An Unfiltered Crank in the Study

I’m struggling with everything right now and when I’m struggling, I can get a little grumpy. I’m still working the microresolutions from the last couple of months, putting in time every day on the novel, and trying to make better choices despite the winter discontent creeping in. But occasionally, I need to poke a few vent holes and let the steam escape. ***** When I hear people be passionate about whatever they’re passionate about, I wonder what is wrong with me. Why don’t I have fiery rhetoric? Why is everything I say… Read More

Mammas, Don’t Let Your Novel Writers Grow Up to Be Bloggers

I just finished reading a collection of essays by a much-loved and well-respected novelist. And it just made me sigh. All writing is not equal. It’s a new thing, taking a disparate group of blog posts, slapping them together, and calling it a book. Rarely has this been done well. The struggling writer could only wish for a day when they are so honored and revered as a writer, as a name, that someone would be happy to compile their scraps of writing, make a pretty book cover, and sell them to… Read More

Riffing on Mushrooms

I’ve never been someone at a loss for things to write about, but sometimes I wonder at my ability to overthink things. That’s a lie. I don’t believe there is such a thing as overthinking – at least not in a climate where people are egged on to abandon their own thoughts in favor of memes and outrage. This morning I was reading a collection of essays by Ursula K. Le Guin called No Time to Spare: Thinking about What Matters. It made me think about details. One of the essays was called… Read More

Getting Mocked by Alfred Adler

Over five years of blogging, and at least 50% of it has been whinging on about writing – doing it, not doing it, determined to do it, failing to do it. I’ve pitched to agents at a conference and not followed through.  I’ve been given the time, opportunity, and space to do it. I’ve set and promptly passed deadlines. I’ve made note cards, scribbled on white boards, discussed it ad nauseam with friends. I have skeletal novels and unfinished stories and poetry done badly. I have made myself feel physically ill, have… Read More

Empty Noise is the Gravedigger

I’ve been living a summer in quiet desperation. Fall is creeping in around the mornings. I smell it in the air and see the frantic scurry of squirrels hiding their winter stores of food. Usually, it brings with it a sweet melancholy that makes me more creative and introspective. This year seems different. I turn 50 shortly and it’s clouded my mind in all the expected ways. Ways that seem like stages of grief. I’m in the bargaining/rationalization phase. Initially, I mourned that there was less ahead of me than behind me…. Read More

Committing to the Mistake and Writing in the Age of That Guy

The hunger divide between writing meaningful stories and writing what I am capable of feels like a gaping maw now. A novel draft I wrote in 2012 seems limp and unedifying. Great novels come out of periods of strife and war and social upheaval. My little domestic drama on paper seems out of step. I lay in bed last night rewriting my entire novel. It had power and endurance and spoke to the demographics and polarity in our nation – the great canyon between urban and rural, educated and uneducated. It could… Read More

What It Comes Down To: The Pitch Conference After Action Report

For months, I’ve been eating, dreaming, walking through this pitch conference. I’d never been to a writing conference of any sort, and have long eschewed workshops and book clubs, and lived in my make-believe land of being a writer. This is the first concrete step I’d ever taken to make it real. And it was a great step. That I’ll likely never do again. There are writers who remain oblivious to the market, to the numbers, to the sheer complexity and enormity of their dreams. They constantly send out work and occasionally… Read More

Leaning into the Fraudian Complex

I’m a writer. I speak several languages. I am fit and active. I love my family. I believe love is the right choice. But, but, but… What about the fact that I’m none of these things consistently or expertly? What about the fact that I don’t spend each and every day honing my writer’s craft? And that despite working on a novel, 80% of my reading is nonfiction? What about the fact that if you ask me any question in the languages I know well on paper, I’ll have a blank look… 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

Here We Go Again: The Blog Dilemma

The Green Study’s Positively Happy Nice Story Contest is a great way to win for your local American Red Cross and there’s a mug! The deadline is Monday, October 3rd, 12:00pm. See here for details. I took the summer off in hopes of refilling my word reservoir and bringing needed engagement back to blogging. In September, I kicked off an annual contest, dipped my toes into politics, attached my face to the blog, freaked myself out by doing an inept podcast, tiptoed around other people’s blogs and flopped around with no direction… Read More