The Power of Disruption

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Last night, I was brushing my teeth when I noticed a pair of socks in the toilet.


Why are your socks in the toilet, I asked my four-year-old.


Mama told me to put them away in my drawer, she said.


So how did they end up in the toilet, I asked.


March 14, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice The Writing Life

Finding the Right Title

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In the first creative writing class I ever took, we workshopped a peer’s story called, Tidal.


I wrote a long review of the piece describing its ebb and flow and how its two references to the sea served as a low-key motif for the stormy relationship between the two main characters.


It wasn’t until I referred to its title – Tidal – aloud in class that I caught onto the joke. I felt duped and thrilled at the same time.

February 14, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice

Child's Play

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I like to play with my poems the way I play with my daughters.


We invent elaborate games with ever-shifting rules. We treat familiar objects as if they were not familiar. When we wrestle, it almost looks like we’re dancing.


The problem, though, is that other poems – poems I’ve never even read before – love to run over and join in on the fun, start trying to grab my thumb or pull the glasses off my face and before I know it I’m surrounded by a pack of little rough drafts all wanting to play slappy-slappy. …

January 10, 2018 | Ben Berman

The Writing Life

The Shape of our Stories

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Vonnegut wrote his master’s thesis on his theory that all stories could be graphed by computers – with good- and ill-fortune on the y-axis and time on the x-axis.


He believed novels were ultimately about how characters get into and out of trouble and that plots – no matter how varied their premises – could be represented by a mere handful of simple shapes.

December 13, 2017 | Ben Berman

What to Expect when you're not Expecting

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When I first started telling friends that my wife and I were pregnant with our older daughter, my wife would shoot me a look to remind me that only one of us, technically, was pregnant.


So I can’t help but feel the pettiest of joys in the fact that my four-year-old happens to believe that while her older sister was born in the most conventional of ways (uterus, birth canal), she somehow managed to emerge out of my stomach.

November 8, 2017 | Ben Berman

The Writing Life