erin j bernard, terrible creative blog, mt. tabor

Are You Having Fun Yet? Why Enjoying Your Work Matters

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

-A Lincoln

There’s a large and very famous bookstore in my hometown that has been a favorite haunt of mine since my teenage years.

Aside from glorious, sky-high stacks of cheap used paperbacks and its iconic retro-red-and-black marquee, one of the bookstore’s most unforgettable attributes is the man who runs the ancient parking garage located atop its main atrium.

This guy’s been there since, like, forever. He’s got a tricky-to-place accent and often sports a bright, abidingly practical rain poncho. And he takes his job very, very seriously.

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Erin J. Bernard, bullets, ejbwritingstudio

On Truth Telling: Where Should Your Allegiances Lie?

“All I knew was that I had to tell the truth.”

That’s a quote from Maya Angelou, and it’s often referenced by writers who are steadfastly dedicated to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in their writing.

The impulse is easy to relate to. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, most writers pull from their own experience for inspiration, and unless you were raised in a fallout shelter, your personal experiences probably involve other people. Real, live people, who might actually—gulp—read what you wrote about them someday.

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Bitter Gifts: Meditations on Using Your Time

There’s something bracing and just a little bit wistful about the sticky thick of summer.

It makes me think, inevitably, about time, and how fast it passes.

When I was a kid, man, summers lasted forever and ever. They were endless! Day after perfect day, stacked high up to sweaty infinity.

And when you hate school as much as I did, you live for those months of calm and ease. You rely on them and their plodding slowness to sooth and embolden you, to sand down the edges of memory enough that you might greet the crisp hustle of September with a bit of optimism and cheer.

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Erin J. Bernard Grand Canyon erinjbernard.net ejbwritingstudio.com EJB Writing Studio

After television, the philosophy: Three Zen Challenges for Writers

What is it with writers and Zen Buddhism?

In the fusty ’50s, Beats like Alan Ginsberg and Gary Snyder challenged the status quo by refashioning themselves as blissed out Dharma Bums who’d snubbed conspicuous consumption and the yoke of routine in order to experience the present more deeply and more profoundly.

Contemporary novelist Ruth Ozeki, who moonlights as a Zen Buddhist priest, has unabashedly described writing as a form of prayer, a way of connecting with the expansive and sometimes baffling world beyond one’s head.

Why the abiding Zen lovefest among literary types? For starters, these folks have correctly guessed that a spare, playful approach to the craft of writing serves any writer immensely well.

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Sick Days: Self-Care for the Underweather Writer

* UPDATE: Four days after publishing this post, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. And that means everything I said below now goes double… Perhaps even triple! *

It’s a radiant Sunday morning here in Portland, a Sunday much like any other, which can only mean one thing: I’ve got a bit of work to do!

It’s beyond boring to rag on about one’s workload, or one’s general busy-ness. Or, at least it used to be.

Seems to me much ado is made in popular media lately about The Cult of Busy.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it: we’re harried and hurried and overbooked and undervacationed to within an inch of our lives, and we really, really relish the opportunity to tell other people alllllll about it. We invoke our inescapable busy-ness so regularly and with so much ex post facto emotion in casual conversation that it’s starting to seem as if we might even sorta like it that way.

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Coming Clean: The Tricky Business of Writing Your Way through Loss

I have been debating how much of the personal it is appropriate to share on this blog, which is, ostensibly, a blog about writing. Two pieces of advice I frequently give out to those who wish to start a blog are:

  • Post consistently.
  • Stay on topic.

I’ve failed at that first mandate, pretty spectacularly, over the past two months, and I’m also about to unapologetically break ranks with the second.

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Erin J. Bernard, EJB Writing Studio, Stephen King, On Writing

Truth Is Its Own Reward: The Stephen King Attribution Error

Erin J. Bernard, EJB Writing Studio, Stephen King, On WritingPoor Stephen King.

He’s written 2,000 words a day for decades upon decades, secreting himself away in writerly enclaves throughout Maine and Florida and wherever else in the world. He’s published 50 novels. He’s generously positioned himself as a steady, nurturing voice of reason and advice for countless would-be writers struggling to get square with the nuances of the craft.

But all of these gifts are apparently not enough for Mr. King’s fans (of which I am one), judging by their compulsive tendencies to attribute just about every single well-loved writing maxim in existence to him, whether or not he actually said it.

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