Category Archives: Writing

Back in with the old, still room for the new


I finally got around to reading an interview a friend sent me a while back. Avi Solomon of Boing Boing interviewed Jack Zylkin, inventor of the USB Typewriter. I remember hearing about this thing back when he first announced it to the world, typewriter nerds everywhere rejoiced, including me.

But there seems to be something deeper at work here. More than just some mad scientist who’s fusing the past and future in some unnecessary but novel creation, Zylkin is trying to preserve something that our increasingly fast-paced lives are losing room for. The key is that Zylkin isn’t trying to do away with the conveniences of, say, an iPad; instead, he’s trying to highlight the benefits of a typewriter — nostalgia, sure, but also focus and tangible results — while taking advantage of data backup and storage.

“The other thing is that technology today is so disposable! For example, no one thinks about passing down their iPhone3 as a family heirloom (they probably are selling them to buy iPhone4s) but the typewriters I work on have been around for about 100 years and still look and work great!

Lastly, there is also real nostalgia for the olden days of communication, where you could look forward to receiving a letter or an invitation in the mail (as opposed to a twitter or an evite). Hopefully the USB Typewriter will help reclaim some of the intimacy and specialness of the art of letter writing.”

A man after my own heart. Read the full interview here.

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Home again.

Thanks to some serious flight delays this weekend, I managed to finish The Leftovers. Still mulling over my reactions to the book, and figuring out what my next read will be. I have a few review copies that I’ve been sent, so I’ll be thumbing through those  tonight while I make these for an article on Fall apple recipes. I’ve been writing for The Next Great Generation: Boston, and you can see my first two articles up on Boston.com, one on the changing workplace and one on a local grilled cheese foodtruck that you may recognize from the Food Network.

I’ll be soaking in my return to weather that is much more forgiving than in New Orleans, and filling my kitchen with the smells of Fall.

Oh! And check out Jeremy Shipp’s Kindle 3G giveaway. It looks like the wait for a winner may be a while, but in the meantime you’ll get some pretty delicious slices of bizarre-o pie.

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Fresh fiction Wednesdays.

A quick update (again), sorry. I’ve been doing a lot of reading that I can’t wait to reflect on and share, but for now I’ll just share a little bit of writing I did last night. It’s an excerpt and it’s very rough for now, but it feels so good to be creating again. If you like it, check me out there every Wednesday for more fiction bits. And check out the other four days/writers. Their (mostly) poetry pushes limits and always demands a reread.

What are you doing on this hump day?

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Shh, they can hear me.

A little quiet on the blog front so far this week. Busy at work, busy at home. Move coming up and just getting my shit together. I’ve taken a mini-hiatus from writing (well, now it’s official rather than just a guilt-ridden period of not-writing), and tonight marks the first night devoted to just writing. What are you doing today?

Typewriter-writers, unite!


So jealous I won’t be in New York/own a manual typewriter when this event occurs. Thinking of planning a Boston/write-by-hand-a-thon for the summer months. Would anyone be interested in this sort of event/something similar? Share thoughts in the comments!

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Goodbye, Typewriter.

Friends often tease me about my old lady tendencies, which I prefer to call my vintage tendencies. After being challenged as to why I still used a typewriter, I decided to name her Nostalgia. It’s true, typewriters aren’t the most efficient method of writing, but when you’re trying to tap into that (sometimes empty) creative space, the accompaniment of the sound of your stories can be the difference between progress and atrophy. Not to mention, they’re app-free, a rare jewel of a quality these days. After all, writing by hand is the least efficient way to communicate, but that hasn’t died yet. And a good thing, too, because I couldn’t bear the end of typewriter production and good old snail mail all at once.

Seasoned authors always tell young writers to guard their writing space, and this is how I defend my own. Here’s Nostalgia (and good friend, Nabila Zoraya) in all her robin’s egg glory:

What outdated vintage methods do you get flack for but love anyway?

(Top Image via The Atlantic slideshow)

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The Low Hum of Reality

Last week I talked about how I discovered Anne Roiphe and started reading Art and Madness, her memoir on the glam and not-so-glam parts of writing. I finished the book on the train ride into work this morning, and I’m already ready to start reading it over again. Alas, I’m moving on to Joyce Carol Oates’ A Widow’s Story.

But before I do, I must pause in my awe of Roiphe’s prose.
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Oh, that one hurt.

By Melanie Yarbrough

I’m actually surprised it took this long. I’ve been writing for a while now, and I’ve read more essays and chapters on rejection in writing than I care to recount. I’ve always known it’s part of the territory, that not many people will enjoy my writing, not many journals or places will agree when I say a story is done. Anyway, I received this email today and felt, for the first time, my stomach drop in disappointment:

Dear Melanie,

Thank you for trusting [journal name] with your work for our first fiction contest. Unfortunately, it has not been chosen as a finalist. We wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere, and thank you again for considering [journal name] as a venue for publication. Without quality submissions such as yours, our journal would not exist.

I have a story due to my writing group, uh, last night, but I’m feeling a little under the weather when it comes to creating or finishing something new. I’m hoping plowing through Anne Roiphe’s memoir will help spark something that rejection can’t squelch.

Don’t let me feel so alone here: What’s your biggest rejection so far?

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Where We Live, The Rumpus-Style


By Melanie Yarbrough

I recently started yet another WordPress blog, except this time for my own personal viewing. It’s public and searchable, but I don’t write it with any specific audience in mind, and I have no desire to draw an audience. It’s simply a chronicle of my day-to-day writing struggles, for my own future probably dementia-riddled self.

One of the most common bits of advice I hear flung about between writers is to keep a journal. Write everything down! Never stop writing! Use those writing muscles! That’s what I’m doing, and that’s sort of what we’re doing with the Where We Live series at TTTR. How, when, and where do writers exercise those writing muscles? I always love the “Why We Write” section in Poets & Writers, and I think there’s something to that. We’re not all necessarily looking for the key (or even the location of the fucking lock) to becoming a successful writer, we’re just looking to see our community a little clearer, to ease the sense of aloneness by seeing others alone. Perhaps that’s selfish. Perhaps that only makes it more writerly.
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Short Stories in the Shortest Month

By Melanie Yarbrough

It’s February again. February gets ripped off, because despite being Black History Month, it doesn’t get much attention or credit. Valentine’s Day has turned into an anti-holiday, celebrated for its easy-to-hateness. Groundhog Day is just another day when it’s an awesome idea to watch that Bill Murray movie. Before you know it, it’s the 28th or the 29th and we’re being ushered into March.

As you may have noticed, updates on the TTTR front have been hard to come by. We’ve been surviving solely on our delightful and creative friends’ Where We Live submissions (and good thing, too, or else Call & Response Zine might not have shouted out to us…). To remedy this plateau we’ve reached, I’m going to use the only cure that has ever worked: A goal and some goddamn hard work.

Every day this month I’m going to read a short story – one I’ve already read, a new one, something a friend has written, something from Fictionaut or fwriction : review –  and I will report back with thoughts, reactions, favorite lines, and lessons I’ve learned. Calling myself a writer has always started with calling myself a reader, and this month I plan to celebrate both of those things, one day at a time.

Want to join me? Send suggestions or your own reactions to stories you’ve read to TheThingsTheyRead@gmail.com or hook up with us on Twitter for a thrilling lit discussion.

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