Thursday, August 20, 2009

Light Candles

Philadelphia, my old friend Hank used to say, has not been good for my writing. It was the closest he could to come to saying he had hit that horrible point in every writer's life where he or she feels uninspired, worn down, blown out on the tracks. Nobody in our circle ever copped to writer's block; we all knew the score. Writers write, they don't wait for the muse or inspiration. That was the playground for our students whose frequent excuse for not turning in stories and poems was often delivered in a whine -- "I can't write unless I'm in the mood." I spent a lot of time in cheerleader mode with this type -- "You can do it! Take a few minutes a day. Listen to music. Light candles."

Hank took a different tack. "Fucking hell, Michelle, you're not running a day spa. It's not sex. You don't have to be in the mood." Instead, he was the bad cop, telling them that they couldn't make it up and that was that. For our own parts, we both struggled in our respective cities with money problems, lack of time, endless winter, and the exhaustion that comes from landing somewhere far from where you started. I still don't believe in writer's block, per se, but I do believe that you go through phases in your writing life, some better than others. So I ask you, dear reader, what is your favorite writing strategy for getting through the hard times?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The truth is: I never understood anyone's messages. Only the ocean existed." Pablo Neruda

Cocktail Hour
Drinking poetry suggestion: some Anne Sexton for the end of summer, I think!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Look for my review of Stink this afternoon!


Leon Basin said...

Hey, how are you doing?

Heff said...

Are you leaning on an old dishwasher ?

the walking man said...

Me? Personally I do this. I simply write what floats through my head and if it doesn’t click then I move on to a new thought and if it doesn’t seem to go anywhere I move on to something else until it does click.

This is a page that I write on and save to look at another day.


We are not so fortunate to have found the treasure of political correctness not even after having spent the years digging in the loose sand a hole deep enough to get to the other side of the earth. Funny how when it got so hot near the magma core we just kept digging looking for the diamonds found in everything said “just so” without offense in word or deed and now that we have ingrained the standard of political correctness they are “gay” and not queers or they are African-American and not niggers because we are talented enough now to be able to use the prescript of inflection to get our true intent across. Call me a queer nigger please; it is more honest than the false smile of acceptance. I know my enemy and it is he whose heart shows in a wink a nod a smile not the

I wake up in the middle of the night and find that the sweet pounding I was experiencing was not the stroke of my lovers hand

Needle in the skin

I could write of great sadness and hidden truths
beyond value cast loose without rudder in a dinghy
and I know no one will read them because there is no care
for the things that are sailing on a sea of tears.

Oh but there is great passion
in seeing an ocean going yacht
be ravaged by a storm on deck,
we do so love our drama.

Bookies take the bets and lottery players choose a square
to see how one or the other can profit from the foolishness
played out in an ocean paradise few ever touch.

And still the small quiet truths drift
on unnoticed, uncared for and all in all it is better that
way for them whose ship has already sunk.

Charles Gramlich said...

Most of the time when I can't produce it's because of 1) I'm just effing bored and don't want to, or 2) I haven't thought enough about the story and don't know what's going to happen next.

Scott said...


Funny you mentioned candles...I like to have candles lit as I'm writing. It started with a candle I got in New Orleans a while back at a Voodoo shop that says 'Spirit of Writing' on it. It's long since used up, but I keep it on my desk anyway. I now have several Santa Muerte candles I light when writing.

I've been struggling with writing lately for some reason, but I guess you just have to put your helmet on and get out there, as one of my co-workers says.

Hope you're having a good week, Darlin'. Take care! :)

J.S. said...

Beautiful Michelle, I mark off in my day calendar blocks of time to write. I sit down when that time comes, and I write. Even if it's junk, I keep writing. If at the end of my writing time I assess that it is junk, I tell myself that tomorrow's another day. I don't know if that's how the scholars do it, but that's how I tackle writer's block.

Btw, Hank's quote is fantastic! And you, as always, are brilliant!

PS. NY is awesome. Can't wait for you to come visit. :-) Love you!

Anonymous said...

It looks like two old dishwashers next to a train track.

I would write about guy who sold old dishwashers next to an old, abandoned train station until, got involved in a war between teen-aged vampires and wizards!

Yeah, now I'm getting somewhere! Well, that's it for the writing today!

justin said...

the endless winter.....

Me_Again said...

I just collect memories and randomly write them down before they collect too many cobwebs.

jodi said...

Doll, I never think too much on anything (shock), instead I just notice a detail or tell my little tale. xo