Mojo Monday: I Came to Live Out Loud

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge you into writerhead.


Today, one of my two favorite quotes:

 

“If you ask me what I came to do this in this world,

I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”

~Emile Zola

 

Last week, the marvelous writer Tayari Jones (whose new novel Silver Sparrow is in bookstores now) wrote a blog entry at She Writes called “Your Life, Your Rules, Your Values, Your Success,” in which she tells the story about how she figured out how to have the literary life she wanted. (If you haven’t read it, get your buns over to She Writes and do so.)

Her post got me thinking about my own literary life. Which in turn got me thinking about my two favorite quotes. Which became my two favorite quotes not only because they remind me of who I am and what I want to be as a writer in this world, but because they speak so directly to my soul that every time I read them, I stand straighter, connect more deeply with my purpose, and celebrate an uncontrollable urge to holler things like “Boo ya!” and “Hot damn!” and “Kick ass!”

So, writers, go spend a few minutes connecting with my favorite quote (or your own). Give a couple of hearty “Boo ya!”s. And then as always:

Get thee to writerhead.

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Q4U Writers / Thinkers / Artists / Creators of Beautiful Things: What’s your favorite quote? The one that centers you, moves you into (or at least in the direction of) writerhead, reminds you of your artistic intention? The one that inspires you to yell “Boo ya!” on a crowded train?

 

 

 

Expat Sat: The Thing I Carried in Shanghai

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing and publishing to expat writers around the globe.


From March 2006 through October 2010, I never (well, rarely) left home without my handy-dandy Chinese/English dictionary tucked into my bag. While living in Shanghai, China, this small, bright yellow, inch-thick book was my lifeline…the oxygen mask I could crack open if I was lost, confused, looking for something, or just plain curious (and at a loss for words).

Yes, yes, yes, I studied Chinese for the first couple of years we lived in Shanghai, and yes, yes, yes, I could communicate pretty well. I could ask for a bottle of water in a restaurant, compliment the roses at the market, answer a cabbie’s inappropriate-in-the-U.S.-but-so-not-inappropriate-in-China questions about my husband’s job and salary, give directions to the subway, and more.

But still…this dictionary was my lifeline. And back here in the U.S. where I speak the common language, I feel kind of naked without it. Vulnerable. Incapable of accomplishing something that is important to my soul.

And if you think I should no longer have a need for this dictionary because I’m no longer living in China, think again. Just yesterday while we were out and about, my three-year-old stumped me by asking, “Mumma, how do you say stir in Chinese?”

Stir.

Dammit…I couldn’t remember how to say stir.

I don’t know what prompted this question—we weren’t in a kitchen or even talking about cooking—but I do know that when I instinctively reached into my bag for my dictionary, it wasn’t there.

Stir?” I asked, buying some time and racking my brain to pull up the Chinese equivalent of stir.

Stir,” Tully spouted.

Hhhmm.

Then I had a flash of brilliance.

I whipped out my iPhone and Googled it. (Thanks, Steve Jobs.)

Stir = 搅拌 jiăo bàn

Not quite the same as using my bright yellow dictionary but equally efficient.

_____

Q4U: Okay, expats / repats / global nomads / world travelers, what object do you carry in your host country that defines you in some significant way? Makes you comfy? Feel like you can’t live without?

 

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Erika Dreifus

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Please put your hands together for the marvelous Erika Dreifus whose short story collection Quiet Americans: Stories was released by Last Light Studio Books in January 2011. (The Kindle edition is now available as well.).

(pause for applause)

I’m not sure exactly when I first became “virtually” acquainted with Erika, but I know it was years ago while I was still living in Shanghai. Just last month, I was lucky enough to meet her in person at Grub Street’s MUSE 2011 writers’ conference in Boston. Erika is one of those writers who gives a lot back to the writing community (visit her web site and you’ll see), so I’m very happy to have the opportunity to highlight her work and her writerhead.

About Quiet Americans (from Erika’s website):

“A high-ranking Nazi’s wife and a Jewish doctor in prewar Berlin. A Jewish immigrant soldier and the German POWs he is assigned to supervise. A refugee returning to Europe for the first time just as terrorists massacre Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. A son of survivors and the family secrets modern technology may reveal. These are some of the characters and conflicts that emerge in Quiet Americans, in stories that reframe familiar questions about what is right and wrong, remembered and repressed, resolved and unending.”

Praise for Quiet Americans:

“Dreifus’s clear, direct style and her subject matter bring to mind the stories of Jhumpa Lahiri….Dreifus does an excellent job of taking the much-written-about subject of the Holocaust and presenting stories that add new complexities to the topic,” writes Rebecca Henderson for Englewood Review of Books (May 2011).

“The Quiet Beauty of Quiet Americans,” Creating Van Gogh: “Anyone with an interest in the Holocaust and how it led immigrants to this country needs to read this book. Anyone who simply wants to enjoy engaging, relevant, and thoughtful fiction by a subtle practitioner of the craft needs to read it even more.”

“Facing the Terror Inside Us,” The Jewish Journal: “So Dreifus does not confine herself to the kind of character studies and slice-of-life sketches that are the stock-in-trade of so many short-story writers. Rather, she cares deeply about history—her own family history and the larger history that we all inhabit—and that’s what makes her stories both engaging and consequential.”

First Line of the Short Story “For Services Rendered”

“His father and grandfather and great-grandfather had all practiced medicine in Berlin.”

_________

Now…for Erika’s writerhead:

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

In a way, this question makes me a bit sad, because it reminds me how much time has elapsed since I could rely on relatively frequent immersion in writerhead. One of the biggest challenges I have faced since shifting from teaching and freelancing to working in a full-time, M-F, 9-5 job is recreating and recapturing writerhead on anything near the basis I enjoyed—but did not fully appreciate—when my schedule was more flexible. These days, I seem to approach writerhead most closely on weekends, sometimes motivated by the perfect prompt, sometimes energized by an idea that occurs to me while on a walk or jog. Unfortunately, writerhead is much more elusive in the early morning before leaving for the office or in the evening after a long day there.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

Honestly, interruptions are not what I worry about these days. As I’ve suggested, it’s getting into that state of writerhead in the first place that’s my biggest challenge.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

Writerhead is a beautiful buzz, a substance-free elixir that makes me energetic, productive, and happy.

_________

Based in New York, Erika Dreifus is the author of Quiet Americans: Stories (Last Light Studio, 2011). She writes prose and poetry and serves as contributing editor for The Writer magazine and Fiction Writers Review. Erika also edits and publishes The Practicing Writer, a free (and popular) monthly e-newsletter for poets, fictionists, and writers of creative nonfiction.

You can connect with Erika on Facebook and Twitter (@erikadreifus). You can also check out her Machberet blog (matters of Jewish cultural interest).

_________

Q4U: Writers…anyone else struggling to find time to even get into writerhead? Share, share.

 

Mojo Monday: Who Are You?

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge you into writerhead.


This is me:

 

Who are you?

(Yep…I’m telling you to go draw a picture of you. Doodling makes all writers feel alive, creative, happy, unfettered, inspired, innovative–and  so on goes the list of positive adjectives. And yep, I realize it’s pretty brave of me to say “all writers _______,” but I’ve been working with writers for a long time and I guarantee this generalization is spot on. So put away the keyboard, grab a notebook and a pen, and go draw a picture of thy beautiful self.)

_____

Q4U: Felt good, huh?

 

Expat Sat: 2 More Good Writing Contests for World Writers

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing and publishing to expat writers around the globe.


Just had to share these two opportunities for writers:

Fine Tea Competition 2011

Description: Fine Tea articles may be on any poems, stories or artwork/photography featured in the history of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. To see the kind of analyses we have published, please visit http://finecha.wordpress.com. However, you do not need to conform to the existing styles. Surprise us.

How to Enter: Submissions should be sent to t[@]asiancha[dot]com with the subject line: “Fine Tea Competition 2011.” Each individual can enter up to three articles.

Prizes: First: £25.00, Second: £15.00, Third: £10.00, Highly Commended (up to 3): £5 each. Payable through Paypal.

Deadline: August 31, 2011 (Winners will be announced in late September 2011.)

Judges: Tammy Ho, Jeff Zroback, Jarno Jakonen, and Bob Bradshaw (regular tea tasters)

The Kicker: None that I can see…unless you’re a coffee-only writer.

The Upside: There is no entry fee.

Advice: Definitely read Cha: An Asian Literary Journal before submitting. (You also might want to drink some tea.)

For full terms and conditions, click here.

 

Hyphen Magazine’s Asian American Short Story Contest (Deadline Extended to June 3, 2011)

Description: Hyphen and The Asian American Writers’ Workshop proudly present the 2011 Asian American Short Story Contest. We’re teaming up again to put on this national, pan-Asian American writing competition–the only one of its kind.

How to Enter: The submission process has two easy steps, both of which must be completed by June 3, 2011 and accompanied by a $20 entry fee (June 3 postmark deadline).

  • First, register here and pay the $20 entry fee by buying one ticket. You will receive a registration email with a Transaction ID, so please double check that you are typing your email correctly.
  • Next, mail us TWO COPIES of your short story with the title, page numbers, and Transaction ID on the top right of every page. The story should not feature any other identifying information, such as your name, phone number, or email address. Submissions should be double-spaced and mailed to:

Asian American Short Story Contest

Hyphen

6023 Chabolyn Terrace

Oakland, CA 94618

Eligibility:

  • Open to all writers of Asian descent living in the United States and Canada. Previous employees, consultants, or volunteers of Hyphen or AAWW are not eligible.
  • Limited to unpublished short stories; no novellas or excerpts from novels. No required theme.
  • Up to 6,000 words in length.

Prizes: There will be two winners for the 4th annual Asian American Short Story Contest (1st place and 2nd place) along with eight other finalists. First place gets a $1,000 prize; cool prizes for all finalists and winners.

Deadline: June 3, 2011 (Entrants will be notified by or on November 1, 2011.)

Judges: Yiyun Li, who recently won a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship award, and Porochista Khakpour.

The Kicker: This contest is only open to writers living in the U.S. or Canada.

The Upside: The judges rock! Yiyun Li and Porochista Khakpour! Who wouldn’t grab the opportunity to get their writing in front of these two brilliant scribes?

Advice: Check out the winners of the previous three contests.

For full terms and conditions, click here.

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Therese Walsh

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Sshh…today we’re sneaking into the wildly creative noggin of author Therese Walsh to get a glimpse of her writerhead. In 2009, Therese’s debut novel The Last Will of Moira Leahy was published to much acclaim, and she’s hard at work on her next project (which is why we need to be very, very quiet). Therese is a gem—on the page and in person, as I recently learned when I met her at Grub Street’s 2011 MUSE conference in Boston.

Those of you who are writers will likely recognize Therese as a co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a treasure chest of information, story, and writerly know-how for writers of all genres. If you don’t know it, check it out.

But before you do, here’s what a few important industry folks had to say about The Last Will of Moira Leahy:

“Walsh’s debut is a magical, involving journey, one that mixes a compelling mystery from the past with a suspenseful search in the present.” ~ Booklist

“Walsh’s debut seamlessly weaves together past and present. This tender tale of sisterhood, self-discovery, and forgiveness will captivate fans of contemporary women’s fiction.” ~ Library Journal

“Therese Walsh’s strange, fascinating novel of psychological suspense is suffused with the supernatural. (It’s) an imaginative exploration of the bond between twins.” ~ The Boston Globe

First Line of Moira Leahy: “I lost my twin to a harsh November nine years ago.”

_________

So dig in. Enjoy. And see if you can relate to Therese’s “runaway muse.”

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

Truth is, I have a love-hate relationship with writerhead—when I’m eating, sleeping, and breathing the book—because it’s an absolutely exhausting time for me. First, it’s hard to get there. I can’t just turn on my computer and summon this state of being going in cold to a new work or when trying to reconnect with a work I’ve been away from for a while (and by a while I mean more than a few days). I have to entice it, like a dog run away from home—or in this case, a muse run away from home. I work away from my office at first because my muse is definitely not there, and try to entice her back with my version of a juicy steak (list of story questions or ideas) and favorite squeaky toy (crappy draft). Second, when my muse comes running back, it lands hard—like that runaway dog leaping all over you, glad to be back, slobbering, famished, and full of need. For me, this is a quick and sure drop into the world of writerhead.

Writerhead means I’m working far longer than eight hours a day. I’m working from the time I wake up and have my first cuppa tea until I realize I haven’t eaten breakfast somewhere around noon. I shove something in my face and keep going. Break again for dinner to connect with my family, and then work some more. Sometimes I shock myself with a 3k day when I’m in writerhead, and what’s even more surprising is that the quality of the work is often the best I produce. Because I’m really, really in it, the prose sings, it soars.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

Nothing interrupts a writer working at home more than the needs of children who are also at home. Pull something from a high shelf, make a favorite grilled cheese sandwich, play lifeguard at the pool, stop a sibling battle, build a tower out of colored blocks, comment on a pink-sky drawing. I remember one time when I was in writerhead and all of a sudden my son had a sore throat and fever. My kiddos and I piled into the car and went to the pediatrician’s office. As we sat waiting for the results of a strep test, something came to me—a plot fix, a snippet of dialogue—and I pulled a crayon out of my purse and wrote the idea on the white paper covering the exam table. I was in the process of tearing off that section of paper when the doctor returned to the room. Strep. Pharmacy. At least I heard that much, and had my kiddo on antibiotics within a few hours.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

When I’m in writerhead, I become a blind juggler in all other areas of my life. I try—believe me, I try—to juggle everything that needs to be juggled, but I’m handicapped and balls will be dropped. I may forget about something I said I’d do or need to be asked three times to do a simple task, and I may think I’ve written something on my calendar when I fact I haven’t at all. Mistakes like these can lead to chaos, which drives me crazy as I like to be on top of things and think of myself as a responsible adult. But it’s just how it is: When I’m in writerhead, I might look at you, smile, and nod when you’re speaking to me, but I probably can’t hear more than 20% of the words coming out of your mouth because the majority of my mind is focused on the needs of a character or what I have to fix or something I forgot to research. Thankfully my family life is rarely in a Critical-Need mode, but my daughter has been known to say to me, when I ask over dinner about homework or a test she took, “Um, Mom, you know I told you that when I first came home from school, don’t you?” Oops. Luckily, my family is filled with creative types. They get me, accept my writerhead-ness, and know I’m happiest when in the thick of its madness.

Now you know why I dread writerhead. I love it. I dread it. I love it. And why I give in to it.

_________

Therese Walsh’s debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Crown, Random House), was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009, was nominated for RWA’s RITA Award for Best First Book, and was a TARGET BREAKOUT BOOK. She co-founded Writer Unboxed, named one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer’s Digest for five years running, and recently named one of the top 10 sites for writers by Write to Done. She is also the founder and president of RWA-WF, the women’s fiction chapter of RWA. She’s currently hard at work on her second novel.

You can connect with Therese on Twitter (@ThereseWalsh) and Facebook.

_________

Q4U: Readers / Writers / Looky-Loos: Anything sound familiar? Does your muse have a tendency to head for the hills just when you need her/him the most? Are the folks in your household creative types who “get” your writerhead…or do you struggle to make yourself (and your need for writerhead space) understood?

 

Mojo Monday: Miss Clark, the Novelist, Visits Father Ted

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge you into writerhead.


Today, it’s time for a good laugh…

The novelist Miss Clark visits Father Ted on Craggy Island.

What more can I say?

 

Click this link to get to the YouTube clip.

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Expat Sat: 3 Good Writing Contests for World Writers

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing and publishing to expat writers around the globe.


Writing contests are great opportunities to get your writing out there. Here are 3 good ones:

Weekly Travel Writing Competition – The Telegraph (England)

Description: A weekly travel writing competition.

How to Enter: “Simply email your entry, of no more than 500 words (no attachments), to justback@telegraph.co.uk.” (There’s a postal address listed on the site if you want to use snail mail.)

Prizes: “Your travel writing could earn you £1,000. That’s the prize for our ‘Just Back’ article of the year. The weekly prize is £200 in the currency of your choice from the Post Office.”

Deadline: This is a weekly contest. The deadline is Wednesday for each week the competition runs.

Judges: The judging panel is made up of representatives of The Daily Telegraph Travel section.

The Kicker: You must be a resident “of the UK, Channel Islands Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland.”

The Upside: Less competition is great news for residents of the UK, Channel Islands Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland.

Advice: Read through a few of the previous winning entries before you submit your own. They are published at the site.

For full terms and conditions, click here.

 

The 2011 Pure Travel Writing Competition

Description: “Write and tell us about your most memorable travel encounter. Was it meeting a Sadhu in Kathmandu or a Masai in Tanzania? An annoying policeman or over-officious customs official?”

How to Enter: “Entries should be between 350-750 words in length and your own original work. Please give your article a title. Entries that are shorter or longer, or contain copied work will not be considered. Entries should be sent to: competition@puretravel.com, with your name, e-mail and telephone number by Monday 31st October 2011. All entries will be posted on the PureTravel web site.”

Prizes: “The winner will receive £1,000/US$1,500. Their winning article will also be published in ‘Geographical’ magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Geographical Society.”

Deadline: Monday, October 31, 2011

Judges: Ten articles will be selected by a panel. These pieces will be posted online and the contest will be open for public voting from November 9, 2011 until November 30, 2011. The three most popular pieces will then be judged by a professional travel writer (Jeremy Lazell). The winner will be announced on Friday, December 9, 2011.

The Kicker: Not really a kicker, but you should be aware that because this contest includes online voting, PureTravel does reserve the right to publish all entries on its site. You can request to have your entry removed from the site once the contest is over.

The Upside: This contest is open to anyone around the world. No geographical restrictions. Love that!

Advice: Read the Pure Travel blog before submitting.

For full terms and conditions, click here.

 

New Millennium Writings

Description: Four prizes of $1,000 each and publication in New Millennium Writings and on the journal’s Web site are given twice yearly for a poem, a short story, a short short story, and an essay that have not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000.

How to Enter: “Submit three poems totaling no more than five pages, a short short story of up to 1,000 words, or a story or essay of up to 6,000 words with a $17 entry fee by June 17.”

Prizes: “Four prizes of $1,000 each and publication in New Millennium Writings and on the journal’s Web site are given twice yearly.”

Deadline: Midnight of June 17, 2011

Judges: Pamela Uschuk, Allen Wier, and Don Williams

The Kicker: A $17 reading fee.

The Upside: This contest accepts pieces that have been previously published as long as they haven’t been published in a publication with a circulation over 5,000 or if previously published online only.

Advice: Past winning entries are published online at the New Millennium Writings website. Read a few.

For full terms and conditions, click here.

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Now…go forth and write! (And enter…)

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Wendy McClure

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


I’m a sucker for anything related to Laura Ingalls Wilder, so when I saw @halfpintingalls tweeting on Twitter while I was still living in Shanghai, I followed immediately.

Whoever had taken on the persona of Laura Ingalls Wilder was hilarious. She tweeted things like:

“Curling your bangs with a slate pencil works pretty well. Giving yourself a pedicure with a spinning wheel? Not so much.” (April 26, 2011)

“I’ve got the worst case of wagon butt and this sack of cornmeal I’m sitting on isn’t helping any. OW. #happytrails” (April 17, 2011)

“Today I’m going wireless! I’m going out in this blizzard without holding on to the clothesline!” (March 25, 2011)

Of course, back then I had no idea that @halfpintingalls was really Wendy McClure, an author and humorist on a mission to recapture her childhood via the Little House books (the series of books published way back in the 1930s and 1940s by Laura Ingalls Wilder).

Now I know. And today I am absolutely delighted—and as smug as Nellie Olsen after pulling a cheap trick—to introduce Wendy McClure, author of the recently published memoir The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Wilder Life in a Starred Review:

Obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books about an 1880s pioneer family, children’s book editor and memoirist McClure (I’m Not the New Me) attempts to recapture her childhood vision of “Laura World.” Her wacky quest includes hand-grinding wheat for bread, buying an authentic churn, and traveling to sites where the Ingalls family attempted to wrest a living from the prairie. Discovering that butter she churned herself was “just butter,” McClure admits she “felt like a genius and a complete idiot at the same time.” Viewing a one-room dugout the Ingallses occupied that was “smaller than a freight elevator” prompted McClure to admit that “the actual past and the Little House world had different properties.” [spoiler deleted] ….Readers don’t need to be Wilder fans to enjoy this funny and thoughtful guide to a romanticized version of the American expansion west. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

So please enjoy reading about Wendy’s writerhead. As I suspected, it’s as entertaining, off-beat, and humorous as the tweets by @halfpintingalls. Once you’ve read it, go on and order the book. If you’re a Laura fan, you’ll love it. If you’re a Mary fan, well, no worries…you’ll still love it.

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

Writerhead must be watered. Specifically, it needs a shower. In the morning I can creep out of bed and sit at my desk with my coffee and use the caffeine and quiet to gather a few thoughts together (the slow-moving thoughts that trail behind the herd—sometimes they’re important). But once writerhead’s groggy frost has thawed, it needs to be rinsed off. The scalp above it is itchy and dirty and unhappy. Sometimes I can take advantage of this discomfort and use the promise of a shower to coax out another line, another sentence. But writerhead begins to wither without water—it begins to feel like, well, just a head. It needs a blast of hot water to keep working, animate the thoughts, clear off the dead leaves.

Sometimes, of course, I’ll just shower first, but there’s something about starting the morning dry and then rewarding my early efforts with a commitment to clean up, get dressed, and get down to work. I can trick myself into doing some good writing in my pajamas, but only for an hour or so—after that, I need to get serious. I suppose linking writing to this most basic of routines, the morning shower, helps me weave it into the fabric of my day.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

Nothing happens at first. I get other things done—important things! I tell myself. But if the interruptions go on long enough, then writerhead gives me insomnia and I creep out of bed again and work in fitful bursts that aren’t quite as productive as my daytime writing but help feed the beast.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

Clearly writerhead is a hydroponic garden. It needs water, grows under artificial light, and you hope that other people will get high on the end product.

_________

Wendy McClure is an author, a columnist for BUST magazine, and a children’s book editor. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Chicago Sun-Times, and in a number of anthologies. She has an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her previous books include her 2005 memoir, I’m Not the New Me, and the 2006 humor book The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan. Her new book is The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie. She lives in Chicago with her fiancé, Chris, in a neighborhood near the river.

You can connect with Wendy at her website (http://www.wendymcclure.net), on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheWilderLife), and on Twitter at both @wendy_mc and @halfpintingalls.

_________

Readers / Writers / Looky-Loos: Okay…where are my Little House fans? Favorite book? Laura or Mary?

 

Mojo Monday: Mary Oliver Reads “Tom Dancer’s Gift of a Whitebark Pine Cone”

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge you into writerhead.


Today ( Sunday, May 8 ) I did something I haven’t done is sooooooooooo long. I walked in the woods. I sat on boulders, climbed over logs, ogled ferns and a beaver’s den, smelled the sweet breath of new growth on the forest floor, looked for bears (even though I know there aren’t any bears around here), studied the scat of a fox or a gopher or something other small mammal, and remembered how much I love being out in the woods.

Geesh-oh-pete, I love being out in the woods. And good-golly-miss-molly does it get me into writerhead.

Now, while I do the necessary tick check and get a few words down on paper, you watch the marvelous poet Mary Oliver read one of my favorite in-the-woods poems: “Tom Dancer’s Gift of a Whitebark Pine Cone.”

And when she gets to the line “that rough and holy body,” look up and give thanks that bears grace this earth.

Then get thee to thy passion.

 
__________