Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Silent Pulse

Ever have a day where nothing goes right? If you can relate to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, then you have and you know.

But what about the other kind of day? Imagine this: you wake up after a restful night’s sleep and the backache you had yesterday had vanished. Your cat greets you, and your dog wags his tail and they seem fine with each other, for a change. The coffee tastes delicious, and when you open your computer, an acceptance of an article you submitted eons ago comes in. You leave for a scheduled dental appointment, and where usually there are no parking spaces— the perfect one right in front of the dentist’s midtown office awaits you and, behold, the meter is already paid for the next ninety minutes. Your dentist is full of cheer and so are you, because, after she looks inside your mouth, she declares it looks marvelous and then she adds, “no cavities!”

And so it goes for the rest of the day.


Many years ago, I attended a book launch where the author George Leonard spoke of his new book, THE SILENT PULSE. He explored this seeming perfection suggesting it can be created. It’s been on my mind ever since, though it remains mysterious. I experience these sorts of days as if I’m a character in someone else’s story, and I thank the author for this exquisite sweet very good narrative arc, even if it cannot last.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

When Should You Give Up?


The answer we hear in professional conventions (yes, writers and artists have them too. Conferences are not just for scientists) is that you must never ever give up.

John Grisham likes to tell how he gave himself a year to succeed, but when a small publisher acquired A Time to Kill, Mr. Grisham bought all five-thousand copies himself. Only after his second book, The Firm, made the bestsellers chart, did his first book get re-printed and voila, another story about not giving up.

It’s a wonderful story from a terrific storyteller. But he did give himself a deadline, didn’t he.

My answer is that it is okay to give up. But you can always do it later. So what’s the rush?

“Never” is a daunting notion. By all means, give up but do it later. Much later. The creative life is full of possibilities, so keep living it.

Love what you do, and thus love who you are.

 Bit of summer musing as I plot my next novel.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What Creatives Crave---

An Audience!

In her excellent collection of essays about the writing life, (Bird by Bird) Anne Lamott tells of her experience teaching writing classes. She writes that her students do not so much want to learn how to write better, but how to get an agent and how to be published. Her answer, that they should learn to write better and even then, most will not be traditionally published, satisfies no one. They are hoping that by taking her class they will get an introduction to the main table or at least to her agent or editor.

This is less a quest for riches than a need to put one’s skills to use and connect.

Because a writer is seeking readers. An actor is seeking an audience. We know our stories well, but we want you to hear them. We also want to hear yours. We want to reach out beyond the confines of our own minds and bodies, and be connected to others out there.

And so we conjure and we laugh and we marvel and we bleed onto the page, or the stage, and are surprised anew at how unfazed the world is by our offerings.

This is the real story of creatives. Mind you, we’re also surprised when the world takes notice. We never know what to make of it.

I use the plural tense of “we” here not as the Royal We, but because I am fortunate to be connected to other creatives in my family and many friends, and we all share this.

We want to connect with you.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Is There a “Best” Time?

If you hang around social media groups or chat boards for writers & artists, you’d have run into mentions of the best and worst times to submit work for consideration, and the questioning of whether there is such a thing.

I’ve read that “the holidays,” any of them, are not a good time. I’ve heard that international book fairs (unless you or your agent are part of the fair) are not a good time. I’ve heard that while neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stop the postal service, these are not good times for agents, editors and art directors.

If you believe all that, you’d have a dim view of the publishing world. It would appear these folks never seem to work.

But we know they work all the time.

In my personal experience, there are no “bad times” to offer your creative output to the world. But my personal experience is too limited, so I turned to a few much-published friends, and they confirmed that my experience is just like theirs. Acceptances come during the winter holidays and in the middle of summer heat.

So if you are using the fact that it’s summer as an excuse, (because we know that August is around the corner and, well, New York City shuts down in August, doesn’t it)—Please don’t.

The best time is when the work is ready.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Summer... Seriously?

Where I live, the San Francisco bay area, we do not have real seasons. The comment attributed to Mark Twain about this is rather famous: “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” This hyperbolic sentence makes a good point.

But still, I know it’s summer, even if I can’t believe it. Not because it’s hot, (not!) or because I’m lounging at the pool, (I don’t have one and sunbathing isn’t good for the skin) or because the kids are off from school, (they graduated)— but because the passage of time seems unreal. Time seems to move ever faster, either as a function of aging or having fun. (The latter is a nicer way to think about it.)

Yes, it’s July. There’s no denying it. It’s summer, seriously.