What kind of soup should I make for dinner tonight? Go.
In many ways, the past two years have been the fullest years I’ve ever had. I have little in the way of downtime. My job seems to have gotten busier at the same time that I’m waist-deep in writing a novel (yes, I’m writing a novel….we’ll talk about it soon). We’ve also been traveling on weekends for various things, with more traveling to come, and there’s stuff that needs (immediate) fixing on the house, and I keep…taking…on….more. I don’t know why. I don’t like to say no.
That said, I’m writing. So far, I’m writing. I used to be spoiled: I could only write in the morning, I thought, and only at home, and only if I had two hours ahead of me. Now, I write in the cracks. I write whenever I have any time at all. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t write.
This is the secret that it is hardest to convey to students or to the many people who have said to me, over the years, that they’d like to write but that they never have time. No one has time. As Jami Attenberg just noted, what separates writers from non-writers is….writing. Working. Finishing the damn thing.
The other secret is white noise. That’s right. Download a white noise file onto your laptop and bring some good headphones along wherever you go and you will feel like you have a superpower. I am Write-Anywhere-Woman. I can write in the loudest coffeeshop of all and still maintain concentration. (Personal favorite: “White Noise Ocean Waves” from the iconic album Original White Noise, available on iTunes. Rock’n’roll.)
The point is: wean yourself away from the idea that you have to have very specific conditions in which to write. Be prepared to write wherever or whenever you can. Don’t wait for inspiration: find the free hour you have in the middle of any day (or the beginning or the end) and do it.
Good luck, friends.
PSA for Philadelphians: stay off 95. Just had the most harrowing drive of my life. Also saw about four cars just leisurely drift off the roads in the Northeast and Center City.
New word of the day: Bombogenesis. A rapidly intensifying storm. Thanks, John Bolaris!
Anyone looking to get published? Consider submitting to Folio, Holy Family University’s literary magazine. Folio accepts original prose, poetry, and artwork.
Only two days left to submit!
Watch this excellent student-produced commercial, and then submit here:
Say, for example, that you’re alone in a public space with one other person. You don’t know the person. The two of you are in a locker room, for example, or on an otherwise-empty subway platform, or in an otherwise empty bus.
The other person begins to make remarks, as if to himself or herself—something about the weather (“Hoo, it’s cold out there!”) or perhaps there’s music playing in the locker room, and the other person begins to sing along, loudly and obviously.
A) Make a small-talky remark back to the person
B) Smile at the person and go about your business
C) Completely ignore the person. Pretend nothing is happening.
This happens on a somewhat regular basis—in fact, it just did—and I never quite know what the appropriate reaction is. The question is: are these people who are looking to engage? Or are they people who just actually talk to themselves as they’re going about their day? They aren’t looking at or speaking directly to me, and yet we’re the only ones in the room…
Usually I end up just doing some combination of B and C and then scurrying away. And yet I always have the feeling that I’m being rude.
What is the appropriate social convention here?
My laptop bag, the one I’ve had for about five years, is falling apart.
I’m considering this one from Madewell:
but worried about whether it will hold everything I need (usually a laptop, a wallet, a book or two….odds and ends…)
Specifications: ideally under $200, very durable, and made of (or at least looks like) brown or black leather.
Thanks in advance!
For the first time since I was about eight years old, my family decided to do Thanksgiving at our house in upstate New York, rather than the house I grew up in outside Boston.
I am the only one of the four cousins on this side of the family who is old enough to remember Thanksgiving at the Lake (henceforth referred to as TATL), and therefore the only cousin to fully understand both the perils and the rewards.
The perils of TATL:
1. The risk of heavy snowfall that would basically prevent departure due to the long inaccessible dirt roads, the lack of town-sponsored snowplows, and the prevalence of citified sedans in our family
2. The risk of plumbing failure, heating failure, oven failure, or electricity failure in our old house. In the summer, these things aren’t so bad. In the late fall—especially when a cold snap results in 8-degree temps outside—these things are somewhat concerning.
The rewards of TATL:
1. You know that song that begins, “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go”? (AKA the only Thanksgiving carol in existence?) It should have been written about this house.
2. It is the coziest place on earth
3. There is a particular kind of beauty about it in the winter that we never really get to see, since normally we close the place in October.
Fortunately for everyone involved, no major systems in the house failed, and the potentially heavy snowfall that was predicted never really materialized.
Therefore, we got to enjoy the fire…
and the view(s)…
and the company…
without any major catastrophes to contend with.
(images 2, 6, 7, and 8 courtesy of my uncle Geoffrey Parkhurst.)
My vote: TATL forevermore.
(I hope you all had very merry Thanksgivings and happy post-Thanksgiving sandwiches as well. And that you used nutritionless white bread on said sandwiches. Nutritionless white bread is the only way to go.)
Looking for a place to submit your writing or artwork?
Consider submitting to Folio, Holy Family University’s literary magazine, established in 1959!
The above is a student-produced commercial with details on submitting. (So proud of these kids.)
Alternately, here’s the direct link to the submissions site: https://hfufolio.submittable.com/submit
so that someone would tell me when it’s time to stop eating candy.
(I feel ill.)
Guess what this weekend is? Philadelphia’s very own literary festival, organized by Joey Sweeney of Philebrity.
The 215 Fest starts Thursday night with a reading at the Free Library by Nicholson Baker (!!) and Dara Horn (!!) and continues with a reading/concert/dance party (made up the dance party part, but you never know with writers) at Underground Arts. I shall be at both.
Also, here’s my event:
Tin House Presents: Cari Luna & Liz Moore
Saturday afternoon, 10/19, 2 p.m.,
Upstairs at Marra’s
1734 E. Passyunk Ave
I am totally going to self-plagiarize for a moment, but here’s what I said in a recent interview with The Head & The Hand about why this festival’s important for Philadelphia:
"LM: This year’s festival has some incredible names attached to it—I can’t wait to see Nicholson Baker. It’s important for Philly because I see Philadelphia as a city brimming with literary potential. Your press, all the writers who live here or have recently moved here, the long tradition of journalistic excellence associated with Philly, the interesting subject matter….the cheap rent….ALL of these things make Philadelphia just primed to be a terrific city for literature. So I am absolutely excited about participating in a festival that celebrates that. And I aim to spread the word about it, through my very rudimentary social media skills, but more importantly by peer-pressuring my friends to come."
Long story short: you should come. It’ll be fun. It’ll be good for Philly. I like you.