Here’s what you do: Write.
Here’s how long you do it: For as long as humanly possible, until the stars come out and then go away again.
Here’s what you write: Anything. Write anything. Write.
Here’s when it starts: Right after the day job. Get your ass home and write.
You’re invited to Friday Night Writes!
Here’s the drill: come home tonight, do whatever you need to do to get the stink of the day-job off you, make a snack, make some coffee, whatever you need, then pull up a chair and write.
Write late into the night. Write til the lead breaks or the ink runs dry. Write til you can’t hold your head up anymore. Don’t worry about the rest of the world. They’ll go out and party without you. And they’ll go to sleep without you. Just write. That’s all you have to do.
Good luck! I’ll see you at the 3 am paper shuffle. Post, if you feel like it, at #fridaynightwrites.
Kara Lee Corthron started this. I’m so happy she did.
“My hunger for knowledge is practically pathological,” writes Corthron.
So is her passion for storytelling and sharing what she learns with her fellow travelers on this big blue marble.
Every day for this past month, I have been profiling a different woman to celebrate Women’s History Month, along the way enlarging my world and finding connections to positive role models. I got the idea from Corthron who did the same kind of thing in February on her blog, Things I Think About.
“For each day of February, I’m going to feature a Black individual on my blog who falls into one of the following categories: 1) someone who rarely or never receives any attention during Black History Month, 2) someone whom I’d like to learn more about, or 3) someone I’ve only just heard of!” writes Corthron in her introduction to the project.
“Keep in mind that these entries will be very casual—I’m not a historian or a biographer—so please feel free to add other facts that I’ve left out or to add your own discussion questions/topics in the comments section. I want this to be an interactive project so I hope readers will be inspired to contribute.” Read More
Today’s profile begins with a triggered memory about the first time I ever had a poem published. While I don’t remember the poem, I remember my third grade teacher–or was it fourth?–announcing my name to the class as one of that years’ poets in Pencils Full of Stars.
Oh, I was thrilled!
She asked if I wanted to read it out loud to the class.
Then I was mortified.
Every year, the Anchorage School District published a book of the students’ poems. I haven’t thought about that little slim volume in years. I do still have my contributor’s copy somewhere. I need to go back and find that first little poem. I bet it was about trees.
I started wondering last night who had started the Pencils Full of Stars so I went on line looking for my first poetry editor. Her name was Bell Benton.
In 1969, teacher and poet Bell Benton conceived the idea for Pencils Full of Stars, a collection of poetry by young writers.
“One day I said to my first graders: ‘You write such beautiful thoughts, your pencils must have stars in them!’ They laughed with delight, and one little boy held up his pencil and said, ‘Look! My pencil’s full of stars!’ I hugged him and said, ‘You’ve just named our poetry book!’ And Pencils Full of Stars was born,” said Bell Benton.
Written by elementary children across the Anchorage School District, in Anchorage, Alaska, the collection was compiled and published following each academic year. For the next 29 years, Benton guided the pencils, discovered the stars, and kept Pencils Full of Stars alive through its yearly publications.
Bell Benton passed away in 1998, after which the Eta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International, a society of women educators, set up the Bell Benton Memorial Poetry Award. The Award works to honor excellence in poetic expression and honor Bell Benton, founder of Pencils Full of Stars.
I never met Benton. I wish I had. I’d like to tell her that she made a huge difference in my life. I knew I wanted to be writer from the moment I learned to read and Benton encouraged me in that dream and today I am a published poet and playwright.
I wonder how many other writers she helped foster and start on their way?
What is Friday Night Writes?
It’s simple. Go home. Sit down. Write for as long as you can.
Here’s how you do it: come home from work, sit your butt in a chair and write til you drop. Write anything! Write everything! Write into the wee hours!
it’s a great way to eliminate all traces of the work week you just finished.
It’s a great way to get some shit done!
I’ll be starting at about 7pm Alaska time.
What is Friday Night Writes? I’ll explain. Pay close attention. It’s pretty technical.
Come home from work, sit your butt in a chair and write until your head hits the table.
Did you get all that?
Write. That’s it!
Write until you pass out.
Here’s the rules: there are no rules. It’s the end of the work week and time to wash off the grime of the day job. Tonight, we kill the rules.
Share, if you want, or not.
“Everything I wanted I fought for–but I didn’t always get it, now let’s not forget that.”
So says Patricia Neal to BBC interviewer Sue Lawley, and then she laughs that famous Patricia Neal laugh, that expansive laugh that always seemed to burst from her heart and fill any room she was in.
What a long and storied life. Patsy Neal from Tennessee, oscar winning actress, wife, mother, lover, author and raconteur. She was one of a kind, truly.
This morning while making my breakfast I ran across this podcast with her from the BBC from 1988. The premise of the Desert Island Discs is that the guest is to be sent to a desert island alone. He or she is allowed to bring one record, one book and one luxury item. How fascinating to hear what Ms Neal would’ve taken with her to a life of solitude. How poignant to hear her at this point in her life, after the years of incredible work, through the love affairs, the marriage and the children, she is alone. And she is laughing.
I love research. I love tangents and arcane facts that lead me far afield of my predetermined story. I love to get lost in the tall dark woods where I can spin around til I don’t know if I’m coming or going. Which way is home? I have no idea but I’ll find my way eventually… when I’m ready. My dog taught me that.
I love old letters, those paper artifacts of our connections to one another, the paper record of our life and times. Tonight, I’m reading the letters of Mother Mary Harris Jones and getting a glimpse into a life of purpose and will.
We glorify the Man of Action as a cultural trope, but we overlook The Little Old Lady of Labor’s Call to Action.
Mother Jones was a firebrand, all right. She was a prickly burr under the saddle of the tyrant. A righteous hornet with a well-aimed stinger spreading agitation.
I thought I’d share a letter she wrote in 1920 to John H. Walker, President of the Illinois State Federation of Labor. Keep in mind, she was around 83 years old when she wrote this:
… Things are pretty lively over here, we are doing business. I had a meeting at Princeton, West Va., yesterday the first labor meeting ever held there.
It was only five miles from Bluefield, the head-quarters of the Baldwin Thugs. I must have had six or seven thousand people, there were seven wagon-loads of Baldwin Thugs at the meeting, but John, I licked Hell out of the whole crowd.
I put a new life and a new spirit into the wretches, certainly it was taking my life in my hands, because I had to come back thirty-two miles, over rough lonely roads along the mountains, with only one man and he was a lawyer, and the chauffer with me, everyone was afraid they would follow me and murder me, but we bluffed them and took the wrong road.
It was near eleven o’clock when I got into Hinton, but after I crossed the river, I felt safe. I got into Charleston at four o’clock in the morning, had no sleep for twenty-eight hours. I had to go thirty-four miles over that rough road and back the same and then speak for one hour and a half to that tremendous audience, but John, I sowed the seed anyhow, the voice of labor should not be raised there before, it was just as bad as homestead, but anybody else would have got killed.
Give my love to them all at home…
Confession: I’ve never done a PowerPoint presentation.
I found myself in a room full of amazing artists this weekend wherein we each took turns explaining ourselves as artists. Everyone else had cool aluminum earrings that doubled as thumb drives with their awe-inspiring powerpoint presentations on them. I had a piece of paper. They had diverse and exciting images showing their work and themselves in the midst of their process. I had a piece of paper. Their images were dynamic and insightful. My paper was 8 1/2″ X 11.”
So once again, I’m chasing down the 1990s and jumping on the bandwagon late. So, for those of you who are curious about what a writer’s process and work mode looks like, I’ve put together my own presentation of images showing me at work in all the varied and exciting ways I create as a writer.
10 Portraits of the Artist as a PowerPoint Presentation