Writerhead Wednesday: Um, Yes, Summer Hiatus!!!!

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.


Yuuuuuuupppppppppp! Still on summer hiatus! Eating ice cream, swimming in ponds, picking ticks off my pup, wiping tears when lime Popsicles fall to the ground and trying to instill the lesson of detachment, and all the other wonderful things that summer brings.

But keep the faith! Writerhead Wednesday will back with gusto! And we’ll be sneaking into the writerheads of some amazing authors, like Erika Robuck, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Kate Burak, Marcia Aldrich, Lynda Rutledge, and, oh, many, many more!

See ya soon!

Writerhead Wednesday: OMG, It’s STILL on Summer Hiatus

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.


Yes, yes, it’s true! As I told you last week and the week before, Writerhead Wednesday is on summer hiatus. It hurts not to have that weekly boost of creative juice, I know, but it will be back. Promise! And ooh, it’s going to be good!

In the meantime, pop on over to my WRITERHEAD board on Pinterest. It’s kinda fun, if I do say so myself.

Happy summering! Happy writerhead!

Writerhead Wednesday: Continued Summer Hiatus, But…

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.


As I mentioned last week, Writerhead Wednesday is officially on summer hiatus and will return in even greater glory in a few short weeks. In the meantime, if you’re hankering for a writerhead fix, check out some of the many spectacular past interviews, like the one with Keith Cronin (ME AGAIN) or perhaps Lydia Netzer (SHINE SHINE SHINE). Or maybe you missed the interview with Jefferson Bass (THE INQUISITOR’S KEY). Or—say it isn’t so—you might have missed the writerhead interview with the oh-so-eloquent nonfiction-writing Ned Stuckey-French (THE AMERICAN ESSAY IN THE AMERICAN CENTURY) or his equally eloquent fiction-writing wife Elizabeth Stuckey-French (THE REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE LADY).

And there are so many more.

Happy writerhead! See you soon!

Writerhead Wednesday: Happy Summer Hiatus

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.


Writerhead Wednesday is officially on summer hiatus. I promise, this feature will resume in a few weeks, but in the meantime, enjoy your own writerhead. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, bask in the buttery warmth of summer; if you’re in the southern hemisphere where it’s cold and blustery right now, I’m sorry for you.

Just kidding.

If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you can hunker down in writerhead just as easily as those of us who are warm and buttery. Probably much more easily, since you’re not being lured outside by lightning bugs and barbecues and sandy beaches.

So go, beautiful writers. Be in writerhead. Write.

And in the meantime, if you need a little inspiration, a writerhead fix, head over to the Writerhead Wednesday archives; there’s something there for everyone.

See you soon!

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Lydia Netzer

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.


Here’s what I want to say about Lydia Netzer‘s debut novel Shine Shine Shine: It’s special. It’s one of those soul-changing, DNA-altering, oh-my-god-I-see-the-world-differently-since-reading-this-book kind of books. Lydia and Shine Shine Shine came to my attention via Sarah Reed Callender, and I’m forever grateful. (Thank you, Sarah!)

You know that quote by Franz Kafka? The one that goes like this: “A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” Well, Shine Shine Shine is an ice-axe that broke the sea frozen inside my soul.

Crack! Crash! Smash! Damn the frozen f’ing sea!

You should read Shine Shine Shine. As soon as possible. But first, read about Lydia’s writerhead. It’s as cool as the book.

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

Writerhead can happen anywhere: on my back porch, in my office, on someone’s mountain cabin’s kitchen island, as long as there is a computer there, and a rectangular screen where I can look at the words coming up. Place doesn’t matter much, but there are very specific rituals and routines that can be used to invoke writerhead, and draw the words out of the brain. Here are a few of mine:

A. Music

I like to put a song on endless, endless repeat until it melts away into nothing but a feeling. Often I endlessly repeat a song my iPod calls Luilak / Fiere Pinkster Bloem (http://www.amazon.com/Luilak-Fiere-Pinkster-Bloem/dp/B005EU16B8). I have no idea what language it’s in or what the words mean but I think it might be Bulgadavian and the song is probably about sheep or political oppression. The words sound like this:

Lilac, sometimes a brick,

Hatches up a lilac tit

Hatches up a lilac tit

And a brick, and a block, and a very bad block,

Is a head that wants to be softened!

Dogs have thumbs so lie like a dog

In a head that’s spun so often!

Okay, in the interest of accuracy, I just Googled Luilak and came up with this image (http://www.50plusser.nl/forum/userpix/50570_luilak_2012_tndt_copy_1.jpg) of Wilma Flintstone hovering over three kids in a bed, while Ringo Starr sweeps the floor and agitates a tiny man with no pants pooping into a case of Dr. Pepper and waving a white flag at Mrs. Garrett who is smoking a gigantic purple doobie. So you can see that I really do prefer a song with lyrics that are intensely relevant to my themes.

I also do well with Spicy McHaggis by The Dropkick Murphys, the Brahms violin concerto, Imogen Heap, and other obscure Bulgadavian folk music.

B. Clothing

Clothing can be crucial in drawing out writerhead—the wrong pants and you’re stumbling uphill, the right pants and you’re like a solar flare on the keyboard. I have these terrible brown cargo shorts with a very unattractive rip in the rear, a pilly black tank top and a chewed-on athletic hoodie: these are the best garments for engaging writerhead. Other cargo pants can be substituted but they must be a bilious green or noxious brown, other tank tops will suffice but they must be black, and as for replacing the hoodie, well I’m not sure I even want to speak those words aloud. If I whisper I can tell you that a replacement has been attempted, in the interest in not looking like a flipping lunatic in public, but the attempt was abandoned.

 C. Odors

When I pack for a writing retreat, I need certain smells: Crabtree & Evelyn “West Indian Lime,” Viktor & Rolf “Flowerbomb,” Thierry Mugler “Angel.” Also Vick’s Vapor Rub, grapefruit shampoo, and rosemary. When I was writing Shine Shine Shine, the smell of lavender evoked the character Emma for me, and bergamot helped me think about Sunny and Maxon’s burgeoning love affair. Some smells turn my brain off: stuff that’s too floral or bready or nice and virtuous like Ivory soap or lemons. Limes are for writing dark, interesting novels. Lemons are for washing dishes and being really cheerful. This is the difference between limes and lemons.

I think I may be exposing myself as a superstitious nutjob.

When I was 20, I wrote with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of red wine in the other, and I used my irresponsible whims to do the typing while my reckless disregard for health and virtue was popping the pill bottle. So this is better. Nutjob perhaps, but now that I have children and a pot rack I need to replace the martini glass with something that looks better in church. Like a ripped up hoodie that smells like eucalyptus.

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.)

The children do interrupt. And it always makes me feel like a terrible person. I remember one night, I was sitting in my office in the dark, writing a particularly horrible scene where someone died or was killed or killed themselves or something. My daughter opened the door, and stood there framed in the light: two years old and sweet and innocent as the dawn. “Mommy,” she said. I looked at what I had been writing, and looked at her, and as she crawled into my lap, I wanted to turn myself in as an unfit mother, and have my child re-homed with someone who lives on a farm and writes about the antics of goats or about how kindness is really nice.

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/lostcheerio/3593128093/in/set-72157615890062020/)This is why I can’t write sex scenes with my children in the same geographical region. All the sex scenes in Shine Shine Shine (there are four—would you like page numbers?) were written at the aforementioned mountain cabin, 600 miles away from my children. At home, I would always just allow the curtains to sweetly close. It took a full 24 hours of absolute separation to get me into a space where I could even get to PG-13.

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

Writerhead is like beating through walls with a sledgehammer. It’s not some easy bliss on the other side, that you have to beat through walls to get to—it is the beating and it is the walls.

When something’s not working, that’s hitting at the wall and your mallet is accidentally rubber, or the wall is actually granite, and it just makes a dull, thumping sound, and doesn’t even ricochet, just thuds.

Writerhead is when the walls get big, dark cracks in them and then your mallet turns to steel and with a whooshing sound the walls break open and you’re smashing through, climbing through, finding another wall, crashing through that, and on. It’s paragraph after paragraph of going somewhere, changing the landscape, opening up new air pockets, consuming those and opening more. And when you’re done, it’s a complete mess (that’s what edits are for!) but you’re standing in a new place, a place you couldn’t see from where you started. When I started writing Shine Shine Shine, I did not know where it was going. I don’t even remember, from where I ended up, what I thought was on the other side of that first wall. That’s what writing books is for me: trying to see what’s on the other side, hammer in my hand, smashing for all I’m worth.

BIO: Bio: Lydia Netzer lives in Virginia with her two homeschooled children and her math-making husband. She plays in a rock band, pulls weeds, and is afraid of bears. Her first novel—Shine Shine Shine—will be published by St. Martin’s Press on July 17, 2012.

If you want to connect with Lydia—and I’m quite sure you will; how could you not?—become her friend on Facebook, Tweet her on Twitter (@lostcheerio), visit her website, or read the first 50 pages of Shine Shine Shine for free here.

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Nichole Bernier

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.


Today I’m delighted to welcome Nichole Bernier to Writerhead. She’s the author of the new novel The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D (you know, the one that’s getting all that wonderful buzz right now).

Having Nichole here is pretty special. I’ve “known” her virtually for years; we met on Twitter while I was still living in China. And I’ve been looking forward to sharing her book and her talent ever since learning that her novel was going to be published.

So please rise and give a big round of applause for Nichole. Then lean in close, listen up, and hear what she’s got to say about her writerhead. (And then, yep, go buy her book!)

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

For me the writerly mindset is the need to take a brace of thoughts and translate them into words, give them the structure of words. It happens anywhere, usually when I’m watching other people, and am tremendously moved to be witnessing a moment—some isolated episode of human connection or more often, human passing-in-the-night. But it doesn’t become a thing until I put it into words. That’s the way thoughts and ideas become real to me. It’s trying to force steam back into water.

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.)

When I began writing my novel I had three children, and had never written fiction before. So I expect to be interrupted. It’s fantastic when I’m in an environment where I can open things up for hours, but that’s not the norm. What’s critical then is the way I lay breadcrumbs to find my way back, whenever that will be. If I’m in the middle of writing, I’ll scribble a fragmented sentence with bits of emotion or action or adjectives or dialogue. If I’m at an appointment it might be a scribble on the backside of paper, or if it’s in the middle of the night, there’s a pad in the nightstand drawer. On the soccer sidelines I’m known for taking a lot of pictures with my cellphone; it’s because I’ve become really good at holding it up for mock-shots and texting myself notes.

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

There was once a tv show or movie—something slapstick—where the main character would find himself temporarily in the middle of frozen time, though he was still free to move about the cabin. Everyone and everything was stock-still while he tiptoed around doing whatever he liked, taking sodas out of people’s hands, knocking the baseball caps off their heads, etc. For me it feels like that.

BIO: Nichole Bernier is author of the novel The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D, and has written for magazines including Elle, Self, Health, and Men’s Journal. A Contributing Editor for Conde Nast Traveler for 14 years, she was previously on staff as the magazine’s golf and ski editor, columnist, and television spokesperson. She received her master’s degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and is one of the founders of the literary blog Beyond the Margins. Nichole lives west of Boston with her husband and five children. She can be found through her website and on Twitter (@nicholebernier).

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Dawn Tripp

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.


Earlier this year, I saw on a Facebook post that author Dawn Tripp (Moon Tide, The Season of Open Water, and Game of Secrets, a Boston Globe bestseller) had slipped into writerhead while running on a beach. (Of course, Dawn didn’t use the term writerhead, but her description of what happened while running had writerhead stamped all over it.) In a blink, wild, writerhead-obsessed me jumped all over the opportunity, and pretty soon, Dawn had agreed to a Writerhead Wednesday interview.

The paperback edition of Dawn’s most recent novel, Game of Secrets, came out yesterday, June 5, so it’s a perfect day for Dawn to share her writerhead.

Ooh, readers, you’re going to love this…

So hush!

Listen up.

Bend your beautiful ears this way…

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

Smack-dab in the state of writerhead, I wrote this note to a friend of mine:

I am either losing my mind or beginning to create a slightly breathtaking story, the scope of which leaves me rather dizzy, because I can’t quite believe (with my daylight mind, of course) that it is possible, that it could really all work, that I could execute it, and that it wouldn’t fail, disastrously or gloriously, and maybe this is simply the other side of crazy I am arriving at, and it is all rubbish, what I am chasing, but it hasn’t let me rest all spring, whatever it is, and still won’t.

To me, this message describes the essence of writing, at its best, and most necessary: a restless, exhilarating, at times terrifying, ride. The strongest work has come from this place. There is a certain authentic intensity—an almost feverish rush of words and images, accompanied by an equally intense piercing doubt—because while I can feel the story, glimmers of the story in my body, when I am in writerhead, I can’t always grasp the larger arc and logic those pieces belong to. For me, there is the sense of being moved by a force that is at once inside me, and at the same time, beyond me. It’s like being in love. It’s like having the flu. And over the course of my career, I have come to have faith in this particular state.

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.)

Writerhead for me isn’t a moment—it’s not entirely temporal—so it doesn’t get interrupted in the same way. When a story really burns in me, it doesn’t matter if I am at my desk, running the dog, or driving to school to pick up my boys; it doesn’t matter if I am out for dinner, or in a conversation—it’s like a parallel skin layered over everything else. It might be silenced for a moment, or be turned to a lower volume—I might get wrenched out of a paragraph, or a line I am in the midst of it, that line might be lost, but I have a certain faith that if a line or even a paragraph gets scattered like that, it will return if it’s meant to. The line might be gone, but the state isn’t. And to me, what matters is that larger state of being on fire for a story. When a story has me that way, it moves like hot silver through my veins, and it is always falling through me, pushing up in me, that is the state I am in, and I can answer the phone or the doorbell, or not, I can respond to an email, or not, I can drive into school to pick up my boys, fix dinner, go to baseball, come home, take the dog for a walk, and at the end of those instances of ordinary life, that story will still be there waiting—for me to write into it and write it down. When I am in that place of free-fall through a story—which it can last for several weeks—the most significant change, I notice, is that I don’t really sleep. It keeps me up late after the rest of the house is in bed; it snaps me awake at 3 a.m.

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

Cliff-diving. Like liquid silver in the veins. That rush of speed and falling through free space. Love it.

BIO: Winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, Dawn Tripp’s fiction has earned praise from critics for her “thrilling” storytelling (People Magazine), her “haunting, ethereal” prose (Booklist), and her “marvelous characters” (Orlando Sentinel). She is the author of the novels, Moon Tide, The Season of Open Water, and Game of Secrets, a Boston Globe bestseller. Her essays have appeared on NPR and online at Psychology Today. She teaches workshops on structuring the arc of a novel out of fragments of fact and fiction. She graduated from Harvard College and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, sons, and 80-pound German shepherd.

Want to give Dawn a high-five, ask a burning question about Game of Secrets, or find out the name of her German shepherd? Lots of ways to do so. Check out her website; connect with her on Facebook; tip your hat on Twitter.

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Katherine Ramsland

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.


I met Katherine Ramsland earlier this year at the 2012 Write Stuff Conference in Allentown, PA. We were sitting next to one another, signing books. Me, Thirsty. Her Snap! Seizing Your Aha! Moments. She’s cool, smart, and intense, and as soon as I started talking to her, I realized she had something important to say about writerhead.

Go on. Keep reading. You’ll see what I mean.

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

In my office stands a large wraparound desk, an iMac with printer, and an unmatched assemblage of bookshelves full of accounts of murder and mayhem. On the floor are piles of papers that will turn into projects, generally 5 or 6. This is my daily focus. I’m a firm believer in body memories, so I set up my office to become habit-forming. Everything is in place for writerhead-complementing activity.

I start at the same time each day, with coffee. My body has learned the drill, so it’s primed for flen—a combination of Zen and flow. I become one with my subject and method, a practice that now regularly leads to an altered state.

Flow is about our best functioning: We find our niche and do it so well that we feel fully satisfied and successful. The work we do during states of flow feels like quality work and often it’s our best. I once wrote a book, Bliss: Writing to Find Your True Self, in which I figured out how to set up the conditions that maximized this state. The key: body memories.

This work led directly into my recent book—Snap!—which describes the relationship between writerhead and the creative spark. A relaxed mind (via flen) can wander into uncharted territory. It searches beyond the left brain’s known databases into the right brain’s hidden resources. Since you’re not actively calculating, it might feel as if you’re no longer working, but the brain in flen is actually working very hard in ways you can’t anticipate. That’s why the Eureka moment that occurs during writing is such a delightful surprise. For me, the ultimate state of writerhead was nicely described by Francis Crick when he flashed on the structure of DNA:

“It is not easy to convey, unless one has experienced it, the dramatic feeling of sudden enlightenment that floods the mind when the right idea finally clicks into place. One immediately sees how many previously puzzling facts are neatly explained by the new hypothesis. One could kick oneself for not having the idea earlier, it now seems so obvious.”

You can make this happen on a regular basis. This is what writerhead is to me.

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.)

During a freak October snowstorm, the electricity went off for three days. This was a significant interruption, because I had several deadlines. I ran through the five stages of grief: denial (“This isn’t happening.”); anger (“Why me? It’s not fair!”); bargaining (“If you’ll just turn on the computer, I’ll give up M&Ms for a year.”); depression (“I guess the world really IS going to end in 2012…or sooner.”), and acceptance (“The iPad still lights up, so I’ll just read for a while.”) In this final state, I learned gratitude and awareness of things I take for granted.

Actually, I do advocate interrupting your work before the point of closure, because it helps to propel you back to it and to resist inertia when you sit down to write the next time. You can pick up where you left off, and that state of writerhead bridges the two writing sessions. Any interruption that unclenches the brain can pop out an unexpected insight, and it’s better to embrace it than to get annoyed.

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

For me, writerhead is like going into a dolmen—a fairy fort—to let supernatural creatures take me underground for however long they think is necessary and return me later, now full of magic. The picture of me is in such a dolmen, waiting. There’s no guarantee they’ll take you, or that they’ll bring you back, but that’s the risk of magic.

BIO:  Katherine Ramsland writes mostly nonfiction, although she has also published several short stories and two novels. She holds master’s degrees in forensic and clinical psychology, a master’s in criminal justice, and a Ph.D. in philosophy. She teaches forensic psychology and criminal justice at DeSales University in Pennsylvania and writes a regular blog for Psychology Today. She has published more than 1,000 articles and forty books, including The Ivy League Killer, The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, The CSI Effect, The Devil’s Dozen, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, The Human Predator: A Historical Chronology of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, and The Mind of a Murderer: Privileged Access to the Demons that Drive Extreme Violence. She has consulted for CSI and Bones, and has participated on numerous documentaries for CBS, ABC, A&E, ID, E!, WE, and Court TV. Dr. Ramsland presents workshops to writers, as well as to law enforcement, psychologists, judges, and attorneys. She speaks on subjects ranging from forensics to serial killers to creativity. Her latest book is Snap! Seizing Your Aha! Moments.

If you’d like to connect with Katherine, you can visit her website, give her a thumbs up on her Facebook page, greet her on Twitter, link via LinkedIn. Also be sure to check out her blog—Shadow Boxing—at the Psychology Today website.

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Cher Fischer

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.


About Cher Fischer’s debut novel Falling Into Green, the Huffington Post says, “[Falling Into Green] is an eco-mystery set at a fast pace, punched through with staccato sentences, twisting plot, shifting landscape, and a mighty heroine for the 21st century.”

Now listen to what author Cher Fischer has to say about her writerhead.

Remember…no talking! And pay close attention. There just may be a quiz at the end.

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

Writerhead is the “river” for me. I see it as a river. I always have the choice to jump in, or not. When I first started visualizing a river, it used to scare me a bit. I’d see myself stand next to the clear, rushing water, then tentatively stick a toe in, knowing that if I actually took the plunge and jumped, something in my life would change, because the river would carry me away to who knows where? So I’d hesitate. And in that moment of hesitation, the river itself would be gone. I actually hesitated for years, while still trying to write. But the text that I wrote would be stilted, jumbled, forced—no flow. No river current. Needless to say, my first work(s) were not good. I was rejected more than a few times, because the river that needs to carry both the writer and the reader’s imagination away—just wasn’t there. I distinctly remember when I finally allowed myself to jump into the river. It was in grad school for psychology, writing my master’s thesis on a subject very close to me—the peaceful behaviors of the bonobo chimpanzee—and I wanted the thesis to really resonate on a visceral level for people because the bonobo is on the verge of extinction, so I had to let my fear go and jump into that river! I walked up to the rushing water, threw myself in, and let my mind run with the waves and ripple over rocks and lay smooth in placid pools. I was told later that my thesis was able to carry a few other minds forth with the thought of protecting the bonobo. So that was my first experience of writerhead: the powerful current in the river. Now, I enjoy riding the waves, jump in every chance I get, which could be an apt lead-in for the next question…

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.)

Sometimes, my husband thinks I’m drowning in the river. Not literally, of course—but definitely figuratively. He casts out lifelines to me: a sandwich, coffee, or a question about a bill. I say, “Can’t the bill wait until later?” He’ll smile, knowing I’m still alive, swimmingly so. My two dogs, however, aren’t concerned for my safety; they’re simply annoyed that I’m writing at all since they feel if I’m out of bed, I should be walking them—even if I’ve just taken them for a four-mile hike! They make sure to create a big doggie show right next to my writing chair, they wrestle and roll, their athletic tumbles shaking the house, and I’m convinced that if they could, they would holler, “We want attention!” I figure that’s also what my husband wants, especially when he queries about the bill. My son, on the other hand, who’s nine and has the right to clamor for attention, likes to write himself, so while I write, he writes, lost in his own writerhead. One day, I’ll ask him what writerhead means to him. But for now, I don’t interfere with the process.

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

For me, writerhead is like being a salmon on a salmon run except I never feel as if I’m swimming upstream.

BIO:  Cher Fischer is an ecopsychologist who received her doctorate in clinical psychology in 2004. She was a professor of psychology at Ryokan College in Los Angeles and has worked with at-risk families and children as well as practiced health psychology in several hospitals.

She is the author, with Heather Waite, of Moving from Fear to Courage: Transcendent Moments of Change in the Lives of Women (Wildcat Canyon Press, 2001), which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller.

Born near a Superfund site in Spokane, Washington, and raised amid the lush nature of Minnesota, Fischer has long been involved in environmental issues and is passionate about the green movement in the United States. She is currently the head of the Green Team at her son’s elementary school, which is implementing sustainable strategies in the classrooms and throughout the campus. Falling Into Green is her first novel.

To learn more, visit Cher at her website or give her a wave on Facebook.

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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.


Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers has been called many things: “Lucid and lovely” by The Wall Street Journal; “A fascinating debut…” by O Magazine; and “A moving and beautifully written portrayal of the frailty—and the hardness—of the human spirit” by The Daily Telegraph (UK).

Oh, so right!

Please give a hearty welcome to Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

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

I wrote The Language of Flowers in my office in Sacramento, California. Everyday at noon, my babies asleep in their cribs, I would tiptoe into my office, close the glass door, sit in my burgundy velvet chair, and flip open my laptop. Even now I miss the feeling of double-clicking the word document on my desktop, the rush of peace I felt as the title page opened before my eyes. I’d scroll down to the sentence where I left off—I tried to always stop in the middle of a sentence so that I wouldn’t have trouble remembering where I was—and start writing. When I am at my best, the feeling I get when I am writing most closely resembles reading. The story exists, and I am just moving forward into the story learning more and more with each passing moment.

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.)

As a parent to a newborn, a one-year-old, and two teenagers, my entire life was interruptions. I became good at pausing my thoughts and taking them back up in another, quieter moment. I will say though, that occasionally my daughter would wake too early or in the middle of some big idea, and I would pull her into my lap and say: “Want to hear a story about Victoria?” I would read aloud to her the words I typed furiously out onto the page, trying desperately to finish a thought before she lost attention and demanded more of me.

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

For me, writerhead is like high mountain air, making you feel slightly dizzy and almost painfully alive.

BIO: To write The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh found inspiration in her own experiences as a foster mother. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford University, Vanessa taught art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children and live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is her first novel.

To tell Vanessa how much you love her book or to ask her a question about her writerhead, follow her Twitter (@VDiffenbaugh), visit her on Facebook, and, of course, check out her website.