Ten Days in a Writerly Life


These past few days feel almost as though I have been trying to squeeze my whole writing career into them. The ups and downs, the good stuff, the bad stuff. The writing itself.

I am writing. And that’s a good thing. No small feat when the teaching gets busy, and when the meetings run thick. Still, I slog along with the novel, nearing (I think) the end of the first full draft (that includes lots of little drafts, some chapters and pages gone over dozens of times already.) A little taste of the chapter I have just—in these past ten days—completed:

“Is it ever a good thing when your doorbell rings in the dark first hours of morning? Good news rarely comes this way, long before dawn, unexpected and unannounced. And so when Bud and Rebecca and the youngest girls heard first the chime and then the pounding and woke in the cold, powerless house, they sat up in their beds and huddled under their blankets for a minute, blinking in the gray, their breath making ghosts in the space before them.”

I am submitting. And in the past week, I have been receiving rejections. Five of them. Mostly forms. But this one that I will qualify as a “good” rejection:  “Please know, however, that we read this submission with more than the casual amount of interest; your work in some way distinguished itself from many of our other submissions.” This might be a form rejection, too, maybe just an upper tier form; if you have received this form as well, please don’t tell me. I want to believe it was meant for me and me alone. That it is specifically my work that distinguished itself. A little something to cling to.

And an acceptance and immediate publication. A little piece called “No Worries” on a site called 1000 Words. You can read it if you like.

A publication in Hypertext Magazine, one of my favorite on-line journals, in their Love Bites issue. A lot of good response to this, and I appreciate that. Here it is: There is a Light That Never Goes Out.

IMAG1457A contributor’s copy of a new text book (Culture: A Reader for Writers published by Oxford University Press) I have an essay in arrived in the mail this week.IMAG1458


A book club invitation where some people liked The Temple of Air, and some people hated it. The haters were the more vocal group. Ouch.

But back to the writing table I go. Why? Perhaps this: besides Philip and the cats, my writing brings me greater joy than anything else I know. Even when it disappoints me, even when it makes me ache.

To paraphrase James Dickey: a writer is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning.

Over these last ten days, there’s been rain. And a little lightning.

→As always, dear friends, thanks for reading! -PMc←


8 Replies to “Ten Days in a Writerly Life”

  1. This writing life can be a real bugger sometimes… lots of kicks in the teeth and hard knocks. But then something bright and sparkly comes along. We just have to hang in there, believing always, and keeping our eys on the stars. And shrug, maybe, and like your man in the story say out loud or under our breath, ‘No worries.’

    Good pieces by the way and I like the voice in the ‘Morrisey’ piece and the ideas… and the light never does go out… so keep writing.

  2. Wow, such good news about the novel progress, the acceptances, and what the heck on those rejections. I love your final statement, “But back to the writing table I go. Why? Perhaps this: besides Philip and the cats, my writing brings me greater joy than anything else I know. Even when it disappoints me, even when it makes me ache.” Wow, I would replace David’s name with Phillip’s–tho Phillip is pretty cool, and it would be true for me–and for many of us. Thanks for speaking the truth. Write on.

    1. Thanks, Anne-Marie. You gotta be in it to win it, they say. Hey, we won’t be in Seattle, but hope to see you sometime soon. Your Kelly from last year was at an event with me yesterday. So fun to see her, and to talk about you and Interlochen. Thanks for reaching out. xo

  3. Really grateful for this glimpse into your writing life, and the links to new work. Thanks for keeping it open and real and, as always, for writing.

  4. Well I just enjoy that extract, short as it is, and I know that wherever it comes from, and wherever it is leading to, they are good places from your pen. Ride the roller-coaster – novels are a pain in the backside. But don’t let them be too much of pain, as you have to sit on the same backside to write the damn thing. (That was my ‘Thought for the day.) x

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