In Celebration of the Short Form (Short Stories and Essays), featuring Pam Houston

Mar 9, 2020

Pam Houston

This week’s episode is an exploration and celebration of the short form with one of its masters, Pam Houston. Whether you write essays, short stories, interlocking essays, memoirs-in-essay, or short polemics, there’s much to discover in this conversation about structure, finding the “glimmers,” as Pam calls them, and the layers of meaning-making in the short form. We also invite you to be your own cowboy on the writing journey and to enjoy this excursion “deep into the pasture” with Pam.


Pam Houston is the author of the memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, as well as five other books, including Contents May Have Shifted and Cowboys Are My Weakness. Her stories have been selected for volumes of The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Short Stories of the Century among other anthologies. She teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, is Professor of English at UC Davis, and co-founder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120 acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

The Takeaway: Experiment with Showing vs Telling

Take a moment from your life. Write it once in the third person with a lot of showing and dramatic elements, as if it were a play. Then take the same scene and tell it in the first person, like you’re telling a friend something over dinner. See how they each feel, and whether doing both opens up different takes on the same scene.

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