writing

Chain The Muse To Your Desk

As a writer, there will be days when the words spill from my mind and gush all over my keyboard. Those are good days. It’s sunny outside, the birds are chirping a merry tune, and my neighbors’ toddler is either asleep or visiting the grandparents. Occasionally, however, I’ll have really awful stretches where the words are stymied and nothing pushes the blinking cursor forward. I’m not talking about regular writer’s block, which I’ve written about before. No, this is far worse. This isn’t just struggling to find the right direction for a story or wrestling with a difficult scene. It’s apocalyptic: thunder and lightning accompanied by merciless winds, dead birds plummeting from their perches, and the toddler next door wailing like an air raid siren (which, admittedly, often happens on good days, too). This is what I like to refer to as “the inspiration abyss.” No matter how hard I try, I can’t get any of my ideas off the ground. Even if I manage to write a thousand words, they ultimately lead to a dead end, forcing me to start over. While writer’s block can last for days, the inspiration abyss can last for weeks. Currently, I’m dealing with a stretch that has now lasted just over a month. It’s the most frustrating experience as writer. I don’t have any quick-fix solutions, but I’ve developed a few strategies to aid me in my attempts to claw my way out of these bleak situations: (more…)

There Is Only One Of You

As a writer, it’s difficult to stay motivated. The art of writing can be taxing, frustrating, and at times, almost impossible. There are days when everything except writing sounds like fun: climbing Mt. Everest, running an ultra-marathon, stepping into the ring with Brock Lesnar, finding One-Eyed Willy’s treasure map… okay, so that last one is pretty awesome, gotta admit. Anyway, how does a small-time writer (such as myself) stay on top of his/her writing goals? Here are a few things I’ve discovered that keep me going despite all the distractions of daily life: (more…)

Strike Hard And Fade Away

With spring officially upon us, I took the opportunity to clean up my laptop’s hard drive. It’s amazing how many files full of stories, ideas, and assignments I’ve amassed in the past two years as an MFA student. After organizing my stuff in a way that would make Mary Poppins teary with pride, I spotted a folder I had labeled “Old Stuff.” Everything I had written pre-Stonecoast had been placed into that folder prior to my first residency. I haven’t looked at any of the files in there since, so of course, I pulled a Pandora and opened the glittery box. (more…)

I Want To Be A Paperback Writer

It’s been a few days since I’ve returned from my fourth residency with the Stonecoast MFA Program in the University of Southern Maine.  I’m still trying to recover from the whirlwind of events.  I’ve gotten into the habit of taking hour-long naps after work, followed by a few hours of wakeful restlessness, then about nine hours of additional sleep.  A few more nights following this pattern, and I think I’ll have caught up on my sleep deficit.  I’m so excited about that.  Got to celebrate the little victories in life, right? Although, you’d think I didn’t have any time to sleep during residency.  That wasn’t the case at all.  I did sleep, but my dorm had a mattress that was about as soft and delicate as a slab of marble.  Oh, and my pillow gave me the impression of sleeping on a cloud made of crinkly newspaper.  I have a strange feeling that sleeping in a coffin would have been more comfortable.  Man, vampires have it good. (more…)

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction (AWP Conference Report)

Last weekend, I attended the AWP Conference.  It was my first time going to a writer centric convention.  I had some odd run-ins at the end of the day (more on that later), but the conference itself was a fantastic experience.  The event ran from Thursday to Saturday, but I was only able to attend the final day’s festivities.  I have to save my vacation time for two more future trips to Maine.  At the very least.  🙂

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