Circus is going to Goodspeed


goodspeed-exterior-webThe good news was announced over the weekend: the musical The Circus in Winter will be produced at Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut this fall from Oct. 23-Nov. 16.

Oh yeah, I’m going. 

The other bit of good news is that Hunter Foster will be coming on as book writer. Please note:

  • The book is the libretto, the narrative structure that keeps the musical from being nothing more than a disjointed medley of songs.
  • Hunter Foster is an actor and librettist. He’s also the brother of Sutton Foster, Tony-award winning actress who teaches each year at Ball State and who has been a huge supporter of this project.

Goodspeed is known as a launching pad for many Broadway and off-Broadway musicals. You can see the list here.

If you live on the East Coast, or even if you’re just a fan, I hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to see the fully produced show, full-size elephant puppet and all.

This is what it looked like when the show was produced at Ball State in Fall 2011.

Circus setThe show is moving forward thanks to the ceaseless efforts of lots of people, namely Beth Turcotte, Ben Clark, and the folks at Center Ring Theatrical, which includes two Ball State grads.

You know what’s funny? All those years ago, my then-agent went to lunch with editor Ann Patty, and when he pitched Circus to her, she said, “I’m from Indiana, actually.” How lucky I am that this book has been helped on its way by so many people from my homestate.

I’m reminded of what Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “I don’t know what it is about Hoosiers, but wherever you go there is always a Hoosier doing something very important there.”

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This Blog is a Waste of My Time: Thoughts on the Three-Year Anniversary of The Big Thing


waste of timeI’ve been thinking a lot lately about this blog. Last week, I wrote about “lore” and informally trading teaching information vs. formally publishing teaching research.

This blog began because in 2010, I wrote an essay about teaching.  I realized that the default setting of all my classes–of most fiction-writing classes, really–was the short story. I wanted to tweak that default setting. Not just in my own classes. I wanted to inspire other people to tweak theirs, too. Continue reading

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This Blog is Lore: How We Talk about Teaching Creative Writing


This is me in 1997 when I got my first TT teaching job at Mankato State University.

This is me in 1997 when I got my first TT teaching job at Mankato State University.

This blog began because I like to talk about teaching. I always have.

I stepped in front of a class for the first time in 1991.

I was a rookie grad student, and once I got over my stage fright, I realized that teaching is like an incredibly interesting puzzle or math equation that always needs solving.

It’s absorbing, fascinating work.

And I love to talk shop. It’s my virtual teacher’s lounge.

Teaching Creative Writing

Next semester, I’m teaching a grad course called “Teaching in English Studies: Creative Writing,” which is offered every other year.

Given how much I like to talk teaching, you’d think I’d be really into teaching this course, and I am! But it troubles me, too, and it relates to the things that trouble me about the position of creative writing in English departments, and the things that trouble me about the work I put into this blog. Continue reading

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The Top 5 Most Popular Posts on the Big Thing–and Why


dems_top_5_101It’s almost the end of the year, plus I’m nearing the third anniversary of The Big Thing, a blog I started so that I could talk more about teaching writing.

I’ve been looking at my stats, seeing what I can learn.

Here are my most popular posts, according to Google Analytics:

This one about visiting Linda’s grave.

  • Why is it so popular? Every time someone sees De-Lovely, they Google “Linda Porter Rose” and boom, they find me. I get at least one comment on that blog post every other week. Continue reading
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This is the 7th Time I Taught Novel Writing


Beta Group 1 meets while the rest of the class gets some writing done.

Beta Group 1 meets while the rest of the class gets some writing done.

End-of-Term Observations

As you probably noticed, I didn’t blog much about teaching this course this semester.

I think that’s because I’ve almost got it “down” now, which is a relief after three years of tweaking!

What They Wrote

This is the seventh straight semester I’ve taught this course, and it always works out that: of 15 students

  • about a third write realism
  • about two thirds write something else

Continue reading

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Most Words Drafted–Fall 2013


Here are the winners of the Most Words Drafted competition in my novel-writing class. The whole semester of this course is archived here.

First place: Liz Winks

LizLiz wrote 64,309 words this semester. Her satirical novel is entitled The Grand War: or, How We Screwed Over the World to Get What We Wanted. She plans to keep writing during the break and the spring semester until she’s got a first draft–and given her amazing productivity, I have no doubt that she’ll do it, too.

You can follow Liz’s main character Otto von Visscher on Twitter. He’s a scientist.

I asked Liz to talk about how she got all this writing done this semester. Here’s what she said. Continue reading

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What I Learned from John Keeble


Keeble 2I attended the University of Alabama’s MFA program between 1991-1995. During that period, I took two workshops with writer John Keeble, a visiting writer who taught at Eastern Washington University. He made a great impression on both my writing and my teaching.

In fact, the title of this blog, “The Big Thing,” comes from Keeble. I wrote about that here, and how I might not have written The Circus in Winter had he not changed the default setting of a pivotal workshop.

Here’s something else I learned from him.

Plant the Seed of Your Story

In workshop, Keeble talked to us a lot about “planting the seed of your story.” Once you figure out what your story is really about, you have to return to the the first page, the first paragraph, the first sentence! and plant the story’s “seed” that you will nurture and grow for the next 5-30 pages. Continue reading

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Is Gaming Bad for Fiction Writers?


journey-game-screenshot-1-bThe other day, I was reading an undergraduate student’s novel in progress, and a thought occurred to me. As I often do, I shared that thought on Facebook:

I’ve never played a video game, but I recognize that it’s a narrative experience that lots and lots of people value. No judgement. But in my fiction-writing classes, I often read stories and novels that read as if I’m watching someone else play a video game. There’s plot, action, scene, all great, but virtually no interiority, which for me is *absolutely necessary* in fiction. My students have always used films and TV shows to talk about fiction, but now they also reference video games. “This is like Bioshock,” for example, and I have no idea what that even means. I wonder if other creative writing teachers have noticed this quality in student fiction or these references? I wonder if people who play video games could give me some tips about how to help my students make the transition from gaming to writing narrative. P.S. Over the last few years, I’ve read lot more genre fiction (George R.R. Martin, Suzanne Collins, etc.) so that I could at least be familiar with the kinds of stories students borrow from, but I really don’t want to start playing games.

I made the comment public and a great conversation ensued. As of right now, there are 80 comments–from gamers and non-gamers, from creative writing professors and students, from friends and strangers. The conversation was passionate. I invite you to read the comments here. Continue reading

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The Circus in Winter is coming to Carmel, Indiana


CircusInWinter-Concert-Dec18Step right up and buy your tickets at the Center for the Performing Arts website.

Trust me. It’s amazing!


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What I Learned from Tim O’Brien


Summer 2001 at Sewanee. I started smoking again that summer just so that I could hang out with O'Brien a little more. I was young and foolish.

Summer 2001 at Sewanee. I started smoking again that summer just so that I could hang out with O’Brien a little more. I was young and foolish.

Every Tuesday, I talk about teaching, and this is the third in a series of posts on what I’ve learned from the writers I’ve studied with.

For the last two weeks, I talked about Michael Martone. This week, Tim O’Brien. During the summer of 2001, I attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and spent two weeks in his workshop. Here’s some of his advice I brought back with me. Continue reading

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