Of Possible Interest

First, big thanks to Lavinia Ludlow for a lovely review of The Grievers in The Nervous BreakdownLudlow writes, among other things, “Schuster has an amazing sophomore novel on his hands. His writing has matured; he’s fine-tuned his approach and can effectively drive a story from start to finish with subtle tactics and engaging characterizations.”

Also, the latest edition of Shelf Unbound magazine is out. It’s their summer reading issue, so if you’re looking for a good beach book, check it out! As always, the publication is free. My reviews of Max Barry’s Machine Man, Derek Owens’ Memory’s Wake and Tom Williams’ The Mimic’s Own Voice appear in this issue.

And a couple of things I’m looking forward to: I have an essay on writing and friendship appearing in Writing from the Inside Out, the journal of the Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking. I also have a short piece appearing in the October issue of The Writer. Links to follow if and when they become available!

Writing and Thinking

Reading "Into the Labyrinth" at Bard.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking. Though the primary purpose of the institute is to help teachers develop new strategies for improving student writing, it was also a great resource for me as a writer.

One of the main objectives of the institute’s approach is to allow students to find their own ways into various writing projects. Another objective is to help students become more aware of their own writing and thinking processes — to use the writing process to learn about how they think and vice versa.

All told, it was a very interesting and productive week. I came away with a few ideas about how to reinvigorate my approach to teaching and how to increase student engagement with the material that I cover in class. I also got an opportunity to do some writing — an essay on my friend Tom Powers, which I’ve tentatively titled “Into the Labyrinth.”

In terms of my own writing, the workshop has definitely given me a few ideas. Just like students need to find their own ways into complicated texts, I think writers need to find their ways into nonexistent texts, the texts they’re bringing to life. Over the past few days, I’ve been putting a lot of the practices I learned at IWT to work, and they’re taking me in directions I never considered.

My week at the IWT was time well spent. I recommend it to any teacher who’s interested in integrating writing more fully into their curriculum. And if you’re a writer as well, you might come away with a whole new approach to your art.