Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Step Away from the Book, Lady, and There Won't Be Any Trouble

I was e-chatting with a former student, a woman from the Vermont program, so we're going back a ways. She'd been reading craft books and instead of giving her wings, they turned into concrete shoes. She wasn't blocked in the traditional sense, just stymied and overwhelmed.

I told her to just go back to the story she'd been working on and make a few mistakes. Butt in the chair, pen in hand, inhibitions tied up in the basement. Reading about writing sometimes is like reading about water. Just go to the well.

There used to be books about the wedding night with detailed instructions about how to proceed. We've all read DMV booklets. And, Lord knows, cookbooks. But at some point it's time to take off your clothes, get in the car, and cut up an onion. Wait. That didn't come out right. You know what I mean.

Reading about writing is fine and sometimes necessary and probably essential for an MFA student. But it can't replace writing. And it shouldn't get in the way of the writing. If and when it does, put the book down. Take off your clothes, get in the car, and cut up an onion!

For those who wait for the first of the month and the new poem, it's up on my website --

The March poem is short and funny. So you've been warned.



  1. Lovely post, Ron. Writing is the way through; reading about writing is sightseeing.

  2. If I get pulled over, naked and crying from this onion, well, I guess I'll have something to write about while I wait to be bailed out.

  3. Here's the poetry link:

  4. I also loved this post. Going along with your poem, my sister once read a book in which the very last line had the main character sitting down with pen in hand and starting a dairy. Which is actually way more interesting.

  5. Yes, step away. I wish I read this before I ordered a bunch more craft books!!! I bought a few on poetry, too.

    Thanks for this reminder, Ron.