Good-Bye, First Novel

The beginning and ends of my nights are spent in a semi-conscious dream state where I solve major issues like where my daughter’s spring jacket is and what I’m going to plant in the garden. I have to admit to being slightly bitter about the domestic nature of my mental wanderings. Sometimes, though, I solve a major problem – the kind of problem that had me on the fence for five plus years and had kept me awake for many nights. It started quite ignominiously right here on this blog, during my… Read More

The Loci of Writing: Plantsing and Politics

It’s a year where satire and parody seem unnecessary – this political season has been aggravating and exhausting. I believe there are personal lessons to be learned and am mercenary about the sources. This last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people with whom I disagree. It would be a stretch to say I feel compassion or kinship or empathy, but challenging my thinking – a bouillabaisse of stereotypes, personal prejudice and simple loathing, is important to me. It’s about the locus of control. I’ve been a bit baffled by… Read More

Getting Lost on Purpose

Yesterday I got lost driving in St. Paul. My husband swears we should never cross the river that divides the Twin Cities. He’s gotten lost as well. Jesse Ventura, the former infamous governor of Minnesota, once insulted the city on national television by suggesting it was designed by Irish drunks (I imagine the Irish were insulted as well!). Getting lost has never caused me undue anxiety, especially since we bought a car with navigation – except it will fritz out at critical junctures in the journey. I have learned to just work… Read More

Marlon James and Notes in the Dark

A good story makes you ask better questions. It’s scrawled twice in the margins of my notebook. I took notes last week in a darkened audience, attending a lecture by the 2015 Man Booker Prize winner, Marlon James. He received the award in October for his sprawling, intense novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. One of things on my writing hit list this year was to seek out better writers and better writing. I am fortunate to live in a metro area for some of the big name writers who give… Read More

Being Fiction, Instead of Writing It

Over the last few years, I’ve written blog post after blog post about making changes with a mind towards writing. I quit paid work. I quit volunteering. I set up my study, surrounded by books, many of them about writing. I am supported by the people in my life. I talk about writing. I read about writing. I write about writing. On occasion, I even write things that aren’t about writing. The only person in my life who doesn’t take me seriously as a writer is me. The door is open wide… Read More

Walking through Storyland

The most irritating writing advice for me is write what you know. Once I’ve written that paragraph, I sink into a morass of self-pity and caffeine. I wrote about finding narrative on vacation. Sometimes a change of scenery is the jolt needed to wake a person up from the glazed coma of being in one place for too long. Upon return, things look a little different. Last night, I took a stroll around my neighborhood. With the latest addition of a grocery store, my neighborhood is like one of those preformed children’s… Read More

Stories from the Road: The Search for Narrative

After a vacation in Montana, I’ve returned home, a head full of unorganized thoughts and a vague sense that I’m on the right path again. For months, I’ve been languishing in a purgatory of writer impotence and flailing about for some sense of purpose. We took the Amtrak train from St. Paul to Glacier National Park, staying in a century-old lodge with few amenities and scant Wi-fi. We paid for a view and a convenient walk from the train station. Following our arrival, we spent our days hiking and horseback riding and… Read More

We All Die and Other Lighthearted Things I Thought about While on Break

While on a digital break, I let my mind become an unwieldy toddler, waddling from one idea to another, occasionally drooling on myself.  I have a high level of anxiety these days, for no obvious reason except that I’m not ready to die. I know, I know – who among us is? Death anxiety is not a product of my middle age. Many nights throughout my life, I’ve lain in bed, unable to sleep, thinking about the randomness of some kinds of death and how I’ve lived such a tiny, conservative life…. Read More