Posts tagged ‘writing’

January 22, 2012

Deb Margolin inpires me AGAIN!

Can I tell you something?

Every time I write something, I have this fear. I have this fear that it will be the last thing that I ever write. I am afraid that I will run out of ideas. Or, that my ideas will become a THING. I do not want to be part of the next big thing. I want to operate outside of that whole framework, outside of that flow of flashiness that comes and goes and before you know it, it’s on to the next big thing.

So this is not “shit writers say” or “shit widows say” or “shit mothers say” or even if it IS shit, it’s just shit because it’s shitty, not because it’s “the shit.”

Again, I am deeply inspired by Deb Margolin. Again, I have heard her play, “Good Morning Anita Hill It’s Ginni Thomas I Just Wanted To Reach Across the Airwaves and the Years and Ask You To Consider Something I Would Love You To Consider an Apology Sometime and Some Full Explanation of Why You Did What You Did With My Husband So Give It Some Thought and Certainly Pray About This and Come To Understand Why You Did What You Did Okay Have a Good Day.” (Yes, that is the full title.)

Only this time, instead of seeing her perform it in person, I just listened to her perform it on the radio. Live on wbai.org, just a few minutes ago. Just her voice in my headphones over my i-phone, taking me through this journey of frustration and yearning and bittersweet loving and aging and lamenting and poetry (oh, the poetry), while I washed the dishes, my son watching his cartoons in the background. And I didn’t think I could wait until the end of the piece to sit and start writing this. And at first, I tried to do both things at once, listen and write, but of course, I couldn’t.  So I settled instead for the listening and the warm water flooding over my hands, which seemed to make so much more sense.

Because you see, the words are flooding out of me. I am writing, then breathing a sigh of relief, and then a few minutes later, I want more. I need more. Like a sex addict, I just can’t be satisfied. I can’t get enough. I must put down more words, I must trace another path, another journey, another story, another wave of release, of sharing, of comparing, of touching you, whoever you are, just to connect, to know that I have been heard, to know that you know, that you recognize, that maybe you also feel what I’m feeling.

And I’m afraid. Deeply afraid. Afraid to want this so much, to need it so much. And yet, more afraid NOT to do this thing which frightens me deeply. Because really, when I take a little step back, I realize, I have already survived some of the most frightening things imaginable. Terrible losses, shocks, tragedies, disappointments, frustrations. And of course I have imagined even worse. And I know that there are people who suffer so much more awful and unthinkable things every single day, so really, what could be so bad about writing down what I feel and letting others read it?

Really.

What is the worst thing that could happen? You might not like it. You might not like me. You might not think I am a good writer. You might not enjoy my style. You might think me self-indulgent, maudlin, sarcastic, or even irrelevant. You might feel bothered, imposed upon. You might say, please, stop torturing me with your damn feelings, FEELINGS, blah blah, whatever. Shit, tell me something I don’t know.

Deb Margolin is brilliant with this play, because in it, she says so much of everything, but in a very particular, specific way. It’s a story about the experience of this one woman, Anita Hill, in this one moment in time, but it’s also the story of all women who have been harassed by men and then been powerless to have their voices heard and then ACTED UPON in the right way! And then it’s the story about her, Deb, but it’s also the story of mothers, who watch their children grow up and become their own people who don’t need us anymore, and then must contend with this world where terrible things happen. And other stuff about too many gadgets and dead birds and Bristol Palin…

I experience a strange thing when I hear this play of hers. Part of me is so filled up with the completeness of the experience. And yes, it is complete – this play is solid, and it is thorough and tight, and I can hear that it has been tightened up even more since I saw it performed in person (kudos to Deb and director, Merri Milwe). As I listened to it this morning, I felt as though it was saying everything there was to say. That there was nothing left. And I cried for being touched like that. For my own experience (yes, I identified with it so deeply) being so heard and so well articulated for others to share.

For example, “I don’t have time to dream things; I just need to do them. That’s how late it is…”

This speaks to me in a deep, deep way.

And so here I am writing about writing, and about Deb Margolin AGAIN. Because when something inspires you, it’s OK to let people know, so they can also be inspired. (Please listen to her play. I am sure it will be archived at wbai.org. If I get a more specific link I will post it in the comments.) Because I am realizing that I can write whatever I want, and that it’s OK if I posted something yesterday and now I’m posting something again today, because if it’s too much, or you don’t like it, then you won’t read it. And it’s OK if I put my feelings out there for you to share, because you might actually feel something similar.

Oh, and I think I’m going to change the name of my blog soon, because I’m pretty sure that this is original.

PS – The broadcast of Deb’s play has been archived! You can hear it or download the entire program from January 23rd, 2012 here.

December 31, 2011

Wild Women Just Do It

I have received a request. A dear friend and creative compatriot has suggested that I change the name of my blog. She says it is misleading. It’s not that she doesn’t get the irony therein, I’m sure she does. She is quite perceptive and has a brilliant sense of humor. However, she seems to think that people may not bother exploring any further if they are hit with something that reads as a psychic stop sign upon first meeting me in cyberspace.

Perhaps I should re-title this blog, Fucking Fantastic Writing. Maybe it’s time for me to come out of the shadows of my own modesty (read: insecurity). Perhaps it’s really OK for me to blast my message confidently throughout cyberspace and beyond. After all, I do not have an agent or a marketing guru or a PR firm working on my behalf. It’s just me.

See here’s the challenge. I might think what I’m penning is just brilliant, but you might hate it. There it is. Nothing complicated. What if I act like I’m the shit, and you just think I’m shitty?? That could be pretty awkward for me. Do you see my predicament here?

OK, you’re all pretty creative. Some of you might even make a living off your creativity. By the way, I hate you. No, ha ha… I don’t mean that. Seriously, I’m just playing, because I’m sure you really are brilliant and deserve whatever you have achieved. I’m just a mite jealous of anyone who doesn’t have to navigate the schizophrenia of the day job mind split.

But do you see what I mean?? This is a perfect case in point. I’m a pretty compassionate, loving person, and here I am openly admitting that if you have what I’m striving for, I would say I hate you and be jealous. Seriously. This is not a benevolent situation here, people. I absolutely want to be that person that arouses that kind of jealousy and hatred. Of course, if when I achieve that level of success, I wouldn’t won’t be a big dick about it, and I would will try to help as many people as I could can before, during and after, and who knows if I would will really be happy once I got get there… oh, the dog eat dog part of this really makes me a bit weary…

The bigger issue here is this. How do I claim my identity as a writer – own it, really own it, without worrying about you thinking that I’m a conceited, narcissistic, needy, insecure… need I go on??? OK, ok, you think I’m just fishing for compliments, but seriously, this shit gets very debilitating. I know, I know, none of you are sitting around thinking about me. You’re all busy dealing with your own shit. I get that. I learned that in therapy years ago, (to my great relief, I might add).

But nevertheless, I still get way too attached to what you might or might not be thinking. What writer doesn’t care what her readers are thinking??? I mean, you can’t really think about it while you’re writing, but like any act of bravado, you put it down with a flourish, hit send, and then the anxiety begins. It’s not easy to be brave when you know on the back end you’re gonna hear it from someone who says, um, that wasn’t a good idea, or, really, do you think you should be writing about THAT??? I mean after all, you are a (choose one) mother, professional whatever, someone who has to face your neighbors in the supermarket… the list goes on…

What am I, Catholic??? What’s with all the guilt? Yeah, I’m Jewish… OK. Let’s not make this a religious argument. I’m pretty sure I’ve stumbled into what my other extremely creative and brave friend describes as the plight of many women writers. We are often strangled by our sense that we, as women, can only express ourselves in certain prescribed ways, and to step out of that safe zone is to open ourselves up to all sorts of nameless dangers.

Seriously, girls, are we still buying in to that? You’d think after all this time we would have figured out that it’s OK for us to use naughty language and talk about sex or violence, or changing the government or being angry at corporate greed or protesting war, or pointing out injustice, or WHATEVER THE HELL YOU FEEL LIKE TALKING ABOUT!!!

Well this may be an extremely roundabout way of getting around to making a New Year’s resolution, but there you have it. 2012 will be my Year of Living Dangerously. This shit burns a whole in my brain, and it’s either write or die…

Earlier this week, my son and I participated in a Kwanzaa celebration with another dear friend. For those of you who are not familiar with its workings, Kwanzaa is a relatively new African American holiday designed to inspire and support a sense of family and community spirit. Its daily principles resonate with power and potential. As part of the yearly tradition, a libation (small offering of wine or water) is poured in honor of our departed ancestors as we celebrate their continued presence in our lives. We then honor ourselves and our children as the holders of our future.

In this spirit, I wish to honor some of the creative women I know who have  inspired and continue to inspire me through their work. Women who are not afraid, or if they are, they are not letting it stop them from pursuing their passion, their truth.

Kalae All Day – At the ripe young age of 23, one of my youngest friends, Kalae is someone who is coming into herself so quickly, she’s going to explode. She may think she’s already there, and honestly, she’s in there pretty good, but this is one young woman who brings so much to the table, I feel like she’s only just scratched the surface. Singer, rapper, writer, designer… the list goes on. See for yourself. Visit her blog. She is a force.

Deb Margolin – What can I say about Deb? She is quite literally one of the smartest, funniest, most honest women I know. As an artist/mother/lover she really gets the painful dilemma of creating, loving and letting go. Her experience, from playwright to performance artist to Yale University professor, and everything in between, speaks to the range of possibilities for creative women. She is also a damn good musician. Get her to a piano, and see what I’m talking about…

Kim Schultz – When I first met Kim, she was performing a one woman show about her relationship with a con artist and the death of her father. It was really funny. This incredibly candid woman has a knack for turning the sorrows and challenges of her life into the most enlightening and entertaining works of drama and comedy. A trained actress and improv performer, Kim’s latest is a piece she wrote after falling in love with an Iraqi refugee. Artist and accidental activist, she puts her heart on her sleeve on a regular basis, and for that I love her dearly.

Lillian Ann Slugocki  – Lillian’s stuff is so immediate, so passionate, so familiar (to me), and so unfettered by self-consciousness, that she inspires simply by being. I love the way she embraces the full range of her experience as a woman, and explores all aspects of her history, her desires, her needs… and she is one helluva storyteller. One of my newest mentors and friends, I look forward to her bravery and inspiration rubbing off on me as I resume working on my fiction.

Jennifer aka J.J. Brown – Jennifer’s background is extraordinary. As a scientist, she brings a level of insight to her fiction that is rare, indeed. Another woman who perceives herself and her work in the context of the world at large, she is not afraid to look unflinchingly at life in all of its dimensions, and explore the light and dark aspects with equal curiosity and sensitivity. I am proud to count her among the new friends I have made this year.

Jenifer Jackson – For the last decade or so, I have been enjoying the quiet evolution of one of my favorite singer/songwriters. This Austin, Texas resident who used to live in the East Village writes songs of love and loss and hope with a sweetness that touches me deeply. I saw her perform live the last time she came to NYC, at the Rockwood Music Hall, with her seasoned band. I think I cried from joy through half the songs.  Her music evokes at different times strands of folk, country,psychedelic pop, bossa nova, jazz and soul. I go back to it again and again…

Cherie Blackwell – This talented visual artist is also, I’m proud to say, my cousin. Another woman who incorporates a passion for science into her art, Cheri is currently engaged in a cubist exploration of Brooklyn landscapes. She is also a New York City public school art teacher, which automatically elevates her standing in my book threefold… not to mention the fact that she does a mean beat box.

Alice Bradley – Unless you count a few brief exchanges on Twitter, Alice Bradley and I do not personally know one another. Co-author with Eden Kennedy of the pee-in-your-pants funny book, “Let’s Panic About Babies…” (it’s a really long title), Alice is someone who I will probably run into at some point or another. She’s from Long Island, like me, so already, we are practically friends. Her book about birthing made me rethink everything I know about trying to be inspirational and give advice to other women. Plus, she says fart a lot. Well, at least once that I know of…

Carole Hart – Award-winning producer/director of the film, For the Next 7 Generations, Carole has been paving the way for women who believe in the healing power of the arts for decades. A seasoned television and film producer and writer, Carole has been at the helm of such notable works as Free to Be… You and Me, Hot Hero Sandwich, and this most recent documentary about the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. She has taught me volumes about bringing spirit and balance into art and life, and I’m proud to call her friend.

Erin Cressida Wilson – I am most grateful to Erin for her extraordinary support and encouragement at a pivotal moment of my life. It was she who encouraged me to start blogging when I was still in a fog, and she has been a great fan of my work even when I had no idea what I was doing. When I did not believe, it was her absolute conviction that I had a strong voice that kept me moving forward, one baby step at a time. I’m so lucky to know her, after all these years…

* * * * * * * * *

So happy new year to all of you, wild or not, women or not. I look forward to connecting more with each and every one of you in the coming year!

Photo by Crinity

September 18, 2011

Just write already… but don’t share it all, OK?

Seriously, what the hell is the big deal?

You wanna have a blog, you gotta write. It’s that simple.

I have always been expressive. Flute, ballet, singing, acting… Later on it was dj’ing, directing… But always writing. From the first diary entries back in fifth grade (shopping lists, mostly, and laments about being flatchested and boys that ignored me… ahem, clearly connected), to the later journal pages, poems, essays, short stories, plays… aaah, so many words.

So much crap.

It’s like that when you’re writing. Really, if you’re putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) on a regular basis, then 90% of what you’re writing is usually crap. But it’s the crap you have to get out of your system if you wanna get to the good stuff.

With me, I usually start out with overwrought cliches, trite phrases and predictable, badly mixed metaphors. Once I get those out of the way, I move on to talking ABOUT what I want to say. Finally, at some point, when I can calm down and stop thinking about who is going to read my stuff, how it might be received, and what I’m gonna wear on the book tour, I actually get to the point.

Once in a while, I lock into something that is inspired by something beyond my control. I like this. A lot. It reminds me of when I used to study the flute, and after a bunch of years, when I had practiced enough and started to develop some chops, I could actually play faster than I could read music. It was like my fingers had developed a mind of their own, and they would fly across the keys beyond my ability to consciously register their every move.

You wanna get to the really quality shit? You have to slog through the garbage. You have to practice every day. You have to get to where your ideas are flowing through your fingers faster than your mind registers the writing down of each and every letter. You need to put in your time, baby.

Julia Cameron had it right. That’s why The Artist’s Way is a classic, and has been translated into I don’t know how many languages, and she’s probably done very well for herself, thank you very much. Those morning pages are the real deal. Ya gotta do em. Ya gotta keep writing. Just do it.

But here’s the thing… You may want to think twice about sharing EVERYTHING you write. I mean, I know that every moment in your day is quite profound, and the level of detail you’ve put into some of those descriptions is, well… admirable. But you need to think about your readers. What are they experiencing as they read your stuff? Are you imparting anything worth sharing? Is there a lesson in all that verbiage? Some humor? Some insight into the human condition? Any advice? Words of warning? New information? Anything??

Blogging is a dangerous business. I know this. It’s very tempting to believe that because you can publish your words at will, that everything you have to say is worth reading. Sadly, this is just not the case. For most of us.

And believe me when I tell you, I am working to take my own advice.

Note: I have not been paid by Julia Cameron to promote her book or her online course. She doesn’t need my help to sell her stuff.

Photo courtesy of malsicuro