Doing Things the Hard Way, Made Simple

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From DeHart to Your Heart

Dear Readers,

I apologize for the long wait between advice postings recently. I ask for your patience in the next few weeks; this time before spring break is full of project deadlines and oodles of homework for me, and while none of them are as fun as answering your questions, they’re still taking the majority of my attention. Soon, I’ll have more free time again and will be able to get your questions back to you within a few days of receiving them.

Thank you for understanding!




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“Psychedelic as a bruise”

I recently finished Mark Slouka’s heartbreaking novel, Brewster. The second half was a slowly unspooling nightmare, the kind you wouldn’t wake from even if you could, because you are so engrossed in the story, even as you want to wail “no!” It’s one of those books that gets into your bones. Beautiful.

* the title phrase is from this review

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Advice for Aspiring Mermaids

Michelle Tea’s young adult novel, Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, about a gritty, tattered mermaid, thirteen-year-old best friends who play the pass-out game, and a community of talking pigeons is totally worth the read. I came across this interview with Michelle Tea by Carolyn Turgeon, self-described mermaid expert.

This is Tea’s advice for aspiring mermaids:

Make your own mermaid mythology. Remember that history gets written by the winners, and what we know about mermaids comes from people who probably didn’t understand them properly. They’re not just pretty, long haired seductresses. They’re fierce and intelligent and full of wisdom and experience, just like you.

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“Everyone gets smashed to bits: it’s your best opportunity to grow.”

I loved Caleb Powell’s interview of Poe Ballantine in The Sun. 

Some bits of wisdom:

If you want to make a difference and stand out, you’re obliged to sound the depths.

on the role of morality in writing:

We all have moral choices to make. We can go out into the world with reckless disregard for anyone but ourselves as we struggle to get what I want, or we can help and teach one another.

hard learned lessons:

Little in the way of wisdom and enlightenment came for Jonah until he was swallowed by that fish, and it was the same for me until I was swallowed by reality. Getting smashed to bits gave me humility, gratitude, and the ability to love and appreciate my fellow humans. Everyone gets smashed to bits: it’s your best opportunity to grow.

to young writers:

Stay open to experience, and realize that most of your years of effort will look like failure. You won’t be alone in your failure, but it will feel like it.

I can’t wait to read Ballantine’s new book, Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowherea true-crime story/memoir about his new marriage and family and his Nebraska small town.