Showing posts from March, 2015

in which i heed the siren call of a dreamy writing workshop

1. nice work if you can get it It's all fun and postcard views till Mt. Vesuvius gets pissed off again. This is the view from my window right now (well, it was when I started this post). You might be thinking: What is someone with an eight-week-old child doing tossing back cappuccinos on the Amalfi Coast of Italy? It was certainly a question I asked myself. As with many things in my literary life, I applied to this workshop called Sirenland on a whim. I heard about it through One Story ( Hannah Tinti is one of the conference co-founders), a literary magazine which recently sent me an encouraging rejection. In my mind, “encouraging rejection from One Story ” = “various famous writers really want me to hang out with them in Italy.” The pictures of Positano, Italy, where it took place, looked pretty. There was a mermaid motif. I get along well with mermaids. Trash can at Le Sirenuse. I felt bad putting trash in it. I found out I was accepted to Sirenland on t

mise en garde!, or: baby stuff and the cathedral of time

1. watching yourself watch the leaves Right now—when I’m not reading People Magazine or federal grant proposal requests—I’m reading Devotion, in which Dani Shapiro tries to address her lurking anxiety through a spiritual lens that includes the Orthodox Judaism of her childhood and a variety of Eastern practices that can (or maybe can’t) be boiled down to mindfulness. Read this book if you're the kind of person who's drawn to AA meetings even though you barely drink. I picked up the book because I’ll be taking a workshop with Dani Shapiro soon, and I didn’t feel like reading her more recent memoir, Still Writing, because reading about writing sometimes stresses me out. Devotion really speaks to me, though. Some of Dani’s anxiety is a holdover from a serious illness her son had as an infant, and my own anxiety (well, arguably everyone’s) is equally bound up in birth and death. As grateful as I am for the medical and psychological approaches that have helped me tac

never place a period where god has placed a dash*

1. acceptance. speeches. I’ve been thinking about humility, and not just because we’re at the tail end of awards season, a time when people make tearful speeches about how humbled they are. I really liked Common and John Legend’s acceptance speech for the Selma song. They were humble not just in the way that is the opposite of bragging, which is how I’ve thought about humility in the past, but in a way that acknowledges they didn’t get there alone. They are part of a continuing history of struggle. They are part of a community, and they’re holding a statue because others have taken punches or even bullets.** What I’m trying to say is, I think humility is knowing you’re just a character in a story. Humility is arriving at a chapter in that story a different person than you were on page one, and the values you had back then almost feel irrelevant, or at least foreign. What I’m trying to say is, on Oscar night? Here is how I watched. Relax. 2. santa barbara In De