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It’s Based on a Novel by a Man Named Lear



Thanks for all the great suggestions. The clock is ticking down. Now I want to be really petty. Shocking, I know. Lately I’ve been getting what I consider to be specious fan letters. They are from people who claim to love my writing, love The Bridge Ladies, love love love. Then, because they love me so much and feel so connected to my writing, they want to share theirs with MOI. One person wrote, “I think you’d make a great agent for me.” Another said, “because I love your writing so much, I’m hoping that you will love mine.” I think it irritates me so much because I just want to be like other writers, not a writer-pimp, which is I guess what I am.

Does anyone else around here have an identity crisis when it comes to being “a writer?”

Yesterday Don’t Matter if It’s Gone



I’m going on vacation next week and the contemplation of what books to bring begins. I don’t use a Kindle or anything like that, so the selection of 4-5 books is a high wire act. There’s airplane reading, sitting in a London Park reading, reading on trains, in cafes, in bed. There’s the pull toward classics, the curiosity of the contemporary, the prize winners. I want to read Kay Redfield Jamison’s book on Lowell, but it’s a big boy. I’m also halfway through a couple of books, do I bring or leave them behind with their pouty faces?

Any recommendations?

Everything’s Going My Way



In a hotel, watching morning TV, waiting to give a book talk at a synagogue in Philadelphia. The thought pops into my mind: why am I alive, how many years have I been on Lithium, why can’t I remember the middle of the only poem I had committed to memory? Why is my dress tight? Why am I wearing a dress? Why isn’t my movie screening at the Tribeca Film Festival no matter that I don’t have a movie. Why do I always flood the bathroom?

HOw’s your morning going?

Something Inside Had Died and I Just Can’t Fake It



When you finish a piece of writing, I recommend: printing it out, reading it aloud, make notes with a pencil, input the changes, put the pages in the potato bin for ten days to two weeks. ┬áReread, delete 2-10,000 words, read a major Russian novel, ask a trusted reader for feedback (no first degree relatives or people you’re fucking). Ask another reader. Revise again, read out loud again, potato bin, writer’s workshop or retreat. Find a therapist.

What do you do when you finish something?

What Would You Do If I Sang Out of Tune?



What do people mean when they talk about voice? For me, the first book I ever read that screamed voice was Catcher in the Rye. Then I discovered the confessional poets whose voices I loved. Is voice only first person? Is voice quirky, inflected, blood-soaked, ironic, quixotic, besotted, divided?  Junot Diaz, David Sedaris. How does it suffuse third person or omniscient narrators. Through tone, detail, pacing, revelation.

Can you teach voice, develop it, find it?

Oh Simple Thing, Where Have You Gone?


sb01-firesecuritysafe-smallIn the last few weeks, more than one writer has mentioned that he or she is working on something “just for themselves,” “no pressure,” “a totally different genre,” etc. I get it. It’s the desire to write in obscurity, which is ironic since the desire to come out of obscurity is so overpowering before you get your work out there. It’s a desire to protect the creative process, to stop second guessing what the market, agents, editors think. When writing ceases to be fun and by fun I mean rewarding, you need to reboot. I still think that the person writing just for him or herself still hopes the work will be met with open arms. What am I saying? You can run but you can’t hide.

Where do you go to hide?


Thank You Disillusionment



Now that I’m officially not working on a writing project, I want to talk about how it feels. It feels fucking great. My skin is clear, my nails are manicured, I’m sleeping again. I don’t know how I ever wrote at all. It’s so hard. LOL. Seriously, if you told me I had to write another book right now I would start crying and never stop.

How the fuck do you do it?