Monthly Archives: February 2012

Tryouts

I’ve always loved the form of the personal essay.  As a teenager, I loved reading Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines, largely because of the personal essays in their pages by writers such as Mary Cantwell.  A Google search leads me to a blog called EAT, “a tribute to Mary Cantwell” by Julia Reed, which mentions Cantwell’s columns for Mademoiselle as being about the pleasures of meals taken alone or with family and friends—but that’s not how I remember them.  I wasn’t particularly interested in food in high school, when I consumed Cantwell’s essays, but I do recognize Reed’s appreciation of Cantwell’s … Continue reading

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The Gift of the Tortilla

At writers’ group last week, I mentioned how hard it is to get back to work after breaking for lunch.  “Bring a snack in with you,” Monica said.  “Then you can keep going until two or three.”  She smiled:  “I eat a lot of nuts.” That got me thinking.  Not so much about nuts, or how to stretch out the work day (which, incidentally, I’ve been successfully doing once a week since last month’s productive retreat), but about preferred writing snacks.  I don’t mean the sandwich or the heated-up risotto from last night’s dinner, but the snack, the treat, the … Continue reading

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Sharing Our Work

The first time I showed someone a story I’d written, I thrust the pages at her and fled her office.  This was in 1992, another lifetime, when I’d come to realize that if I wanted to write someday, I’d better start writing.  The someone was an ideal early reader—intelligent, compassionate, wise.  She read the pages and thanked me, asked me about how it was to show them to her.  (Yes, she was my therapist, who not incidentally, helped me figure out that if I was ever going to write someday, I’d better start writing.) Not all readers since have been … Continue reading

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Mystery Surprise

I’ve never much liked mystery novels.  I get either helplessly confused by the third chapter (Smiley’s People) or impatient that no one else figured out early on that of course the wife did it (Presumed Innocent). In fourth and fifth grade, I collected Nancy Drews, mostly to try to understand the intriguing world of teenagers, for which Nancy’s life, with her little blue roadster and her boyfriend named Ned, did little to prepare me. Tattered-jacketed copies of The Key to Rebecca and The Russia House sit on my bookshelf, as do biographies of the Romanovs and Winston Churchill.  Books I’ll … Continue reading

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