Wednesday, November 28, 2012


One of my biggest problems as a writer is that I can't seem to focus myself well. I can sit down and work on a project for an hour or two, three or four days in a row. After that, the fire dissipates, and I can't make progress or regain the determination I had when I started.

I think this stems from the fact that I have too many ideas in my head and not enough time to commit them all to paper. Writers have been facing this dilemma since time immemorial, I'm sure. I wish they would reveal their motivational secrets to me across the years. Alas, that won't be happening, so I have to find my own way through the distraction.

For now, I'll start with a simple strategy: taking my writing tasks one day at a time. Perhaps it will prove an effective fix. Or maybe I'll skip ahead of myself like I tend to do. We'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Permission

A nutritionist changed my life.

Michelle (just look at how adorable she is, guys!) and I worked together in 2010-2011. One of the most important things she taught me is that I need to give myself permission to eat: I am free to enjoy my meals, and I must tell myself that it is acceptable to do so.

I promise I'm going somewhere with this that will benefit those of you who happen to be writers. Stick with me.

When writing about your own life, there is a fine line to be walked: how much of this story can I tell before I being infringing upon the rights of the others who populate my tale? Should I clear that second chapter with Mom? Will my best friend from high school be upset that I described our exploits in detail even though I changed her name and identifying characteristics?

Sometimes, even though we are the main characters of our own stories, I think we get lost in the shuffle. Of course it's important to be respectful of the people you discuss and take your role as the narrator seriously. But I also believe that we must give ourselves permission to discuss the things that happened to us.

This could be anything, from a traumatic encounter with a gecko to the first time you went to a funeral with an open casket to how you discovered you were allergic to peanuts. And we are not required to relate each detail or describe every event in our pasts. However, acknowledging that you COULD share your experiences if you chose to do so is important.

Just like Michelle wanted me to realize it was okay to say, "Yes, Cate, you may have that brownie," I want you to know it's all right to say, "Yes, I may write about this thing." It could be that doing so frees you of hang-ups you didn't know you had.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Mystery Scar

I have a scar on my right index finger, and I'm not sure what it's from. Not the Alfredo incident--that was my thumb. The cat that bit me when I was in kindergarten didn't leave a mark that I recall.

The lingering sense that I should remember the source of this blemish haunts me. It appears to be a recent injury, sustained within the past year or two. At the time, I must have told myself I'd recollect the moment each time I looked at my hand. Now it's gone, faded into the hazy place between useless things I learned as an undergraduate and important things I didn't write down as a graduate.

Maybe I stabbed myself with a fine-tip pen by mistake. It could be a place where I scraped myself with the head of a screwdriver as I assembled my big-girl furniture (bed, desk, sofa). Knowing me, it's likely to have come from an open flame.

Little pink dot, shinier than the surrounding flesh, won't you reveal your secrets?