3rd Guest Blog for 49 Writers

This one discusses the link between creativity and  self-destruction.


3rd Guest Blog for 49 Writers

Doing It In Public

In On Writing, Stephen King advises against writing in public places such as library carrels or coffee shops. He wrote Carrie in the laundry room of their house, so the story goes.

When I sit at my desk, my daughters undertake a highly-cooperative and unusually focused game called Distraction. The game consists of engaging in a prolonged series of escalating attempts to make Mom stop writing. Typical strategies include:

  • slipping emotionally mercenary notes and/or drawings under the door detailing the trauma their hour of neglect is taking on their young lives, expressing their undying devotion, and asking if I’m almost done
  • tapping on the door in a light but rhythmic pattern and asking if I’m almost done
  • knocking on the door and asking if I’m almost done
  • pounding on the door and asking if I’m almost done
  • fiddling with the door handle and asking if I’m almost done
  • making requests for food, water, candy, screentime, a particular toy, a sweater, bandaids,the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx, and any of a variety of power-tools they think I might consider alarming, and asking if I’m almost done
  • giggling attempts to pick the lock (to either lock or unlock the door, depending on its current state)
  • bombarding the door with Lego spacecraft
  • wandering in and asking if I’m almost done

Stephen King’s kids must have had more self-discipline than mine.

So, unless my kids are out of the house, or my hubby is standing sentry, I don’t always write at home.

I’ve written in libraries, coffee shops, restaurants, hotel lobbies, bars, parks, airports, hospitals, and shopping malls. Sometimes, if I’m in a rut, I seek out a new environment for writing, just to mix things up.

When I write in public, I tend to do so in spates. I’ll pick one place and go there on the same days every week for several months.

I have to confess, I like to see the responses people have when I arrive at the same time and place repeatedly to write.

Some people get uncomfortable. As if I’m doing something in public that clearly should be done privately.

Some people adopt a sort of reverence. They sneak up to refill my coffee cup with murmured apologies, and creep away as silently as ninjas. Very rarely does anyone ask what I’m writing.

It occurred to me today that it might be fun to review some of these locations for their write-ability. The combination of atmosphere, service, people-watching, and lack of distraction that makes a place a good or bad place to engage in writing.

I’m not currently in the habit of writing in public, but I feel a spate coming on.

I’ll keep you posted.


Doing It In Public

Even before Monday’s heart-wrenching news, depression’s been much on my mind of late for a few reasons.

I’ve been thinking and writing about the tendency creative people have to self destruct. I had recently learned that my favorite childhood author, LM Montgomery, died in a manner that some members of her family believe was a hushed-up suicide. As a writer, the suicide rate among writers is upsetting.

Also, I watched as the 3rd of my brother’s post-suicide birthdays slipped past in the beginning of this month. He would have been 46.

Monday’s news made me grieve for my brother all over again.

My brother was an astonishingly intelligent person. He was generous, hilariously funny, and musically gifted. I cannot hear Pink Floyd or see macaroni and cheese without thinking of him.

Sometimes the guilt that we could not keep him here, is overwhelming.

When I look back at the last time I saw him, so many red flags appear in hindsight. He made gifts to my children of things that were precious to him. He stayed the night, sleeping on the living room couch and staying up late to talk with me about politics and life. We had very opposite  political viewpoints, but he listened to me that night and shared his thoughts. A final act of  love from someone on his way out the door. I’m not a touchy-feely person. I don’t remember whether or not I hugged him goodbye the next morning as I headed to work, but I hope I did.

So I am grieving again for my brother. I don’t know if this hole can ever heal. Just when I think it’s starting to, it opens again.

Since his death, I hug everyone goodbye, every time, no matter what. Some people think it’s silly, but I don’t ever again want to let death make me wonder if someone knew that I loved them.

So I  hug goodbye now. I let go last. Sometimes I hug them twice.

Random nuggets

As you may be able to tell, I’ve been raiding the corpses of my old dead poems to feed my blog.

I found this in a document marked “Exercise” in a folder indicating it was from a 2005 workshop with Arlitia Jones the playwright and bestest workshop teacher in the West.

I don’t remember the exercise that produced this list. I’m almost certain I wrote it. 3, 12, and 18 sure sound like me. (If not, and someone knows what it is, correct me). But some of them made me laugh. 15 sounds like the title of a blues song. Enjoy!


  1. a spider on an old man’s beard is like a swallow in a nest
  2. the oars on the boat rowed as if unmanned
  3. nothing was the same, now that it was forever.
  4. the wino took to coma like merlot
  5. the dice rolled out of the cup like Leonard to a hot pussy
  6. a child in sunshine is like a bean in water
  7. puffy clouds in your glass of wine are foaming over in your head
  8. bed sheets like muscles stretched taut over bone
  9. the fog plumed through the gunshot holes in the train windows like a gambler’s cigar smoke
  10. the gray honor walked up the satin plank as if transfixed by light
  11. canceled checks in the abandoned boat seemed to long for currency
  12. if I should wake before I die, I pray I get some apple pie
  13. Alannah poured coffee down her throat as if drowning the donuts might negate their calories
  14. you mine rocks from a quarry. What you get from a quandary is nothing
  15. up is like down when down feels right
  16. Marlene dangled the parson from her question as if…
  17. she held her life in her own hands as if it were fragile
  18. no, no a thousand times no, he said, his hand a battle ax of sincerity
  19. the solution was hydrochloric acid; the problem was therefore how to kill Gillian
  20. love is to open sky as loathing is to rotting wood
Random nuggets