2013: From Gaaaaaahhhh! to Gaga

Welby ? India ? Tin Treasures ? Friction Bump n Go ? Spaceship ? Commander Ship ? BowWelcome to 2013, writers, creators, storytellers, artists, and visionaries around the world!

We’re about 10 12 hours into the New Year. I woke not having a clue if I would blog this morning. Sure, in the past, I’ve always had something astoundingly brilliant and profound to share with you at the new year. Like in 2011, I shared my three non-resolutionary words. And in 2010, I visited and wrote about the Longhua Temple in Shanghai.

But this morning, feeling uninspired, I poked around the Internet for inspiration.

Maybe I’ll make a list of things I learned in 2012, like the Communicatrix, I thought. She’s cool. Always cool. Hip. Always hip. Bald. Not always bald, but bald by choice in 2012.

Or…maybe I’ll create a kickass Pinterest page for my vision for 2013 like my brilliant friend, colleague, and sister global-nicher Tara Agacayak, I thought.

Or…maybe I’ll create a gorgeous, expressive image that represents all I do and believe in like the oh-so-talented Catherine Bayar in Turkey (check this out).

Or maybe…

Or maybe…

Rackham_fairy_ring_WikimediaThen I popped over to Now Write! where I read Dinty Moore’s post called “Writing and Creativity as a Peculiar Crossroads” (read it here). It’s lovely and it sang to me. This idea of the “smidgen of enlightenment” and the ongoing search for it…in writing and life.

It sang to me because for months—for all of 2012, really—I knew I was at a major crossroads—though often I’ve felt this crossroads is more like a fairy ring in Ireland which is lovely & magical, but from which there is no exit…see photo to right. (You can hear Christy Moore sing about a fairy ring here.)

It’s not any kind of unusual crossroads. Millions and trillions and gazillions of you are probably right there with me, trying like hell to solve the mystery of how to be a mom, writer, cultural spelunker, world citizen, and teacher at the same friggin’ time.

Sometimes I find that smidgen of enlightenment, and other times, I just want to yell,


Suggestions for the title are received with thanks

So I’m officially dubbing 2013 as my year to do less “Gaaaaaahhhhhhhhh”ing and to better synthesize all that I love, believe in, and am passionate about—as a writer, a mumma, a cultural spelunker, a global-nicher, a teacher, and a human. Like Lady Gaga. Because no matter how you feel about her less-than-usual appearance and approach to things, she’s pretty damn good at synthesis.


Cheers, my friends! Here’s to a creative, synthesized 2013! See you here at Writerhead and #38Write!

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Dinty Moore

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks 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.

Now ssshhhh, don’t y’all start raising a ruckus just because Dinty Moore (yes, THE Dinty Moore!!!) is here at Writerhead. Yes, it’s true, he’s…

But despite all that, you still can’t venture into Dinty’s writerhead whooping and hollering like a gaggle of writers and readers gone wild (see Dinty’s answer to question #2 below). This kind of hallowed ground deserves a little respect and consideration.

So if you’re ready to show a little of each, we’ll proceed.

As Dinty says, “Breathe deeply, friends.”

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

Writerhead is when the writing is talking back to me and I have to listen. I have to listen even more than I have to listen to my wife Renita when she asks if I want cereal or yogurt for breakfast and whether I want it now or want it left for me on the kitchen counter. (Yeah, I know, I’m lucky that way.) Back when I primarily wrote fiction, it was the characters talking back to me, suggesting what might happen next, or what they might say. Those were golden moments. Now that I’m primarily always in nonfiction mode, it is the ideas talking back to me, suggesting ramifications or reversals, and sometimes it feels like it is me talking back to me, the crotchety old man in one corner of my brain (me) arguing with the optimist (also me) in another corner and both shushing me (also me) up so I can hear what they have to say, because in their view (which is also my view) what they have to say is more important than anything I was going to come up with on my own.

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.)

I ignore phone calls, dog barks, lightning storms, and all lesser stimuli, but someone in my office doorway asking me a direct question is hard to overlook. The first thing that happens is that I wave my arms in front of my face as if I had been attacked by gnats. I am startled, surprised to find a keyboard and a computer screen in front of me, and flabbergasted at the sound of an actual voice, instead of those voices emanating from the musty back alleys of my inner consciousness. And then I either splutter, “Wait, wait, one minute until I get this down,” or I look so startled that my spouse backs off and calls her best friend and gossips about what a freak I am. (Actually, that’s a lie. She has great regard for the artistic process.) When my daughter was little and I would stagger out of my office mid-morning looking like I had been on an all-night whiskey binge, my wife would calmly explain that, “Daddy is in story land. He’ll be okay after he showers.”

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

Writerhead is like an endorphin high from exercise, without the aching leg muscles, or a marijuana high, without the paranoia, guilt, shame, and dirty ashtrays. Writerhead is like getting up out of your chair, crawling into your own ear, and wandering around inside of your own brain for two or twenty minutes, and the whole time you are also sitting in that chair, typing notes on what you’ve found.

BIO: Dinty W. Moore is author of numerous books, including The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life, Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction, and the memoir Between Panic & Desire, winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize. He recently edited THE ROSE METAL PRESS FIELD GUIDE TO WRITING FLASH NONFICTION: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors, and Teachers.

Having failed as a zookeeper, modern dancer, Greenwich Village waiter, filmmaker, and wire service journalist, he now writes essays and stories. He has been published in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse, among numerous other venues.

Dinty lives in Athens, Ohio, the funkadelicious, hillbilly-hippie Appalachian epicenter of the locally-grown, locally-consumed, goats-are-for-cheese, paw-paws-are-for-eatin’, artisanal-salsa, our-farmers-market-rocks-the-hills sub-culture, where he grows his own heirloom tomatoes and edible dandelions, and teaches a crop of brilliant undergraduate and stunningly talented graduate students as director of Ohio University’s BA, MA, and PhD in Creative Writing program.

CONNECT: To find out more about Dinty, visit his website. He is also the editor of one of my favorite online literary magazines, Brevity, “a small magazine with large ambitions.” You can also give him a high-five on Twitter (@brevitymag).


Mojo Monday: Lady Gaga Prefers to Remember in an Artistic Way

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 (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.

I think a lot about how writers’ heads work (duh…writerhead) so it was impossible for me not to steal this video from the blog at Brevity magazine. It’s just too “writerheadish” not to feature here. So thanks, Dinty Moore, for bringing it to my attention! And thanks, Lady Gaga!

Writers, how do you remember?