I have a confession to make. I haven’t actually read Michael Chabon.

Once upon a time, a friend gave me a copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I… always meant to read it. I mean, I was grateful, it looked cool and I flipped through it, but I was busy that year and somehow it has hung around on my bookshelves for mumblety years.

Chabon, 59, was raised primarily by a Jewish single mom after his parents’ divorce, and wrote his way through college and an MFA in the 1980s. His first novel was his MFA thesis…

News organizations are doing incredibly valuable work, almost entirely unappreciated by the public that benefits from them.

It’s awards season, and as usual I am flabbergasted by the enormous array of investigative work done by news reporters and how little the public realizes they benefit from them. Time after time, when there is a catastrophic failure of the system, a corrupt public official, a corporation doing terrible things in the name of profit, it only ends when a reporter shines the light of day on it.

Here is a mere sampling of the award-winning journalism that has been honored this…

My MFA writing professor has been assigning us experiments on pretty much a weekly basis, and several of them have come from a book titled The 3 a.m. Epiphany. It bills itself as “uncommon writing exercises,” and while I’ve always been more of a free-form writer, I’ve been enjoying the exercises she gave us.

I’ve also been trying to fill up my writing craft book collection, so I snagged a copy of The 3 a.m. Epiphany. Whenever possible, though, I try to get my books used. For one thing, I’m poor. For another, it helps out independent booksellers more than…

As a distraction from the ongoing drama of the election, we could talk about something almost as controversial: Nanowrimo.

In case you’re one of those blessed not to know anything about Nano, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It started sometime in the early 2000s as a challenge to aspiring writers: write 50,000 words in a month. That’s not quite a novel (unless you’re in romance), but it’s the bones of one. In order to succeed, you need to average 1,667 words per day for the entire month, including Election Day and Thanksgiving.

I’ve been doing Nano for several…

A man walks up to a couple exiting a movie theater. “What happened in the movie?” he asks. These poor people, being of uncommon patience and immune to weirdness, spend the next 20 minutes explaining the entire plot of the movie and answering his every question. “Thanks!” the man says. “I don’t believe in paying for movies.”

The man goes to a gas station and requests a gas can. The clerk gives it to him, and he goes to the gas pump, fills it up, and simply walks away. …

My grandparents always took a walk every evening after dinner.

It was their habit, something their doctors had told them was a good idea for exercise, for flexibility and staying mobile. Every evening, when dinner was over, they would go for a walk of maybe 20 minutes around the neighborhoods near their home in Merced, California. And when we were there visiting them, we would go on walks with them.

My grandfather was an Episcopal priest who retired when I was still in grade school, and my grandmother was a violinist. They lived in California and we lived in Massachusetts…

I give you a new commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you. By this the world shall know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another.

Yeah, brace yourself. It’s church talk.

Maundy Thursday is the beginning of the three-night observance leading up to Easter, known as the Great Triduum. I had to go check the spelling. Not everyone knows (or cares) that Easter is not a day or a holiday, it is a season. There are three nights of preparation leading up to Easter Sunday, and then forty days of celebration…

Let’s see if you can mark off the bingo card with me.

“To our family of customers…“

“We are committed to your safety…”

“We are monitoring the situation…”

“We are increasing the frequency of our cleaning process…”

“We are encouraging employees who are sick to stay home…”

Was there a mass directive to the marketing departments of every retail and restaurant chain to which I have ever given my contact information, so that they can all use the same language to tell us that they’re open, taking COVID-19 seriously, and please please please still give us money?

Tell me how…

Ash Wednesday is here, and for some of us, that means it’s time for the joyous celebration of Lent.

Joyous?

Yeah, there’s not often a lot of joy or celebration in a traditional Lent. Just check out the hymns and psalms, acknowledging and bewailing our manifold sins and wickedness. Whenever we start chanting in Lent, I hear Monty Python’s papier-mache God complaining, “It’s like those psalms, they’re soooo depressing.”

In years past, and often today, many Christians choose to interpret Lent as a season of scourging, of punishing yourself, carrying the woe of humanity’s murder of the Christ, etc. “Remember…

It’s a long-accepted truth of artists and writers everywhere that the art as you complete it is never as amazing and wonderful as it was in your head. It doesn’t matter if you’re painting, singing, writing or dancing: in your mind it was perfect.

It’s the same for photography. In my last few days at the newspaper, I attempted to capture in still life the character and flavor of the place to which I devoted 18 years of my life. I only partly succeeded. I feel the images very strongly myself, but that’s because they trigger memories and emotions for…

Elizabeth Donald

Journalist for more than 20 years, president of St. Louis SPJ, freelance writer, editor, photographer, and fiction author. Subscribe at patreon.com/edonald.

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