Friday, October 30, 2009


Hello most loved and loyal readers of my writing blog.  If you're back to read this post, it means you've stuck with me through my most demoralizing writing week yet since the start of this blog.  If you missed my one person pity party (as my mom likes to say), see my last post.  Yes, it got a little hairy there over the last few days.  I think it had something to do with going away last weekend and then having to crash back into the "work week," which for me normally consists of a lot of frustration, but this week was even worse.  Unfortunately, when I have a period where I've got no ideas and nothing's getting done I immediately start to question all of my choices again and wonder if I'm really doing the right thing by pursuing writing.  But I've resolved to give myself at least another week, and I will be back at it on Monday if you're willing to stick with me.  Hopefully I'll even be able to do a little writing this weekend and I can share some of the fruits of my labor next week

Like I've said before, the dark days are just as much a part of the writing experience as the days of sunshine and roses.  And I have to think that the bad times, where I'm questioning everything and doubting every idea I ever had, somehow all add up to something in the end, and contribute to better writing come tomorrow, or next week.

With all that said, may you eat warm fall meals this weekend, and sip warm drinks from mugs with fall color schemes, and have just enough trick-or-treaters that you have a few sweet treats left over for yourself, and may you have a very happy Halloween!

Photos: (1) thanks to Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express for the fancy grilled cheese recipe (apples with Gruyere cheese on sourdough bread), (2) thanks to Lauren for the Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter recommendation--it's now an addiction, (3) and thanks to Mom for, among other things, always sending candy...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To do (with my writing life) list:

- Write a novel or memoir that is good,

     that means something to someone (preferably many someones),

     that sells many copies,

     and makes me enough money that everyone I love never has to worry about money,

     and makes me enough money that I can, for the rest of my life, cook all of my meals from Mark Bittman & Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.

- Write a novel or memoir that wins me a prestigious (well, really, any) writing award,

     and makes all of the MFA writing programs that rejected me weep with regret and beg me to come teach in their MFA programs,

     where I will become a well-loved professor,

     and write a second book that becomes so famous that President Obama reads it and loves it and I get to meet him.

- Write a book that vindicates all of the support and encouragement given to me by the people who continue to believe in me despite my repeated failures.

- Write enough books that I can dedicate at least one each to all of these supportive people.

...And yet it was a day of lost causes, of ideas thought up one moment and sent into oblivion the next, never to be retrieved.

I stomped my feet under my desk all day, and took a hot shower to cool off.  Made two pots of coffee, but only drank half of one.

It was a day of self-doubt with self-loathing mixed in like swirls of white chocolate in a sea of dark.  Except it tasted bitter.

And after much typing, my Word document is still blank, called "Document 1."  I never even figured out a title--something to call this thing I'm doing.

Someone once wrote, tomorrow is another day...

Monday, October 26, 2009


My friend-since-fourth-grade Lauren at just look for love in it shared this with me today.  It's a series of writings from a woman named Rachel Berger: for 100 consecutive days she picked a paint chip out of a bag and responded with a write-up inspired by the color.  The paint chips are not just called "blue, orange, green, yellow," but have more evocative names like, "pine grove, billowy clouds, warm embrace, lemon tart, and pageant song."  Even as I type those names I can think of little vignettes from my own life that I might like to write down.  Lauren suggested to me what a great writing activity this was, and I just might take her advice and try to do it myself, simply using the same paint chip titles as Rachel.

Of course the almost-English-teacher in me got to thinking about what a writing exercise like this can accomplish in terms of ultimately leading to a larger, more cohesive piece of writing.  Writing exercises are an important part of every classroom because they give us a way to do the thing that's hardest: start writing!  My favorite college writing professor used to give us a writing exercise per week--usually she never required more than a page of writing, but often we'd go over in word count because her prompt gave us a way into thoughts or plot lines that we'd already been considering.  Two of my favorites that I still use, and that might help some of my fellow writers:

* Write a story about a deluded character.  (This one is great because you immediately have license to write about someone crazy.)

* Write a story with an ambiguous ending. (Like I discussed a few days ago, endings are the worst, and this prompt gives you a vague but helpful guideline on how to end things--thus easing the fear of beginning a story because you know you'll have to end it somehow.)

For me, the paint chip project works because it encourages us to use our memory, and memories always lead to something where writing is concerned.  Memory is the single most important thing to a writer, and I don't just mean in the sense that we tend to write about our own childhoods or experiences.  While that's true, a lot of writers write about things they've never experienced, they put their characters in places they've never been and make those characters suffer through events that the writer can only imagine.  But what allows them to take such liberties and describe with ease things they don't know about first hand, is their understanding of their own past--the ability to use emotions from your own life to illustrate the lives of your characters.  I don't know what it's like to live in a small town or lay electric wiring or swim the Atlantic ocean, but I know what it is to be close to people, what it is to be engrossed in a tedious task, and what it is to endure.  The fact that our emotions are universal while our experiences may not be, is what allows the reader and writer to meet, despite possibly disparate experiences.

I think the ultimate challenge is having the courage to claim your own stories so that you can begin to write them down truthfully.  Things that have happened in your family, things you weren't even alive for but have heard about through the years, it's all yours for the mining--it makes up the larger picture of who you are.  Think of it as stuff that if you were ever the subject of a biography, the writer/researcher would dig up about you and include while trying to guess at your state of mind when you designed the first aerodynamic house or founded the first underwater city or drank yourself silly when really you had great potential for genius.  Of course it's all just guesswork, even when you're sitting there writing about it yourself, but writing is guessing, and good writing is guessing right.   The beauty of it is the abundance of right answers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Evening finds me with a warm cup of tea in my hands and Country Living magazine in my lap. Inside was something I must share with you.  An American Family: Three Decades with the McGarveys, a new book of photography. I'll let Country Living do the describing:

In 1977 Pam Spaulding, a photographer for Louisville, Kentucky's Courier-Journal, set out to document a year in the life of a new mother: local resident Judy McGarvey, 26, who had just given birth to son David.  But after 12 months, Spaulding couldn't bring herself to abandon the project.  Instead, she spent the next three decades chronicling the lives of Judy; her husband, John; David; and as time went on, his younger siblings, Morgan and Sara.  During those 30 years, Spaulding captured the family's major milestones as well as numerous small, everyday moments, like backseat roughhousing and goofy dances in the kitchen.  From her first shot of newborn David in the hospital to her photo of Sara's 21st birthday celebration, Spaulding's modest, moving images tell the McGarveys' unscripted story--and a more universal one, about unconditional love and what happily ever after really looks like. --Katy McColl
I wish I could show some of the photos to you here, but the tiny thumbnails on the internet don't do them justice.  Soon I'll have to go seek out the book, but the magazine photos I saw tonight brought tears to my eyes for all the ways they reminded me of my own childhood.  Parents kissing at the sink with leftovers and dirty dishes strewn on the counters; a father dressed in a suit, looking down at his newborn; that same child, now grown, home from the air force, surprising his father as he walks in from the car one afternoon; brothers helping their little sister blow out the candle on her 1st birthday cake, and those same brothers handing her beers in a bar on her 21st birthday.  The most moving are the juxtapositions like those, of which there are so many: the mother helping her daughter into her 4th birthday party dress and years later the girl modeling a prom dress for her mom; the little boy grasping his grandfather's hand as they walk onto a little league baseball field, and then, as a grown man, helping his grandfather climb some steps on a family vacation.

These are the moments that I'm always trying to capture when I'm writing, whether a character is actually experiencing them or is longing for them.  The little moments are ever more telling than the big ones--they're the little scenes that live forever in our minds and come to represent the way we remember our lives and all of the important people who populate them.  Sometimes the smallest memory, of a parent, a sibling, a friend can swell our hearts too big to bear as we remember how much we loved them in that moment or perhaps even realize that at the time we took it for granted.  When I'm writing, things always work their way back to love.  My characters are always questioning both the kind they give and the kind they receive.  Love is the reason a character suffers or leaves, resents or sacrifices, flourishes or fails.  All of the human stories are the ripples from this one human feeling.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sweet thoughts for a fall night

Last month's Real Simple asked readers to write in and answer the question, "What does home mean to you?"

I sat on my couch last month reading with delight because so many of these rang true to me.  They reminded me of the way two people can nearly touch across a page--writer and reader understanding each other, and nodding in agreement.

Here were a few of my favorites:

"A warm bed that you can't get out of in the morning, a tiny pink toothbrush in the bathroom, and the sound of my husband's key in the door at the end of the day." --Dena Nilsen

"Home is the smell of my husband's neck, right below his ear." -- Shawnee Jones-Bonnette

"Home is where my younger brother can't understand why a boy would stop liking me."  --Emma Button

"As the saying goes, home is where the mom is." -- Valerie Warner
The crisp brisk weather I've been dreaming of has finally made it to our little town.  I spent part of this weekend folding my summer clothes into bins and bringing out my fleece and wool.  Goodbye to all the lovely things of summer and hello to the even lovelier things of fall: fondue (cute husband and I made it from scratch for the first time this weekend from this great cookbook we purchased Friday evening--yes, we spend Friday nights in bookstores), chili (a Halloween night tradition passed down by my mom), candles a-burning, a shiver in your bones and sweaters stacked high. And Christmastime is at last on the horizon!

The end of one season and the beginning of the next has me thinking about story endings.  It's always a challenge trying to wrap things up--fold things up neatly into a bin like out-of-season clothes--and leave your reader satisfied and your characters somehow different than when you found them.  And if you leave them the same, you better have a good reason for leaving them that way.  I've yet to meet a fellow writer who loves to write endings or even believes that his/her endings are good.  There's always pressure because we're led to believe that what our readers want is a twist of some kind, a bang, not a whimper.  And if we want it to end on a whimper, it better be a subtly bang-ful whimper.  Our writing instructors, on the other hand, want evidence that we're leaving things in some organic way--that is to say, we leave our characters doing the thing that they could or should be doing, so that the genius of it lies in its naturalism.  And the writers themselves, well we just want to feel like we made some kind of complete circle, even if it's shaped like a square--like we made our point, said our peace, left our readers wiser to things.

All of this is impossible.

Half the time my endings are just clever turns of phrase or shrouded in ambiguity that even I don't understand.  I've left characters in deep depressions with no hope of climbing out, I've left a character in the middle of a parking lot. 

Like I've said before, we always want to capture truth and real life, and it's at the ending point that this becomes more important, and thus more difficult.  The only true ending in real life is death--only then do we lose all hope of ever repairing a relationship, finding what we were really looking for, etc. But even as I write those words I don't know if it's actually true: to be sure we all know of relationships that no matter how much we might hope they will be repaired, frankly never will be--the hurt or misunderstanding just goes too deep.  We know there are those who'll always just be looking and hoping and never doing, and dreams that will be left unfulfilled.  I guess this is where good writing comes in.  It's important to tell the story of the man whose wildest dreams don't come true because maybe despite that, he's okay, he finds happiness, he accepts his fate and his sadness is nagging but minimal in comparison to the rest of the things in his life.  I think writing is about determining degrees: trying to describe a particular kind of pain or a particular kind of happiness.  Telling the stories of characters whose lives are mix of both sadness and happiness.  And when you think about it, that's true life for all of us.

With these thoughts in mind, when I am faced with writing an ending, my heart racing with fear as I get closer and closer to having to begin my final paragraph, I try to think of the ending as night time.  My character is, figuratively, just going to sleep after a long day, and he might fall asleep worried or sad or hopeful, and he has no idea what's coming tomorrow, but there's value in describing what he's feeling that night after a long day, or a long few months, or a terrible argument.  If I can capture his true feelings at that moment, that's a truer depiction of reality than some long explanation of what might happen next.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


So sorry for the short absence, loyal readers.  My parents were in town visiting these last few days and since they live so far away from me--and since this makes me very sad--I spent every moment possible with them.  We cooked and enjoyed together many delicious meals and drank many glasses of wine (although at least one of us woke up with a headache on any given morning), and went on sightseeing adventures to places far and wide, and so I'm filled with my typical sense of despair now that they are gone.  Some of you may have heard me express before my deep desire for the Star Trek beaming technology to become a reality.  Opportunities and commitments pull us and our loved ones in different directions and though we may put our families above everything else in our hearts, sometimes separation cannot be avoided.  Maybe instead of trying to be a writer I should be tinkering away at some fast-travel technology (ha!  it actually might be equally Sisyphean considering my limitations in science and math!).

One of our adventures was dinner at a Persian restaurant in Washington D.C. called Shamshiry.  Before we arrived, my father told me the story of the Shamshiry kabobs in the Tehran bazaar.  He used to go there as a child and watch the men cook the kabobs on big swords (as opposed to our wimpy skewers) and then with a thrust of the hand throw the succulent chunks of lamb and beef ten feet away onto a waiting plate, where they landed in a perfect circle. 

Shamshiry turned out to be a bustling, almost diner-like Persian restaurant.  We ordered glasses of Doogh--a traditional Persian yogurt drink made with herbs and spices (delicious!).  Then came our plates of heaping saffron rice and chelo kabob.  Persian rice, in my opinion, is one of the world's delicacies.  No one can make rice like the Persians.  My father rinses the rice several times before placing a pile of it inside his cherished rice pot (Persians are said to first grab their rice pot in a fire or an earthquake--before the family photos) to soak overnight.  The next day the rice cooks in the pot over a bed of yogurt.  When it's done, the rice on the bottom of the pan hardens into a circle to make crunchy rice, or tadig.  The rice on top is fluffy and never sticks together--each grain of rice is independent of the next.  Then, the fragrant and colorful Persian saffron is poured on top.  The result melts in your mouth, and it's even better than an M&M. Here's a picture of my meal at Shamshiry:

Again, you ask, isn't this supposed to be a writing blog?

I was moved to write about this because of a description written about a salad on the menu at Shamshiry:

There is an old Persian saying that it takes four people to prepare a salad.  A generous man to add the oil, a stingy man to add the vinegar, a wise man to give the right touch of salt and pepper, and a fool to mix it well.
I thought this was such a perfect description of the art of cooking and one that made me appreciate each bite I took that evening--sitting at a table with my most loved people and eating food that's existed (and been perfected) for generations too far back to imagine.  As I took my first bite I imagined my father at five- or six-years-old, staring wide-eyed as the kabobs landed on his plate in the busy bazaar.  I may never get to see the place where my father was born, but sharing that meal with him helped bring it to life in my mind's eye.

I think this is another great lofty goal for my writing--to do the kind of writing that transports.  Like a carefully prepared meal.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


The end of the week finds me up late in a quiet house, all loved ones now asleep.  Today I awoke to what I thought was wonderful news, so wonderful that I shouted it upstairs in the early morn to (yes, again sleeping) loved ones.  When I read the straightforward news story online--that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize--I was filled with my typical happiness and pride when anything good happens involving the Pres.

But as the day wore on--first, when I turned on my preferred morning show, Morning Joe, where the news was met with mocking laughter and snide remarks, and later as I read through the day's news stories on my favorite political sites--I realized that others didn't feel as I did.  Uncharacteristically, I avoided the news all day, knowing that before long Rush & Glenn would be at it and of course all of the media sites would feel the need to report on what they said.

I know I'm stepping onto a soapbox here and straying somewhat from my writing topic (but I'll bring it back around to that, I promise), and I know that a lot of people get upset when politics is even brought up because it's always divisive, always incendiary, no matter how nice you try to be.  And if you disagree with me it probably makes you want to, at the very least, not read my blog for awhile.  But my emotions got the best of me today and here I am.

After last Saturday's SNL skit about Obama-the-unaccomplished-President, the media seems to have seized on the idea that he has had ample time now to do at least some of the things he promised, and his failure to do so indicates a tendency towards rhetoric without action.  (Never mind the Republicans in Congress who refuse to work with him, who cheer when he fails, and complain and cheapen when he has any sort of success--they have nothing to do with the lack of new legislation.)  When he has dared to speak to citizens of the world as our equals--and not, as in the previous administration, as lesser individuals who should either help us or fear us--Republican operatives take to the airwaves claiming that he does not believe in American Exceptional-ism and that he hates his country.  Again, the media reports on this kind of thinking as though it is rational.

As we have been reminded all week, it's been 10 months since his inauguration, and 12 since election night.  Have we so quickly forgotten what he accomplished just by being elected?  Have we forgotten what it meant for an African American to be elected president, that as late as the night before the election there were many who believed all the polling was wrong, that there was no way, when it came right down to it, that Americans would be willing or able to pull the lever or check the box for an African American?

But then it happened.  And it was a big deal because a country with an oft-denied past of hatred and ignorance was, it seemed, trying to make good.  We were living up to what the civil rights leaders of the 1960s had dreamed for us--one in particular--that we would judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.  It's a line that's been repeated often, but then again, I've been wondering all day, have we so easily forgotten?  Have we forgotten how he reached out to us with his words?  How he implored us to be better?  We elected Obama because he made us believe that we could be better.  He made us believe that all the things we thought were wrong with the world, well it was us that could fix them.

But we've forgotten, I guess.  And so it's acceptable for the people on TV to laugh and joke derisively about our President, who won the Nobel Peace Prize today.

Perhaps it is not about checking off items on a to-do list, as the SNL skit suggested, but instead beginning to put into motion the dozens of things on that list that for so many years now have not only been ignored, but denied, treated like pipe dreams or the wishes of naive children.  It's that old wish: peace on earth, good will toward men.  Recited in song, fairy tale, and holy place alike.  But it hasn't happened yet.  Those awarded the Prize in the past have helped work toward that wish.  When it comes down to it, it's about the courage to begin the hard, sometimes seemingly impossible work required to make it come true.

Those who dislike the President say he only gives speeches.  But oh they have been great, powerful speeches.  Words are what set things into motion (heck, that's what I'm trying to do with this blog).  When Obama gave his foreign policy speech in Cairo earlier in the year, promising the world that we were ready to re-join the international community and ready to, in a nutshell, show compassion again, yes, he was just saying some words.  But they were words of peace.  And words that, for a long, long time now, and at the expense of many lives, no one else has had the guts to say.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sometimes the strangest things can trigger a story . . .

. . . as in today when I was driving to the law school to pick up cute husband and jamming with the windows down to Sirius radio, channel 18, The Spectrum.  A kind of country-ish, kind of Lou Reed-ish song came on and frankly for most of it I was making fun of it in my head: what is this crap? why is there no more good music being made?  I wish I was in the 60s . . .

. . . until the following line of the song: My divorce papers will have gone through by then.

Not exactly lyrical genius, but sometimes a single line can create some imagery, whether or not the imagery was intended.  For me, I immediately saw a man in jeans and a scruffy shirt driving down the highway in the dead of night, finally set free by his divorce papers.  He was going towards a woman, I knew that much, but I didn't know if he was in love with her, if she was an old friend, maybe even his estranged sister or his brother's widow.  All I could see was this man, his eyes steady on the road ahead of him, his head clear because he knew his destination and was filled with relief to finally be on the road towards it.  His only thought was, it's only a matter of time now . . .

Moments like these are great for us writers because for a moment the wall (I've always pictured writer's block as the Berlin Wall, wherein the story waiting to be told is West Germany and I am a starving East German slumped against the wall) gets whacked and a few bricks or even just a few flecks of concrete fall to the ground and there's a place to start hitting with a hammer with hopes of, in the words of The Doors, break[ing] on through to the other side.

Last week I wrote a little bit about characters, how we can see something or hear something and suddenly a person appears to us and out of our wonder and curiosity is born a tale.  Sometimes when I sit down to write and I'm feeling completely blocked and every character I think of is either contrived or a knock off, I take a deep breath and think of it like this: There are hundreds of characters possibly floating around up there in my head.  The man in the truck driving across the night to whomever is waiting for him; the store clerk closing up for the night, dreaming a simple but out-of-reach dream as she does so; the teenage boy picking up his best friend on a Friday evening; the mom who waits; and the daughter who chooses not to call.  They're all up there!  They're living their lives up there and making their choices and sending their worlds spriraling all over the place, or even just keeping them sadly stagnant.  So when I sit down to write, all I have to do is find them and write down how they're doing.

The work of writing out their stories--figuring out where that man with newly signed divorce papers is headed and why it's so important for him to get there--is always tedious and sometimes long.  But to me those adjectives don't have to be bad.  The minutiae of lives and the day in and day out and what it all adds up to in the end, those things are worth plumbing the depths for.

My favorite writing quote of all time is from E.L. Doctorow:

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
And so I drive.  And the man with the divorce papers drives.  And maybe our cars pass on the highway.

Monday, October 5, 2009

This all starts with a bowl of oatmeal

This morning our unseasonably warm little town was actually pretty brisk--I stepped outside for a few moments around 7am and shivered with joy.  Then I came inside and made myself a bowl of delicious Trader Joe's oatmeal, just to continue the feeling that there was a blustery day brewing out there.  Alas, as the day wore on, the temperature climbed into the 70s, but luckily part of this new writing diet is learning to pretend, so when I got dressed I picked a decidedly autumnal ensemble.  All my stories begin with a what if, something that isn't real, but that I want to be so I can tell my story.

What ifs, though often imagined in some dark cell of the writer's mind, always contain a seed of essential human truth.  We may have a character in mind, but what makes it a story is the things we imagine that character is up to--the girl who loves a boy from afar, the morally-compromised [insert profession here], the betrayal that sets off a tragic chain of events.  We're always interested in playing things out in ways that they often cannot or do not play out in real life.  We want to know that someone bad gets his comeuppance, and if he doesn't, we want to make a comment on the basic unfairness of life that led to that person not getting their comeuppance.  We want to understand why someone commits suicide, or what someone's last thoughts were the moment before the car skidded off the bridge.  We want to make tangible the things that would otherwise be left to mere speculation.  There's a level of reassurance in this kind of writing, for writer and reader alike--a sense that we are not leaving things so open-ended, that in putting our best guesses on paper they leave the realm of hypothetical and become, at least for the given set of characters, truth.

But what about truth: what about those who, usually in the form of memoir, write to us about their experiences, who either reinforce or deny our speculations about what someone in their position might be experiencing?

I got to thinking about this over the weekend when I came across the following article in The New York Times: After a Death, the Pain That Doesn't Go Away.  According to the article, scientists are beginning to seriously study the unique kind of sadness that follows the death of a loved one, even debating whether or not to call it a syndrome of its own.  Then I saw this new book from a favorite author of mine, Kay Redfield Jamison (she wrote an excellent memoir about her struggle with mental illness called The Unquiet Mind), called Nothing Was the Same, about the death of her husband and the extreme grief that followed for her.  (Other great memoirs I've read in this vein include The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, and also Paula by Isabel Allende.) 

All of us cope in different ways with our grief--some can function without incident for weeks only to collapse in a heap later on, while some of us (like me) feel the loss intensely and immediately.  I've heard others posit that our way of dealing with death is uniquely American, and more broadly, Western, that in other cultures death is simply seen as a new beginning.  Here, we mostly think of it as an end.

I think it's the single most interesting and perhaps most universal trait of writing.  We want to know what it's like for someone who has experienced a loss.  Loss scares us more than anything, and we want to understand if what we feel is like what others feel.  We want to know if we are crazy or not.  We want to know what it will be like.

Most of my stories are about grief in some form or another.  When I'm doing planning in my head for something I'm about to write, I'm always thinking in terms of someone or something that's been taken.  It's a long and winding road to finding out how a person emerges from deep sadness and learns to cope again, or in some cases, never does.

Real or pretend, our grief stories are always the most powerful.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Autumn (I'm trying to use autumn now instead of fall because I think it's more poetic) is upon us.

Where I live we're still forecasted for the 80s this weekend (which, as a cold-weather-lover makes me want to crawl in a hole and cry), but I know that across other parts of the country the leaves are turning and the warm coats are being dug out from their holes and replaced with giant piles of despondent pool toys and decorative lemonade pitchers.  People everywhere are holding warm mugs in the morning, lighting candles, building fires, and doing other things that if I did them right now I'd die of heat stroke.  I'm filled with envy.

Good thing is all of our loved ones live in cold places, or at least places where it actually does get cold. Come Thanksgiving time we'll begin our travels across the country--the loved ones think we come because we love them, really we just crave their high pressure systems.

What in the heck this has to do with writing, I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that there's something about a nip in the air and the holidays fast-approaching (and, yes, as a Christmas-lover, I consider Halloween part of the holidays, because I usually get out the Christmas decorations on or around November 1) that makes me want to settle down and begin telling stories.  And it's not just because soon we won't be able to go outside anymore--I don't go outside much anyway, I'm a writer!

I don't know if any of you out there remember learning about archetypes long about your freshmen year of high school (at least that's when I learned about them).  Well, one element of archetypal writing is the seasons: things are born in Spring, they grow and flourish in Summer, they change and grow old in Fall Autumn, and in Winter they die.  The cycle of life is played out in dozens of ways--the days growing darker, then lighter, the seasons changing, but changing according to your location on the globe, the disappearance and death of the animals and then their renewal later in the year.  And the way we base our lives on these changes.  Our time marked according to the movements of the earth and our rituals and traditions built around times of the year.  There is so much talk of us destroying what we've been given (and as crazy liberal, I agree with all of it), but I think this is one example of us finding a way to fit into the larger rhythm of things.

So as the season changes and I hear of friends in sweaters and the glorious resurrection of long dead rakes, I am thinking of the things that are changing and growing old, as things do in the autumn.  I am thinking of their death come winter's sudden cold snap, and what I will write about them, about their lives, and how they ended, and later how they were reborn, whatever form that may take.  This is the stuff of great writing, and I hope my pen (keyboard, again with the poetics) is up to the challenge.
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