Deb Vanasse | Bring on the Light

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Danish designer Poul Henningsen was obsessed with light. Inspired by the soft glow of pre-electric lighting, he devoted his life to designing electric lamps that would capture that glow. Electricity, he said, gave humans the possibility of “wallowing in light,” and yet there was the danger of losing the harmony of what once had been. For a decade, he experimented … Read More

Deb Vanasse | The Grounded Writer

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These are stressful times. More than ever, we creative types need grounding. By the dictionary, being grounded results in balance and stability. But I think of it more in terms of process, connecting with whatever it is that helps me to be in the moment when I write. Author John Straley talks of warming up to writing like a slow … Read More

Deb Vanasse | Writer, Interrupted

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Last week, my husband and I made a trip we didn’t want to make, back to the Midwest to visit a friend who’s failing fast with early-onset Alzheimer’s. A good visit, but under incredibly sad circumstances. You’ve made trips like that, too, for all sorts of reasons. Life doesn’t stop. We make room. I hauled my laptop and notes for … Read More

Deb Vanasse | What’s Your Misbelief?

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One thing that can be easily said about writing—there’s no shortage of resources to help writers hone their craft. In general, that’s a good thing. But this abundance also adds to confusion as writers try out different rules and formulae, determining in one way or another that there are “have-tos” involved in this enterprise. There’s your archetypal approach—hero, mentor, guardian, … Read More

Deb Vanasse | Know It All

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It’s a crazy hypothetical, but let’s say you could only give one piece of writing advice, and the advice had to be expressed in a single sentence. Based on where we are along our trajectories as writers, each of us would choose differently. In large part because of the developmental editing assistance I render, my current choice is this pithy … Read More

Jeff Brady | 2017 North Words Writers Symposium Rundown

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North Words Writers Symposium wrapped up in Skagway recently. Jeff Brady, co-organizer, provides a vicarious look at this year’s conference. ~ JP  The 8th annual North Words Writers Symposium in Skagway was the biggest yet. About 40 participants from all over Alaska and the Yukon were extolled by keynote author Paul Theroux to get out and work hard to experience life … Read More

Deb Vanasse | In These Times

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Just when I think I’ve achieved equilibrium, there’s a jolt. Such is life. That’s the Zen way of thinking. But I’m a writer, and writing demands focus. Under certain circumstances—death, illness, tragedy, the potential demise of democracy—focus is hard. It won’t help with all circumstances, but one source of wisdom I’ve returned to time and again in recent weeks is … Read More

North Words Writers Symposium | What A Few Can Do

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Perhaps you’ve heard how this statewide organization, 49 Writers, got started. Two people who’d never before met—that would be Andromeda Romano-Lax and me—joined forces to encourage and promote the work of Alaska writers. North Words Writers Symposium followed a similar trajectory although, in truth, their origin story is even cooler than ours. Years ago, Skagway’s legendary tourism director, Buckwheat, made … Read More

Deb Vanasse | Know Your Reader

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  “You’re a person who can handle shades of gray, aren’t you?” Judy had her hands in my mouth, probing and scraping, so I could only nod in response. “I thought so. Me, I can’t stand gray. Black or white. That’s how I like it.” A self-professed voracious reader, Judy knows I’m an author. She launched this teeth-cleaning session by … Read More

Deb Vanasse | Dirty Secrets of Revision and Editing

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I’ve warned you before—I’m obsessed with gardening. Especially this year, when after thirty-six years in Alaska, I moved to the Oregon Coast, where people informed me that everything would grow bigger and faster than I ever expected. It does. For the connections with writing, I blame Natalie Goldberg, whose wisdom I shared most recently when talking with adolescents in a treatment … Read More