The Challenge of Writing True Stories

When my friend + long time student, Lisa Sadikman asked me if I wanted to participate in a blog hop where writers get a chance to write about their writing process I said sure, then immediately regretted it because I had just promised myself that I wouldn’t say yes to anything more until I’d completed the pile of projects on my desk. But if I’m anything, I’m a girl who stands by her commitments — which isn’t always smart, but in terms of commitments, writing is probably the best thing you could say yes to because everyone knows that those deadlines are everything to getting ink onto the page. So thank you Lisa.  Below are my answers to the four questions traveling from blog to blog. Next week, two wonderful friends of mine and writers — Sherry Richert Belul and Jill Salahub will share their thoughts on writing via their blogs. What am I working on/writing? Most of my writing these days happens in the Wild Writing classes I teach each week here in the Bay Area. For two hours, five mornings a week, I have the pleasure of sitting around a table with 8 other women writing really quickly and really badly. That’s one of the tenants of the class — to write as poorly as possible. It’s not a joke — it’s a totally freeing way of getting past our ingrained attempts at looking good, smart and clever — which is pretty much what we’re trying to do most of the time — on the page and off. It’s unconscious, a throw-back from the days when it was dance or...

Keep Coming Back

The truth about being a writing teacher is that everything you teach to others is often a lesson that you have to keep learning for yourself, over and over. So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that it truly is a challenge for me to sit my fanny down and write. And which is why I find myself so hungry as I begin this blog post. Not just hungry for good words, but hungry for sweet things, salty things, things with caffeine. I’m also suddenly very interested in the laundry, determined to make my bed, sweep the back deck, tidy up the branches felled by the windstorm last week. I’m certain it’s the perfect time to make the matzo ball soup I promised Zoe for dinner tonight. And while I’m at it, I better get a move on those Christmas gifts even though the great godly holiday is over a week away! In fact, I would be happy to do practically anything other than sit down to write. In my 20’s, when I was just starting out as a journalist for the East Bay Express in Berkeley, I found that if I had a glass of wine, no, two glasses of wine, writing came easy. Not only that, I was funny! Inspired! Smart! The words flew through me and out onto the page like magic. Then, as I got more assignments, I realized that I couldn’t catch a buzz every time I sat down to write, not if I wanted to make a life of this. So I had to learn to write sober and...

Hungry For The Sound of My Own Music

A couple of weeks ago, David Bowie put out a new record, which is a big deal in the music industry. The man is 66-years-old, a legend, a huge rock star. I’d heard an interview with a member of his band a few days before the record launched, and the interviewer asked, “What earlier record is this new one like?” I found myself hoping he’d say The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust or Hunky Dory – two of my favorite Bowie records from the 70’s. But this band member only said that it was the best record Bowie had ever made. So when the album came out on iTunes this week, I checked it out, hoping to hear songs that would take me back to 1976 and tanning by the pool in Palm Springs with my friend Marcie. Those were some days. I was 16 years old, had long brown hair, and wore bikinis. Boys liked me and I loved music; a doorway into a rich place full of feelings that I couldn’t yet articulate, but which I knew promised me access to a deeper part of myself. But when I listened to this new album, I didn’t hear anything resembling the Bowie I had loved. Instead I heard the crooning stuff he’s been putting out in the last few years – not my cup of tea. Here’s the thing: I don’t know what Bowie was thinking when he put out the record, but his band mate told the interviewer that Bowie makes the kind of music that’s coming through him. I didn’t get the Bowie album I...
How I Had the Courage to Wear a Bikini this Summer

How I Had the Courage to Wear a Bikini this Summer

Like a lot of people, I got caught up in my share of the summer Olympics. I watched a man with one leg sprint like a gazelle around a soft, clay track. I saw beefy guys in little kayaks slaloming down big water obstacle courses. I saw lithe, teenage swimmers pop out of pools with winning smiles and Russian ballerinas toss balls in the air with the tips of their toes. But the one thing I could not get enough of was volleyball star Misty May- Treanor’s lovely, ample derriere. As a woman who has lived her whole life rejecting her body for one reason or another  –  my thighs were too fat, too muscular, my calves too big, and my tush too plentiful – the sight on network T.V. of a strong, athletic, full bodied woman in a tiny red bikini was absolutely eye-popping. Possibly even a game changer. Suddenly large, muscular thighs and curvy, full behinds were the new beautiful and Misty was leading the way. While other fans might have been blown away by Misty’s digs and dives, I was examining every inch of her body like an ornithologist peering at an exotic, never before seen bird. Cocking my head at the T.V., I took in every inch of her: those smallish breasts, the tan, muscled tummy – paying particular attention when she sat down at a break to see if there was any hint of flab toppling over her bathing suit bottoms. I turned to my husband on the couch and asked, “Do I look like that?” I can tell you what I wish I...
Superheros!

Superheros!

Andrea Scher’s Superhero Interview with Laurie Wagner is right here! So cool! So fun! What I value most in a person is honesty and authenticity, and so I aim for that as best I can. But it’s more than just a set of values, the truth is, I simply can’t tolerate the lie or the half-truth inside of me. If I’ve kept something from you, eventually it will come out. I must purge it or I can’t sleep. And this propensity to tell the truth reveals itself all over my life – in writing classes, at dinner parties, in relationships, good god – sometimes in professional meetings with strangers. That doesn’t always go so well. I can’t help myself. I tell the awkward truth, I point to the elephant in the room, I confess. And when I do this, when I take the first risk and sacrifice myself like that, what often ends up happening is that it changes the air in the room and people start telling the truth and taking risks around me. This going first business seems to have the effect of making it safe for people because it shows them how big the territory of our connection is, and it turns whatever space I’m in – a classroom – a dinner party – into a much more interesting and soulful experience because we all wade into deeper waters. read more…   share this...