A Northwest Based Literary Journal

Tag: creative writing


Good Metaphor/Bad Metaphor

What makes a good metaphor? That’s like what makes a good wine. No, that’s a simile, not a metaphor. And it’s not a very good one, either. It was just the first thing that came to my mind. I see lots of similes and metaphors in the short stories and flash that arrive in the… Read More ›


Can Writing Be Taught—Is That the Right Question?

Many writers and writing teachers have posed the question: “Can writing be taught?” Most of us have seen at least part of the debate in which some say it’s useless to try to teach writing to those who aren’t born with a talent for it. Those people are then typically criticized for insulting students who… Read More ›


Two Weeks in the Oregon Outback: My Stay at the Playa Residency

We are sheltered, those of us who live in cities and suburbs, from the land. We have our trees and parks and nature preserves, but they are approximations, idealized constructs of what we would like the land to be. In Summer Lake, Oregon, where I recently spent two weeks at the Playa artists’ residency, the… Read More ›

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Borrowed Time; Time Well Spent

by Benjamin Harnett “Where do you find the time?” someone asked the other day. Several people have. They mean, I suppose, to write, or really to do anything other than getting from one point in space-time to the next. We are all amazed, upon observing the achievements of others, since everyone fills their light-cone with… Read More ›


Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain”: the Perfect Imperfect Short Story

In my comments to fiction submitters who choose our Feedback Option, I sometimes point out craft techniques that are considered weak. Yet there’s a story I love that seems to do so much of craft wrong, and has still become a classic.   Tobias Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain” has long been one of my… Read More ›


Forming a writing squad: How can DIY & low-residency MFAs build writing communities? By Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber

Writers need friends for lots of reasons: to cheer against rejections and celebrate soft declines (very hard to explain to non-writers!); to hoot and holler over acceptances; to help keep focused on long- and short-term goals. Every writer needs a pal, a boo-hoo buddy who can commiserate, then say chin up, chest out, and soldier… Read More ›


Slush: What Reading It is Like on the Other Side of the Editorial Wall, by J.T. Townley

A few years back, I worked at a magazine, a literary magazine, a major literary magazine, reading the slush. People the world over submitted their short stories, and it was my job to read them. I wasn’t alone. At any given time, there must’ve been at least half a dozen of us, people finishing grad… Read More ›


The Beautiful Art of Synesthesia, by John Brantingham

Imagine two shapes drawn on paper. One is sharp, made of spikes coming out of a central core, and none of those spikes are the same length as any of the others, so there is no uniformity of shape. The other is a smooth amoeba shape. This one has no rough edges. One of these… Read More ›


No More Hot Potatoes: A New Approach to Writing Contests by Kathy Anderson

I used to treat writing contests like I was holding a hot potato. QUICK—fling the manuscript at them before I lost my nerve. Entering writing contests was a challenge I gave myself as a writer, but the odds of winning seemed as tiny as a grain of salt on that hot potato. Writers are by… Read More ›

A Writer’s Return from Despair, by Devon Ronner

I began writing “Numerous as the Stars” when I was in despair about myself as a writer. The story didn’t have a name then. Or an ending. Or even an idea to drive where it would go. It emerged in response to a great longing in me, some might say a prayer, while at a… Read More ›