Monthly Archives: January 2012

On how to keep writing


I went to a doctor the other day for a routine checkup and he talked about how he has been writing a book–for years.
He said he suffered from a terrible case of writer’s block and asked me how to get over it.
My prescription to the doctor was simple.
Just keep on writing. Write when you don’t feel like it. Do free writing. Write in your journal. Write letters. Write around the chapter on which you are stuck. Have lunch with a writing buddy and talk about the craft, then go home and write a poem or a short story.
Just keep on writing.
I know writer’s block so well we are on a first name basis. In fact, I call him WB. He is caused by all manner of things from fear of success to fear of failure and everything in between.
A few weeks ago, I came down with a case. Everything I wrote seemed to read like crap (I hope it wasn’t.) and I began to question myself as a writer–which is a sure sign of WB.
But I kept on writing. I sat down and just said ‘to hell with it’ and kept going. Even if I only wrote a paragraph.
Eventually, I finished the rewrite of a book, and old WB retreated in his dark cave. Will I see him again?
Of course. But as much as I hate wrestling with that devil, what I hate more is not writing. If I don’t write, it is as if a part of me has been removed and I feel the pain of its absence. I don’t feel complete.
So, to all you come down with a case of writer’s block, my prescription is this. Just keep on writing.

Yes, I have made it into a textbook


One of the stories from my book, “Red Ridin’ in the Hood and Other Cuentos,” has been included in the textbook, “Inside: Language, Literacy and Content,” by publishers National Geographic and Hampton Brown.
The story of “The Three Chicharrones,” my version of the three little pigs, is included in a chapter about retelling a story and modern fairy tales.
Thanks to Wendy at Filer Middle School for letting me know.
My award-winning book, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, is available at

Celebrating your writing buddies


Among the hectic days at the holidays, I took time to say “Thank goodness for my writing buddies.”
I say that a lot and not just at Christmas. My writing buddies are Bonnie Dodge and Dixie Thomas Reale, who are also my partners in Other Bunch Press.
Here is why they are important and why you need writing buddies.
They support and encourage me, especially on those days when I want to throw my computer out the window.
They are great critique partners. While I am good at plotting, they are good at motivation, characterization and making me dig deeper, which only helps my writing.
They understand the writing life and how it is to work on a project for months without the guarantee of a paycheck.
They are great at brainstorming ideas and ticking your imagination.
They love and respect the written word.
They are tough when they need to be, but also complimentary.
I have known many other writing buddies, but these two women are also my friends.
I have said this many times before, writing is a sometimes painfully solitary endeavor. But it helps to have people with who you can talk writing, and that helps ease the pain at making words appear on a blank sheet of paper or computer screen.
I urge all of you to find writing buddies in the new year if you don’t have any, and for those of you that do, please express your appreciation for them.