Week 87

Stella had always thought the perfect time to commit a murder was on firecracker night.

Random Exercise # 28

Pretend that you are an advice columnist. Yes, you! Your advice! Your opinions! Can you think of a better gig than that? I really think that would be a fun job so if anyone needs an advice columnist - please contact me!

For this exercise you get to write the questions and the answers. Have fun. And if you've got any great real life advice column stories, drop me a comment. I'm feeling voyeuristic.

Secret Journal Exercise # 11

Pick a famous person from history. Who is it that obsesses you, intrigues you, fascinates you? Is it Cleopatra? Bluebeard? Gandhi? Pick someone and write an entry in their secret journal.

Week 86

My recently deceased husband, widely regarded to be one of the greatest writer's of his generation, began his career with a two thousand page piece of drivel about the history of civilization told entirely from the point of view of a tree and ended it with a novel just seventeen sentences long, which many people foolishly believe provides answers to every spiritual and existential question that has ever gripped the human heart or mind.


"To be nobody but myself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else - means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting."

~ e.e. cummings

Random Exercise #27

It has been a busy week. I had a grant application due on Tuesday and tomorrow (Friday) I start a yoga teacher training course (and have to get up at 5:00am - yikes!). But I didn't want to leave you without a little inspiration for the weekend. So...

Use these three words in a short story: pizza, guru, sprint.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Book Review: Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd

You know how it is: you're an artist but you never make enough money (or any money) from your art and you get one crappy job after another that you hate every minute of. Sound familiar? Seriously, the title of my memoir could be: "One Crappy Job After Another". (Am I the only person who is constantly coming up with wacky titles for memoirs I'll never write?) Well, I've discovered a terrific book by Carol Lloyd called "Creating a Life Worth Living" that is a career manual for creative folks. It is filled with great ideas and advice to help you build a life that you won't have to force yourself out of bed every morning to face.

In addition to the advice, there are also interesting exercises that I have actually completed. (I usually skip the exercises in this type of book because they often seem lame or like filler to me, but these I've found have actually helped me to clarify certain things about what sort of work suits me best.) There are also some terrific interviews with artists from various disciplines - the writer Mary Gaitskill is interviewed, for example. If you're still searching for work that allows you to focus on your art and doesn't drive you nuts, this is definitely a book worth reading.

Week 85

I knew the moment the words left my lips and hit the air between us that I had just uttered the stupidest thing a man had said to a woman since Adam complained to Eve about her cooking and demanded something new for dinner.

Random Exercise #26

I love reading personal ads. Admit it, so do you. Have you ever written one? Would you like to? For this exercise I'm going to create a few characters and you can write a personal ad in their voice. Or feel free to create your own characters. But if you need some inspiration...

Character #1

Jocelyn works in a flower shop. She is thirty-six, has never been married and lives alone. Her passions are detective novels, black and white movies and building kites which she likes to fly on Sunday afternoons in the park near her apartment when there is enough wind. It is her dream to one day see the ocean (any ocean will do).

Character #2

Jake is a butcher. He has been married and divorced twice, both times to the same woman. He enjoys playing cards, barbecuing and watching TV sitcoms from the
1970s. "Three's Company" is his all time favourite TV show. If he had all the courage in the world he would be an Elvis impersonator, but the closest he has ever gotten to that dream is dressing up as the King on Halloween.

Character #3

Martha is pretty sure she has the most boring job in the world. She works for an insurance company processing claims. In her spare time she studies belly-dancing and teaches her pet parrot new words. It currently has a vocabulary of sixty words, which is more than some of the men Martha has dated. She loves Chinese food and cupcakes. Since she was thirteen-years-old she has saved every fortune from every fortune cookie she has ever eaten. She keeps them in an old cigar box that once belonged to her father.

Week 84

Jess believed there were only two types of people in the world: dog lovers or cat lovers.

Musings from the Desk

Recently, I received an email from an editor. He was the editor of a a fairly new literary magazine that shall remain nameless. I had sent them a short story and he wrote to tell me how much he loved my story. In fact, it was one of the best pieces the magazine had received so far, he said. He then told me they would be making their final decisions soon.

Three days later I received a standard "thank-but-no-thanks" rejection email from the magazine.

A long time ago I decided as a writer that I wouldn't let myself get too upset by rejection, and I also wouldn't let myself get too caught up in any praise that might come my way. It made sense to me that if I wasn't going to pay much attention to one then I couldn't place too much importance on the other, either. This practice has stood me in good stead, though it is not always easy to stick to. It is tempting some days to hide under the covers after a stinging rejection, or to start chanting, "I am the greatest" after a good review. But I try to keep my focus on the page, on whatever I am writing. I prefer to pour my energy into my work rather than into trying to figure out how good or bad of a writer I might be. I'll leave that up to others to decide.

Although it seems they're having trouble figuring that one out as well.

Week 83

Eventually everyone arrives at that heart-faltering moment when they must decide whether or not to attend their high school reunion.

Eugenides Alert

If you, like me, am a Jeffrey Eugenides fan then get yourself over to the New Yorker's website where his latest short story is online. Check it out here. (It's good - I read it last night.) I hope he's got a new novel coming out soon.