Writing an Essay

Tell It SlantIn 2009, I received my master of fine arts degree in creative nonfiction from West Virginia University. Through three years of workshops, I learned a lot about structure, audience, and craft. Despite these lessons, for me, one of the hardest parts of writing an essay has always been figuring out a topic. Or, to be honest, not giving up on the topic in the first three paragraphs.

A turning point in my schooling was a visit from the illustrious Brenda Miller, coauthor of Tell It Slant and author of Season of the Body, among other masterpieces. Reading these two very different books and working with her in a small group changed my approach to essay writing. Continue reading “Writing an Essay”

Ah, the Smell of Books

Old Books by David Flores
Old Books by David Flores

Most bookophiles love that moment when they crack open a book, new or old, and take the first sniff. When I worked as an editorial assistant at Appalachian Heritage magazine, one of my favorite tasks was unwrapping–and immediately smelling–the review copies of books we received. So what is it that makes books smell so magical? Here’s a great read on the science behind the scent. The author notes that one scientist described the smell of old books as a “combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness,” which I think is both accurate and appropriately romantic. Continue reading “Ah, the Smell of Books”