The Road to Good Writing

This class is putting me in hyper-drive, in the best possible way. It’s like I’ve found a new gear. Speaking of, I’m someone who always drove a stick-shift, once referred to as a “standard.” Of course, automatic is now the standard. Anyway, I’ve got to get back to writing. As Rebecca Solnit says, “the road to good writing is made out of words.”

(Post 238 of 365)


Tethered: 48/365

Some days I’ll do almost anything else,
Wander the house, tackle the ironing, dusting, I’ll shuffle
This pile of papers, those books, to another more sensible place

from Ingrid Wendt’s The Simple Truth

A trip to the store, a long run, dishes, laundry, shoveling dirt, pulling the wheelbarrow that was too heavy to push, grading the garden bed, watching the squirrel eat an apple, salt air, Isabella walking up and down the Bilco doors trying to reach the cat in the window. The golden light that takes a little longer each day to surrender. I didn’t even try to sit down at the computer today, didn’t try to write. But here I am now, before bed. This daily practice keeps me tethered. I have to sit down and examine, figure out, come up with something. Every day I have to return to myself, look myself in the eye.

MFA: 17/365

I still want to get my MFA.

I was thirty one and studying for the GRE when I met my husband. I’d been looking at the MFA program at Brooklyn. I had a boring office job (albeit great co-workers) at a home accessories company on 34th Street and I was living in an apartment in SoHo I couldn’t afford.

The year before, I’d been accepted into a writing workshop at the 92nd St Y with Josh Henkin, an excellent teacher and incredibly kind human. Almost everyone else in the class was a professional writer (editor at Scholastic, writer for the Daily News, writer for the Financial Times). The class jelled, and when the workshop was over, we agreed to continue meeting on a monthly basis. Somehow I became the organizer and host, and every month Write Club met at my studio apartment. Tall french windows, original tin ceiling, exposed brick wall, a hot water pipe that spit and hissed during the winter. I had a futon for a couch that seated three; everyone else spread out on my bed and the floor, and we’d workshop two stories a month.

My (not yet) husband was from western Massachusetts. He called that lovely little studio, those precious 400 square feet in a coveted neighborhood that I’d luckily inherited at an almost rent-stabilized rate, “jail”. He interviewed for a few jobs in New York, but ultimately landed one in the Berkshires. I was hemorrhaging money in the city. The Berkshires seemed like a bucolic dreamscape. Not to mention cheap. I was wearing the rose-colored glasses of new love, a really thick pair with no peripheral vision.

And, just like that, I let go with both hands.

Now. Here I am. Thirty nine. Husband. Baby. Mortgage. Dreams…