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Get Off of My Cloud



When you’re a writer you don’t get to have it all. You might even get less than everyone else. You have to sacrifice to be a writer. Time, socialization, daylight, sunshine, stability, reasonable goals, human embrace, recognition, hope, financial security, beach body, etc. What you do get: anxiety, therapy, skin diseases, self hair-cutting episodes, insomnia, carpal, weight gain, bleeding cuticles, poor dental care, etc. What is sacrifice, in terms of art? Everything? Nothing?

If you had it to do it all over?

I’m Standing Here Outside Your Door


I did something today I haven’t done in thirty years. I wrote a god damn poem. I had the first line about six months ago. And the rest showed up today, uninvited, unbidden, nearly unwelcome, I gave this up a long time ago. In fact, the day after I handed in my MFA thesis I stopped writing poetry. Completely. And I didn’t suffer.  Honestly, I miss smoking much more than I miss writing poetry.

What do you miss?

You Always Won Every Time You Placed a Bet

Can you game the system? Write something cynically, just for money, and make a killing? Do you read a bestselling genre novel and think, I could do that, the way some people thinks small children are every bit as gifted as Picasso? I meet a lot of people who believe this to be true, but I’ve never met one that made it work. I know it’s annoying to always hear about passion this and passion that because obviously it takes a shit ton more than passion, but I do believe nothing can succeed without it. And by success I mean cold hard cash, bestseller lists, profiles in the New Yorker, and most important getting so incredibly stoned off your own work, drunk with it, pregnant, mind on fire, the running of the bulls in your brain. That feeling of reaching for the high bar and finding it, if only momentarily, in reach.

What’s your best?


I Must Have Called a Thousand Times



How many times do you write, call, email, etc until you get a response? What’s the right amount of time to wait until you nudge an agent, an editor, the person with your life and livelihood in their hands? Are you a pest or pro-active? Too demanding or passive? If I write too soon, will I scare her off? If I wait too long, won’t I be forgotten. The worst is when you start bargaining: I’ll call if/when the moon is full, when the laundry’s done, after I walk the dog, tomorrow, the day after that.

Does the squeaky wheel get the grease?

There’s No Exception to the Rule



And here’s the thing about inspirational books. I don’t like them, I don’t get them, I don’t want to be a part of a vast conspiracy that wants to make people feel better, or special, or blessed. That everything, no matter what, is okay and that we’re all on a journey. What’s wrong with a dead end, anyway. With days of endless rain, and anxious thoughts. What’s wrong with constantly disappointing yourself and others.

What if the glass is empty?


Baby, You’re Everything I Ever Dreamed of


When do you decide to call it quits? A day, a month, a year, more? When do you realize the patient upon whom you are operating is dead? Bled out. You forgot to add: color, description, voice, tone, suspense, plot? Oregano? Paprika? What? What if you’re not a quitter? What if you never say die? What it this pile of pages is all you got? Can you trust that something new will come, with feathers and spit, that the guts of this will be the grease of that, that fat is only fat?

When do drop a project?

Yesterday Don’t Matter if It’s Gone


robin1.jpgI’ve been pleasure reading again. Yanked myself out of the TV room and curled up with a few books. I’m not hating on TV. I love to TV. I’d like to work in a writer’s room. I can binge on any series with the best of them. But when I read I just read. I don’t shop online and do email. I slow down. And I remember what I love about my job and books and all the million decisions that go into making them. I’m reading a book right now that has footnotes (it’s a memoir) and I wonder if the author and editor talked about that. For me, it’s a distraction. But the writer is also very precise and you can see the way her mind works. The gears.

Where do you stand on footnotes? Endnotes? No notes?