Category Archives: The Write Stuff — General Thoughts on the Writer’s Craft

Do our writing habits define what we write?

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While catching up with a fellow blogger today (Holistic Wayfarer), I started to complain about my general ongoing lack of inspiration to write anything currently, when my mind went off on a weird tangent, as it is frequently wont to do.

I then posted some silly remark about my sitting in Ernest Hemingway’s favorite writing chair. Immediately after which I dimly recalled once reading how Hemingway always wrote standing up. See here for the article http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/ernest-hemingway-standing-desk.html

Old grumpy-pants Ernie is not alone in this, evidently. Dickens, Churchill, Nabokov and Virginia Woolf also held to an anti-sendentary stance regarding the how-to’s of writing.

Which got me to thinking about the physical act of writing and how it affects the content of what we write. For instance, I grew up knowing quite a famous writer, who was a family friend of my parents. And he too wrote standing up, perching his typewriter atop of an old lectern.

I always felt as a child that this family friend looked like he was giving a lecture when he wrote. Or that he was preaching perhaps.

As for myself, I am currently writing this with my thumb on an iPhone. While sitting stretched out on a couch; a cool breeze licking around my heels, as it eddies in through the open patio doors. (See photo at top — borrowed from another article on famous writers’ weird habits). Hence my overly casual style maybe?

But what about you? What is your preferred method of getting words onto the page? Do you need absolute quiet, or does the erratic tinkle of a wind chime get your muse online? Is alcohol mandatory or verboten? Incense, candles or a strong cup of coffee — what of them? Don’t be shy about it, plenty of people write in bed or the bath or even the buff, allegedly?! And what if they do, does it change what they produce?

Let me know what you think…


this is a poem

relax
this is a poem
not a test
believe me
you can’t fail
there is
no quiz
at the end
no subtext or
obscure
hidden meaning
to wrestle with
just this gift
of words
we share
between us


The Golden Art

Original artwork by Lorem Ipsum 2014

Original artwork by Lorem Ipsum 2014

I can’t exactly confess to having been afflicted with writer’s block this past year. For instead it’s truer to say I had totally given up on being a writer altogether.

Ironically, however, the circumstances leading to my complete abandonment of my craft, I believe, make for an interesting enough story, on reflection.

After having seen my debut novel sink beneath the waves of global public indifference, it was suggested to me I seek guidance in the form of mentoring from an already established writer.

And as an example of the adage “careful what you wish for”, through a series of seemingly synchronistic events, I soon managed to make contact with one of this country’s more celebrated and awarded writers.

What thrilled me most of all was the fact that this writer in question also claims to have been largely inspired to write by the very same 17th century alchemist I myself have been. Too mind-blowingly cool!

Anyway, now the story gets a little bit more complicated. Because my first real contact with this writer is actually with his wife. An amazing experience in itself. For, literally two or three days earlier, I had quite by chance read the book of poems written for her by her future husband to be, with which he had first wooed her. And now here was this great writer’s muse standing before me — in the hallowed recesses of his writing studio no less — sharing intimate details of the intervening 40 years of their married lives together.

“I think he really is happy at last,” she confessed to me, “now that he has decided to stop writing.”

It was the usual story. There’s no money in it anymore, the dumbing down of the reading public, the all-pervasive curse of political correctness. This is a man after all that can recite whole cantos of classical poems in their original Latin, from memory. I mean, I feel stupid even thinking of myself as a writer worthy of the name in comparison.

So I listen to how this great luminary has finally decided to call it quits and feel all conviction drain from my body. Still, I leave my details with his wife and arrange for a time when it would be convenient for me to make contact with the man I wished to be my writing mentor.

Soon afterwards, I do in fact next have a telephone conversation with the man himself. Although the problem is that I can’t seem to clarify whether he thinks he is going to mentor me as an apprentice alchemist or as a failed novelist. Argggh, it’s all so hopeless! I don’t know what the hell’s going on.

“Look, it’s very hard to talk about these things abstractly,” he says, “but I’ve got a book of essays coming out next month that explains everything. Give me your address and I’ll send you a copy. Read that, and then we can start from there.”

Fine. I’m totally confused. Not least because his wife has just told me he has quit writing, and yet now I’m informed he apparently has a new collection of essays coming out. Also, I don’t know if I’m ready to start an apprenticeship as a real-life alchemist any time soon.

A month passes. Nothing. No book of essays comes my way. Just as I suspected. The whole thing was an elaborate lie to brush me off. Okay, so this writer is no JD Salinger when it comes to reclusive writer types, but he’s not exactly the kind to hold literary soirées either. All right fine. I give up, I think to myself. Being a writer simply isn’t worth it. What’s more, I’ve made a complete golden ass of myself with this whole mentoring debacle already.

Two months pass. Three, four, five. Still nada. I turn my attention to honing my guitar playing skills, swearing to never write another stinking word. Alchemy is for the birds. What delusional world had I been living in? Synchronicity? Oh, brother!

Seven, eight, nine months go by. I haven’t written a single poem, stanza or word. But my guitar playing is off the chart. Woo-hoo, couldn’t be happier.

Ten, eleven, twelve months have now past, when I pull up in the driveway and see an envelope sticking out of the letterbox. I grab the oversized piece of post and open it distractedly in the front seat of the car.

Oh, shit. It’s the book of essays, but I can’t remember their significance. I’m finally happy being just another second-rate guitarist rocking the suburbs. Man, I’ve given up. Like really given up. What the fuck. I feel like someone has just dragged the needle back across the record of my life, and that the back-masked message I’m now hearing threatens to implode the very reality of my new simple, dumbed-down choice of existence.

“Read that, and then we can start from there,” my would-be mentor had told me almost exactly a year ago.

Start what? I can’t remember what it was I wanted so badly. Let me go back to my Wild Turkey and amplified heat haze. Fuck this, I was happy. I was happy for having quit.

I crack open the cover of the book, searching for answers. But it only gets worse. My mentor has handwritten notes to me in the margins of his own book. His tone is jovial and self-deprecating; his handwriting impeccably informal.

Don’t make me go back to being my old self, I beg the Fates. It’s too hard to contemplate. I’m a fraud. A master alchemist will see right through me. I’ve forgotten how to turn words into a golden phrase. I have fallen out of love with all language and it with me.

But still I hold this invitation in my hands.


Re-discovering the Top 10 Reasons of Why I Write

1. To find solace in words, when the myriad injustices and inequities of the world begin to weigh too heavily on my mind

2. To seek escape from the monotonous inner-monologue of anxieties and woes I plague myself with during times of forced idleness

3. Because I am a narcissist and therefore like to show off shamelessly

4. For, as an incurable optimist, I still cling to the slim hope that with language I can perhaps somehow bridge the vast interpersonal void that lies between each of us, however fleetingly

5. So I don’t feel like my entire English literature degree was a total waste of time

6. No other reason possibly than that practically all of my heroes are literary figures, and that I suffer from a chronically underdeveloped sense of self

7. Boredom

8. The almost certainly false assumption I have something unique to say

9. Because I am a vengeful cur and can never think of the perfect comeback/put-down until after a confrontation has ended

10. The fact I’m too lazy to take up any kind of alternative hobby that would require me to leave the house, buy different clothes or acquire new skill sets


some thoughts on waxing and waning lyrical like the moon

there is no poetry coursing through my veins
when I first stare at the blank page
the grip of inspiration yet to take a hold of me
and that time come when I should feel again
like a wolf ensnared in a steel trap for
instead at first I taste the familiar taste of failure
a tightening in my chest a shortness of breath
what if my mind becomes undone? what if
my words cease to punch above their weight?
such questions vex me like a gypsy curse sworn
under a blood red moon in an evil, hieratic tongue
but even so I will endure all this and worse by far
if, as now, the wordless ecstasies I enjoy by tracing
the concatenations of my unknowable soul with a pen
continue to outshine the agonies of my self-inflicted doubt.


rejection city blues

rejection slips like stale
old love letters telling of the end
come back to haunt me
offering one more reason
to spend another day in bed
dreaming up the direst revenge

no real reason is ever supplied
simply a different slant on the
industry-approved glad-hand
goodbye, each dismissive missive
starting out the same “Thank you
so much for thinking of me…”

“…however, I regret to inform you
blah blah blah…”

trust me, though, this poem isn’t
a plea for pity, oh, no, as sympathy
is far too saccharine for my tastes
instead I rant thus to relieve the
boredom of counting the errors
of my scribble-happy ways

seriously, I ask you what good
would come of acceptance anyway
when good writing itself has come
to be judged after the fashion of a
teenage prom-queen popularity
contest (I fear I do protest too much!)

so instead I will wear my failure
with dignity if not pride or aplomb
knowing full well not all that is printed
is fit to be read and vice versa
concerning what we writer’s invent…
thereby rejecting rejection as God.


oh, my, is that the time?

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oh, my, is that the time?

save a seat for me at the mad hatter’s table
no, please, don’t say there isn’t any room!
’cause although i might be running late
i carry in my haste a special boon
the answer, you see, is killing me
as to why a raven is like a writing desk
i shan’t delay, i must confess for
unless this answer’s shared i cannot rest…
so, well, ahem, they are alike as ailke [sic] can be
from their being devourers of dead certainties
(those secret desires of which we dare not think)
as well as suggesting the color of spilled, black ink