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Tanya Paperny

Tanya Paperny

Tanya is a freelance writer, editor and translator and a teacher of creative writing. She is completing her MFA in Writing and Translation at Columbia University. To read more of her stuff, visit her blog.

Depression as a Writing Motivator?

By Tanya Paperny on Thursday, September 17, 2009 - Comments Off

When I was an emo teenage writer, I would always say that I was a lot more prolific when I was sad. ?I could never find something interesting to writing about — let alone force myself to write — if I was content and happy.

Now I know that procrastination is often the main thing holding me back from writing (see tips on “how to actually get some writing done“).?For my style of writing, which features healthy doses of self-deprecating humor, a little distance is needed. ?If I’m too “in the moment” of despair, all I can do is write to attempt to resolve. ?Why am I feeling this way? ?Why do people suck? Why can’t I get out of this slump? ?Once the melancholy has passed, I can write in a way that’s less self-conscious. And I tend to think that being able to make fun of yourself is a key characteristic of a good writer (or a good person, I suppose). Read more »

The Holy Grail of Magazines…Down a Notch?

By Tanya Paperny on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Comments Off

I just started a graduate program in creative writing and there’s a lot of talk about The New Yorker. All my professors are either current or former editors of the magazine, or their very good friend is an editor, or they just manage to name drop someone from the publication during the first class.

I subscribe to the magazine, mostly because I feel like as a young writer, I’m supposed to read it.? When I do read it, I happily stumble upon some gem by Gary Shteyngart or Ian Frazier. But honestly, most of the issues go unread.

Apparently every writer is trying to get in there, and if you’re in, you’re it.

Well the holy grail just lost a little bit of its shine. Read more »

More: Books, Briefs

How Do You Write About Disaster?

By Tanya Paperny on Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - Comments Off

p>AD_coverimageWell, Josh Neufeld has one answer.

To commemorate the recent four-year anniversary of?Hurricane Katrina, Neufeld?released A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, a graphic novel that details one of the world’s worst disasters through the stories of seven real survivors. ?Neufeld himself volunteered with the Red Cross in the Gulf Coast after the storm and chronicled his experiences on a blog. ?A few years ago, a commenter on the blog wrote: “Do a comic. Please.” Readers were already familiar with Neufeld’s work on Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor” so they knew that his storytelling comics had the power to convey the intensity of the disaster.

Neufeld began by writing a serialized webcomic that also included links to archival footage and other materials documenting what actually happened in the Gulf. Through multiple installments of the comic, he followed the lives of real people dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Now the comic has just been released as a book with some new additions. Read more »

Ever Have Trouble Just Sitting Down and Writing?

By Tanya Paperny on Thursday, July 2, 2009 - Comments Off

Well, I do. I’ll use any excuse to procrastinate, even if I already have a ton of ideas of what to write about. If you’re in the same boat, then you’re in luck.? Author Gretchen Rubin has created a list of “13 Tips For Actually Getting Some Writing Done.”? Check out some highlights:


1. Write something every work-day, and preferably, every day; don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Staying inside a project keeps you engaged, keeps your mind working, and keeps ideas flowing. Also, perhaps surprisingly, it’s often easier to do something almost every day than to do it three times a week.

2. Remember that if you have even just fifteen minutes, you can get something done. Don’t mislead yourself, as I did for several years, with thoughts like, “If I don’t have three or four hours clear, there’s no point in starting.”

3. Don’t binge on writing. Staying up all night, not leaving your house for days, abandoning all other priorities in your life — these habits lead to burn-out.

4. If you have trouble re-entering a project, stop working in mid-thought — even mid-sentence — so it’s easy to dive back in later.

6. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that creativity descends on you at random. Creative thinking comes most easily when you’re writing regularly and frequently, when you’re constantly thinking about your project.

7. Remember that lots of good ideas and great writing come during the revision stage. I’ve found, for myself, that I need to get a beginning, middle, and an end in place, and then the more creative and complex ideas begin to form. So I try not to be discouraged by first drafts.

Rubin is also working on what she calls The Happiness Project, an account of the year she spent test-driving every conceivable principle about how to be happy.? Sounds like good reading to me.

More: Tips, Writing

Is Reading Young Adult Fiction a Guilty Pleasure?

By Tanya Paperny on Friday, June 26, 2009 - Comments Off

YA Fiction 2A friend of mine recently bought a copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight … in French.? Though she studied the language in college and speaks semi-fluently, she’s definitely not a proficient reader of French and reads much more quickly and easily in English.? Nevertheless, she’s forcing herself to plow through the French version of the incredibly successful teen vampire novel just so she can feel less guilty about reading it.? She thinks that most people who see her reading Twilight will think that she has terrible taste in literature, so by reading it in French, she can defend herself as merely practicing another language.

To what extremes are we willing to go to hide the fact that many of us still love books that publishers classify as Young Adult (YA) reading?? Has the popularity of books like Harry Potter and Twilight totally changed the scene for adult readers?

While the adults in the publishing industry create rigid genre boundaries, in the minds of readers, these are actually quite flexible.? I’m just as likely to enjoy something on the “Young Adult Fiction” shelf as I am in the “Classics” section. And as the industry continues to suffer during the recession, it’s the sale of young adult content that continues to grow.? So maybe we shouldn’t be so embarrassed?

What do you think?? Are there any great hidden gems in the YA section that adult readers should know about?

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