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Love/Hate: Writers on Writing

5 Writers Respond to Dorothy Parker

On Writing’s Beloved Struggle

The members of the Creative Writers Workshop were asked to view the image and write a quick, honest and heartfelt response.  At 100 words or less, they could edit this, if needed, but not over think it.  Here are the results —

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Typing is a cumbersome, antiquated mode of transmitting words onto paper.

Did Dorothy Parker mean to say, “I hate typing? I love having written?”

Writing is to the book, as dancing is to the dance.

‘Having written’ permits the writer to proclaim, “I am a writer.”

If I asked Dorothy Parker why she hates writing but loves having written, she’d reply I haven’t suffered the bi-polar nature of writing:  A mad churning out of words, or comatose waiting for inspiration.

If I got to hate writing, I’d quit. Let the writers do it instead.   –Kim

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I laughed out loud at this! Dorothy Parker, as usual, says volumes in a few words. It makes me wonder how much she must have struggled with writing and rewriting to whittle things down to the economical sentences she’s known for—not one word is wasted. It reminds me also of another quote by a famous writer: “Sorry this is so long. I did not have time to make it shorter.”  Making it shorter and making it better comes after first writing sloppy or bad, which most of us hate to do! Shitty first drafts everyone, shitty first drafts.    –Karen

Note:  “Sorry this…” by Mary Jackson in the New English Review and attributed to Blaise Pascal, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, etc.  “Shitty first drafts” by Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird

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I need to conquer this Goliath within me, this giant writer that rules over me.  Actually maybe not, because then that will be self-destructive. Maybe I’ll just harass her into a malleable acquiescence, use her to release my creative juices, go on dates with her, coax her into the silences of my soul, to find the words resting there and release them onto the page.  Because if this Goliath keeps ruling me in the same way, then no one will ever read my stories, and the pent-up energy will find other less satiable channels of expression.    –Hana

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I actually don’t hate writing at all – once it starts it’s sort of like what I imagine body surfing to be. Getting a start can be tough, especially if writing a book, can’t help thinking about the overarching storyline.

Don’t know about loving having written. Sometimes pleased, sometimes not, sometimes anxious about something in it, like “did I paint someone in an unfair light?” Today looked for the first time at all my chapters. Not going to look too hard, or I’d begin reworking, finding all the gaps that need filling, etc. Well, have to start putting something on paper for tomorrow – one of those times beginning a new part – always the hardest to get started!   –Ann

Dorothy.Parker.by.Kris.Heding

This irritated me.  Then I thought if I were DP, that nimble, clever broad, I’d rather be at the Algonquin with creative types loudmouthing and cackling, my brain firing on all cylinders, one hand gripping a cocktail while the other fluttered punctuating my voiced assaults.  In solitary with those fingers pounding keys, brain all alone, would be an utter bore.

I enjoy every part of writing, including talking and laughing about it.  Wish I could’ve met Mrs. Parker.  I’d ask ‘Can you really be that good at something you hate?’ then be on guard for the exploding wisecracker.   –Wayne

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Algonquin Round Table members

Please share your response in 100 words or less.
Consider joining a Creative Writers Workshop for all the fun and creative expression of the Round Table without the smoke, booze and attitude (at least in the room, though whatever happens on paper is celebrated).  Groups are forming now on evenings and weekends.  Each is limited to four writers.  Email me with your intention.

 

“Typewriter” — Dorothy Parker Facebook fanpage
“What Fresh Hell Is This?” — Libby Fife
“Book Page Collage” — Kris Heding
 

Client Success: Educator Jessie Hayden

ESL.WritingJessie Hayden’s classroom can get loud.   Very loud.

Her teaching style doesn’t require students to sit up straight, face the board and remain quiet.  Relaxed and approachable, she doesn’t mind if students put their feet up and chill.

In Jessie’s English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom at Georgia Perimeter College, every student brings his/her native language – Spanish, French, Urdu, Hindi, Farsi, Amharic, Bengali, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, etc. — along with a variety of skill levels within that language.  Even with the student’s minimal knowledge of their new country’s most utilized language, Jessie teaches vocabulary, speaking and writing skills using only English.

Her creative attitude led her to develop an untraditional way of teaching writing: instead of maintaining only thought-searching silence which can cause student frustration and hopelessness, she pairs students of different native tongues and cultures, so English is their only way of communicating.  From this, she empowers students to talk about ideas and challenges, as well as read and comment on one another’s writing.  Sharing their stories and receiving questions enables students to expand content, encourages speaking and note-taking, and increases the quality and level of writing.

Of her own academic journey, Jessie adds pragmatically, “Someone who teaches writing should be writing.”  Though publication is not necessary for her tenure-track position, Jessie learns continually like her students, as well as shares with and receives feedback from her colleagues.

Her article, When Writing Gets Loud: Integrating Speaking and Writing, was published in TESOL Connections, an online professional academic magazine for instructors of English as a Second Language.

Having worked together on various projects over the last decade, Jessie approached me for coaching with brainstorming ideas, shaping the query, revising the article for submission, then editing from TESOL’s editorial comments.

1-jessie.2013To Jessie, the concept of sharing and learning together is as old as time, yet combining writing and speaking into complimentary lessons is a fresh approach that works well for her classes.  And when students fill the room with noise and Jessie moves within it giving guidance, she knows everyone’s learning.

Just Now

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Waking up late today after a very full yesterday added to daylight savings time stealing an hour, I did my morning ritual in the afternoon — writing, drinking tea and checking in with the world online.

My intuition kept nudging me: Get in the sunshine.  Make that the priority.

Okay, okay.

No work.  No writing.  Take a break.

The feelings felt good, and I knew it was the right thing to do, so I went to walk the path from the Dekalb Tennis Center across the tracks, by the ruins of the old Dekalb Water Works, then onto the boardwalk by the stream over to Medlock Park where the little leaguers play.

Immediately, I tried to phone my sister-in-law and check in.  Got an answering machine.  The same with a friend and my dad.  I left multiple messages and pocketed the phone.  I relaxed into it.  Even alone, there were interactions between me and others, me and children, me and dogs.  Instead of talking on the phone to someone 60 or 1500 miles away, I was interacting and sharing face to face, often with only expressions and body language.

Both coming and going, I passed two girlfriends chatting about one’s new lover and how to navigate the relationship.  This contrasted with another woman on the phone who at first had turned away from the boardwalk for privacy, then when I saw her again, she had her curved hand on her forehead and was staring blankly.  I playfully thought she might be receiving a psychic message.  As I got closer, I saw she was just trying to read her smartphone screen in the mottled sunshine.  Again, I passed her without seeing her eyes.

That could have been me, I thought.

Back at the water works, structures graffiti artists use as a canvas, constantly spraying over each other’s work, I snapped some pictures on my smartphone and talked to a man as he watched his son.  He offered that he wasn’t thrilled with the ‘vandalism,’ mentioned even threatening to call the cops on a young adult with multiple spray cans and a respirator who was going for it one afternoon.

I offered my opinion:  I honestly look forward to seeing what they’ve done.  It’s like a free art gallery on my walk.  They respectfully don’t stray onto other surfaces, just sticking with these.

He looked at me and listened.

Besides, I continued, on my way in there were lots of moms and pops with kids, all talking about it, pointing at different parts, interacting with the art and one another.  Many of these people may never set foot in a museum, so that interaction may prove priceless to one of those kids.  And the artist had fun, too.  Mostly, though, the art encouraged folks to share.  So, really, what’s the harm?

Plus it got this stranger and I talking about our neighborhood.  We continued to chat, to question, to share and be heard.  Then we shook hands, smiled thanking one another, and moved on.

For all the messages I left on smartphones around the country, there were no return calls.  Great, I thought, what a beautiful afternoon to be outside.

Dear John, It’s Over #breakup

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29 characters of a short-not-sweet tweet broke his heart.

Then she grinded it into the ground with detailed phrases.

Always late.  Earbuds in ears, you never listen.  Forgot bday.  Crappy friends.  Not best lover. #breakup

Not only did they go out to her hundreds of followers including their friends and families, but she hash-tagged it for anyone who wanted to follow her ‘breakup’ rant.  And she wouldn’t return his calls; she had a different audience she wanted to talk to.

Keep stinky dog.  I get DR table, bed, clothes Sat noon.  Be scarce.  Stop calling. #breakup

Her follower count climbed as John commiserated with his pals at the sports bar the next day.  Too many beers for 11:30am on a Saturday with no good game on.  The buds pretended to check scores while following the ex on twitter, shooting grimaces behind John’s back while they tried to console him.

“You’re too good for her, man.  I bet she’s messing around.”

“John, if she won’t take your calls, you should be tweeting.  Let her have it!  Crap, here’s another one!”

Dog bit my friend, ripped his jeans.  Lucky I didn’t kill her.  Trapped her on balcony.  #breakup

“When Shandra was fooling around on me, I figured it out after her phone kept breaking up on the road.  She never drove on the expressway, and that’s the only dead zone between our places.  Where was she going?”

“When I lived with Beth, she’s such a snoop that I just sent myself a sexy text from a girl’s phone at work.  Then I left my phone when I went in the next day, and Beth did the rest.  She was gone when I got back that night.  Trashed the place, but I never heard from her again.”

John emptied the pitcher.  “Maybe I should have tracked her more.”

They reinforced “Couldn’t hurt” and then “Too late now.”

Taking ipod dock you never use.  Leaving dishes.  #breakup

“Shoot, I remember way back before my first wife when I dated a gal who kept getting pages and left me to get to a phone.  Crazy, but I thought she was a dealer or something until a buddy showed me how easy it was for her to set off the beeper.”  He poured some beer on the old wound.  “Just an excuse to get away to find a hookup.  I wish she just could have told me.”

Broke shelves laughing.  Glass against wall.  Buy broom.  #breakup

Many operate intimate relationships by rules learned as seventh graders where they tell their friends to tell the other person their feelings, or they do something to make the other person break up with them so they don’t have to look bad.  Now with more ways to communicate, it’s easier.  But do these rules really work?

Is it time to play by new rules?  If you can say “I Love You” to someone in the passion of the moment, why is it so hard to tell them face-to-face that it’s time to move on?

Can you really express your character in 140 or less?  Do you owe the one you loved more than that?  And what do you owe yourself?

Outta here.  Place is all yours.  #breakup

Disclaimer:  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.