“Lower your standards and keep writing.” --Willliam Stafford
“Most commitments that keep me from my writing are masks that I put up to hide my fear and my failure to do what I need and want most to do. If my belief in my own work is strong, other commitments will adjust themselves. Human beings have free will. “If I could speak to myself as an 18-year-old, I would say, ‘You can say ‘no’ to the demands of your immature mother. You can insist on some privacy, some time of your own.’ If I could speak to myself as a young mother of four children, I would say, ‘You could nap with the children, then in the solitude of night or dawn, write.’ Regardless of our particular circumstances, the struggle goes on to keep at our work. If I could speak to myself just this morning when I answered the phone and the mail instead of writing, I’d say, ‘You ... [Continue Reading]
"Cure for an obsession: Get another one." --Mason Cooley
Write a history of your obsessions using a maximum of 20 words. No hyphenated words allowed. 20 words max. No cheating. It's having to pare down your list that makes this an interesting assignment. Make every word count.
Here's a sample response from my son Eli, who was given the assignment, for a college application, to use 20 words to describe himself. It was his response to that assignment that gave me the idea for this prompt. If you're not around 17-year-old techy kids, you may not recognize the items on Eli's list, but it will give you the idea. In his case, the title counted as two of his words. I'll give you those two for free. Twenty words without the title. Go.
This will ... [Continue Reading]
I was late in life getting a passport. For decades, I had no interest in international travel. Zip. I'd toured the United States, but had never been abroad. When conversations about travel rolled around, I'd go silent. I hadn't been anywhere. I didn't see the point. If I had any extra money, I preferred buying something tangible: a Mixmaster for the kitchen, a brake job for my used car, a down comforter. I wanted something I could use for years, enjoy over time. Why waste my money on something as fleeting and ephemeral as travel? Maybe I was following in my mother's footsteps. She didn't get her first passport until after she was 40. It wasn't until my father walked out on her to find himself at the Esalen Institute that she started traveling. She was a school social worker and she ... [Continue Reading]