Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I don’t have much use for the muse. I want to take credit for everything myself. I don’t mind if it’s a train of thought if I’m the station master. I don’t mind if it’s a thought bubble as long as I’m the one blowing into the soap. I understand the wish to account for the thing that plops into your head like a pebble someone else has thrown or the the thing that rises unbidden from the depths as if someone had slipped off the restraining ropes.

It does feel mysterious how ripples and consequences move out . But how my heart beats without me thinking about it might be the same, or the constant bellows of the lungs. Maybe there’s an autonomic nervous system for creativity, notebooks and landscapes and mourning and laptops as possible triggers.

Is the muse an excuse for loitering? I’m waiting for the muse and she hasn’t come. Maybe we can start blaming her for other lapses--I’m not feeling the gym (because the muse mislaid her leotard). That lousy muse--why can’t she take the dog for a walk?

Is the muse too fairy-godmother for me? But that would be a tangible transaction, noisy with birds in that Cinderella tree and the pesky, helpful mice.

Sometimes bacon is my muse or a weird article online or a word that comes into my head unbidden with all of its slippery typefacedness.  The stories my friends tell or old show tunes. The imagistic representative of a relative’s condition. Who invented ink--that guy or those papyrus makers in Egypt of old.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

10 Rules for Becoming a Writer

1. Be born into a family where a sibling also wants to become a writer. This will build in both sounding board and competition.
2. Spend a lot of your childhood indoors reading.
3. Have language be as sensual in your mouth as someone's finger or a piece of fruit or a honeycomb.
4. Ignore the well-meant advice from the poet who takes off his sandals during your personal manuscript consultation and remarks how some people find it valuable just to write for themselves. (Never think this is what your students want.)
5. Read everything more than once. Well, maybe not stop signs or billboards.
6. Weep sometimes (but in private).
7. Recognize your empty-head time as a valuable resource (swimming, vacuuming, driving to work).
8. Take notes.
9. Find a community or several. Form your own retreat or writing group. Belong to more than one group. Attend readings and buy local books.
10. Don't stop.