jordanrosenfeld

Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category

Un-Doing Days

In Classes, Craft, General, Musings on July 12, 2011 at 4:54 am

It wasn’t long ago that I purposely set my alarm clock for5:30 a.m.every morning, slipped out of bed before the sun rose, and sank my toes into the slightly scratchy carpet of our then-apartment with a cup of coffee and readiness to write. The darkness, the slither of silence, the burnt chicory smell of good java—these things were my company as I took special time for myself before my “real work” several hours into daylight later.

Those were my “doing days” as I’m thinking of them now. I wrote so early because once my colleagues and clients awoke there’d be emails to exchange and the mounting pressure of “must-get-it-all-done” riding hard on my spine. In my doing days I was so proud of how much I did—writing freelance articles, a book, a novel, editing manuscripts, recording book reviews–in such quantities that I’d sometimes look at my “to-do” board with a feeling of terror, wonder at how I would get it all done, and if working for myself was folly or fortune. The higher and tighter my shoulders by the end of the day, the greater the sign that I’d somehow measured up, that I was capable of carrying a load so heavy without fail.

Once I became pregnant I was amused and annoyed by the most ethereal sense of distraction that came over me—my mind flitted wherever it pleased and could barely be reined in, a flying creature with barely any mass. I was tired, so so tired all the time, and could not roll out of bed so early, and if I did, I’d sit staring at the blank page wondering what I thought I had to say. At the time it was infuriating, but now I look back and see my body beginning to help me make a shift that would change the shape of my days forever. For a spacy mind was the least of the changes having my son would bring.

 Three years into my son’s life, the map of my working life looks like a seismograph. From doing almost nothing for the first three months of his life, to rallying back around to writing a novel in his nap hours, to putting him in nearly-full time daycare only to feel the familiar pains of a body that is doing too much…I have begun to circle around to this new place and time. These are un-doing days.

Today, I sat at the top of a man-made rainforest, where blue butterflies the size of my palm circulated with what looked like a brash certainty in their freedom. If I stood still long enough, they skimmed the top of my head, grazed a cheek, teased my eyelashes. The heat of the building, the chatter of tourists–none of it bothered me. I was completely enchanted by their flight. I realized, I could sit here for hours and do nothing but watch them fly. And in that seemed the crux of the lesson I am beginning to learn, and which I hope my readers will take to heart too: there is value in stillness, in rest, in observation.

I am undoing old habits of working too hard and too long. I am taking more time off, and spending more moments relishing my son’s short-lived youth. There are fewer achievements, shiny and hot with effort, to hold up on a platter over my head, and yet, there are deeper seams to tap now, both creatively and in my work, roads that I have refused to take out of fear of letting go, stopping.

And how does this play out here? Everything is going to change now. You’ll see a new website very soon, with this blog integrated in it.  I’m going to be teaching more–stay tuned for some new twists on my classes that will allow for more interaction–and doing less of other things. In a nutshell, my new goal and direction is to write, and to thus bring to all of you the lessons and experimentation and thoughts on craft that I, myself, am continually integrating into my own work.

 Come, un-do with me.

The New Gatekeeper is You

In Craft on March 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and at first I thought it was just overwhelm, but then I realized, I can’t talk about writing in the same way I once did. There are two reasons: the first is motherhood, which has so profoundly changed my writing practice and my life these nearly three years, but even more so as my son becomes ever more a person with more complex needs. Second, the resculpting of the publishing industry, which seems to be putting more power (and more responsibility) in writers’ hands, has caused me to feel like I am a biologist witnessing the evolution of a species I thought I knew intricately. Certainty is giving way to curiosity andd doubt.

What I do know are making their truths more evident every day and they finally feel worthy of a blog post

First–craft is crucial. We should always be striving to write as though there are gatekeepers to success. Those gatekepers may increasingly become fewer publishers/agents and more individual readers we find and reach on our own, but they will remain. This means that self-publishing even more than ever will be challenged to never  become the route of: “I don’t have to work as hard.” You’re writing to say something, to entertains and awaken, enrich or share, after all. In fact, with no mighty engine of publisher behind you, you may in fact, have to work harder than ever. And why wouldn’t you want to?  This brings me to point two:

Second: writing has to count for something greater than becoming a name or finding a platform, even making a living, worthy a livelihood as it may be. For me, in this new life as a mother, where my time to write wars with my time to earn money, all of which pales in comparison to the need to give my child what he deserves, my writing has to contribute to the quality of my being, to my sanity, happiness, and spiritual fulfillment. Otherwise it’s just another thing to check off a list, another thing that I am turning away from my family to do.

Perhaps what I am saying is no different from what else is being said across the blogosphere, but it is suddenly, urgently important to me. We must hone our craft, not just because money or audience or fame is at stake, but as a practice, a refuge, a betterment of ourselves, just as you would carefully build a house or a chair or make a meal out of practicality and love.

So whether you wait for the iron gates of existing publishing to open from your efforts, or you forge your own path, keep the deepest parts of yourself in mind, your heart, your soul, and the people who look to you.

Make yourself proud.

***

“We should write because…writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance as well.

We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.”

–Julia Cameron, the Right to Write

Sage Cohen Uses Both Sides of Her Brain: So Can You

In Business of Writing, Craft, Interviews, Profiles on January 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

 Sage Cohen first slipped quietly onto my radar via Christina Katz, (whom many of you know as Writer Mama). I quickly friended Sage on Facebook and watched in awe at her productivity and grace, all the while becoming a new mother. She continues to inspire me with the publication of her third book: The Productive Writer, which speaks to both the artist and the business person in every writer. Join me for a Q and A with her now about learning to place as much importance on process vs. results, using both sides of your brain, structuring your time wisely, and much more.

JR: What inspired you to write/create The Productive Writer?

 SC: My first book, Writing the Life Poetic, was published by Writer’s Digest Books. When I learned that another editor at WDB wanted to publish a book focused on organization for writers, I pitched it and they bought it. As we got under way, the topic fanned out a bit and morphed from “organization” to “productivity.” It’s been a really fun and relevant topic for me, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share my ideas with readers.

JR: One of the things I love best about your book is that it couples strong work ethics with what you might call more “artist-friendly” concepts like building a writer’s “blueprint” and “embracing fear.”  How does this blend of right and left brain help writers be more productive?

SC: In my experience, the best strategies and tools are not effective when layered on top of the shaky foundation of bad habits and attitudes. So, my goal is to help people create the writing lives they want by first understanding who they are, how they think and work and vision and plan best, and then engaging these strengths to get the results they want.

 I invite readers to answer questions such as: What motivates me? What do I most want to accomplish? How much time do I have and how do I intend to use it? What do I want to produce? How do I define productivity in my writing life? What did I just do that worked, and what strategies do I want to reinvent?

 Once the reader has a clear picture of her own writing goals and work style, she can choose and use the tools and techniques that are best suited to her. I also offer a range of strategies for identifying and managing resistance along the way—such that even procrastination and fear can be channeled productively.

 JR: In Chapter 16 you discuss the importance of not always relying on external validation. What are some first steps a writer can take to start validating herself even in the face of rejection or not yet achieving publishing goals?

 SC: I think the absolute most important thing is to stay focused on and committed to your love for your work. If you’re writing because you have to—because you’re called to—then what So-And-So thinks about your final product is going to be far less relevant than that YES feeling you get when you’re engaged with your craft. This clarity of commitment is a safe harbor a writer can always return to.

 The other choice a writer can make again and again throughout his career is to focus on and appreciate her process, rather than her results. For instance, if I’m striving to have poems published in a certain publication, when I drop that envelope in the mail, I celebrate the fact that I got three poems written and polished, sealed, and sent according to specs and in time for the deadline. In short, I appreciate myself for doing everything I could to move toward that goal. The rest is out of my hands.

 Along these lines of process (versus results) thinking, I look at every rejection not as an end point of failure but an opportunity to try something new that might work better. And I invite readers to do the same, because there’s always a seed of opportunity in every so-called “failure.” In chapter 20, I share “My Writing Success Log” that’s designed to help writers track what’s working, what could work better, and what they intend for the future. Having a written record of your determination to succeed is a powerful way to stay motivated and grateful for all of your hard work.

 JR: You say in Ch. 6 “Consciousness is the first step toward change.” Tell us how this applies to writing.

 When we know what we’re doing well––or poorly––we then have an opportunity to either repeat what’s working or start experimenting with alternatives to attitudes or behaviors that are not accomplishing what we had hoped.

 For example, let’s say a writer starts using the daily time log that I recommend for a few weeks. He discovers that it typically takes him about an hour to write 1,000 words of rough-draft fiction. He sees also that he spends at least three hours a week on Facebook. He is surprised to see both how much time he was wasting online and how quickly he was able to get words down on the page. He decides to cut his time online down to one hour/week and commit to writing 2,000 more words every week. He continues to track his time and his results, fine-tuning his process and goals from there. 

 JR: I think your publishing story is a very inspiring one, as you are a poet first, and it might not seem intuitive that you would go on to publish writing books…was it a surprise to you as well?

 SC: You bring up a very interesting issue of identity here. It is true that I have identified as a poet first and foremost, and then as a writer of other genres later. Yet, fiction and essays, strategic content and thesis-driven papers have all shaped who I am as a writer. My major in college was comparative literature, and I have been writing marketing communications and advertising content professionally my entire adult life. 

In a way, the unfolding of each of my identities as a writer has been surprising––because writing has always been so intimately entwined with whom I am. Realizing that I was “a poet” in my early 20’s nearly knocked me off of my chair. And each succeeding revelation about the various writing realms I have named and claimed has been equally stunning.

I always expected that I would write books, but didn’t have a clear picture of the trajectory for doing so. In the movie The Secret, Jack Canfield explains that he drove in the dark all the way from California to New York, seeing with his headlights only 200 feet ahead of him at a time. This is how it was for me in arriving at the doorstep of authoring books. I got clear about my destination, took small and consistent steps in that direction, and was surprised to find myself clear across the country in no time at all.

 JR: Tell us something that you learned in the writing of this book that was unexpected…or anything else you’d like to say that I haven’t asked.

 SC: I learned that it isn’t necessarily any easier to write a second book than it is to write the first! For me, it was like first training a Labrador retriever and thinking, “I have the hang of this master-of-the-pack attitude.” Then you get a German shepherd puppy, and you find that none of your training accomplishments translate to this new relationship. Instead, you have to start at ground zero to adapt yourself to this dog’s herding instincts, hair-trigger fear of just about everything and hard-coding to chase cats and squirrels. I was reminded that in any writing project, we are always a beginner finding our way in new terrain, no matter how many days or years or decades we have been sitting down to the blank page.

 ***

About Sage Cohen

Sage Cohen is the author of The Productive Writer (just released from Writer’s Digest Books); Writing the Life Poetic and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. She blogs about all that is possible in the writing life at pathofpossibility.com, where you can: Download a FREE “Productivity Power Tools” workbook companion to The Productive Writer. Get the FREE, 10-week email series, “10 Ways to Boost Writing Productivity” when you sign up to receive email updates. Sign up for the FREE, Writing the Life Poetic e-zine. Plus, check out the events page for the latest free teleclasses, scholarships and more.

How to Talk Yourself Off The Ledge of Creative Despair

In Craft, Musings on January 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I’m standing up on a ledge that barely has enough room for my feet. Every micro-inch of movement kicks grains of pebbles down into a roaring abyss of traffic and noise. I got myself up here, but how will I get down? People I trust and love are standing just outside my line of sight, promising me that it will all be okay if I only listen, take their hands and trust, but I am frozen in place, with terror. What if I don’t make it?

This is the metaphor for the place I get to in my darkest moments of doubt about my writing. The ledge. Different things can send me up there: sometimes it’s feedback I’ve heard a thousand times hitting the “I don’t want to!” temper tantrum place inside me. Sometimes it’s missing the precious blank morning hours of solitude that I had to write in before my son was born. Sometimes it’s the latest news about the publishing industry, or the feeling that the “destination” I’m aiming at with my writing is just so damn far away and that I don’t have the stamina to get there. And every time it comes with the same thought: I am a fraud. Who am I to teach others about writing when I can’t even do it myself? Am I doomed to be the one who sees what must be done, but never the one to do it?

Thankfully, I can tell you the answer is no. When I was up on the ledge most recently, the wind chilling my face, the exhaust burning acrid in my throat, I wasn’t so sure either, but I got down. Here is my recipe for taking yourself down off the ledge when you think you might not otherwise make it:

1. Write it Out: The only way I make any headway is to first discover what I am going through. The only way I know how to do this, is to write about it. Journal, stream of consciousness, morning pages–whatever method you have that works for you, make sure you know what it is. You might think it’s one thing: you received a rejection, let’s say. When, upon writing, you discover it’s that you were rejected by a publication you didn’t really want to be published in…or in my case, I went to the place of: “I am just mediocre,” only to realize what it was really about was: “I don’t have the luxury of time I once had in which to work as hard as I know I have to work.” (ironically this is the very theme about which I want to be writing, balancing work and art, motherhood and writing…)

2. Feel it. Before you move on to step three, I find that if you can just give yourself a tiny bit of alone time to feel the grief or frustration, rage or disappointment, you will be on a much faster track to getting rid of it.

3. Talk it Out: After I know what’s troubling me, I have found that this artist’s despair gets lodged in the body, tugging down the emotions and the attitude with it, and that I must almost literally extract it from my physical person. The way I do this best is to talk about it, let it be witnessed, shine the light of other people’s wisdom, gentleness and kindness on it, purge it from me.

4. Walk it Off: After you get a witness to your pain, someone who can simply validate what you’re going through and offer gentleness, nothing like a good old fashioned walk, or yoga hour, or any kind of exercise…this will further help you to extract it from your body, where it leads to illness and fatigue and eating bad things.

5. Educate Yourself: So often I get stuck in know-it-all mode. Because I teach writing and write about writing, I must know all there is to know, and therefore be a failure when I can’t do it myself. That’s when it’s time to take a class. I signed up for a class I’ve wanted to take for ages, finally giving it to myself. Or, if you find yourself in the opposite situation, where you feel like you don’t know anything, sometimes the best thing you can do is pick a focus, just one thing to work on, and take a class, go to a lecture, a writing conference, or even just pick up a book, rather than trying to take on the whole thing at once.

6. Back on the Horse: Finally, the only way you’ll make any forward progress, is to come back to the painful source and start again. Whether it’s revisiting feedback on a piece, starting something fresh, switching projects, if you don’t come back, you are, in essence, stuck on the ledge, with the night bearing down, cold and lonely upon you. And that’s just no fun at all.

Fighting Writing Overwhelm

In Classes, Fiction Writing on December 13, 2010 at 11:00 pm

The other day I stopped in a brand name, big-box bookstore to meet a friend on an out of town trip.  (As a rule I try to buy my books and magazines from my local Independent bookstore, www.mybooksmart.com but I often glean ideas to order by visiting the biggies). Like a snake to a hot, flat rock I found my way by instinct to the writing craft section whereby, just like Garp in John Irving’s novel The World According to Garp nearly flatlines at the choices in an American grocery store aisle, my brain immediately began screaming “TILT. TILT.”  There are so many books on the craft of writing; on how to be a Breakout novelist; a bestseller; how to write plots and plot mysteries and kill your darlings and write about killing and in just thirty days plot your way to a million dollars and a yacht.

In a word, the writing section can be downright OVERWHELMING.

And it got me to thinking about what is really the most crucial advice that a new writer needs to know. As I have written two of these books of instruction, (Make a Scene, and with Rebecca Lawton, Write Free) so I feel somewhat responsible for contributing to this top-heavy field of information. As someone who coaches writers, and edits manuscripts and teaches writing, I know that if you let a new writer read “all the right books” what you’ll have is a writer who might just want to give up before she begins.

That’s why I keep teaching my favorite class: Fiction’s Magic Ingredient, which is–no surprise–all about the golden nugget of fiction writing, the scene, part of my personal writing mission. That’s it. I’m just teaching you one thing–but I’m teaching it to you from every angle. So if you want to cut through the overwhelm and learn about the one essential magic piece of writing that will honestly and truly change your writing forever, there are still a few spaces left at: www.jordanrosenfeld.net/events-classes.html . It is a wonderful gift to give to a writer in your life as well, and before December 20th, I’m offering a $40 discount.

Fiction’s Magic Ingredient is 8 weeks long and begins January 10th. It is online and self-paced, using yahoo groups. Regularly $249, you can register for $209 until December 20th.

Let me help you cut through the noise!

Jordan

Betwixt Finger Spams and Crushing Despair…a purpose

In Craft, Musings on November 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

This year’s National Novel Writing Month has drummed up more ire than usual, more cries of complaint and annoyance from established writers who apparently see the act of several hundred thousand people trying to write 50,000 words in one month somehow threatening or personally offensive, as if these less-than-stellar manuscripts are going to glut the way for the “good” writers who are working so hard to get published.  (And no, I’m not linking to these rants; they don’t deserve that).

 I read these various diatribes and thought: where’d all these fearful curmudgeons come from?  The “established” writers, the “serious” writers (of which there are many participating in Nanowrimo) will continue to be established and serious. They will write every day of the year, they will revise until their work stands up and sings Opera while juggling flaming swords and chewing gum. The only difference in November, as far as I can tell, is that several hundred thousand people aren’t watching TV, playing their X-boxes, or being slaves to their iPads nearly as often. And maybe a handful of these people are also discovering that the voices/family/social pressures/small elves that live in their heads, which have kept them from realizing and or working on their talent, are full of crap and that they should give more energy to this endeavor. Or maybe some people will realize that writing is fun, and a good thing to remember to teach your kids to do so they don’t grow up into mindless zombies who can only speak in text-ism gibberish. All of that seems like an inherently good thing to me.

I’m almost 35K into my project. And yes, most of it is unusable dreck that would make anyone question the MFA I received in literature/writing. So what’s the point, you say, other than unbridled creativity? I’ve actually discovered some benefit from slamming out words without a whole lot of direction. I’ve  got the bones of a really good novel in here somewhere. Yes, they’ve been dismembered and scattered as though by a large carnivore across a wild landscape, but I know what they are and how to retrieve them. I’ve got characters who are cock-eyed and unrealized, but I know exactly what self-help program they’re going to need to make them come to life. In other words, I got to the place in less than a month that it usually takes me three to four times that long to arrive at. All the scenes will need to be rewritten, and a whole lot more of them, too, but they add up to a different kind of outline, one that breathes, one where I can see the props and the sets and hear the chatter of the actors as I walk through it, imagining the show I’m going to put on, and know pretty well how it needs to play out. And that was totally worth the finger spasms and gluteal cramps, the dry-eyed exhaustion and giddy sense of self-importance followed by crushing despair that comes with writing fiction at such a rapid pace.

3 Tips to Starve the Tantrum (or the Critic)

In Craft, Fiction Writing, Musings on October 11, 2010 at 1:52 pm

My toddler is having a tantrum on my lap as I type. To even write these sentences is an act of utmost focus–I must ignore his keening cries, his little arms flailing at me, trying to push my hands off the keyboard. My husband and I have invested in a new strategy for tantrums that I realize is very much a metaphor for how to deal with the variety of critics that live in all writers: take the attention away. Ignore it. Starve the tantrum.

There are hundreds of “toddlers” far more vicious in my own mind who pound their fists in fits of temper and destroy the furniture in their bid to convince me I am a terrible person, not to mention writer. They are just as powerful as the real thing, if not worse, because they are responsible for the vast number of times I give up on something, resist revision, let overwhelm take me under, and worse, decide that all my years of writing are for nothing and that I’ve been fooling myself.

These voices are infants, they haven’t been properly disciplined, in fact I’ve let them run rampant in my mind, so just as with an acting out child, ultimately I am to blame. And that means that I can start somewhere.

Will you join me in my new strategy for inner critics and demons, all those ways we stop ourselves from being productive?

Do. Not. Engage.

Walk it out. When you hear the voice shrieking at you, discouraging you, suggesting there is no point to what you do: walk away. Literally. Get up and walk away from whatever you’re trying to do. Refresh your coffee. Walk around the block. Do jumping jacks.

Stream it out. Then, come back to your desk or favorite chair, but rather than picking back up the project you were having the inner fit about, pick up a notebook or journal and just write it all out. Stream it out onto the page so that it isn’t stuck inside your head. Or email a good friend who knows how to help you laugh at these wailing creatures in your brain.

Laugh it out. My favorite strategy to quell the wailing beast is to read or watch something funny. An Onion book or article comes highly recommended. David Sedaris essays. SNL clips. Whatever does it for you.

Having Your Way with the First Draft

In Craft, Fiction Writing on October 1, 2010 at 6:59 pm

I will admit there are many days I prefer the feeling of having written to actually writing…And those days tend to come most for me at the beginning of a new project when I’m trying to squeeze the Big Perfect Vision in my head down through the funnel of reality onto the blank, unforgiving page. Right now I’ve got 20 pages of Shiny New Thing. Not a lot of pages. Just enough to make me feel as though a real story is taking shape, but not enough to convince me that there will be any harm in walking away.

The reason for this cavalier attitude is that in a first draft you (and I) don’t know your characters yet. Oh sure, maybe you did sketches and used a workbook, an outline process, whatever, but the fact is that characters don’t become real until you take them for the lengthy test drive that is the first draft of your novel. And the more I think about this, as my still fairly one-dimensional characters stare back at me from those twenty pages, the more free it makes me feel.

How wonderful that I get to spend an entire draft just throwing down ideas on who these people will be. Putting my characters in and out of events and situations like dolls in a dollhouse. Trying out the feel of a setting, the tone of my language. Your first draft can be an exhilarating place of freedom because you don’t have to get it right yet.  It’s like parenthood in the extreme: I get to grow my characters up in a relatively short period of time. First, I find out who they are by writing them down in all their messiness, and then, after a break to come up for air, I get to go in and do the really interesting work of understanding and then transforming them.

I hope this might help free some of you up, too, to remember that a first draft is not supposed to be perfect. Nowhere near it. It is simply the moment when the Big Perfect Idea in your head gets mapped onto paper for you to finally have your way with it.

Scene Writing Workshop and Feedback Session

In Classes, Craft on September 23, 2010 at 9:11 pm

With Jordan E. Rosenfeld and Amy McElroy

Friday, October 29, 2010

10:30a.m.-2:30p.m.

BookSmart. 80 E 2nd Street. Morgan Hill.

Cost: $85

 In this workshop we’ll explore the crucial key to captivating readers—the scene and all its facets—to build a vivid, engaging piece of writing, whether fiction or non-fiction.  Students will also workshop a piece of writing in class. Come prepared to do some brief in-class writing, as well as to read your work for group feedback. We will take a working lunch, so either bring lunch or purchase it from BookSmart’s tasty deli counter, serving soups, hot dogs and chili.

 Participants may bring any piece of their own writing, but will only read 2 pages in-class for feedback from the group, including the instructors.

 ***

 Jordan E. Rosenfeld is author of the writing guides Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time, and Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life, with Rebecca Lawton. She freelance writes, edits and teaches. Learn more at: www.jordanrosenfeld.net.

Amy McElroy is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach.  Most recently, she aired a series of personal essays on the NPR-affiliate KUSP in Santa Cruz.  Her formal training and experience as a writing coach began more than 20 years ago at Hollins University.  After some years as a practicing attorney, Amy is now continuing her work as a writing coach at Gavilan College.

 Workshop Tentative Schedule:

10:30-10:45 Introductions

10:45 to 11:30- Instruction

12:00-12:15 Break to get lunch

12:30-2:15  Workshop with feedback.

2:15-2:30 Questions, class survey

For questions or registration, email:

jordanwritelife (at) gmail (dot) com or amyjmcelroy( at) verizon (dot) net

Going Fallow

In Craft, Musings on September 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm

It happens. Despite all my best intentions, despite baby ideas crowding out the corners of my subconscious, sometimes I just don’t write. I write in my head, in my dreams, even in conversation, but the words just don’t make it to the page. And I feel ashamed. Like “not a real writer” when this goes on, even though I know that the time will come when the urge to write will be like the running of the bulls inside me and nothing will be able to stand in its path. Whole drafts get written when I feel like that. In between, there is doubt, there is asking questions about my purpose and my talent, and wondering if perhaps sticking to teaching is not the best path after all.

I like to think that every writer needs this downtime between projects, so when I feel this way I avoid reading interviews with people like T.C. Boyle and Jodi Picoult who never take a day off, who don’t believe in slacking or fallow time. During these times I pretend those people don’t exist. During these times I acknowledge that maybe there is something in the very chill of Fall that’s shaking summer out of our hair that is responsible for my urge to go downward, inward, away. The light disspates, the blooming things shrivel up, nature herself demands a contraction. Is it strange that my muse might also hibernate?

So that’s where I am now, inside a contraction, in the root vegetable of my creative self, waiting for the transition to settle, after which I can crawl out into the mulch, inhale the tangy earth-scent of this time of year, crunch around in the dried leaves that will coat my lawn in about two minutes, and see what dark creatures I’ve brought up from underground with me this time.