5 Random Things: It’s a Question of Writing or Not Writing

Posted on 17 July 2012

1. First, huge congratulations and many bottles of champagne to our dear Averil, who just landed a two-book deal with Harlequin MIRA. I could see this type of good news coming ever since I started reading her blog. It’s well deserved, my friend.

2. I feel I should clarify my last post a bit. As I unpacked my books this weekend — and filled those built-in bookcases in 5 minutes flat — I managed to simultaneously panic about having too much stuff while desperately wishing I owned more books. What I want to say is this: I love being surrounded by books, and I love supporting authors by buying their books. (If you saw me struggling under the weight of my purchases following any of the author fairs I attended this year, you’d understand.) I’m not going to stop buying books. I’m just not going to hold onto all of them for so long. I wish I could be like Teri and have an entire room completely walled in by massive bookcases, but I also know another move will be on the horizon at some point and I need to continue making tough choices about what stays and what goes.

3. From this Rumpus Cheryl Strayed interview: “One of the liberations of having a dead mother is that your mother is dead. One of the liberations of having a father who is not in your life is that your father is not in your life. Those are hard and sad things that I’ve had to come to terms with over the course of my life, but as a writer they are frankly liberating. I get to say whatever the hell I want to say!” This somewhat echoes what I said in my Fiction Writers Review interview. Also: It reminded me I need to unpack my Write Like a Motherfucker mug and place it prominently on my writing desk.

4. Speaking of interviews, here’s Roxane Gay wondering how fancy, famous writers answer interview questions like they do. She also wonders if they ever indulge in silly TV shows.

5. From Mavis Gallant’s diary entries, as excerpted in the July 9 issue of the New Yorker: “When I think of my life before I came here, it is like someone else’s life, something I am being told … I am not pitying myself, because I chose it. Evidently this is the way it has to be. I am committed. It is a question of writing or not writing. There is no other way. If there is, I missed it.”

Is there another way for you?


10 responses to 5 Random Things: It’s a Question of Writing or Not Writing

  • Sarah W says:

    That cartoon is pretty much how my family views my writing, too, Laura.

    1. Yes! Woooo!

    2. Libraries accept donations, either for their collections or their booksales — it’s an option.

    3. Where can I get that mug?

    4. All the fancy famous writers I know (all four) adore silly television (that is, if you do?)

    5. Wow. I’m not sure I can afford to be that All or Nothing in my thinking, though that’s definitely my tendency in other areas . . . I write when I can, for various definitions of can and when I have to, for various definitions of that . . .

  • Teri says:

    I love this cartoon!!

    1. Even my husband is jumping wild for Averil. He sent me an email from work the minute he saw her blog. He knew before I did!!!!

    2. We have a bazillion books in this house, but we also donated about 100 to the library last year. I told you, it’s a sickness!!

    3. I spent all day yesterday shaping a chapter in the m.s., and I felt pretty free. Like Cheryl, my mother is dead and I have no relationship with my father. This is so liberating.

    4. I am obsessed with writer interviews. Can’t read enough of them.

    5. I read this once about writers block. That there is no such thing as “block.” There is only writing, or not writing. I try to remember this when I’m feeling, well, blocked.

    • And Mavis wrote that while practically starving in Spain as she was trying to make it as a writer. It makes me think about what I’ve sacrificed and what I haven’t to write, and what more I could be doing. Not that I aspire to be the overly romanticized “starving artist” cliche, but her piece did make me think of sacrifice and fiercely protecting your time to do artistic work.

    • Downith says:

      This is what is written on a post it note near my computer

      “There is no writer’s block. THere is not writing.” I am busily not writing .

  • Averil Dean says:

    1. Thank you! I’m especially tickled that Teri’s husband read the news before she did!

    2. If we see you on Hoarders someday, Laura, we’ll know you’ve been walled in and will have to stage an intervention.

    3. There’s always someone looking over your shoulder. Always.

    4. {shifty eyes}

    5. There is no other way. At the moment, I’m not writing and it’s awful. I feel lost without my work, and definitely blocked.

    • Josephine says:

      did you know there is actually a hoarders episode with a couple who hoarded books? my husband kept staring at me during the show with that look that says, “you’re watching this, right? you know what i’m thinking.”

  • Downith says:

    Laura, thanks for those links, especially to the Cheryl Strayed interview.

    Love the cartoon.

  • Josephine says:

    Per number three:

    Today I bought a greeting card for myself that reads:

    “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
    Oscar Wilde

    i kinda want to send it to somebody (somebodies), but that would only be stirring a pot that i’d rather keep on the back burner. instead, i’ll stick it to the cork board behind my monitor in hopes that reading it regularly will help with the conflict/struggle of feeling selfish when all i’m wanting to do is write about my life.

  • lisahgolden says:

    There’s so much here. I shouldn’t have opened this post at bedtime!

    I’ll be back.

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