Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Poetry Month, Babies!

It is difficult to get the news from poems,
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams

I can't post all the really good poems here' i am forced to post my own. I am so sorry...but I do love poetry, and agree with WCW.

The Day's On Fire! Roethke Was Right

In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,

I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!

I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--

Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,

Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Theodore Roethke

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

maurice at the barbeque / 1980

maurice at the barbecue,
drunk on gin and offering me
wine-in-a-box, hid his fifth
of Tanquery behind the rhododendrons
and said to me and jim and liz, Women...
turn them upside down, spread their legs and
they all look alike...
gesturing with long
black barbeque tongs. we had just met, he didn't
know my people, else he may have waited until i was
tucked in the hot tub, boiling null as a potato, before
opening his goateed, cigar-stuffed mouth. i saw he
was human, saw photos of children who'd slipped away.
i saw the bitter trade he'd made. everyone saw
his furred brown toes, protruding from huarache
sandals bought on his annual mexican slumfest, with
a framed red toreador on black velvet, a clutch of Oui
and Hustler splayed nearby. he was a rotting man,
but a man nonetheless. maurice was my neighbor, my host
to take or not to take. and i heard myself whisper,
Isn't that interesting? and jim and liz sighed, relieved i'd
not done the right thing, the merciful thing, really,
which would have been to kill maurice, to give him
an end, to roast him on the spit with the crispy whole pig,
now being served, along with the terrible
contents of the red wine box. he'd have looked
so natural next to swine, a gravenstein lodged
between his cigar and goatee - for appeal, but
also to stop him commencing on subjects
about which whatever he had once known
was now lost, forgotten, drowned.

suzanne finnamore

the long hall of your leaving

the hall is before you again and the man
stumbling in his hurry to leave
and the wild voice is saying Wait, come back

you watch stupidly as he takes the stairs
four at a time, silently hurtling down and away,
his head bowed, his mouth stretched shut

like a drum. you panic and begin screaming lies
downwind to him -- how you never loved him,
how much you loved him. you see him cross

the road, moving steadily, his legs
working like scissors, now. in desperation
you race to the roof of the building. you begin

a long, garish striptease, throwing your clothes
as far as your can. you start to gyrate, thinking
he'll feel left out, or disgusted. as a last

resort, you walk to the edge and swear you'll jump.
a crowd gathers halfheartedly, you look out
and see his figure, very small, way

on the horizon. you send up flares, you do
a little jig on the ledge. you hope
the press will send a man out.

suzanne finnamore

bees in the grass

news of your marriage
arrives calm, delivered
in subpoena fashion by a woman
with a permanent wave

and vows are taken, things bought.
bride like a mother to fix you lunch,
to make a bed with fast hands,
to fill it.

now all your socks sit in tidy balls
and shoes have trees. how
simply you reach this, and after what struggle:
the jaunt to mexico, the drinking.

never having touched you, i am
sour on the marriage
on the pregnant bride resplendent in yellow
on the gifts chosen in good taste.

never having broached the subject, having compared
your eyes to sapphire and done nothing, this news
of marriage brings odd alarm; i had always meant
to reach you: bees in the grass.

suzanne finnamore

autumnal equinox

there is a line that runs
between the expanse of cheekbone
and mouth, a small, perfect crease
where the skin kisses itself.
all night i watched it.

i wanted to disturb it with my mouth
and tell you something, then, some
wordless thing that had more to do with breath
and mild wishes thrown silent
against the tongue, so soft and
full of mute promise.

that night i had no words,
embarrassed by the hard sounds
which would stumble in the dark. but your eyes
were brilliant, they were light
where there is no light, and all the while
the candles flamed and marked
the summer's last night.

i knew, seeing white disc toss shadows
in long sulphurous waves
against your face,
this was not life as i knew it;
it was some magic we'd conjured,
some trick of the night, arranging
slices of moon as you hovered
above me, shining.

but wait,
now i will tell you something,
my arms across your long back, my heart
racing toward another morning.
i will tell you a secret: this
is not real, none of it is real,
as dreams and sage drenched shadows
are not real,
and this is all there is.

suzanne finnamore


a late bloomer.
sappy, a dupe.
never complained,
missed everything, that's all;

all the Balls, at least.
even the ugly sisters managed
to make an appearance,
however grisly. they

weren't much to look at --
all the same, they had style
and their father
by the balls. but

she was a sly one,
a hoarder,
had the Prince on a string
the whole time. she

was a wizard with props:
the glass slipper, the rags.
he loved it,
don't kid yourself. she

took him for all he had.
the castle, the land, the
works. he never saw it coming.
a hustler. the best.

suzanne finnamore

Eva Peron....and i love Madonna too. Sofuckit.

eva peron

....died and embalmers
rushed in as her last breath
hung like confetti in the air,
hair stylists waited, combs
poised; flutes may have played
low, adagio as she went
quietly from the house
and hundreds of dresses
ruffled softly in her
closets where luggage sat
where hats waited, where shoes
stood empty all together.
and outside now the people came
and kept coming, in groups
in waves, like fish
down the stream they came,
grieving, for days shouting,
now big with it
those that loved you, 'whore', 'goddess'
aphrodite of the argentines,
knowing, sure; beautiful still
at the hospital bed as you
vote for peron: a good wife,
fainting at inaugurations,
blond, ghost-like
cancer in your womb
like punishment for too much
power, for alarming the military --
or like favor, an exit,
not to see your billboards
burned, your statues lopped off,
your children's' palaces in heaps,
your body
stolen very early one morning,
from your enemies kept whole:
lot eighty-six,
grave forty-one,

suzanne finnamore

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moths At The Window

Some random shape against the light,
Edges lit with odd electricity; this wild
Creature desire and pique and you and I
Have something in common. Evening comes

Then drops into night like red peaches to the ground.
Do we grow old or just set in our ways? The cat is lulled
By the sound of these keys clacking hard and
Uncertain against false paper.

And I think how all Old Good Times sit
Firm and unblinking as pharaohs on a yesterday
Throne. A pink bulb throws light and heresy
On a photograph of me, younger and with short hair

Smiling as if to eat the world. To know you
Ten years is to know you ten minutes
Or less, and words garner silence. Let’s
Pick today like a fruit that cannot wait. Fear

Will visit and perch stern in the hall.
Friends will serve themselves up on a plate.
Personally I cannot grieve or wait
Another day to see what walks toward me, or away.

Love is still the hardest claim to stake, as if to say so would
void freedom, blithe, would cut nonchalance with the bluntest knife.
But when we laugh we touch gingerly on life
And beat against hard glass, winged.

moths at the window

Moths at the window

Some random shape against the light,
Edges lit with electricity; this wild
Creature desire and pique and you and I
Have something in common. Evening comes

Then drops into night like red peaches
to the ground. Do we grow old or just set in our ways?
The cat is lulled by the sound of keys clacking hard and
Uncertain against false paper.

And I think of how all Good Times sit
Firm and unblinking as pharaohs on a yesterday
Throne. A pink bulb throws light and heresy
On a photograph of me, younger and with more hair

Smiling as if to eat the world. To know you
Ten years is to know you ten minutes
Or less, and words garner silence. Let’s
Pick today like a fruit that cannot wait. Fear

Will visit and perch stern in the hall.
Friends will serve themselves up on a plate.
And personally I cannot grieve or wait
Another day to see what walks toward me, or away.

Love is still the hardest claim to stake, as if to say so would
void freedom, blithe, would cut nonchalance with the bluntest knife.
But when we laugh we touch gingerly on life
And beat against hard glass, winged.

suzanne finnamore

the mover / first poem ever published...

the mover

He could come without warning,
Swathed in blue, touching the rim of his cap
In greeting. You might be scrambling eggs
Or shaving your legs and he’d turn up –
Smiling, asking where this went.
You could be in the middle of something.
You may have no intention to move at all, but there it is.

He could come without introduction
But for a name randomly sewn on his shirt.
But he can wear any shirt; they could trade shirts.
When you call him Emmett
He could be laughing inside. Joe could be
Dick, Harry, Sean.

But he knows your name,
Knows where you live, has touched
All of your things,
Has pressed himself against your icebox
And slid it outside,
Has taken your lamps by their throats,
Your chairs by their wooden back,
Has wheeled your bed into the street.

Was he careful?
Was he quick?
Was he kind, as promised, or was he
Just perfunctory, visiting each of your rooms
In their appointed turn,
Carrying everything out very quietly:
Something that had to be done.
Something that after all, paid.

suzanne finnamore

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poem For Fall


I wanted to write
something fine about men, about
how love bursts like pumpkins
in the fall. Then

I heard about the bears in Alaska
and how to keep them away, and that
seemed more relevant. You sing
or wear bells as you walk; if they

know you're coming they steer clear,
being the prudent fellows they are
(cowards, really). Whistling
may be misconstrued during

mating season. Don't wear perfume,
they find it attractive. Don't smell
of food, they like this, too. If you do
meet up with one, upon your peril

don't run. Bears are funny, and running
will trigger a chase. Although
they seem slow, they can do
forty in a pinch. There is no escape

that way. You are advised to
drop to the ground, without ceremony,
without sound. Drop
to the ground and play dead. Shown

total submission, they will lose interest.
And when he has gone, get up
if you can. Wear the bells, forget the perfume,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

(Overheard) BANG, BANG, You're A Whole Different Person aka The Bang Debate 08

WELL i'm living the questions, again. I'm genuinely TORN about cutting my hair into bangs. it haunts me like Casper the Angry Drag Queen Stylist ghost. this has been a source of anxiety and deep reflection lo these long adult years. and so, here it comes again. the bang sudden death quandary. and as usual, I'm taking a poll. because when bangs go wrong, I'm instantly rendered a LAUGHINGSTOCK for the foreseeable future. I'm not strong enough for this.

so, i think maybe y'all should look at my FACEBOOK PHOTO ALBUM (it's on the left side, once you register, free, on facebook. You have to register just to SEE EVERYONE ON FACEBOOK. but you don't have to have A FACEBOOK yourself.) you can see all Jon Engdahl's guerrilla mosaic street art while you consider the Bang question.

anywho. look at the more recent pics with my bangs LONG and then look at the others w/ bangs short, and then tell me. plus my hair's longer now. won't bangs look weird w/ long hair? kind of like Meatloaf? I CANNOT MAKE A SIMPLE DECISION. this is why I'm staying home tonight and watching books.

October 10, 2008 6:51 PM

polly kahl said...
Hi Suzanne, to me the question is what look you want to go for. The longer bangs (Facebook version) is softer while the shorter blunt bangs are more sophisticated and distinctive looking. I personally like the shorter bangs because to me they are part of what makes you unique. Even though we've never met I might actually recognize you on the street with the shorter bangs, whereas with the longer bangs you look like lots of other people. Plus I think the shorter bangs are kind of sexy. So I vote for the short and sassy Suzanne, and I hope you'll post before and after pix when you decide.

October 10, 2008 9:23 PM

lindac said...
I think you are beautiful either way, but I agree with Polly. But, you are right, you may need to cut some of the length for the short bangs to work like they do in your other photos. You have such lovely and piercing eyes, I think the short bangs frames them in a way the longer hair just doesn't. But, I am a fashion moron, I have no fashion sense at all - so I think you should do whatever feels right for you. After all, you are the one who is going to be looking back in the mirror.

October 11, 2008 10:59 AM

DAMN. bangs are just a MASSIVE decision. i thank you both for your thoughtful and ridiculously complimentary posts. I'm still in a twist about it. I'll prawly take my good scissors to them and just cut a LITTLE BIT off. so i can see. then of course they will be crooked, and i will even them out, more and more, until i look like Friar Tuck. history bears this out: i go all CHARLES MANSON on my bangs, every few months. it's an Issue.

Polly Kahl said...
There are some fun software's which allow you to upload a picture of your face and put all kinds of different hairstyles on it. I think some are probably free online but if not let me know and I'll send you my disk. I'm doing nothing but growing my hair out for at least the next year. It's my last hurrah before I'm so old that it looks completely ridiculous. (Right now it only looks partially ridiculous. In another year it will probably qualify as completely.)

OCTOBER 11, 2008 8:54 PM
oh yes! I've seen those,. ill try googling a link to one of those on site hair experiments pages. thanks.

although, my friend Mad Augusten Burroughs weighed in on NO bangs. Augusten said that "bangs are SO 90's..."
besides,i DO like hiding one eye behind my hair, sometimes. it feels safe there.

OCTOBER 11, 2008 11:09 PM
Polly Kahl said...
That's true, bangs are so 90s, but we're not talking mall bangs here. Mall bangs are 90s but Bettie Page bangs are timeless. Here's one with long hair and short bangs that's kind of sweet.

I demand before and after pictures.

Caryl sent you a message.
Re: profile

Saw the pics. Here is the verdict.

soft and feminine, longer bangs that sweep to the side to do this you part your hair in the middle. and
when drying the bangs, sweep them to one side, but just the bangs. DO NOT part
your hair on the side.

sexy and sassy, darker hair with short bangs straight across. This is best
done with botox. not for you in particular, but all women of a certain age who
want to pull off short bangs. I know I will probably be kicked out of the club
for saying that, but you can be smart and vain, and still be deep and human.

Please don't underestimate the hair parted in the middle, this came from a very
important stylist who is in the "business" and it is absolutely true.

OCTOBER 12, 2008 7:42 AM




SUCH A MAGIC, MAGIC TIME TO BE ALIVE. all the bangs you can choose from,in fact all the VARIATIONS OF ALL HAIR STYLES, in current and classic shots, celebrity and real people who look like supermodel photographs, not old stock photos or line drawings -- all on one website, it's just HEARTBREAKING and RIGHT.

i feel like when Princess Ariel sang "A WHOLE NEW WORLD" on The Little Mermaid, when she got to grow legs. and yes, i do cry at Disney movies. in fact, ten minutes into Beauty And The Beast, I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN i was watching an "animated feature film."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Deep In The Amazon: One Writer's Disease

This is what happened. I wrote a book, submitted it to several publishers, got rejected. I wrote another book, found a New York agent and a New York publisher. Within a week I had sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox, quit my job, and settled into what felt like an extended dream world, one in which I was able to go to sleep and wake up without the scenery changing. This is it, I thought, my beginning of a writer’s life. I bought a new car and each time I went outside I expected to find it gone, with a note that read Terrible Mistake Now Rectified.

Several weeks before my actual publication date, a friend informs me that my book is listed on Already? I said, the faintest suggestion of coy surprise in my voice. I attempt to sound casual but inside I am hula dancing naked with George Clooney and he is saying Baby I didn’t know you were a writer.

After a period of insensate glee at my book simply being for sale on the Internet, the first Amazon customer review is posted. Five stars, from my mother, cleverly disguised as A Reader. “Suzanne Finnamore is the spokeswoman for the nineties.” A couple more people write reviews, either four or five stars. In a quasar of accolade, my Amazon sales rank number soars from 1,439,003 to 707. I begin thinking about a new house, something with an extra bathroom and a pool. Perhaps an Olympic-sized pool for the staff to enjoy while I am in Aix choosing a villa.

Then it happens. My first bad Amazon customer review. My husband peers idly over my shoulder as it floats into view on my laptop computer. As in tornadoes, there is no warning. One star. A Reader From DC wishes I would catapult myself from a tall building. Then I should be chopped into tiny pieces, like a vampire. Pieces which are then mailed separately to different continents, so that I won’t reconstitute myself and start looking for a pencil.

My husband pats my arm and goes for vodka. I cry for an hour: Why me? Why?

I then call ten friends and insist they write Amazon reviews. Five stars, I mumble, I need five.

But I haven’t read it yet, my friend says. It doesn’t matter, I say. He laughs, not realizing I'm serious.

Eventually the good friend reviews are posted, knocking mister one star off the top. Then a Reader From New York writes an even worse review -- for some reason giving me two stars. He loathes my writing, my characters, my plot and my publisher; it is the grand slam of reviews. What would merit one star to this person, I muse. A grease trap?

More friends (and acquaintances who have been upgraded to friends) are encouraged to write five star reviews. Oddly, I even get a few great reviews from strangers. I write to thank them but also to ferret them out: I secretly feel they must be my mother, who has become dangerously proficient on her computer. I also believe that the bad reviews are from my enemies. I will never be able to prove it, of course.

Later, a blinding flash of lucidity reveals that the bad reviews are in fact from friends, jealous alcoholic friends who write bad reviews on Amazon and then black out. I log on every hour, to monitor my triumph/debacle. It is all I can do to keep myself from setting the alarm for 3 AM so I can properly stay abreast. As part of my system, I regularly cross reference numbers with Nathan Englander’s For The Relief of Unbearable Urges and John Le Carre’s Single and Single. I also look up Memoirs of a Geisha, which has been out for well over a year and is still in the top 25. Janet Fitch’s debut novel isn’t even out yet and Oprah named it as an Oprah pick, so she’s number 6. I mentally will her under a bus.

After three weeks of this my husband forbids me to log onto I agree, sensing this is what’s best, the healthy response to what has perhaps become a fixation. I haven’t put on a bra since this whole thing started, and the baby has a bald spot from being laid in his crib so mommy can log on. I have however lost nine pounds. Soon breasts won’t be an issue.

I tell everyone I am not going to check any more. Then I check. 659. I am in the sixes. So I feel good, am able to have coffee and write and even leave the house for milk. When I return, I log on but I don’t check my own sales rank. In an inspired flurry, I try to spread the good sales rank number karma around. I start looking up books I admire and writing five star reviews. It is then that I realize the gross inequity of the system.

Eudora Welty has received two stars for The Ponder Heart. I write a review for her. Since there is only the one other review, I am able to boost her average from two to four stars. One person can make a difference. I’m sure she’s appreciative. I also write a five star review for Germaine Greer, whose new book I haven’t read yet but have ordered from Amazon (40% off) and will certainly enjoy. Probably.

At five till midnight I log on. (Amazon updates not just every day but every hour, a fact that a writer friend has been kind enough to point out.) 666. This is significant; I file it away, under Coincidences That Involve Satan. Exactly fifty-eight minutes later as I am landing with a sad frenzied thud on my book site, I notice that it says Linda Hamilton is the co author if my book, instead of the reader of my audio cassette version. This does not worry me, but the fact that I am 1311 does. It makes me feel homely. I look in the bathroom mirror. Uh huh. Definitely thirteens. Additionally, a Reader From Albuquerque suggests that the best use for my book would be as a doorstop. I am finally drifting off when my infant son Pablo wakes up screaming, about two hours earlier than usual. He is cutting his first tooth -- or maybe he senses my sales rank, which I have just checked, wondering whether my numbers rise at night. 8,810. The sales rank of a high school yearbook.

It’s not checking my Amazon sales rank and customer reviews, it’s checking to see if I am licit. The mentally intact need not apply. I do not write any more, of course. That would take me away from my real work, which is checking my sales rank on

I consider calling Anne Lamott and offering to be her Amazon eyes for her new book, Travelling Mercies. I could give her a status report at the end of the day (5:57 PM: Anne 29, me 922. 6:59 PM: Anne 41, me 2,004.) I don’t call her, though. I already phoned her for reassurance after the savage Kirkus review came out, and I have only two wishes left with the magic flying monkey cap. If you don’t get this reference, then you have never read:

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
Amazon Sales Rank: 35,623

Five stars from
Anisha Zaveri ( from Bombay,India. , November 14, 1998


Three stars from
A reader from Bountiful, UT , October 21, 1998
A Classic Satire on the Populist Party
Most people look at L. Frank Baum's classic novel as a simple children's story, but it has a deeper significance. Baum lived in the Great Plains of the American West during the Populist uprising of the 1890s, and the characters and events of the Wizard of Oz are based upon what he observed. For example, Dorothy represents the innocent Midwesterner who must contend with the wild nature of the West (the Wicked Witch of the West) and the deceptive idea that all solutions can be found with money (following the path of gold, or the Yellow Brick Road). The Scarecrow represents American farmers, the Tin Woodsman represents American workers (his transformation from human to tin man represents industrial accidents), and the Cowardly Lion represents Populist presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan (a great orator but a pacifist, hence the cowardly lion). Following the path of gold leads Dorothy and her companions to the Emerald City, which represents Washington, DC, and the corrupt influence that money has on the city. The Wizard is the President of the U.S.--a weak and powerless humbug who nevertheless manages to convince the innocent Dorothy that it is he and not the moneyed special interests that control the land. Anyway, there is much more, but in the end Dorothy conquers nature (the Witch of the West), and with the help of the Silver Slippers (the Populist Party's Free Silver issue), finally finds her way home to truth and happiness. A wonderful book when read in the proper context.

Phew. I am finally able to have a context, something I feel I have previously been lacking by only looking up my own book. I look up a few more, just to get a sense of where I stand.

Angle of Repose The Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Wallace Stegner
Amazon Sales rank: 3,331

One star from
A reader from Minnesota, April 4, 1999
Waste of 600 pages
I was required to read this book for school. It was probably the slowest book I have ever read. Don't waste your time. The only reason I gave it one star was that I don't have the option of giving it less.

Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
Amazon Sales rank: 73,122

One star from: from Chicago, IL, January 28, 1999
Thumbs Down!
I agree with the reader for New York City. This Book was a total waste of time and I dreaded every turn of the page.

One star from:
A reader from New York City, September 15, 1997
Uggh!!! Updike can't write worth spit! This is just pure junk. Not only is it dull, but it's about nobodies. A total waste!

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Amazon Sales rank: 3,585

A reader from New York City, September 17, 1997
Very bad.
“Bad reading; the descriptions are okay, but the characters stink. The heroin doesn't seem lovable and great, she's crazy and stupid. It's bad. The drawing on the cover is as good as it gets.”

A reader, July 2, 1997
Hemingway rode on the coat tails of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
None of Hemingway's work including A Farewell To Arms should be touted as "Classic". Hemingway caught a ride on the coat tails of F. Scott Fitzgerald and without him as a predecessor Hemingway's body of work would have died the timely death it deserved. A Farewell To Arms is yet another example of Hemingway's inability to forward narrative in an interesting manner or to develop characters that anybody could care a whit about.

A closer look confirms that Hemingway’s not doing well on his Amazon Customer Review Average. This is doubtless because he is dead, and can’t get people to write reviews for him. Mental email: Stay alive.

I log onto my site again. 1,590. Re-read my Kirkus review. They’ve placed it right up front so strangers can read it without breaking a sweat in the magazine aisle. Realize suddenly that the reviewer didn’t compare me to Nora Ephron, as my editor had said -- he compared me to Erma Bombeck. In abject horror, I call my friend Augusten and read it to him, and as I hear the words spoken out loud, I laugh for about a minute. It feels like surfacing for air. Kirkus doesn’t matter, according to Augusten. Who matters? I say. I don’t know, he admits. The New York Times Book Review, I guess.

I wonder what my therapist is doing right now. I call him to see. I leave a message saying that I am having some “popularity issues.” Would it be a conflict of interest to ask him to write an Amazon review, I wonder as I hit the Search key.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare
Sales rank 2,130 (Unabridged hardcover)

A reader from USA, February 24, 1999
Shakespeare is highly overated
Not to deny Shakespeare’s incredible talent, but he is certainly overcredited in the creativity area. if you're looking for a true, unique and original read, i reccomend any famous ancient greek playwrite, such as aristophanes, euripides or sophacles. you'll find thier style a little less decorative, and little more simple, but still very similar (afterall, shakespeare did have the works of these men to study and emulate.

A reader from Japan, July 5, 1998
Shoddy Binding
(no review)

I admire the brevity of the Japanese reviewer. There is simply no room in Japan for the verbose. I go to the front menu of the Amazon site to glean the overall view. In Amazon’s Hot 100, Number one is Body For Life, by Bill Phillips -- a man with biceps the size of Virginia hams. Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar To Trim Fat is number 11

Apparently I have made a grave error in writing a novel. Mental Email: Stop trying to write fiction. I’m sure the Reader From DC would applaud this decision, and the Reader From NY would crack champagne. Meanwhile I write emails to my friends and sign off with my Amazon sales rank number of the moment.

“Hope your liver tumor isn’t malignant. I’m sure it’s not. 704.”

I log on at 5:45 and again at 6:01. In less than twenty minutes my sales rank went from 636 to 4501. It’s Mothers Day, I rationalize. Still, 4501. I mentally affix a cleft palate to my lip. Dinner is out of the question now. I will be sucking horse tranquilizers.

It occurs to me, not for the first time, that getting published isn’t exactly the way I pictured it. Yet there is still time to make it right. There is still time to burst into Amazon’s Hot 100. If not, I will marinate in shame and defeat, along with Stegner and Welty. And John Updike. Let’s not forget that popsickle stand loser.

Epilogue: In June of 1999, Otherwise Engaged: A Novel climbed to #35 on The Amazon Hot 100.

Nothing changed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What We Whine About When We Whine about Writer's Block


Every writer feels it at least once,if not regularly: the not wanting to begin, the dread writer's block, the magnetism of procrastination.every writer one i know, at least, and those whose biographies and memoirs i've read.

it's a very perverse,unnecessary banana peel step on the road to creation. i believe, against my past history, I'm gaining a little bit on it. when approaching a genuine, hard deadline (as in, the check is being printed, or not printed) i no longer wait until the last possible mo. i give myself a small buffer of time to finish writing a piece, just the slimmest wafer of time , to allow for punctuality. an idiotic, exhaustive,useless state of inner affairs, that's what procrastination and its fraternal twin, writers block is.

why do i do it? i ask you. i ask myself. it is because I'm a drama queen? I'm lazy? I'm fearful and anxious regarding both failure and success? I'm on a wholly other planet in my mind, at times, a place without time or money and a place devoid of the greasy noose of the deadline, swaying with tangible menace in front of the mind's eye? am i rebellious? spoiled, immature, narcissistic, thoughtless and glib? possessing an inappropriate sense of entitlement regarding my Creative Process? irreverent and carefree, holding nothing that can be called 'work' sacred? hedonistic, pagan, apathetic, and completely devoid of boundaries whenever the mood strikes? selfish to the BONE? reckless, slipshod, slick, feckless, haughty, distant, rude, shallow, cavalier, flippant, oblivious, arrogant, full of false pride and a shabby bravado i don't possess, but practice nonetheless to the detriment of myself, those around me, and my personal environment?

yes. all that, plus a strange feeling of desertion by any scrap of a muse. the sinking sensation of being alone with the blank page. and the blank page feels like being alone with a bomb.

tick tick tick tick tick tick.

it may be that i am only able to write, to complete, in order to stop the ticking bomb inside.

but oh, then comes a golden silence, a perfect glade of relief and childlike freedom. it doesn't last , but it's a magic time, when the writer's block and the procrastination have withdrawn...the time after one book is done, and just before the next rounds the corner, brandishing a blackjack and smoking with impatience.

'The art of Frida Kahlo is like a ribbon around a bomb" Andre Breton