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The Art of Being Still as a Writer

The Art of Being Still, by Silas House

"We writers must learn how to become still in our heads, to achieve the sort of stillness that allows our senses to become heightened. The wonderful nonfiction writer Joyce Dyer refers to this as seeing like an animal… We writers must become multitaskers who can be still in our heads while also driving safely to work, while waiting to be called “next” at the D.M.V., while riding the subway or doing the grocery shopping or walking the dogs or cooking supper or mowing our lawns.
We are a people who are forever moving, who  Read More 

A Feral Parents Blog: “Empty Nest Blues”

The woman wept into her cell phone as she pushed her shopping cart recently in a big-box discount store. “It’s like a death,” she wailed. “I’m glad for them that they’re in college but it’s grief like they died.” I wanted to wend through the aisles of the store in pursuit and tell her “Yes!! It feels terrible, and then a little better.” Living in the Empty Nest brings a sharp and surprising pain. Every mother I know who is currently saying goodbye to an 18 year is stunned with how intense – and unexpected – the pain is. We were not prepared for this, not warned (as almost all else in parenting, I suppose). I wanted to tell the weeping woman in the store:

It’s a Death: The Empty Nest does bring up feelings of death. It’s the end of an era and there are a million reminders that it’s over: the refrigerator that is now nearly barren, the car stays clean, the DVR contains only  Read More 

“A Most Expensive Book” in the Library Battle

The news behind the upcoming auctioning of one of the first public library books printed in the US isn’t the price it’s going to fetch. The important issue, to me, is the shrinking public access to libraries and resources. Privatization is a genuine threat to the public access that is at the heart of our definition of the ‘written record.’ Deep in this story is the report that libraries are selling off volumes which leaves great work out of the public record and thereby lost to time. And shrinking budgets which sounds to me as if there’s less money for acquisition as well. The written record of human existence cannot be left into the hands of people with money, or companies who could easily profit from currently non-profit ventures such as Google’s current endeavor. Like the roads and the military, the written record of global life must be available to all.

The American Library Association itself has issued a task force report (alas, no link is provided in the NYTimes article) called “Keep Public Libraries Public.” I’d love to see their plan of action.
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Chatting with Friends in #MyWritingProcess Blog Hop

I love a good conversation among friends and that’s how #MyWritingProcess blog tour is shaping up. Many thanks to Nathan ‘Burgoine for his candid and insightful entry, for tagging me, and for being a kind, gracious, witty and talented friend. Did I mention talented? Very talented!

What am I working on?
After immersing myself in the Middle Ages in both The Mandrake Broom and A Slender Tether, I’ve most recently come back to the present (as much as any of us writers are ever actually in the physical moment – and when is that? At work?) And I’ve been trying to come up with another word for ‘work’ when it applies to writing so I don’t feel as if I’m constantly at work. Playing? Sounds silly. Crafting? Sounds like Play-do. You see my quandry…and how easily I’m distracted which is a difficult trait for a writer who has 100,000 words to stick into some semblance of order. Alright, back to the question. My new piece is a series of stories set over 40 years around a small lake in Northern Michigan, an eerie collection, I think. Love, detrayal, an explosion, family dynamics, a soldier gone mad, the exquisite (to me) landscape of pines and loons. At this point it’s called The Disappearing Andersons of Loon Lake, though my editors/publishers are mostly (and thankfully) responsible for the titles of my books. I’ve given each of the stories a different date in time because I realized that because of the profound impact of the cell phone, some of the plot lines couldn’t be modern. And though I’m told that story collections don’t sell (to which I point out that the Nobel Prize just went to a short story writer) I persevere.

And then, of course, as I shipped the collection out to my private editor, the Muse delivered  Read More 

Would You Want an Android Promoting You? Phillip K Dick's Head Lost

I’m struck by the recent book review of “How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick’s Robotic Resurrection” and I’ve been puzzling over some questions it raises for writers.

First, the facts. The book “explains how a team of researchers at the Univ. of Memphis collaborated in 2005 with an artist and robotics experts to create what was then the most sophisticated android anywhere, a replica of the head of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick” (science fiction author of Blade Runner etc.). The android’s face was sculpted with a skin-like polymer, his non-functioning body was draped in Dick’s clothing donated by the family, and his speech was assembled “through an immense database of Dick’s own words as expressed during his lifetime in books and interviews…Phil could spit out an accurate Dick answer to a specific question if it found a match.” Or he was programmed to improvise.

But here’s the part straight out of a Dick novel: his creator was taking the head to Google for a meeting  Read More