Things I Read That I Love: Writers Writing About Writing

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This weekend at A-Camp I’m doing a lot of things that relate to my #2 favorite activity (after “eating french fries”), writing! Although I personally have a great deal of wisdom to impart to the grasshoppers, I’m a grasshopper myself and have been influenced along the way by a lot of people who wrote about writing.

In the spirit of “Things I Read That I Love,” I wanted to share some of my favorite things I’ve read on the internet about writing — not just literary writing, but about journalism and writing for the web too. Aside from the Lorrie Moore piece, these are all things I indeed discovered and inhaled via world wide web. I hope you like them like I like them!

How to Be A Writer, by Lorrie Moore (1985)- This is a classic, this is the thing you need to read. “First, try to be something, anything else.”

Dear Sugar: Write Like a Motherfucker, by Sugar for The Rumpus (August 2010)- “But the best possible thing you can do is get your ass down onto the floor. Write so blazingly good that you can’t be framed. Nobody is going to give you permission to write about your vagina, hon. Nobody is going to give you a thing. You have to give it yourself. You have to tell us what you have to say.”

Exposed, by Emily Gould for The New York Times Magazine (May 2008) – One of my favorite things I’ve ever read online, and also surprisingly one of The Times’ most controversial essays ever published — many patrons didn’t think Emily’s honest and perceptive personal story was cover-worthy. Well, I loved it.

The Accidental Plagarist, by Erik Campbell for The Virginia Quarterly Review (2007) –  The best part of this is that he talks about accidentally plagiarizing Stephen Dunn, which I think happens to me sometimes too.

Look At Me!, by Moe Tkacik for The Columbia Journalism Review (May 2010) – It’s called “the writer’s search for journalism in the age of branding” and that’s what it’s about. Moe was one of Jezebel’s founders, but she wrote a lot before that, and after that, and has some pretty compelling things to say about all of it.

Why I Write, by George Orwell – “I had the lonely child’s habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt that this created a sort of private world in which I could get my own back for my failure in everyday life.”

Engaging Television: An Interview With Writer Jacob Clifton, by Sarah Todd for Girls Like Giants (March 2012) – An interview with one of the best television recappers in the world (he writes for Television Without Pity) — really really interesting stuff, to me.

Writers, Visible and Invisible, by Cynthia Ozick for Standpoint Magazine (September 2008): “Thespians, celebrities and politicians, whose appetite for bottomless draughts of public acclaim, much of it manufactured, is beyond any normal measure, may feed hotly on Fame – but Fame is always a product of the present culture: topical and variable, hence ephemeral. Writers are made otherwise. What writers prize is simpler, quieter and more enduring than clamorous Fame: it is recognition.”

Why I Blog, by Andrew Sullivan for The Atlantic (November 2008) – “…as blogging evolves as a literary form, it is generating a new and quintessentially postmodern idiom that’s enabling writers to express themselves in ways that have never been seen or understood before. Its truths are provisional, and its ethos collective and messy. Yet the interaction it enables between writer and reader is unprecedented, visceral, and sometimes brutal. And make no mistake: it heralds a golden era for journalism.”

This post goes hand-in-hand with A-Camp’s Writing Workshop with Riese and Rachel.

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Marie Lyn Bernard, aka Riese, is an award-winning writer, blogger, journalist, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in the midwest, lost her mind in New York City and is currently making it work in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better, The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image and The Hazards of Being Female," "Dirty Girls," and "The Best American Erotica of 2007," magazines including Nylon, Marie Claire, GO, Curve, Interlude, and CollegeBound, and all over the web including, Jezebel, Queerty, Emily Books and OurChart (RIP). She was the recapper for The L Word Online and host of Showtime’s Lezberado and her personal blog has earned many dubious honors including Best Personal Blog 2008. Riese has spoken about blogging, community-building, feminism, cyberculture and sexuality at places like BlogHer, Yale, New York University, The University of Chicago and The Museum of Sex. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Interlochen Arts Academy and The Olive Garden's week-long training intensive; she enjoys eating foods, having big ideas, reading books & talking to her stuffed dog, Tinkerbell. Also, she's Jewish. Follow her smokin’ hot adventures on twitter. Contact: riese[at]

Riese has written 2896 articles for us.


  1. I’ve just made my way through five of these in pretty quick succession and I don’t know if it was a good idea, like maybe it’s a bit of an inspiration overload but I do know that I want to pin everything I’ve read so far to my wall and that this is wonderful, so thank you!

  2. damn. just when I think I’ve accepted that it’s a bad idea to get an MFA and/or be a writer, because I like having some form of stable (if modest) income, you go and post something like this and make me wanna just say “fuck it” and go be a writer anyway.

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