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Why Wattpad? More on this question
Dear followers, Readers, Friends, As I have said previously, Wattpad's mission is far from support for—even a small space—and, for lack of a better word, "literary" fiction, memoir or essay. I remain grateful for my time here, but have now decided to take down all that I had previously posted. With special thanks to Zoe DiNovi, who found me, supported me and made this spot in life and time a heartfelt and deeply creative place, I take my leave. Thank you, Zoe, dear. I wish you and all my previous readers the best. Stay well and shoot for the moon! I add this wisdom, not from my pen, but rather from the marvelous actor/playwright Sam Shepard after publication of his book of short stories entitled Great Dreams of Heaven in an article by Mel Gussow in The New York Times: Once free-form in his writing, he has become carefully disciplined. “It’s a strange thing about form,” he said. “When you’re younger, you tend to believe it doesn’t exist, or that you can ignore it or reinvent it. Slowly you begin to understand that there are certain essentials that have to be honored.” He added: “Horsemanship is the same way. You don’t just jump on a horse, spur him and hope for the best.” I hope for the best for all of you, my friends, my readers, my followers. With profound sadness, Mary L. Tabor
@barry205 is a Brit who now lives in Qatar and spent many years in the military, Iraq and Afghanistan: He writes about his experiences as a male nurse, soldier and leader of his medical team in Afghanistan. His poetry soars, his prose bleeds on the page. Unforgettable writing.
I posted this comment on When You’re Wounded and Left on Afghanistan’s Plains: “The backstory here about your move up the ranks, your work as a nurse and your sense of being a parent to those younger than you when you at 35 reach this point in Afghanistan sets the stage here for what comes. Then you with no sentimentality you chronicle what you see. This, sir, is the art of writing. Voted big time.”
First: Here’s what Thomas says about himself—and yes, you will be charmed: “My journey started many years ago, far away from Canada where I now call home. Four and a half hours in the sky, over the open sea. Somewhere warm, friendly and colorful. A place where the change of seasons doesn't require a change of wardrobe, a place where flowers bloom and robins sing all year round. A place where our motto is: ‘Out of many, one people.’ I'm from the beautiful Island of Jamaica.”
He presented to me and many others FIVE interview questions (of course, 5ifth project is his moniker!) and each of us could add a sixth, bonus q.
I mentioned these other writers: discoveries you wouldn’t expect because Wattpad is just that: Not What You Expect. These were my high fives to writers who have inspired me with the risks they take on the page and for the fact that they shoot for the moon:
@grapher writes stunning poetry that feels as if she’s drawing with words.
@tamoja When she loved you, she read me straight through. Check out her Snippets: a gift in itself.
@Lisaner we've lost to illness, but she rocked with Rock Poetry that may still knock your socks off and she was a generous and dear woman.
I want you to consider this:
Here is what my was—and that hope got totally dissipated: Why a literary writer might have once been on Wattpad:The future is here and it’s digital. Think about the way you discover music today, songs you find on the Internet first and then buy the album.
I saw potential on Wattpad for both literacy and writing, serious writing that matters. Let’s talk for a minute about literacy and art: Think of a child paints a painting and you love it and hang it above your piano as I have. A child writes a poem and you save it and read it at their bat mitzvah or confirmation as I did. Literacy and art hold hands like children in a circle. They dance together. To think that Wattpad could have been the discovery spot literature is now a lost hope. To think they could have once searched for those risking their lives to write is now a lost hope.
Invention comes only when the writer is willing to risk. When you find that on the page, you know it. You see it. I can help if you are already reading and studying literature. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find a mentor/teacher who will tell you when you “hit” it but who won’t throw the invention out with the bath water.
Email me at
for details on how I work: Be sure to tell me how you found me and we'll set up lessons.
I taught variations of this course at George Washington University, in the undergraduate and graduate MFA/Ph.D. creative writing program at the University of Missouri and at the Smithsonian's Campus-on-the-Mall.
Be sure to write me and you may comment here if you use Chrome or any browser other than Safari (I guess Google and Apple don't jive with each other; who knows?) In any case, I love comments and am alway glad to hear from you ... .
Here’s a self interview that tells you more about me:
Q: Why would anyone want to do a self-interview? Isn’t that the height of naval gazing?
I got the idea from a cool site entitled The Nervous Breakdown. I think most writers—and I’m no exception—think they’re on the verge of one. So here goes.
Q. But you didn’t answer the question about naval gazing? Do you think you’re self-absorbed?
Writers are regularly accused of being selfish because they openly admit to being interested in their own thoughts—as if no one else has that so-called problem. The real self-absorption would be concern about others being interested in what I have to say. Why should you be interested in me or my writing? If I’m continually asking myself that question, that would count as self-absorption. I never ask myself that question.
Q. Okay, how about this one: Do you think self-revelation is part of the process of writing?
Any writer who denies it, lies. I agree with David Shields who argues in Reality Hunger and he actually says this one—in case you don’t know that book and you should, he quotes mercilessly without formal attribution: “So: no more master, no more masterpieces. What I want (instead of God the novelist) is self-portrait in a convex mirror.”
Q. Did you achieve that in your novel Who by Fire, the one you’ve NOT posted on Wattpad?
Hard to say. Achievement is a big word. But I would say this: The writer needs to be fearless to be worth reading. That means all subterfuge about who you are must come off when you write either fiction or memoir. What’s in this book is closer to the emotional truth of my own process of self-discovery than anything I could tell you in this interview.
Q. Give me an example.
I was in Whiting, Iowa, when the fire occurred, a controlled burn. It was a long, long time ago and when I saw it I knew I would write about it some day. I didn’t know why. So now I had the burn.
And then I found an article in the newspaper about a baby that had been found in an attic in a house on Veazey Street in DC and I saved it.
Now that I’ve read the novel aloud—I’m the narrator for the audible.com version that is my giveaway for the block party—I could see it anew by hearing myself read. It was as if I heard the novel for the first time. Here’s one of the things that happened:
I see my sister who lost a baby, a baby that died after 23 hours, bubbling up in the book. I didn’t know I was hitting that memory when I was writing the book. I was 16 when this happened and I saw the baby with her flash of black hair in the nursery. My face was pressed against the glass. How could that not have something to do with me? It did. It still does.
Q. So isn’t that navel gazing?
One of my biggest worries in the novel is that it’s highly interior. I’m inside the narrator Robert’s head all through the book. He tells the story.
Because I was so worried about his self-reflection, his navel gazing, I worked hard on the plot to move the book forward and get the reader in real time as soon as I could manage. That means two married couples, a partner in each couple cheating on the other. The narrator Robert discovers after Lena his wife dies that she’s cheated on him. Robert discovers how all that happened through memory and through what he finds out after his wife’s death.
But truly, only the reader can answer this question: Is this navel gazing? And was it worth the read and the ride?
Q: Are you obsessed with heroes? Your narrator certainly is.
I want to understand what the word hero means. One could argue that we have few if any modern books in literature that folks would identify with a hero, the kind we find more in film than in books, unless we go to the romance novel or supernatural stuff. I think that’s one of the reasons Wattpadders are driven to the supernatural.
I explore the question What is a hero? all the way through the book.
Q: You kill your main character on page one of this novel. If you’re in the book in some way, doesn’t that mean you plotted your own death?
Golly, I hope I didn’t plot my own death. But of course I did think about it. In a sense, if I’m in any way Robert’s wife, I do kill Lena on page one, arguably in the first sentence. So I guess you could argue that’s what I’m doing. But at the time of the writing of the book, I was losing my husband—see (Re)Making Love
I now realize that Who by Fire is a love letter to him, that I wrote it in the hope that I would get him back.
I wrote in Robert’s voice, a man’s voice, because I was trying to understand the man who left me, the man I loved.
More key, though, is this: I don’t think anyone who is thoughtfully alive and human can avoid considering his own death.
Q.: Why would anyone want to read about that?
Because the book is about love, not death. You know that love is the answer.
Q: But what, pray tell, is the question?
Now that’s what Who by Fire is really about: Love is the answer. Now, what was the question? Read it to see if I ask and answer. Then let me know.
My PS with help from the poet William Carlos Williams:Literature is rich with the undiscovered, the voice that waits to be heard.
Here’s why: As William Carlos Williams said in his poem "Asphodel, that Greeny Flower", with word poem here think of invention, of art.