Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Another day at writing camp. I'm still amazed at the caliber of writing not only in the faculty here at Tin House, which would be expected, but also in my fellow students. In my small workshop group most or all are published fiction writers, and many teach writing on the college level--but I won't hold that against them.

Some complain that the proliferation of MFA writing programs results in homogenized and lackluster work that is competent but takes no risks, and I tend to agree, but the academics have brought some amazing stories--and so have the civilians who haven't gone the conventional route. School doesn't seem to be the deciding factor here. I guess the caliber of work reflects the edgy, barn-storming intelligence of Tin House Magazine (and those drawn to it) more than it reflects the current state of conventional writing programs.

Some of us read in the amphitheater this evening, under the trees, by a duck pond. It felt good. Later, there were faculty readings. I was especially amazed by Charles D'Ambrosio. Go buy his work to see how it's done.

Denis Johnson, National Book Award Winner 2007

Todays writing advice comes from Denis Johnson, author of Jesus' Son and Tree of Smoke, and guest here at Tin House:

"Write naked, write in exile, write in blood."

In our ongoing writers' week, here is the master of footnotes and endnotes in MLA style, David Foster Wallace.

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