Somewhat unbelievably, I did it. In spite of major personal challenges that offered me every reason in the world to quit—or simply not to start in the first place—I finished this year’s #1000wordsofsummer challenge.
Several days ago, a friend and I went to a local farm to pick blueberries. In the field, it occurred to me that this would make a terrific blog post, because there were similarities between blueberry picking and the writing process. I took some photos, and I even asked my friend to take photos of me picking. As I filled my container, I looked for ways I could link writing and blueberry picking. It was going to be brilliant, the kind of post that would inspire writers for years to come.
To say this is an odd time is an understatement. Better adjectives might be strange, bizarre, or surreal.
Exhibit A: Olivia is sitting on my desk. The last time she sat here voluntarily was at least a decade ago. Granted, I lifted her up since she can no longer make the leap, but she’s stayed. Continue reading →
Last spring, I applied to a very prestigious writing conference, taught by writers whose work is routinely praised, if not revered, by the literary community. Rationally, I knew acceptance was a long shot. On the other hand, I figured the admissions committee probably wasn’t sitting around at night hoping I might grace them with my presence. The only way I’d have a chance was to apply.Continue reading →
Whenever I talk with someone who’s venturing into the weird and wonderful world of writing, I inevitably get this question: “Do you know of any books that would be good for me?” As a matter of fact, I do. The bookcase in my front hall houses dozens of such volumes. Some are essays about writing and creativity; some are about the writing life (such as Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life); some focus on craft; some are resources on specific topics I’ve written about or intend to (Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook is a gem for those writing about murder); some contain writing prompts or odd facts designed to stir up the muse (The Book of Useless Information, by Noel Botham and The Useless Information Society). Continue reading →
If I were to conduct a scientific survey of the reasons people who say they want to be writers don’t write, I’ll bet that this would be #1. There are plenty of others—family and work would likely rank as #2 and 3–but as often as not, I imagine those would be tied into #1.
It doesn’t help that books and articles routinely bombard the poor time-deprived writer with advice that seems impossible to follow. In predictable, frustrating, and often sanctimonious fashion, nearly all of them proclaim the same thing: Writers write. If you want to be a writer, you must find or make the time to write.Continue reading →
It’s one of the first things writers hear. While we could spend hours debating the merits of this precept, one particular aspect is currently on my mind:
Is it okay to write what I know when what I know is from somebody else’s life?
Recently, a man I know – let’s call him Fred – posted on social media about a situation he and his significant other – we’ll call her Emily – are dealing with – we’ll call it The Event. The Event is Emily’s problem, and it’s not going to be resolved any time soon. Because she’s in a relationship with Fred, he’s being kind and supportive. So far, so good. Continue reading →