Monday, November 19, 2007

Grub Street Rag, 11/19/07

*Heavenly Grub gossip
*Dastardly Grub events
*Donate to our YAWP program

"The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible."

--Mark Twain

Welcome to the Grub Street Rag, a newsletter of the Boston literary scene sent out every Monday from the back alley speakeasy at Grub Street's world headquarters. As always, if you are receiving this e-mail in horror, please advance to the bottom of the page to unsubscribe yourself.

Urgent! Help us Raise $5000 for YAWP by 12/31
YAWP, our writing program for teens, is an entirely FREE program for students age 13-18 that teaches them the craft of creative writing. If we can raise $5000 by the end of the year, a donor will match that with an additional $5000. Your dollars go twice as far, and every dollar counts. Click here to donate NOW.

The Young Adult Writers Program is dedicated to helping students age 13-18 with creative writing in and out of the classroom. Our program is based on the understanding that a love of writing is fostered through creative work, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future academic success. Schools around the nation no longer have the resources to focus on creative work, and students with an interest in poetry or fiction have to look beyond their schools' curricula to find support in their creative endeavors.

Every dollar helps, so please, donate today. We look forward to building on the success of our teen programming and helping shape the creative voices of tomorrow.

Institution of Congratulations
Grubbie and children's book author Sarah Lamstein just published a new book called Letter on the Wind, a retelling of a Jewish folk tale. Read more about her and the book at Former Grub instructors Jami Brandli and Brian Polak, who now live in Los Angeles, wrote to tell us they are finalists for the ABC Disney Writers Fellowship. If thy're picked, they get $50,000 each for 2008, a mentorship with a seasoned TV writer, and TV writing jobs. There were over 1,000 applicants this year and they're currently in the top twenty. After Thanksgiving, they go through the interview process: a short intro to ABC Disney, a cocktail mixer with the
other finalists, and then a panel interview. All of us in Boston have our fingers crossed--good luck! Congratulations to all of you Grubbies, and keep sending us your great news.

Grub-"sponsored" NaNoWriMo get together
Tonight, Monday, November 19th at 6:30pm, a crew of Grubbies who are also NaNoWriMo-ers are all getting together at Remington's bar, (124 Boylston Street), just a few doors down from Grub Street. They'll be talking novels, sipping beverages, and connecting with one another. If you've been slaving away during National Novel Writing Month, now is the time to come talk to some other brave souls who've been doing the same. See you there!

Whitney, Sonya, and Chris (from Pennsylvania)

In addition to our ongoing workshops, Grub Street offers numerous writing-related events around town. See our website for a long-term view of all we do. Here is a sample of what's on the horizon:

LUNCHTIME COURSE: Brown Bag Lunch Series
Tuesday, November 27th, 12:30–1:15PM
Do you work downtown and want to fit some writing into your day? Or do you have a schedule that gives you free afternoons instead of evenings? Bring your lunch and come on over to Grub Street for a Brown Bag Writing Workshop – a series recently profiled in the Boston Globe. For 45 minutes, you’ll meet fellow writers and get your creative juices flowing with some cool writing exercises. Led by the fabulous Sonya Larson. Best of all, you’ll leave lunch with some new ideas to ponder for the rest of your day, and beyond. Maximum of 15 students. To sign up, email or call 617.695.0075.
FREE, Grub Street HQ, 160 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.

Writing For Radio
December 1-2nd, 2007, 9-4pm each day (includes an hour for lunch)
Instructor: Jennifer Mattson
*Sold out.
$195/ $170 for members, Grub Street HQ, 160 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.

The Story Details
December 1-2nd, 2007, 9-4pm each day (includes an hour for lunch)
Instructor: Rosie Sultan
Asked for advice on how to move stories and novels forward, Charles Baxter has said, "Don't orphan your details." Concrete, specific details work to give a story life, and they are often what make them stand out in the publishing world. In this workshop, we will look at short examples from Baxter, Chekhov, Flaubert, and Ishiguro and examine how these authors create lively details of sight, sense, taste, touch, action and thoughts as springboards to further their plots. Using Baxter's The Feast of Love, an excerpt from Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day and Flaubert's Madame Bovary, we will "borrow" their techniques as models to craft our own details of plot and character. By the end of the two days, we will hopefully have developed some tools to see our stories through to their best possible endings. A reprise of this summer’s highly-praised workshop!
$195/ $170 for members, Grub Street HQ, 160 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.

Finding Your Voice
December 1-2nd, 2007, 9-4pm each day (includes an hour for lunch)
Instructors: Jennifer Elmore and Becky Tuch
What makes your creative voice unique? Do your characters‚ voices embody the charisma and eccentricity of real life? Do your poems speak with authority? If you’re looking to jumpstart your fiction or poetry, or if either or both are feeling flat, join fiction writer Becky Tuch and poet Jennifer Elmore for a mixed-genre weekend workshop on the art of voice. Over the two days, we will explore our own creative voices - with particular attention to the details of diction. Come prepared to workshop current projects and participate in writing exercises. An expanded version of this summer’s popular one-night seminar!
$195/ $170 for members, Grub Street HQ, 160 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.

Grub Street wants to promote YOU!! Please send events for consideration to Our apologies if we can't fit you in.

--READING: Tuesday, November 27th, 7pm, How to Spell Chanukah: 18 Writers Celebrate 8 Nights of Lights
Steve Almond, Emily Franklin, Tova Mirvis, Josh Neumann, Mameve Medwed, and others are included in this collection of funny, poignant essays, and will be holding a reading and talk at Union Street. Sponsored by Heeb Magazine and Newtonville Books.
FREE, 107R Union Street, Newton Centre, MA.

--READING: Tuesday, November 27th, 7pm, The Writers' Room of Boston 2007 Annual Reading
Featuring the following authors: Mary Bonina - poetry, Eric Grunwald - fiction, Cynthia Staples - nonfiction, CD Collins - fiction, Katrin Schumann - fiction, Brian Kaufman - screenplay, Maureen Rogers - non-fiction, Tracy Geary - fiction.
FREE, The Poetry Center, Mildred F. Sawyer Library, Suffolk University, 73 Tremont Street, Boston.

--Writers’ Room Offers Fellowships for Free Workspace
The Writers’ Room of Boston, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides affordable, quiet, and secure workspace in downtown Boston for area writers, is now accepting applications for three fellowships for 2008. The fellowships award use of the Writers’ Room at no cost for one year. The submission deadline for applications is November 30, 2007. Residencies will begin in early 2008. For an application, visit Further questions? Contact Administrator Eric Maxson at 617-523-0566 or

--OPEN MIC: Saturday, December 1st, 1:30 - 4pm, NaNoWriMo Open Mic and Celebration
Meeting House, a journal of New England fiction, is having a reading in celebration of National Novel Writing Month, and you should come! Saturday, December 1, from 1:30 to 4:00, we'll be at the Burren in Davis Square, Somerville. Come and share what you've written during November. You don't have to have completed the herculean task of writing a novel in 30 days, but let us know how far you got. If you didn't take part in NaNoWriMo but have something you want to share anyway, that's cool, too! Just email by Thursday, November 29th, and let us know you want in and what you plan on reading. And don't forget to check out each week for a new story by a New England writer.
FREE, The Burren, 247 Elm Street, Davis Square, Somerville.

--READING: Monday, December 3rd, 7-9pm, Four Stories Boston
This month is the fall season finale of Four Stories Boston, with the them: "The Bitter End: Stories of loss, endings, and final acts." Featuring: Jeremiah Healey, creator of the John Francis Cuddy private-investigator series and (under the pseudonym Terry Devane) and author of eighteen novels and over sixty short stories; Drew Johnson, author of stories from Harper's, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and StoryQuarterly; Julia Glass, author of the novels Three Junes, winner of the 2002 National Book Award, and The Whole World Over, as well as a forthcoming story collection; Joan Wickersham, writer of fiction from The Hudson Review, Story, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, and The Best American Short Stories, and author of the novel The Paper Anniversary and the forthcoming memoir The Suicide Index. Plus tunes from guest DJ Michael-Borum!
Free, The Enormous Room, 567 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square.

Welcome to the end of the e-mail, where, like an ox at a sock hop, we offer you the chance to win a prize. In D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, which of the Morel children dies when Paul Morel is a young boy, and of what cause? Email your answer to Whitney. Winner receives a certificate for ice cream at J.P. Licks.

Answer to last week's quiz: Here's the Taste of Grub "beginnings" quote from author Bret Anthony Johnston: "When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake--not a very big one." The quote is from Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. WINNER: William Rafelson.

© 2007 grub street, inc.

160 boylston st. / boston, ma 02116 / 617.695.0075

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Any writing's good writing, right?

I have three best friends from high school--I may have mentioned them before in this blog, because they're the women I'm closest to in the world. Sadly, we all live in different cities, and only get to see each other one or two times a year. A few years ago, once we got too busy in our lives and careers to send around the "mass emails" we used to write every few days, the four of us started a rotating journal that we mail back and forth across the country. Like Fight Club, the journal has rules (except that we're allowed to talk about the journal, unlike FC). The journal can only be in the hands of one woman for three weeks. If we keep the journal longer than that, we have to buy a round of beers for the rest of the women.

Three weeks. Not hard. Anyone can write one journal entry in three weeks, especially if one styles herself a writer, right? Well, let's put it this way: at this point, two years into the journal, I am buying my friends a frat party's worth of beers.

I stepped outside myself and watched my behavior on this round, in the hopes of figuring out why I procrastinate on the journal. It's not for lack of interest--I LOVE reading the journal, I love writing in the journal, and I love popping it in the mail and picturing my friend Julie opening the package. Here's what I found out: Every time that I thought about writing in the journal, I would think, "Oh god, I haven't worked on my fiction. I should really do that before I write in the journal." But then I wouldn't actually work on my fiction, I would feel bad about not writing, and I wouldn't want to write in the journal because it would be an admission of defeat. And before I knew it, the three weeks were up and then I was depressed because that meant I hadn't done ANY writing of ANY kind for three whole weeks (or more).

So... yesterday, I got up early, trucked on down to Diesel Cafe and wrote in the journal. I wrote non-stop for an hour and a half and filled 9 pages. Gossipy, blathery stuff that no one but my friends would ever care about and I'll probably be embarrassed to read 6 months from now. And you know what? It felt great. It wasn't fiction, but maybe I'll try that tomorrow.

In dread,
Whitney Scharer