R197. Why Did You Write That? The Problem of Urgency

Room 101 D&E, Level 1
Thursday, April 9, 2015
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


Compelling. Taut. Inevitable. That gotta-read-it quality of urgency can doom a manuscript by its absence, no matter the genre. Writers like the panelists, who regularly read manuscripts as editors, reviewers, or thesis advisors, can spot a lack of urgency a mile away—except, perhaps, in their own work. What makes urgency so hard to assess in oneself? Is there a litmus test? What helps wrestle it onto the page? And does too much of what gets published lack this enlivening, essential quality? 



Julie Sheehan’s three poetry collections are Bar Book: Poems and Otherwise, Orient Point, and Thaw. Her honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award and NYFA fellowship in poetry. She teaches in and directs the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton.

Susan Scarf Merrell is the author most recently of Shirley: A Novel, a psychological thriller about the novelist Shirley Jackson. She teaches in the MFA program in creative writing and literature at Stony Brook Southampton and is fiction editor of TSR: The Southampton Review.

Whitney Gaines is a graduate student, assistant professor, popular blogger, and some-time editor. She attends Stony Brook Southampton University focusing in creative nonfiction and teaches at Stony Brook University. Her blog has over 10,000 followers and is a recommended humor blog on WordPress.

Zachary Lazar is the author of the novels Sway and I Pity the Poor Immigrant, and the memoir Evening's Empire: The Story of My Father's Murder. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowhip and the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. He is an associate professor at Tulane University.

Lou Ann Walker is the editor-in-chief of TSR: The Southampton Review. The author of A Loss for Words: The Story of Deafness in the Family, as well as many other books and articles, she is a professor at Stony Brook Southampton.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Seattle Convention Center