Friday, January 22, 2010

A little glass-blowing

That was when we lived in that cottage perched at the crest of a steep hill on the grounds of a small defunct summer camp, when we were biding time.

Halfway down the hill a rope swing dangled from the branch of a shagbark hickory. Three knots studded the waxen surface—the first in just the right spot for feet, the second placed for the hands of children of middling height, the third for boys nearly men.

The way it worked best was this: You ran down the incline, grabbed hold just above your knot as you passed down then hoisted yourself up, slamming your soles against the bottom knot as you swung out, the arc carrying you high enough to see the bay glittering by on the far side of the house at the bottom of the hill. Gravity pulled you back just when it seemed you’d go flying over the rooftop, past the seawall, alongside the wooden dock.

But as you were soaring up, just before the Earth forced you to be human again, you believed—almost—that you could perform a swan dive into that diamond-paved water.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It’s taken me way too long to understand that, in order to have the stamina to write, I need to spend some part of my day moving. Which is why I’m grateful to my family for the gift of Wii, a device that makes “exercising” feel like play (another thing I’m beginning to understand is essential).

The details would be too boring to write about, much less read about, though I may decide to do just that the next time I need to stretch the writing a little. For now, however, it’s challenging enough to actually sit down to the assignments I’ve given myself. My body conspires against it, as does my mind. There are so many reasons to not write: laundry, a crossword to complete, some TV show, the swarf of everyday life. There are so many reasons to not write this specific thing: fear of exposure, fear of not getting it right, fear of not discovering the essential truth that will raise my memoir over the swamp of solipsism. Plus, who cares?

So many reasons not to write, and only one reason to write—I simply must.

Yet there are days when settling into the words is challenging and I must exercise that most flabby of muscles, my resolve.

My friend Jamie Cat Callan—whose books include the charming French Women Don’t Sleep Alone—developed a wonderful thing called The Writer’s Toolbox. It’s full of first line prompts, non sequesters and these cool little spinning wheels, all designed to help writers exercise the “write” side of their brains.

It makes me wish I were focusing on fiction right now. As I’m putting most of my energy into writing my memoir, I don’t have a lot of time left over for fiction but I’m warning you: it may happen and it may happen here. This is, after all, a thing I’m doing to help me get the words out—an exercise, much like the games I played with the Wii this morning.