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Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? by Marijana Ababovic

I am teaching the Wild and Precious Life  workshop again this Saturday January 12, 2019 from 9 am – 1 pm. It is an annual workshop inviting you to consider the upcoming year, your goals and dreams.  This workshop started from my personal practice in 2007, when I spent a weekend with two friends writing what we called then our “Manifesto”.  This  process of writing my “manifesto”, putting down on paper who I am at this time and who I want to be, became a part of my life. This  morning, as this cold and snow finally slowed me down, I thought about why this workshop is important to me.

This is what I wrote:

“Whenever I read Mary Oliver’s question “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I get this sense of urgency, a sense that I am not fully understanding preciousness and wild-ness of my life. That I am living too much on an automatic pilot and too small, echoing David Whyte’s words in the House of Belonging: 

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” 

Yes, in this winter darkness and cold weather confinement, I  need to slow down, get off my everyday-ness and ask myself- what am I doing with my life?

Join me in this inquiry. The workshop is this Saturday, January 12, 2019 from 9 am – 1 pm.

Get more information and register here

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On Writing Illness by Sarah Cedeño

Rafeal Campo writes: “To write about illness, to heed this terrible muse, is to reject distancing and to embrace empathy, for which there is no reward or claim on greatness other than perhaps the perverse joy of recognizing oneself as susceptible to the same foibles and neuroses.”

Writing illness can feel unapproachable to the caregiver, and intimidating and overwhelming to those who are ill. The course Writing Illness explores the concerns and rewards of writing about illness of all types—chronic, mental, terminal, invisible—and from all perspectives—patient, family, and caregiver, all while generating and discussing the writer’s material.

It took me ten years after my diagnosis to discover I already had material to write about my own illness, and once I did, my essay “The Healer” [link]

helped illuminate the course of my illness, but also put to words the alienation I felt as someone diagnosed with a chronic and ambiguous disease.

Sarah Cedeño’s work is forthcoming or has appeared in Punctuate, The Journal, 2 Bridges, The Pinch, The Baltimore Review, New World Writing, The Rumpus, Hippocampus Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Sarah holds an MFA from Goddard College in Vermont and has served as editor of several literary magazines. She lives in Brockport, NY with her husband and two sons, and teaches writing at the College at Brockport and Rochester Institute of Technology. She’s at work on a collection of essays on illness titled The Visible Woman.

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Barnes & Noble Book-fair for W&B

Hold off on that next Barnes & Noble purchase!

Don’t rush to buy that holiday gift!

Wait a bit longer to purchase the new album!

On December 14th Writers & Books will be participating in a Barnes & Noble Book-fair!

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What does that mean? We’ll explain:

On December 15th, head out to any participating Barnes & Noble nearby (that’s pretty much every store in the country that isn’t affiliated with a college). After you’ve perused the shelves of books, music, gifts and more, bring your purchases to the checkout. When you get there, tell the clerk that you are participating on behalf of Writers & Books.

You can also give them our ID number for the day: 12313185.

That’s it.

10% of your purchase on books, music, dvds, even cafe purchases, will go towards Writers & Books!

Can you use a gift card? Yes you can.

Can you use your educator discount and still support the book-fair? Sure can.

We’ll be camped out at the Barnes & Noble in Pittsford Plaza and will have readings, discussions, games and more going on throughout the day. All you need to do is come out and mention you’re there for W&B.

Can’t make it out on December 14th? More of an online shopper? Not a problem.

When checking out online, make sure to type in our ID number, 12313185, and Writers & books will still receive 10%! Even better, the online portion of the “W&B Book-fair” lasts for 5 days.

Questions? Call Chris Fanning at 473-2590 ext 104 or e-mail at

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Lie–Cheat–Steal: An Outlaw’s Guide to #NaNoWriMo

Follow the adventures of Writers & Books staff member Tristan Tomaselli as he dives into National Novel Writing Month:

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s a masochistic, tortuous, anxiety fueled, death-race, pitting you against your imagination. It’s worse than a text ending with an ellipsis. The concept is simple enough, but how do you go about doing it? That’s what this blog-series will document: my attempt to hurl 35,000 words onto the wall to see what sticks.

November 1st – 4th, 2018

Day 1–Word Count: 0/35,000

Why did I say I would do this again? Like all blunders committed by humankind, it began with one well-meaning step, followed by another. Identify where it spills into calamity, just try. May as well pinpoint where on the road you fell asleep at the wheel.


Right. Let’s get down to it. If you haven’t had a chance to meet me behind the front desk of Writers & Books, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Tristan Tomaselli, and I claim to be a writer–claim. I seem to be ever chasing some brand of legitimacy, a place where I feel like I can say “I’m a writer” and mean it. I thought my BA in Creative Writing would do it. Wrong. Maybe a job in my field? Nope. Maybe teaching my first workshop? That’s a negatory good buddy. “Well…” I said to the dog one day while feeling guilty about playing video games, “It’s almost November.”


Two bravado-fueled tweets later, here I am.


Okay, we’ve introduced the protagonist, and given some cleverly embedded exposition about the central conflict, but they’re a little thin in the depth department. Lets round them out a little.


When it comes to form and craft, I like fragments, non-conventions, neologisms, the erratic and the dis-familiar. Sci-Fi and Postmodernism is where I feel the warmest. I’ve yet to complete a novel, though like many of us, I have a collection of mutant babies growing superfluous limbs that I call works in progress.


This is dragging a little. Let’s move the ring closer to Mordor already.


Day 4–word count: 23/35,000


So far I’ve pinned down a concept, drafted an outline, and written an opening line I’m happy with–for now. That’s the key to this: done is better than perfect. Yet I’m already falling behind. Advice for next year: have an outline ready by the 1st. It’s good to have a plan and a firm opening move, but it’s time to uptick that word count into the realm of the reasonable. That’s why I advocate for an outline in this process. There’s not much time to ponder the results of infinite outcomes. Solution: steal. No really, writers do it all the time. I took a chapter from factual history, broke it down into bullet points, then crammed in my own setting and characters. I don’t have to mimic historical figures, just move the plot to the same beats. George R.R. Martin took the War of the Roses (1455-1485) and came up with a rough plot for A Song of Fire and Ice, why can’t you?


This probably won’t be the first time I lie, cheat, or steal on this journey. Just remember: there’s a difference between absconding with a framework and plagiarism. You can Bonnie & Clyde your way through #NaNoWriMo all you want. Is there any other way?