Talk to your inner chicken

Four writers sat around a table, commiserating.

“I write a lot about what I’m going to write. I have pages and pages of notes.”

“I have so many ideas… but I just can’t get started.”

“The story I end up writing is never as good as the one I imagined.”

“I get so antsy when I sit down—it’s impossible to concentrate.”

Believe it or not, these are all symptoms of writer’s block.

Before I began researching this affliction for a mini-workshop I was facilitating after the March meeting of the SF-Peninsula Branch of the CWC, I didn’t think I had ever suffered from writer’s block. My vision of a blocked writer was someone sweating in front of a blank page or screen, unable to write the first word. I never have that problem. But it turns out that, as with so many modern afflictions, the disease category is a lot bigger than we thought.

Please don’t stop reading if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, because the symptoms, causes, and potential cures apply to almost any creative endeavor.

Writers around a table

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Let you be the judge of you

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Once a year, award-winning and nationally recognized health and sexuality writer August McLaughlin invites bloggers to participate in her Beauty of a Woman BlogFest. This year’s, BlogFest VI, happens the week of March 6-11. Fittingly, International Women’s Day (March 8) falls right in the middle.

I don’t regularly write about women and beauty but I always welcome the opportunity to do so as part of August’s wonderful roundup. To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page between 9 a.m. today and 11 p.m. March 11th (PST).

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From You to all of us

Pity the poor Second Person. The name alone is enough to puncture its self-esteem. Second fiddle, second best, second rate.

No wonder this voice in literature gets no respect. Actually, it gets less than respect. It is reviled! “I won’t read anything written in second person.” “It’s fingernails on a blackboard to me.” “The writing was good but I couldn’t stand the POV.” So say ordinarily easygoing readers and critics.

But hey—it’s just a voice, like any other. And I think we can all agree that in these times we shouldn’t be in the business of shutting voices down. So let’s ask the much-maligned Second Person to speak, to give us a little insight into its utility. Then maybe the you-haters out there can open their minds enough to listen.

I’ll turn it over to You. But first, a word from our sponsor. (Note: Diaz”s reading is rated R for profanity and references to naked body parts.)

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In pursuit of unbounded possibility

EXT. – DINER – EARLY MORNING

The camera moves across a parking lot with big sky in the background and sunrise clouds, toward a diner with a plate glass window. Through the slightly misted window we see A MAN sitting alone at a table looking down into a steaming cup. A WAITRESS approaches with a plate in one hand and a pot of coffee in the other. She puts the plate on the table. We see her ask the man something. He shakes his head. She goes away and he continues sitting in the same position.

A diner in Albuquerque, NM. Courtesy of Google Maps.

A diner in Albuquerque, NM. Courtesy of Google Maps.

Who is the man? Why is he alone in the diner? How long has be been there? Is he waiting for someone? What did the waitress ask? And, perhaps most importantly, What happens next?

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Now to lighten the mood

With everything going on in the world these days, I recently felt the need for some light entertainment.

That’s when my publisher sent me a first proof of What Remains Unsaid. After I finished jumping up and down with excitementsince this means the book will be coming in 2017I spent the rest of a rainy weekend reading the copy on my Kindle.

I was shocked.

Had someone slipped my publisher a counterfeit version? Or perhaps someone was playing a cruel trick and had inserted random extra words in certain places, while dropping essential ones elsewhere.

Sadly, this was not the case. I alone was responsible for the errorsNot only had I typed things incorrectly, but I had missed them on all of the several supposedly careful read-throughs of the manuscript I did before handing it off.

Oops!

This is why you are never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, no matter how good you are at catching typos in other people’s work, allowed to proofread your own work.

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My top 12 for 2017

Everywhere you turn this time of year you find a top this-or-that list: books, movies, political disasters.

I wasn’t thinking about lists or the new year when I sat down a few days ago for my morning writing session. What emerged was a contemplation, in the form of a list, of why I pursue the solitary, frustrating, and often painful occupation of writing. It’s not the first time I’ve explored this topic.

In the spirit of end-of-year lists, I share my reasons here. There are twelve—perfect for matching up one with each month of the new year. Maybe some of them will feel familiar, whether you are a writer or not.

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Being vs. doing

I’ve never had a problem accomplishing things.

I am the conscientious one. The one who never pulled an all-nighter in college because my papers were always finished days before their due dates. The one who organizes huge projects by breaking them into small tasks and knocking off each one until the big job is done.

Lately, though, I’ve felt that the driver of my life, my doing self, has turned into something of a monster. Instead of helping me feel competent and in control, she has turned me into her slave. Partly it’s because I have collected careers the way some people collect hats—marketing consultant, writer, editor, birth doula, not to mention my several volunteer gigs and being a spouse and parent. My life sometimes feels like nothing more than carefully sequenced blocks of time in my Google calendar.

calendar

To be fair, the pink blocks are my kids’ school schedules…

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