Distractions and More

A few weeks ago I wrote about reading Stephen King’s book On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft, published in 2000.  If you Google the title, you can choose among several sites that contain quotes from the book, pithy statements of counsel such as, “Remember, Dumbo didn’t need the feather, the magic was inside him. “

However, the most interesting suggestion was to start with a situation and a couple of characters and let them, and the plot, develop.  Listen to your characters, don’t try to control them.  I’m paraphrasing, but it’s quite a contrast to the many writers – or should I say teachers of writing – who tell you to prepare detailed character studies with family trees and dream histories and to plot out the entire novel, chapter by chapter.  I have actually done that, at least twice, and I never wrote the novel.  I am ready to try King’s more “organic” approach!

A few of King’s poems appeared in a book called The Devil’s Wine, edited by Tom Piccirilli.  The title is from a quote by Augustine:  “Poetry is the Devil’s Wine.”  It’s a collection of poems by writers of horror and science fiction.  None of the poems excited me that much, but the titles of the poems by Piccirilli are fabulous.  They would make great writing prompts.  Here is a selection:

  • When You Look Down to Find Yourself Going but Not Yet Gone
  • Jones Beach, Thirty Years After the Last Sand Castle
  • Nunzio, Sixty Years Dead, Lying at My Side, Staring
  • How to Perform Heart Surgery with Someone Else’s Gaze
  • The Curve After Which the Engine Squeals
  • Staring into a Bitter Face I’ve Seen Before
  • Poised on the Division Bridge
  • Sunday, While the Sauce Simmers

 I might add these:

  • Waiting for the Floor to Dry, I Saw my Face Pucker
  • The Third Dimension of Cat Puke
  • Blades of Grass Growing from my Calves
  • Injured by Two Hundred and Forty Months of National Geographic

My list of titles likely reflects my current status as house cleaner, cat care taker, detritus reducer and an It’s Too Early! gardener, all of which more effectively reduce the time available for writing than reduce the piles of Stuff in my basement. 

Nevertheless, I find time to read, read, read:  Books and articles on Chinese painting for a class I’m auditing, The Essential Whitman, Atoms and Eden by Steve Paulson, Textiles:  The Whole Story by Beverly Gordon, The Angle of Yaw by Ben Lerner, The Last Nude by Avery Ellis, Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, and a couple more. 

These books, one open on every flat surface in my house, are also a distraction, but much more fun than cleaning or yard work, especially Super Sad True Love Story, which is an all too true futuristic love story about Lenny, a 39 year old Jewish guy and Eunice, a 20 something Korean gal, both children of immigrants.  It is very funny.  I will just say that as I sit in my Chinese Painting class watching the young Asian students play with their “apparats,” during class, that Eunice is alive and well in Madison!




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