Driving around the Writer’s Block

So here I am at work staring at a blank Word document while my schedule goes from blue—filled with clients—to white—abandoned and alone. Ordinarily I would simply write, but my brain is empty. I have written at least a hundred pages of my novel and don’t really know how to get over the middle hump—ALWAYS my problem with every novel I have ever tried to write.

I suspect I’ll just skip several weeks and attack some of the scenes I do sort of know what will happen in—is that sentence even English? Outline the third wedding and some of the anniversary party, hope that inspiration will strike or my characters will have interesting conversations and mention something they have been working on or I don’t even know, anything.

Writing is Like Driving, Y/N?


So my friend Pamela was telling me how she tells her grad students that writing is like driving. You have the steering wheel and the gear shift, but then you also have traffic and rain and a spider coming down from your rearview mirror, and construction, and you have to get to work on time, and you have to manage all those things at once. Writing, she says, is like that: managing voice and audience and content and deadlines, and context and style and the totally random page count and All The Things, all at the same time.

I feel as though that “all at the same time” part doesn’t entirely work for me, maybe because I think about managing some of that stuff in one draft, and other tasks in other drafts.

But, at the very least, I am glad she didn’t say driving was like parallel parking, because apparently, in Boston, nobody gets taught the methodical way to parallel park and everybody just does it by guess and by God.

But maybe that’s what revision is like.

Virginia Woolf: Words Fail Me

Jilliane Hoffman nails it. “I have had my vision.”

Jilanne Hoffmann

Leave it to the BBC to store bits of Virginia Woolf’s psyche for us mere mortals to sift through on a whim. The broadcast of Woolf’s essay, “Craftsmanship,” was first heard on April 20, 1937. Five years later, it was published in a book called “The Death of the Moth, and other essays,” the year after she walked into the Ouse River with rocks in her pockets.

In “Craftsmanship,” Woolf insists that “words never make anything useful” and “tell nothing but the truth,” contradicting both meanings of “craft” in the dictionary. She says that words “hate being useful, that it is their nature not to express one simple statement but a thousand possibilities…”

Further into the essay, she says that “a useful statement is a statement that can mean only one thing. And it is the nature of words to mean many things.” Hence, words combined into statements cannot be…

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Pumpkin Spice Nachos, et al.


Happy Fall, y’all. It’s that time of year, when everybody is eating, drinking and presumably smoking Pumpkin Spice Fill-in-the-Blank. I admit to being guilty. The Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Waffles have fewer calories, less sodium and cholesterol and more vitamins than their other flavors, and let’s face it a warm waffle on a chilly morning is a happy thing.

But pumpkin nachos? Oh, Joe, what were you thinking?

At least we now know what Linus van Pelt will be munching while waiting in his sincere pumpkin patch on Halloween.

I’m Baaaack


So although most people go on summer vacation by, for example, actually going somewhere that is else, I took a summer vacation by working on my novel and basically abandoned the Blogosphere for two months. There were no beaches, maybe two cocktails, and zero blogs about sharks. Or much of anything else, or at least not written by me.

I would like to thank Wine and Cheese (Doodles), A Kinder Way, and Robert Okaji for letting me steal, um, reblog their wonderful work to keep my blog alive while I was writing 37,000 words of a book that starts with someone creating an OKCupid profile.

Obviously, the book will be a comedy.

So although I have not been writing for YOU, Gentle Readers, I have been writing, and thinking about writing, as always, 24/7. So we will declare vacation over, alas, but at least you get ME back.

Lucky you!

Robert Okaji: A good onion, a good knife, a good poem. What more does a girl want?

Onions My knife never sings but hums instead when withdrawn from its block, a metallic whisper so modest only the wielder may hear it. Or perhaps the dog, who seems to enjoy the kitchen nearly as much as I. A Japanese blade, it’s a joy to hold, perfectly balanced, stainless steel-molybdenum alloy, blade and handle […]

via Onions — O at the Edges


Hold The Door

I don’t have a clue what this could possibly have to do with poetry, but it is a nice piece of writing about an important little piece of life. Thank you, Dina!

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

door 4Between drop offs and pick ups, volunteering, and just generally mucking about, I’m at my kids’ school a lot. Each time I watch as students rush through doors with no regard whatsoever as to whether it might slam in the face of the person behind them. I don’t fault them–they’re kids, I’m glad to see them hurling themselves head first into life–but during the times I’m responsible for the care of these magical creatures, I’ve been testing my newest principle.

It goes a little something like this: If everyone holds the door for the person behind them, we all take on just a little bit of responsibility for the well-being of someone else.

It’s pretty simple right? By holding the door until the person behind you takes over, you’re making sure that person doesn’t get a nose full of glass. It’s courtesy 101.

That’s the literal principle. It works just as well…

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