Mojo Monday: Dr. Seuss and a Letter Called “Yuzz”

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.


“My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. It’s the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz. You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond ‘Z’ and start poking around!”~Dr. Seuss

Happy (belated) Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

(And to all you writers reading this, go beyond “Z” today. Start poking around.)

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Jessica Keener

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.


Ssshhhh!

Today we’re stepping into the writerhead of luminous author Jessica Keener, whose novel Night Swim has stirred readers/writers/critics everywhere into a delightful tizzy.

Now it is a little dark in here so turn on your flashlights. And remember, do not take any unmarked paths or make any sudden movements. The results could be disastrous.

All right…let’s go.

 

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

Early morning is my best time for entering writerhead. First thing after coffee at my desk, and sometimes from my couch writing longhand, it’s easy to slip into that particular weightlessness that is writerhead. My body releases gravity and rises or drifts to a place that is no place. It’s also soundproof from external noises around me. Or, if I hear those outside noises, they soon grow distant and meaningless. In writerhead, I float down pathways of time and no time, visiting memories, thoughts, and feelings. I float and dip, hover and circle through colors, lights, smells, shapes, voices, images, conversations. There is no direction and all direction. In writerhead, my internal satellite opens wide to the universe—my psychic ear listening far and close for story waves, phrases of narratives, wafts of dialogue all of which funnel through my body, down my arm and fingers onto the computer screen or page.

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.)

If someone interrupts me, at first I might try to talk to them while staying in writerhead. This kind of talking is almost hypnotic. When it becomes apparent to the other person that I’m not truly listening to them or answering sensibly, the resulting internal/external dissonance yanks me out of my trance. It’s like pulling myself out of taffy. At that point, unfortunately, I tend to snap and bark at the interrupting person—what do you want? What? I’m writing! My head feels shaken. I feel disoriented and displaced. I am not kind. I behave badly.

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

In writerhead, I become an invisible capsule gliding across plains of time and space; pausing at will to witness and experience the most intimate emotions and thoughts between lovers, friends, families, and strangers.

BIO: Jessica Keener’s fiction has been listed in The Pushcart Prize under “Outstanding Writers.” Her stories and novel excerpts have appeared in numerous literary magazines and online, most recently: Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Night Train, The Nervous Breakdown, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Huffington Post. Writing awards include: a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Grant Program and second prize in Redbook magazine’s fiction contest. For more than a dozen years she has been a features writer for The Boston Globe, Design New England, O, the Oprah magazine and other national magazines. She reads fiction for the award-winning Agni magazine.

If you’re intrigued by Jessica and Night Swim—and how could you not be?—shimmy on over to her web site. Say hello. Buy a copy her novel. Send messages of faith and devotion. Or give her a thumbs-up at these writerly watering holes: Twitter (@JessicaKeener4) and Facebook.

Mojo Monday: Against Censorship

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.


Free speech matters to me (watch to the end)…

 

Expat Sat: Submission Opportunity at Painted Bride Quarterly: Displacement

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


I love sharing a great writing opportunity for expat writers around the globe, and this one is perfect for you!

The theme of upcoming Issue #85 of the fabulous literary magazine Painted Bride Quarterly is (drum roll, please)…

DISPLACEMENT

Hello?

Could this theme be more perfect for you, the intrepid expat?

It could not.

So get busy. Get writing. Get thee to writerhead.

When you’re ready, submit.

(And yep, they accept fiction, essays, and poetry.)

_____

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Pause for Station Identification

Usually on Wednesdays, this: 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.

But today, a bit of self-promotion instead.

A short story of mine (“Cherries Jubilee”) has just been published in the über-cool BIG LOVE BITES edition of HYPERTEXTMAG.com.

So whatcha doing lollygagging around here?

Scooch on over to HYPERTEXT. (Loads of great writing there…you could be reading all day.)

Read!

 

_____

Image: kibsri / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mojo Monday: Failure…Bah!

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 have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

~ Thomas Edison

(Thomas Edison & his early phonograph, circa 1877)

Mojo Monday: Don’t Be Afraid to Go Against Your Nature

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.


Meet Rabbit.

Meet Rabbit who believes she is a sheepdog.

Meet Rabbit who commands these sheep with a deft ear.

Meet Rabbit who defies her nature and excels.

Meet Rabbit. Sheepdog of all sheepdogs.

Watch.

Fear not!

Go forth!

Defy thy nature!

Herd them sheep!

_____

Image: artemisphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Expat Sat: Writing Prompt: There’s Nothing To Write About??!!

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


Earlier this week a writer said to me, “But there’s nothing to write about.”

NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT!!!!!!

Holy crap-a-majoli! Nothing to write about? Nothing to write about?

(short pause, while I sit down and breathe)

FOR PENELOPE’S SAKE, NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT???

To help this writer and any others who have come to this desperate state, here’s a writing prompt to prove that no matter who or where you are, THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT!

Now…get to work.

STEP 1: Go outside and hunker down on a corner. (Yes, I know “corner” will mean something different to each of you. If you’re in a cabin in the woods, go to a bend in a path or a river or a creek. If you’re in Mumbai, go to a nearby intersection. You know what I mean…)

STEP 2: Wait for something to happen. (drums fingers on knee)

STEP 3: While you wait, see what takes your attention. (Who’s pulling their gutchies out of their crack? Who’s smooching on the corner? What is that smell?! Have you ever, ever seen that shade of green before? How would you describe that old woman’s limp? And so on…)

STEP 4: When something happens (AND IT WILL!), go somewhere and write. Get it all down. The whole hot sticky spilling-over-the-sides mess of it.

STEP 5: When you’re done, post a few lines of your piece in the Comments section below. I want to see what’s happening around the world.

_____

P.S. I know, I know, a few weeks ago I made a big promise. I sent out a “Save the Date” for today. Ugh! My apologies for postponing. But stay tuned. It’s a’coming.

___

Image: sakhorn38 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Writerhead Wednesday: Andrea Barrett in Writerhead

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.


A few months ago while teaching a personal essay writing workshop, I happened upon an essay called “The Sea of Information”* by Andrea Barrett in which she documents her ascent (descent?) into writerhead. She’s looking through a handbook called What You Should Know About TUBERCULOSIS that was passed out to high school students in New York City between 1910 and 1920. The handbook is full of photographs of children deformed by tuberculosis and young people “taking the cure,” a drawing of a Tuberculosis Tree, a map marking the cases of tuberculosis in a particular New York neighborhood, and condescending passages that describe tuberculosis as a “disease of the poor–of those on or below the poverty line.”

The tuberculosis handbook goes on to say: “We must further realize that there are two sorts of poor people–not only those financially handicapped and so unable to control their environment, but those who are mentally and morally poor, and lack intelligence, will power, and self-control….”

After describing the handbook in detail, Andrea Barrett shares the way her experience with this handbook prods her into writerhead. (No, she doesn’t call it writerhead, but that’s what it is.) Listen…

“The sound of that language–the officious, pushy, condescending sound of that–along with the eerie photographs and the remarkable drawing of the Tuberculosis Tree, made me want to write a novel. The feeling was as sudden, as intense, and as irrational as falling in love.”

And there she was. In writerhead. A feeling that was “as sudden, as intense, and as irrational as falling in love.”

Love it.

_____

* “The Sea of Information” (which I read in The Best American Essays 2005, p. 10) was originally published in The Kenyon Review (Summer 2004).

Image: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mojo Monday: The Big Secret in Life (Writing)

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.


Oprah puts it like this: “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”

Here’s my take: “The big secret in writing is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you work your arse off.”

And it’s true. You can.

Sure, in the “working” period there’s little recognition, few pats on the back, zero minutes of fame, moments of self-doubt, zero minutes in the limelight, etc.

And yes, the working period can (and most likely will) go on for a long time. Weeks, months, years, decades.

And all of that can feel like crap once in a while.

But (and here’s the hard part), too bad.

If you want it (you know, the big IT), you must do the work.

So go…work your arse off this week. Let nothing deter you.

_____

Image: ntwowe / FreeDigitalPhotos.net