Mylene Dressler's Blog (50)

The Point: On Writing, Arrowheads, and Finding What You Seek

Yesterday, near Round Mountain in Utah, I found a jagged stone struck by many tiny blows, leaving behind the trace of the human being who had met and shaped it. It wasn't a perfect arrowhead--part of the bottom was missing--but still I held it in my hand, wonderingly. All my life I've hoped to find arrowheads,…


Added by Mylene Dressler on August 12, 2013 at 10:00am — 4 Comments

She Counts, She Writes

Feel like escaping for a moment, and stepping outdoors, to number the birds? I'm delighted to share that my first piece of nature writing--a new genre for me--has just been published by Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. From the notes Flyway asked me to provide to accompany my piece, "The Compiler":

"The birds have always been with me as I write.…


Added by Mylene Dressler on July 15, 2013 at 6:16pm — 2 Comments

Writing as Archeology

So this week my first novel, The Medusa Tree, was re-released as an e-book by a wonderful paperless publisher, Untreed Reads:

When my agent…


Added by Mylene Dressler on June 19, 2013 at 9:31am — 1 Comment

Writer's House

In 2007, I came to live, for a humid fall season, in the home where I am writing this now. In this home a woman, now long dead, hunched over a typewriter--at least, I always imagine Carson McCullers hunching when she wrote, because her shoulders in photos always look slightly rounded, and her body seems to curl into anything she cares most about, she loves--and here she dreamed and got up and paced around and looked at the patterns in the carpet, waiting for the words, the idea, the…


Added by Mylene Dressler on February 22, 2013 at 1:22pm — 1 Comment

Wedded to My Seat: Keeping Faith With a Story

My new novella, The Wedding of Anna F., has been published this week in Big Fiction. Here is how the story, about a woman who believes she is Anne Frank, begins:

The interviewer is coming today. So. Here is the simple part: choosing what to wear. I’ve told my little assistant buzzing downstairs—no, that isn’t fair of me, she isn’t little, she looms over my…


Added by Mylene Dressler on November 3, 2012 at 1:13pm — 2 Comments

Off The Beat: On Playing With Your Writing

I've been thinking about my ballet-dancing days today.  As some of you know, before I was a writer, I was a professional ballet dancer, a career I loved to the moon and back; the stage also taught me a great deal I would use on the page--about rhythm, pacing, arc, tempo, movement, stamina, how to keep going going going until you think you…


Added by Mylene Dressler on June 17, 2012 at 9:20am — 3 Comments

Letter to an Emerging Writer: How to Stay Motivated

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I led a writing workshop at a writers conference, and today was contacted by a participant with questions that still burned: How do we keep going?  How do we make ourselves keep writing, without any real deadline or urgency?  How on earth do we stick to it?

Here, in part, was my answer to this serious, thoughtful, curious writer:

"I do understand entirely how it is easier to work when you have deadlines imposed from outside you.  But in general,…


Added by Mylene Dressler on April 30, 2012 at 3:56am — No Comments

Literature on the Streets!

Dear Friends,

I'm very proud to announce that I am now part of new graffiti, a grassroots publishing project that gets literature out of our iPads and Kindles, off of our bookshelves, and onto the streets!  Want to get involved?  Go to…


Added by Mylene Dressler on April 26, 2012 at 8:26am — No Comments

The Visiting Writer

Quite often, I find myself in a position known as that of the "Visiting Writer."  I have to admit, I have a fondness for the title.  It seems so deliciously appropriate.  What is a writer if not a visitor?  One who arrives, looks around, settles in, makes herself temporarily at home; then tries to find out as much as she can about her surroundings and the characters in them, observing, chatting, teasing, asking, touring, wondering, inserting, pondering; she tries, amazed, eager, hungry, to…


Added by Mylene Dressler on March 8, 2012 at 4:38pm — 1 Comment

Ghosts in the House

My room on the 19th floor of the Palmer House in Chicago faces the open air, and then a mirror of brick.  Out the window, across a gap of thirty feet, lies another wing of the hotel and another bank of windows, exactly like mine.  Each has sheer curtains overlaid with heavier ones; some are open; some…


Added by Mylene Dressler on March 7, 2012 at 9:45am — 1 Comment


I am waiting for the bat.

In July, when we moved in, he was here.

He roosted in a corner of our screened attic window, wadded tightly, a velvet sock rolled into the lower right corner.  Sometimes he hung upside down, a hooded bulb.

Smaller than the paper lanterns hanging above him, the two empty wasp-nests.

Heavier than the dried leaves clinging in the spiderwebs.

Little brown bat.

I ran to the computer, looked him up. …


Added by Mylene Dressler on February 26, 2012 at 11:35am — 3 Comments


I want to remember this, and so I write it down.

Ted spoke today.  Ted doesn't often speak, but when he does, I listen.  Ted is eighty-seven years old, a former chemistry professor--he and I have taught in the same classrooms--and an emigre who as a young boy was lucky enough to escape Hitler's…


Added by Mylene Dressler on January 22, 2012 at 2:58pm — 3 Comments


In Boone, North Carolina, a three-mile track of narrow asphalt and iron bridges creek-hops and rolls past meadows, sports fields, the ruin of an old dam and the pale blue tanks of a sewage plant.  Start at the Armory, and you'll come first to the Equestrian Field.  It was empty as a Roman arena yesterday when I and my husband and our two dogs strolled by, its grass perfect, untouched, an oval platter.  The fence was freshly stained and smelled like biology class.  Joggers went around it, not… Continue

Added by Mylene Dressler on August 12, 2011 at 7:18am — 3 Comments


I learned a new word this week: to "wallfish" is to bury or conceal wires behind a wall by means of creating a hole in it, and then hooking or fishing the wires up through it.  It's a mechanism for hiding what's messy, or for trapping what's live and dangerous in a safe place.  I have Andrew to thank for my new word.  He came to my house this week to install cable television in a room where wires and plugs had been lying around scattered like kelp with teeth.  The first technician who'd come to… Continue

Added by Mylene Dressler on July 7, 2011 at 5:40am — 3 Comments

On Marriage And Dancing As Fast As You Can

Dear Friends, I thought you all might get a kick out of this: PopEater (AOL's pop culture site) yesterday published my story "How Dancing With The Stars Almost Ruined My Marriage" to coincide with… Continue

Added by Mylene Dressler on May 25, 2011 at 7:40am — 3 Comments


So the other day I go rock climbing with Dan and Megan.  This is how it came about: I had helped them with their manuscript--they are writing their first novel, a young adult fantasy/adventure about dreams that aren't only dreams but as real as stone--and in return and thanks they offered to take me up… Continue

Added by Mylene Dressler on May 9, 2011 at 9:36am — 2 Comments

Black Swan

Yesterday, sitting down and typing away, preparing for a talk I'll be giving later this month at a conference exploring the subject of "Creativity and Madness," I was giving some thought to my moments of extremity as an artist--for example, my apparent inability to get through the writing of a serious literary novel without going to some very dark and at times unhinged places, in which I sit at my desk and feel "strangely dissipated . . . unglued . . . unable to feel the distinction between the… Continue

Added by Mylene Dressler on February 2, 2011 at 9:10am — 4 Comments

Adult Swim

In Austin a few months ago, after one of my lectures on writing and creativity, a woman in her forties came up to me and asked if she could talk to me about her dream of writing a book about her experiences as an immigrant in America.  After chatting for a while, we decided to go and have a cup of coffee--my new friend was bright and articulate, the day was beautiful, and the setting (on wide, green Lake Austin) was energetic, with boaters and paddlers splashing all around us.  The chance to…


Added by Mylene Dressler on January 17, 2011 at 5:42pm — 2 Comments

Writing, Riding the End of the Year

Dear friends, it's that time of year when we start to feel the calendar slipping out from underneath us. Some of us are feeling the writing slowing down . . . family, the holidays, promises crowd at the window. Some of us are beginning to race, frantic, hoping to get that manuscript done (or that one more chapter, or that niggling scene), bundled and tied with a tag that says "2010, What I Did."

For me, this time of year is about taking stock: I gaze backward over the mounds of the… Continue

Added by Mylene Dressler on December 8, 2010 at 2:00pm — No Comments

What Happens When You Don't Write

Dear friends, I've been away from SW for a bit, and have not, as it happens, been writing (here on this blog or anywhere else). Nothing drastic has caused me to stop tapping at the keys . . . I've had lectures and speeches to give . . . and some family matters to take care of . . . and am traveling . . . and just decided to take a rest, for a while. At first I felt badly about it. When I'm not writing I feel that I should be, and all sorts of bugbears nip and tear. Is there something I am… Continue

Added by Mylene Dressler on November 7, 2010 at 4:25pm — 2 Comments

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