The Writer’s Routine

In Seattle, in my yard, the bushes are in bloom, especially the rhododendrons. I think of June as the Month of Blooming. For a few weeks now as I walk down the street I am struck by the bright pinks, whites, reds, purples, that gleam from people’s gardens. So many colors, so much celebration of life in between green leaves. So many pollinators at work resting on flowers and gathering pollen and nectar to keep their own life cycles going. Even in this day of dramatic changes in our weather and in our natural surroundings, it is encouraging to see beings of nature – pollinators, birds, bugs – going about their business as they always have, the best they can, gathering and feeding and propagating and bobbing about our world. Life goes on, right?

What I am doing now

A few weeks ago I found this illustration, “The A to Z of a Writer’s Routine” by writer Grant Snider, in the New York Times Sunday Review of Books. I thought: “Yes! This is really something of what it is like, to get up every day to try to write, to try to make it count, to doubt yourself and your work. To try again anyway.”

From the New York Times Review of Books.

In the past few weeks I’ve been plowing ahead with my endeavor to turn to writing novels vs. short stories. At times I feel I’m not making any progress, but I have to remind myself that you can’t always see the movement in your own work. Two steps forward, one step back, is how it seems, like the very slow advancement of a snail, antennae dipping up and down, sampling the air, feeling the ground beneath one’s foot, moving forward stitch by stitch. If you could fly up and hover over the path of your life, if you could see where you are headed, you might not give up so easily. But when you’re inside the effort and deep in the path of your life, you have to trust that you are learning, that you will one day come out of the struggle with ideas and insights and experience that will carry you forward, often in ways you had not predicted.

So. Awake. Breakfast. First lines. Meditate. Nap. Research.



Last week I was feeling down on myself, you know, all those little critical voices in your head, saying, you should be further along, and why don’t you have more done? And then I took a deep breath, and I tried to remember that I was doing my best. And then I remembered that every morning I’ve been working through poetry exercises, trying poems in the style of other poets, writing tercets with alternating four and five stresses per line, writing quatrains with alternative eight and ten syllables per line with no adjectives nor adverbs and including the word “lime.” Hah!

Things are coming, things are coming.

Recent Work

Here’s a poem from my work this month!


After Kay Ryan’s “A Certain Kind of Eden”

Pull out the root
grasp the sturdy stem and tug.
Whoosh! up comes the stalk
leaving behind the fine-hair roots
like pin bones of a fish.
But you’ve got the plant now
you toss it on the compost heap
That sorrow gone
That grief cast aside.
But what sticks with you is
the feel of stripped-away root from earth, stem from soil
how easy to uproot the moment
of his death, cast it far far away
to the back of the garden where it lies
shriveling, wilted, neglected, but not dead
never dead
the right way is to resist an urge to tear at it, shredding leaves, stem, roots in the process
the right way, they tell me
is to study it.
Examine its green-bright leaves, the white cap of fairy wing seeds
the hollow sap-stem of its body.
dispel the sorrow
see it for what it is.

Happy writing!


8 thoughts on “The Writer’s Routine

  1. Excellent post, my friend. Keep on and keep the faith. Your poem is awesome! I love it. I see it. I feel it. Sometimes, a poem is better than a chapter or a novel. Much love and hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do like this poem, I’m not quite sure why, like I can’t articulate that part of it really.

    I also feel like I understand completely the feeling of when you get to thinking you aren’t making any progress. Lately, I’ve been trying to file those types of feelings to “putting in my time” like if I don’t keep working at it, then certainly nothing will ever come of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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