I’m excited to share that Punchels published one of my poems.
As a young writer, I thought writing would get easier with experience. Now, I don’t think it ever becomes easier, but it does become great.
In this month’s column of Good Behavior, I write about the best advice I have for new writers.
I promised myself I’d write another book this year, and April is my deadline to begin. I don’t feel like writing a book right now. I have four books waiting to rise from beneath my bed and break rays across an editor’s desk, but I didn’t feel like writing them either. That is, I didn’t feel like writing them until I was knee-deep in writing them… until I was chair-deep writing them… until I was balls-to-chair writing them. “Sorry about that; I’m getting in book-writing mode where all lackluster phrasings must die.)
What I’m saying is a dwarf star’s gravity has nothing on the inertial pull against finishing Chapter 1, but once I reach Chapter 2, I find that inertia works both ways.
I’ve 12 good reasons why I should put off my book until May. What I know: time keeps cruising by the minute hand, and in May I’ll likely have 14 good reasons to put my book off until June. My obstacles aren’t going anywhere until I sit and clickety-clack through the livelong day.
So what can we do to break the initial inertia? I’ve tried a few things. I set a ream of blank paper on a table, slapped the ream with a batter’s glove, and challenged it to a gentleman’s duel. To prepare for the duel — wet quills at dawn — I’ve been listening to Lose Yourself from the 8 Mile soundtrack, swaying to the bad boy beat in the dark. I’ve also tried bitter tea because you really have to cast a wide net when hunting muse.
Does all this work? Will pretending to be Marshal Mathers rapping for his life help me write a book? The reasoned answer is “Ask me a week into April, and I’ll tell you.” The writer’s answer: “Fuck yes, it works.”
Thank you everyone who’s keeping up with my column. Good Behavior’s latest installment went live today. Read it, and find out why this angel cries.
I wrote another constraint poem. A friend at a workshop provided the limitations. Must use a child’s POV, describe
the night sky, and never use an explicit color word. Describing the sky without using a color challenged me, but it taught me that good imagery relies on my readers’ imaginations, less on me telling them what to imagine. The Show not Tell rule strikes again.
Dad told me where stars
come from. When little boys free
fireflies from mayonnaise jars to make
embers beneath maple trees,
blinkers watch the stars through sleeping leaves.
What no one knows is
Stars ain’t stars. They’re fireflies that followed dreams.
The blinkers we watch,
while chickens rustle in their coops,
build courage to climb moonlight.
When two get ready, they blink goodbyes then light
rises, compass points in a blind sky.
When dawn balloons behind the quarry ridge,
when morning swells to noon,
after day deflates to night, search twilight,
Dad says. You’ll
know if two dreamers made it.
Poetry prompts usually work for me, but fiction prompts never do. That is until I found this site. Here, you’ll find a prompt or exercise for every day of the week. I use them as needed, when I’m long on time but short on inspiration. So far I’ve 2 successes from 3 attempts, with one of the successes slated for publication in April.
Give them a try, work your writer’s muscles, and let me know what you think.
Look, Mom, I’m a columnist! Easy Street Magazine offered me a spot on staff. My plan to rule the world by the time I’m 40 is in full swing. Check out my first column, Good Behavior, and I promise private islands for everyone when I’m king.