This week’s mission: to get every remaining box in my house opened, if not unpacked. Last night, after the kids were in bed, I tackled the massive bookcase in our dining room. While I unpacked our books, I listened to NPR. (Now if that’s not the world’s most pretentious sentence, I don’t know what it is….)
Anyhow, I was listening to the “TED Radio Hour” and discovered this great show about the creative process. I’d listened to the Elizabeth Gilbert talk before (I love how she describes the amorphous thing we call “the muse” as “the person assigned to my case”) but enjoyed it even more the second time around, and the Billy Collins talk is awesome and hilarious. He says writer’s block is a farce. I couldn’t agree more.
While I was putting away our books, I had fun looking through some of my old faves.
Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas
Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle
The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley
All of my college faves: Stephen Dunn, Martin Espada, Louise Gluck
Shifting topics: Do you overuse certain words in your writing and/or speech? I have an incredibly eloquent girlfriend who can make a simple chat about what she had for lunch sound fancy, and when we’re together I become hyperfocused on my propensity to talk like a fourteen-year-old boy, particularly in the way that I constantly say “awesome” and “yeah.” When I’m working on a first draft and I get stuck, I start using the word “just” constantly, so much so that I sometimes go back through the manuscript with the sole purpose of eliminating the “justs.”
I leave you with this awesome cartoon that a magazine friend posted on Facebook a few days ago:
by christoph niemann, via Swissmiss.
“If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.”Read More