Some of the Best Writing Advice I’ve Been Given

I was hanging out minding my own business one morning last week when I got a comment.  A long comment. It was sent to me from Colin, who blogs about life with his dog Ray.  I have to admit I wobbled a bit.  I thought, Do I know you? I’d like to share his advice:

Your introversion seems to be clouding your view of the world, at least from a literary perspective. You seem to believe that everybody, apart from you, has no problems churning at Posts on a regular basis – Wrong! You seem to believe that you are unique in having grammatical concerns – Wrong! You seem to believe that your writing is rather “young” – Irrelevant!
If you are writing for yourself ……….. who cares! If you are writing to generate interest from others, then the only thing that matters is that you get your message across. If you can do with a 500 word single sentence, or no punctuation ………. more power to you. Correct punctuation and grammatical structures are certainly a benefit for purposes of clarity, but don’t get hung up on them ………. as long as your message is getting understood. Keep writing!

Then I laughed and wrote him a thank you note.



The Rowing Endeth By Anne Sexton

THE ROWING ENDETH                               by Anne Sexton
I’m mooring my rowboat
at the dock of the island called God.
This dock is made in the shape of a fish
and there are many boats moored
at many different docks.
“It’s okay.” I say to myself,
with blisters that broke and healed
and broke and healed –
saving themselves over and over.
And salt sticking to my face and arms like
a glue-skin pocked with grains of tapioca.
I empty myself from my wooden boat
and onto the flesh of The Island.

“On with it!” He says and thus
we squat on the rocks by the sea
and play – can it be true –
a game of poker.
He calls me.
I win because I hold a royal straight flush.
He wins because He holds five aces,
A wild card had been announced
but I had not heard it
being in such a state of awe
when He took out the cards and dealt.
As he plunks down His five aces
and I am still grinning at my royal flush,
He starts to laugh,
and laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth
and into mine,
and such laughter that He doubles right over me
laughing a Rejoice-Chorus at our two triumphs.
Then I laugh, the fishy dock laughs
the sea laughs. The Island laughs.
The Absurd laughs.

Dearest dealer,
I with my royal straight flush,
love you so for your wild card,
that untamable, eternal, gut-driven ha-ha
and lucky love.

~ Anne Sexton

Note: And this.

Today I deleted my Follow button

I’m a horrible person to follow. Wait.  Following me makes me feel awful.  It freaks me out.  I have a gigantic ego, I think, but it looks like Swiss cheese; full of holes.  The last couple of days of posting after some time away, I picked up 10 (or is it ten) new followers and I’ve been paralyzed and depressed ever since.  I felt like, Oh God, now I’ll never get to write!

Please believe I don’t like posting what a neurotic case I sometimes am. But more to the point is that the blank page itself frightens me, which uses up a LOT of energy, so that when I turn on my computer to write, I don’t have the energy to read and like and comment on other people’s stuff.  I do like doing those things but I find that then I don’t have anything left-over for me.

Too, I’m not into the whole Like for Like thing.  I’m 56! Please.

Anyway.  I’m still going to follow a favorite few, can’t help that.  It’s just that I’d like to do some short story writing more, and meta writing less.

I’m grateful to the people who have followed me, I truly am. You made me feel like someone, like a writer.  You supported me.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I love this line from the Wizard of Oz: I’m not a bad man; I’m just a very bad wizard.

NOTE: I only deleted my Follow widget.  I guess I’ll have to upgrade to be able to make the Follow link at the top of the page be gone.  :/




The Journey by Mary Oliver

The Journey     by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver

I’m Here So My Own Head Won’t Kill Me

Hello out there!  Whee! I’m here on WordPress because as every writer knows writing can be is a lonely business.  Especially for an introvert like me.  And, even though the first reason (like I need a reason, for instance, to breath) I write is because I can’t not write, I’m also here because I write to be read.  And, I’m here to get better at all aspects of writing, including the discipline to sit my ass down and for-god’s-sake write. I can get a little weird from my self-imposed isolation.  I’m a divorced 57-year-old retired female with a few close friends (who are also on the introverted side), and a grown flew-the-coop son. I may go a couple of days without talking to anyone but the mailman and my cat.  I need other writers to “talk” to, a writing community.  You’re it. I want one of my poems in The New Yorker.  That’s also why I’m here. There, I said it. That’s my ultimate readership goal. Hey!  I have a plan, okay? That being said, I have to get around to writing a post about why I now refuse to read The New Yorker (the reason is socio-political). And I’m here to practice my writing, and get better.  For instance, I still struggle with semicolons; that fact makes me nuts. I’ve read how to use them, and the difference between them and colons and I still can’t get it.  At least on the one hand I feel so dense that it makes me laugh. I’m a writer trying to get better by writing, I don’t care how ungraceful I look while I’m doing it, and I need some help and some good company along the way.