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If Words Could Make Wishes Come True



My mother used to say I don’t have a magic wand. She said I don’t have a crystal ball. She said it is what it is. Who said life was fair? She said short girls should marry short boys. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.  Out of the frying pan into the fire. She also taught me what a simile is, what a metaphor is, insisted we look up every word we didn’t know, a battered dictionary always open on the kitchen counter.

What did your mom teach you?

I’d Give Anything to See You Again


images-5.jpgSome years ago, I went to a magic show at the Century Club. I have a phobia where audience participation is concerned, so magic shows are daunting as audience members are often asked to participate. To make matters more uncomfortable, we arrived late and had to sit in the front row. Everything was going well,  when the magician asked us to think of someone we had lost. I knew right away that it was a friend with whom I’d had a platonic love affair. I don’t know if the magician could see it on my face, but he called on me to come to the stage. Then he asked me to take the cover off of a box. Inside was an antique wooden box with a small drawer. He asked me open it. Inside was piece of paper with the name of my friend. The magician asked me say the name out loud, but I couldn’t summon the voice. I believed my friend was going to appear even knowing that I had destroyed what we had through abject selfishness. Did the curtain rustle just then? Did the temperature in the room drop? I would give anything to see you again.

Who did you love and lose?

I Saw the Movie and I Read the Book


love-story-rules-of-style-man-repeller-35-1272x716.jpgJust read the novel Normal People by Sally Rooney and watched the BBC series. There is a particular pleasure in watching a novel come to life on the screen. Most people say they prefer the book, but I almost always prefer the movie unless they really fuck it up. I’m probably biased because my first book/movie was Love Story. Ali McGraw should have won an Oscar for her voice and shiny hair.

Are you a movie or a book person? Any favorite adaptations?

Heaven Holds a Place for Those Who Pray


download-2.jpgI’m obsessed with office supplies. I’ve never met a binder I didn’t like. The snap of the three rings as they open and close. I am the proud owner of a heavy duty three hole punch. The satisfying feel of paper crunching. I could paper my walls with Post-Its. Mechanical pencils, push pins, index cards, paper clips. Toner! Highlighters! My kingdom for a tape dispenser.

What supplies do you lust for?

Now Old Friends are Acting Strange

download-1.jpgAll my life I’ve had intense friendships. Few if any were sustainable, but I dove in head first again and again. I wasn’t interested in anyone who wasn’t equally interested in drama, loyalty, betrayal, and forgiveness which was another way of saying goodbye. It was talk all night or not at all. It was sit at a cafe and never leave. It was a pack of cigarettes and then another. I don’t have a single drop left for all that. But I still wonder what it was: mania, fear, manufactured love, poetry, youth. I still wonder who I was.

What kind of friend are you?

Same as It Ever Was


images-4.jpgI’m attached to my routine. Always have been. On the fifth day of my honeymoon, my husband looked at me and astutely asked, “Do you miss your routine?” I also don’t like new places, new things, new foods, new experiences. I would rather read the same book twice than start another. I like seeing the same movie seven or eight times. If I get gas at the Mobil you’re not going to see me at Sunoco.

What about you?


You Were Only Waiting for this Moment to Arise



You know I’m a hater, but I’ve been crying a lot lately. Every time I see video of the nurses and doctors on the front lines. When I see people singing opera from balconies. The city erupting in applause at 7pm for all the people putting their lives on the line. The beauty and bravery, the resilience and strength. You know I hate looking on the bright side, silver linings, half-full glasses. Negativity and hopelessness is my default like Little Father Time in Jude the Obscure. Of course, I do much to convey a different persona: false enthusiasm, false encouragement, counterfeit generosity. A cellist saws away on her front stoop, a flash mob of Walmart workers materializes between rows of merchandise,  a conga line of nurses and doctors dance when a patient comes off a ventilator.

What makes you cry?

I Can Take All the Madness the World Has to Give

Lately, lots of off-the-wall submissions. Definitely feels like end of days. And as always they evoke a spectrum of feelings and reactions in me. First, self-pity. Why me? Why do I get these letters and why do I feel I have to answer. Next, annoyance. Can you not be bothered to do a a simple Google search and discover that I’m not interested in self-help, how-to, sci-fi, fantasy, new age and books on spirituality? Books on spirituality in particular enrage me. Then there’s the writing thing. Most people who get published work at their writing for YEARS. These query letters generally come from people who just turned on an Apple for the first time and believe that whatever comes out deserves to be published. Then there are the letters that say something flattering about my books, this blog, clients whose work they love. These letters touch me a little, but I also know the compliments are in the service of self-interest. When I do workshops, someone invariably asks whether pitch letters matter that much in the scheme of things. For me, they determine whether I will read the manuscript, so yeah they totally matter. They are like the bouncer outside of a club.

I’m happy to critique your pitch letters here if anyone wants to post. The more opinions the better.


Wanna Change My Clothes, My Hair, My Face


Most of my clients aren’t writing. The pandemic, the lock down, the news, finances, plans, health, relationships, the future. All these years I’ve listened to writers’ excuses for not getting writing done, for missed deadlines, , writer’s block, life.  But never anything like this. I know it’s really hard. Some people don’t have ten minutes of privacy, or a place to write, a walk to take, or a mask or a meal. But I also want to say that if you can muster the energy to write just a line or a two a day, please do it. You are writers. Shine your light.

How are you managing?

Don’t Give Up Until You Drink From the Silver Cup


Today the world disappeared with its terrifying pandemic, the sirens, cardboard coffins, and empty shelves of brown eggs. I was intoxicated by my own fumes, working on my own projects. The thing is you have to be a little selfish to be a writer. Scratch that: you are a little selfish to be a writer. Make that a lot selfish. You can put it all away. If you had your druthers, you would never need to appease or please anyone but yourself. The world exists because you wrote about it, motherfucker. 

Who are you trying to please?