Authors Fair at Haverhill (Massachusetts) Public Library: Sat, August 16, 1-3pm: I’ll Be There

Near Haverhill, Massachusetts? If so, come on out this coming Saturday, August 16, from 1:00-3:00 for the Authors Fair! I’ll be there with THE ART OF FLOATING, along with many wonderful authors. Great fun ahead!

FLOATING in the Haverhill Library



Welcome 2012! Bring on the Water Dragon…

2012 is the Year of the Water Dragon, and according to experts in Chinese astrology, the dragon is the mostest special of the twelve zodiac signs because it is a mythical, not earthly, beast. As a mad supporter of all things mythical, I say, “Bring it on!”

To encourage the dragon and entice goodness to my table, I’m starting the year with a handful directives. (Last year, I did three words, but I’m feeling more energetic this year. Directives seem appropriate and necessary.) And because I spend so much wonderful time with words every day, I thought that instead of writing down my 2012 New Year’s directives, I’d present them to you via images. I’ll leave the interpretation up to you.

Here goes:

Happy New Year, friends!


Dragon Image: Kittisak /

Lotus Image: Sura Nualpradid /

Treehouse Image: anankkml /

Flowerhead Image: africa /

Woman with World Image: digitalart /

Misc Monday: Steve Jobs: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

I love this speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University’s 2005 commencement ceremony. When I have a moment of doubt about anything in life–writing or otherwise–I pop over to watch it. It buoys me. Revs me up. Clears the noise. Brings me back to center. Reminds me to listen to my smart, funny, creative inner voice.

Favorite quotes:

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

And my favorite favorite:

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”



Q4U: What brings you back to center in moments of doubt?

Misc Monday: I’d Go The Whole Wide World

Welcome to Misc Monday…the day of the week when I share something…something fun…something inspirational…something profound…something inventive, genius, soul-stirring, life-changing. Something.

I love the movie “Stranger Than Fiction.” A weird, innovative tale about many things: storytelling, taking risks, narration, being stuck, and more. But at the core, it’s about a taxman Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) who discovers something he really, truly wants…Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

My favorite scene is when Harold Crick sings “I’d Go the Whole Wide World” while strumming a guitar and Miss Pascal falls for him/on top of him/in love with him.

In that moment, there is a clarity of desire. Sure, there’s the physical desire unfolding…but it’s deeper than that. There’s a seeking and a finding of self in this moment.



Q4U: What do you want? What will you go the whole, wide world for? As a writer? A human?


Misc Monday: Toni Morrison Talks About Writerhead

In my mind, author Toni Morrison is a god. A deity. The supremest of supreme beings in the literary world. A supernatural super-power who I am absolutely sure soars to the moon powered by her own wings…soars to Jupiter…and back…at least twice a week…as often as I run to Market Basket for milk…just for fun. Just for the opportunity to view the world from a different perspective. A glowing divine spirit in whose presence we all should bow and bang foreheads against the floor…bang, bang, bang…thanking her for transforming each molecule of literary air into something magical.

So how excited was I to discover that like me, Toni Morrison thinks about writerhead. No, no, she doesn’t call it writerhead…though she might if I ever get the chance to bend her ear…but she gets it just the same.

Look what she says in an interview that ran in the Paris Review:

Recently I was talking to a writer who described something she did whenever she moved to her writing table. I don’t remember exactly what the gesture was—there is something on her desk that she touches before she hits the computer keyboard—but we began to talk about little rituals that one goes through before beginning to write. I, at first, thought I didn’t have a ritual, but then I remembered that I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it is still dark—it must be dark—and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come. And she said, Well, that’s a ritual. And I realized that for me this ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space that I can only call nonsecular . . . Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transition. It’s not being in the light, it’s being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.

You see? Listen again:

And I realized that for me this ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space that I can only call nonsecular . . . Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process.



Q4U: Which authors would you be most interested in knowing a little something about her/his writerhead?


Welcome to WRITERHEAD!

Whoop! Whoop!

If we’ve crossed paths either virtually or in real life, you may know that a number of years ago I coined the term writerhead to describe the state of mind/being writers are in at the purest moments of creation.

You know…those beautiful (sometimes excruciating) sh, sh, sh, ssssssshhhhhh, I’ve got to get this down moments when words are bubbling, popping, zinging, and swinging. The ones when the “real” world disappears behind a gauzy cloud (insert sucking sound here…sssppphhhhtttt) and the imaginative world takes on firmer lines and brighter hues.

Some writers call it the flow or the zone or the groove. Others refer to it as writerland. And if you eavesdrop on a gaggle of writers talking about it after a few margaritas, you might even hear it referred to as either nirvana or hell (maybe both).

I call it writerhead.

The marvelous, amazing, captivating thing about writerhead (besides its own inherent magic) is that each writer’s writerhead is unique. While one author might compare it to floating on clouds, another might compare it to being boiled alive in a vat of molten lava. While one might be apt to drift into writerhead only after midnight, another swears that writerhead only happens between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 in the afternoon.

For me, writerhead is most likely to occur at my desk very early in the morning (5:00ish) when it’s just me and the rising sun, but I’ve also slipped into writerhead in an airplane heading to Chicago; the Leopold Café in Mumbai, India; a temple in Chengdu, China; a mountaintop in New Mexico; and believe it or not, one particular swimming pool in Shanghai. (I’ll have more to say about my own writerhead—and more questions about yours—in future posts.)

I’m happy to say that while this blog is going to explore all things writerly, it will have a slight bias toward the celebration and exploration of writerhead. Join me on this journey, and together we shall plumb the depths.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Every Wednesday (Writerhead Wednesday) I’ll be featuring a very cool, brilliantly talented author/thinker who will answer three questions about her personal writerhead that allow us to crawl into her noggin & (ever so gently) muck about. So far, I’ve got an awesome lineup that includes Eugenia Kim (The Calligrapher’s Daughter), Alain de Botton (A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary), Emily Perkins (Novel About My Wife), and Alan Paul (Big in China). Many more to come…

  • Each Saturday (Expat Sat) is reserved for all you brave, beautiful, curious, writerly expats scattered around the globe. This feature is for Canadians in Germany, Peruvians in India, Americans in China, Columbians in Switzerland, and all other combinations of ________s in ________. All of you cultural spelunkers who’ve dropped anchor in a foreign land and are looking around saying, “Wow!” or “Whoa!” or “Cool!” or “Oh my god!” (or on certain days at certain intersections, “Holy *#@&^!”). Those of you with a story to tell and the urge to write it down.

  • Mondays are hereby dubbed Misc Mondays…on which I will post about anything that takes my fancy, including but not limited to: interesting stuff happening in the publishing world, cool apps for writers, links to writing conferences and contests, etc. I might even keep you updated on the situation with the insane birdseed-stealing squirrel in my backyard who told me to “Fill the *^%#&* feeder or else!” (then yelled “Winning!”) You never know what you’re going to get on Mondays.

  • And finally, I reserve the right to post good stuff on any other day of the week if the spirit moves me.

Thanks for stopping in to WRITERHEAD’s inaugural party! Please take a few minutes to browse the site and leave a comment.

If so moved, you can subscribe to the blog via email or RSS feed. (And expats, please check out the new online writing workshop I’m launching just for you. It’s going to be fun…and productive. The first session begins May 1.)



Image: Lavoview /