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John Palcewski's Journal

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From Dani Shapiro on the Pleasures and Perils of Writing & the Creative Life:

What is it about writing that makes it—for some of us — as necessary as breathing? It is in the thousands of days of trying, failing, sitting, thinking, resisting, dreaming, raveling, unraveling that we are at our most engaged, alert, and alive. Time slips away. The body becomes irrelevant. We are as close to consciousness itself as we will ever be. This begins in the darkness. Beneath the frozen ground, buried deep below anything we can see, something may be taking root. Stay there, if you can. Don’t resist. Don’t force it, but don’t run away. Endure. Be patient. The rewards cannot be measured. Not now. But whatever happens, any writer will tell you: This is the best part.

These rewards manifest not as grand honors and prizes and bestseller rankings — though hardly any writer would deny the warming pleasure of those, however fleeting — but in the cumulative journey of becoming.

As Cheryl Strayed put it in her timelessly revisitable meditation on life, “The useless days will add up to something. . . . These things are your becoming.”


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The ultimate thinking about writing - no pen or paper, laptop or recording devise in sight.

Day before yesterday I was a dinner guest of Hillel Black, a retired New York book editor and he recalled one of his best-selling authors. This guy, he said, wrote his novels entirely in his head. When he finished, he sat at a typewriter and just typed it out. And I replied that when I was associate editor of Monsanto Magazine, my editor used to sit in his office for long stretches of time doing nothing more than doing the "Word Power" quiz in the Reader's Digest. Then one day he'd turn on his IBM Selectric and rapidly type out a flawless magazine article.

I don't have that kind of talent. But I wish I did!

Although, one year, when I was a shared teacher and spent my lunch hour driving to the neighboring community to teach the afternoon in their school system, I used to create songs (sung by horses, for horses) in a "horse opera", once VHS tapes were invented. Then I'd match them to the various video segments and send the tapes as sales tapes out to prospective customers. Some were silly little things the foals at play supposedly sang, one by a newborn whose dam drug him across a creek before he could reliably stand. He fell in, flopped around, finally getting through (while she walked across at the crossing point, where the water was 2" deep, but he ended up in 2-3 feet of it. When he got out the far side, she tried to run off, and he banged into her side. So I had him calling her a fink in the song at that point. Off that went to a gal with young children. She said that five minute section with the foals and the crazy songs were their favorites, and they'ed watch it over and over. Great. A top hit with 2-5 year olds... What a career best!

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