I’ve been walking at odd angles for the better part of a year. Back pain, the kind that gets worse with each step. So the day before Valentine’s Day, I had surgery to (hopefully) repair the issue.
We like to curse our problems: Why is this happening? I need this like a hole in the head!
It’s fine to complain and kvetch, as long as you’re also trying to slant positive.
And there’s always an upside if you’re a writer (or anything else in the creative arts). Your problems give you good material. We don’t really want to hear about your sublime vacation where you ate seafood right out of the sea under a wondrous sunset of pink and purple. Truth is, we’d rather hear about your stomach bug or lost wallet or the person you thought was shadowing you with kidnap in mind. Continue reading “Slings and Arrows”
Let’s start with an exercise I stole from Alexander Chee, who stole it from Annie Dillard, who stole it from Samuel Johnson.
Take a section of what you’re working on now and circle (or underline) every verb you use.
Next, count the verbs on each page, and write the number in the margin. When you get to the end of the piece, average the number. Continue reading “Better Verbs”
I recently enjoyed the second season of the TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, so much so that I then re-watched the first season. Along with the whimsical air and luscious period detail, the episodes are sprinkled with delightful surprises.
Here’s an example (skip to after the asterisks if you don’t want Season 1 spoilers). Midge, the main character, is a recently-separated 1950s housewife who aspires to be a standup comedian. And she’s good. She doesn’t deliver dandy jokes, but rather she tells (sometimes improvised) stories about her life. She’s real and raw and also quite funny. Continue reading “Something Surprising”