collection of short stories, flash and non-fiction, the table of contents of which is here.

Contents of Blooming Glen, R.I.P.

This is the table of contents for my book Blooming Glen, 1959-1986. R.I.P. which I wrote during the last ten days of May, 2011.

Table of Contents
North and East
The Swartleys 11
The Derstines 13
The Parisies 15
Doc Schaefer 17
Dunlap’s Butcher Shop 19
The Gulicks 21
The Carrolls 23
Derstine House 25
Dean and Laverne Detwiler 27
The Detwiler Farm 31
The Mennonite Church 35
Vacation Bible School 37
Tim Hockman and Boy’s Club 39
The Medwick Farm 41
The Effrig Farm 45
Further Afield 47
Conclusion 49
North and West
Fehls 53
Bobby Green’s Farm 55
Holy Roller Church 57
Next Property 59
Witton’s Store 61
North side of Route 113, west of crossroads 63
Gladys Loux 65
The Next Property 69
The Gas Station 71
Next Two Houses 73
Barney Rush 75
Old School House 77
Blooming Glen Meats 79
The Apartments 81
The Dam 83
Next Property 85
Justice Moyer’s Farm 87
Further Afield 89
Conclusion 91
South and West
Aunt Dolly’s 95
Uncle Jim’s Sister’s 99
Moyer’s Farm 101
Pants Factory 103
House Behind Pants Factory 105
Swope House 107
Other Houses 109
Kraft Factory 111
The Hotel 115
Barber Shop House 117
Roy Dale Hange 119
Double Houses 121
Jimmy Myers 123
Post Office 125
Miriam Drive 131
Big Pretty Houses 133
The Farm at the End of Town 135
John Dayton’s Farm 137
Sam Miller Tires 139
Poppy Yoder 141
Chuck Straus 143
Uncle Feryle 145
Pretty Girl in the New House 147
Further Afield 149
Conclusion 153
South and East
Trash Dump 157
OV the AV and Other Houses 159
Brooke and Lee’s First Apartment 161
Michael Myers 163
Other Big Houses 165
Old High School 167
Old Gym 169
Baseball Field 171
House with Swimming Pool 173
Factory Building 175
Triple House 177
Little Apartment Building 181
Rapp Family 183
Houses on Route 113 185
Ed Curry 187
Huntsburger 189
Crouthhammels 193
Baseball Field and Snack Shed 199
Scout Cabin 203
Horse Farm 205
Creek Play / Boat Racing 207
Further Afield 209
Conclusion 211
The Rush House
Introduction 215
Basement 217
Back Room 219
Main Room 221
Closet at Top of Stairs 225
First Floor 227
Dining Room 229
Living Room 235
Den 239
Back Porch 243
Kitchen 245
Second Floor 251
Mom and Dad’s Room 253
Becky’s Bedroom 261
Upstairs Bathroom 267
Front Bedroom 269
Back Bedroom 271
Third Floor 275
Attic Right 277
Attic Left 279
Attic Back 281
Outside 283
Barn 285
Garage 287
Burn Heap 289
Dog Pens 291
Conclusion 297

NaShoWriMay 2011

I wrote 110 short stories, flash and essay peices in April and the first twenty days of May 2011 (here). I do this as part of something that I call NaShoWriMay, which means National Short Writing May.

I always keep my own MS Excel spreadsheet were I track my progress during the month and I present that data here. You can see that the activity flattens out near the end of May. That’s because I wrote another book (here) in the last ten days of May. It’s been a productive spring.

Contents of Short Fiction, Essays and Poetry, May 2011

I had a hugely productive spring. I wrote two full 300 page books. The first is a collection of short fiction, flash fiction, micro fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry consisting of 110 peices. Most is flash (about 60). Most of the rest are creative non-fiction (essays). Here’s the table of contents and the chart of progress. I will detail the second book in another post.

Table of Contents
Short Stories
War Games 3
The Great Symphony 19
Liver and Onions 29
The Thief 31
Getting Into Pants 33
Flash Fiction
Robert Frost Helps Me Talk to My Father 37
The Anthropic Principle 39
Flushing Pheasants 41
Sigmund Freud on My Relationship 43
Inside Out 45
Queue 47
Johnny K 51
First Holy Communion 53
Lake Marie 55
ei? + 1 = 0 (An Identity) 57
Double Word Score 59
Diving 61
Chiaroscuro 63
Hardwood 65
Jason Makes a Call 67
For Her 69
Omnistrain 73
Picking up Girls at the Bar 75
Mr. Jones’ Accounts 77
The Parallel Postulate 79
Bumper Cars 81
Ham and Swiss on Rye 83
How I Learned to Like Guacamole 85
The Point Beyond Which There is No Return 87
The Mathematics of Titties 89
Charlie’s in Trouble 91
Drive Thru 93
Fireworks 95
Stuffed Chicken 97
Lying 99
The Normal Curve for Normal 101
My Prayer 103
Story Table 105
My Stuff in a Box 107
Bobby Daddy 109
Being in Love 111
Jumpy Juice 113
New Tom 115
Telling Her 117
The Peacock Room 119
So Much Promise 121
The Decision 123
The Robbery 125
The Insight 127
God Makes a Mistake 129
You’re Welcome Day 131
Dinner with James 133
Baba 135
Medieval Torture Room 137
Welcoming a Guest 139
Edgar, Richard and Miss M. 141
The Good King Goes Up 143
Speaking French to a Taxi Driver 145
Nothing Ever Happened 147
Doors 149
Mirror Image 151
My Net Diary 153
Micro Fiction
The Doppler Effect 157
Gimme a Yacto-second 159
Q & A 161
Writing 163
Prince Charming 165
The Sunday Smell of Frying Chicken 167
Cow Crap 169
30 Steps to Surviving the Death of Your Brother 173
Penis Butter and Jit Jelly 179
Rules for Pennies 181
Shaman 183
The Anniversary 185
The Backwoodsman 187
You 189
If [I | You] Had Never Met [You | Me] 191
Pi 193
Snow Hole 195
My Boss Washes His Hands 197
Torturing Katie 203
Second Chances 205
The Laws of Inheritance 207
The Trouble with Freedom 209
Under Protective Cover 211
Going Green 213
War 101 215
Yesterday and Tomorrow 217
Twenty Things 221
An Interview with the Poet 223
Numark Turntable 225
The Present 229
You 231
Fibonacci Poem 233
My Reading Spot 235
Song To Myself 237
Poem for Daddy 239
Screw You, Reader 241
I Am God and Shit 243
Other Writing / Blog Posts
What Was Raymond Carver Talking About? 247
Nancy Clearwater Herman, Artist and Blogger 247
Bend the Light 249
Make Mercury Wobble 251
Tricks of the Trade 253

T-Shirt Fiction

This is a cool idea. I think one of my online reviewers suggested that one of my pieces of micro fiction would fit well on a t-shirt. So the idea, which I coin here, is T-shirt Fiction: write a piece of fiction short enough to fit on a t-shirt

It’s at least as cool an idea as hint-fiction which fiction no longer than 25 words long that hints something much larger.

Contents of Collected Short Stories – November 2010

Table of Contents
Pennsyl-tucky: A Natural History 3
The Fall Day When Everything Changed 7
Storybored 11
My Short Career as a Murderer 13
Zombie Pizza 20
A Gloomy Dinner, Well Lit 27
The Snottery 33
When My Son Came to Visit 44
Examples of Feedback 51
Business Lessons 66
Talking Backwards 72
Dog Eye 75
Conversion 80
Clown Truck 82
My Trip to Infinite Time 86
The Underdog 93
Chocolate Covered Ants 97
The Standoff 100
Bleeding Art 104
Lunch for Eight 106
Mammals 113
Neighbots 119
A Crime Scene 124
Miscommunicants 126
Disgusting Dogs 129
Too Afraid To Leave? 131
Dragon Bones 134
Left Alone With a Slide Rule 138
Daydreaming of a Beautiful Evening 140
I Hate Dogs 143
Land Under the Sea That Time Forgot 147
Finding Poppy 155
The Moment I Fell in Love 161
Free Writes 167
Postword 196

Winner! 2010 NaNoWriMo Winner

I finished my 50,000 word collection of short stories this morning. It consists of 26 new first draft short stories and essays and two second drafts. I also have about seven or eight other partially finished first drafts that I intend to include in the collection which will bring the total to 33 new first or second draft pieces. This is a huge accomplishment for me. I had literally hundreds of ‘idea files’ where I started an idea and never finished it in the past. Now I have 33 new first drafts, which means over the next few months I will have 33 new second drafts and so on until I have a new collection of stuff that I can start to try to get published. That’s huge. I’m excited. Yay me.

Got this silly banner for winning:

Here’s the chart of my progress:

Nano 2010 Progress Chart

Very different from the May 2010 and the November 2009