Article In The New York Times

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 3:55 pm on Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I’m so happy to have my first piece in The New York Times. I retraced Eugene O’Neill’s footsteps around San Francisco, where he raced to complete his best works before he lost his ability to write.

It ran in the travel section, but you can also read it here.

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Essay in Ploughshares: Student Debt and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 10:13 am on Friday, October 19, 2018

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I wrote an essay for Ploughshares on Student Debt and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the novel written by Betty Smith. It looks at the difficulty of paying for school, both now, and in Smith’s time. Things have changed, but not enough.

Article in Longreads: Ghost Writer: The Story of Patience Worth, the Posthumous Writer

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 10:06 am on Friday, October 19, 2018

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I wrote an article for Longreads. Check out Ghost Writer: The Story of Patience Worth, the Posthumous Writer.

One day in 1913, a housewife named Pearl Curran sat down with her friend Emily Grant Hutchings at a Ouija board. Curran’s father had died the year before, and Hutchings was hoping to contact him. While they’d had some success with earlier sessions, Curran had grown tired of the game and had to be coaxed to play. This time, a message came over the board. It said: “Many moons ago I lived. Again I come — Patience Worth my name.”

This moment was the start of a national phenomenon that would turn Curran into a celebrity. Patience Worth, the ghost who’d contacted them, said she was a Puritan who immigrated to America in the late 1600s. Through Curran, she would dictate an astounding 4 million words between 1913 and 1937, including six novels, two poetry collections, several plays, and volumes of witty repartee.

Essay In The Washington Post

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 8:18 am on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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I wrote an essay for The Washington Post! It’s about how becoming a mother has made me a better writer. A sample:

Throughout my pregnancy, I weathered comments about how difficult writing would soon become, all while obsessing about how I would juggle caring for a baby and finding time to write.

I shouldn’t have worried. In the five years since my son’s birth, I’ve written two novels, won grants and residencies and broken into many national publications. Before becoming a mother, it took me 10 years to write a novel. I never won grants or residencies pre-birth, because I rarely applied for them and, despite my skills and experience, I was intimidated to approach national magazines. Now I don’t have time for any of that angst because the babysitter is leaving in an hour.

Read I thought having a baby would hurt my career. I was wrong.

Learn To Write From The Movies: Kill Your Darlings

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 8:12 am on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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I have a new Learn To Write From The Movies up at Barrelhouse. It’s about Kill Your Darlings, a movie about Allen Ginsberg starring Daniel Radcliffe. A sample:

Lesson 4: Do Weird 1940s Drugs.

Naturally, Burroughs suggests they do drugs. He’s William S. Burroughs. But it’s the 1940s, so drugs are limited and strange. They settle on Benzedrine, which Hollywood studios forced Judy Garland take when she was a child. It contains amphetamine. They take it by squeezing a white substance that looks like butt medication into coffee.

It turns out that Benzedrine is productive to art. In a creative frenzy, the men rip up Burrough’s books and tape them to the wall. When I imagined the invention of the cut-up technique before, I didn’t picture it happening in a cracked-out meth den. Who knew?

Read the rest here.

Poetry Foundation: Bohemian Tragedy

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 8:17 am on Monday, March 19, 2018

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I wrote an essay for the Poetry Foundation on the poet George Sterling and the Carmel artist colony. It’s a crazy story about artistic utopia, California Bohemians, scandals, affairs, and a suicide pact. Jack London, Upton Sinclair, and HL Mencken were all involved.

Read the essay here.

Learn to Write from the Movies: Magic Beyond Words: The JK Rowling Story

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 7:27 am on Monday, March 19, 2018

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Check out Learn to Write from the Movies: Magic Beyond Words: The JK Rowling Story. Here’s a sample:

Lesson 3: Don’t Bother To Write Until A Creepy Ghost Appears To You In A Dream.

Good news. You don’t have to sit at a keyboard struggling to write every day. In fact, you don’t have to write at all. If you’re meant to be an author, the story will come to you. In Rowling’s case, it appears as a scary Harry Potter ghost child who glares at her while lightning flashes in the background. I thought she was going to scream, but it turns out it was inspiration.

Read The Rest Here.

I Was Interviewed By CNN

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 9:36 am on Tuesday, January 2, 2018

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I forgot to post this on here! I wonder what else I’ve forgotten.

Back in August, I was Interviewed By CNN about Donald Trump. They wanted my opinion because of my article on Vice about How Reality TV Made Donald Trump President. Check it out!

Learn To Write From The Movies: Genius

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 7:52 am on Friday, December 22, 2017

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It’s the next installment of my Barrelhouse column, Learn To Write From the Movies. This time it’s about the movie Genius.

Genius is a 2016 movie about Thomas Wolfe, who wrote Look Homeward, Angel, and his editor, Maxwell Perkins. The movie is about the time Perkins, played by Colin Firth, edited Wolfe’s 11,000-page novel for him and it became a bestseller. Wolfe is played by Jude Law, who’s doing the same Southern accent he did in Cold Mountain and also the same accent that Foghorn Leghorn does in Looney Tunes. At one point, he says, “Damn,” and it sounds like “Dah-yham.” I tried to find out if Wolfe talked like Foghorn Leghorn, but the closest I could find was a recording of Wolfe’s mother, who had a slight Southern drawl. I’ll give Jude Law the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he knows something I don’t.

Read The Rest Here.

LA Review Of Books: Ted Hughes’s Play About Marriage

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 7:35 am on Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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I wrote an article for the LA Review of Books on Tight Wires Between Us: On “Difficulties of a Bridegroom” by Ted Hughes. Excerpt:

ON FEBRUARY 9, 1963, two days before the poet Sylvia Plath killed herself, a radio play about her marriage aired on the BBC. Difficulties of a Bridegroom was written by her husband, Ted Hughes, and was about a man rejecting his bride in favor of his mistress. The play aired twice, in January and February, and was heard by all of literary London — including Plath herself.

Ted Hughes as a class act, wasn’t he?

Read about it here.

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