Kristan Hoffman

writing dreams into reality

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Stuff worth reading

• “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu

Big thanks to Linda for tweeting this the other day. This short story had me (and several friends that I sent it to) in tears.

For years, Mom carefully sliced open the wrappings around Christmas gifts and saved them on top of the fridge in a thick stack.

She set the paper down, plain side facing up, and began to fold it. I stopped crying and watched her, curious.

She turned the paper over and folded it again. She pleated, packed, tucked, rolled, and twisted until the paper disappeared between her cupped hands. Then she lifted the folded-up paper packet to her mouth and blew into it, like a balloon.

Zhe jiao zhezhi,” Mom said. This is called origami.

I didn’t know this at the time, but Mom’s kind was special. She breathed into them so that they shared her breath, and thus moved with her life. This was her magic.

• “I am an Author” by Sara B. Larson

A heartfelt post about the struggles of self-validation. It’s something I think many writers struggle with.

I don’t have a book deal, I don’t have a book on a shelf, so I don’t feel legit. Sometimes, I let my own self-doubt and worry and insecurity lead me to tell myself that I don’t really belong. That I’m not a “real author yet.”

I make a joke out of it, but it’s to cover up my embarrassment, my shame that I’ve been working tirelessly at this for six years and still don’t have a book deal. I often feel like a failure. I’ve come SO close. Like, seriously, you can’t believe how close… but in the end, nothing has worked out yet.

• “The Biggest Mistake Writers Make and How to Avoid It” by Lisa Cron at Writer Unboxed

I don’t agree with everything in this post, but it’s a less-heard perspective, and her points offer a lot of good food for thought.

“What’s the biggest mistake writers make?” It’s a great question, especially since the answer is surprising: they don’t know what a story is. So even though they have a great idea and their prose is gorgeous, there’s no story, thus no sense of urgency, and ultimately, no reader. It’s as simple – and heartbreaking – as that. And it’s extremely common.

A big part of the problem is that writing is taught everywhere, but story, not so much.

Like this:



On timelines and “I don’t know”


As summer comes to a close…


  1. AHH I’m crying now too (read Ken Liu’s story). Thanks for the links.

  2. YOU’RE WELCOME FOR MAKING YOU CRY. :) Oh fine, it was really Ken Liu and his amazing story. So heartbreaking!

  3. Oh WOW, does Sara’s post resonate. Thank you, thank you, thank you for linking to that. It’s such a great reminder for all of us!

  4. Provocative stuff. Thanks, Kristan!

  5. Julia

    Thank you for the Lisa Cron piece. I’ve never really thought about what makes a story a story. What she said made perfect sense to me.

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