Tag Archives: Pat Walsh

Big learning curves: with writing and blogging (and a tidbit about Natalie Wood)

Learning curve re: blogging (among many):  Pat Walsh sent me a comment thanking me for the review and I can neither find it or see that I approved it for posting on this blog.  Not sure how I did this but, Pat Walsh, if you’re surfing the web again and find this blog, can  you re-send?  And let me know if you have a website or a blog so I can link to it.

Bri Spicer, one of my students, picked up on something in my review of Pat’s book, which is that publishing is something that you really shouldn’t consider until you’re really, really ready.  And needn’t necessarily be an end goal of writing at all.  Besides which, I’m publishing right now, aren’t I?

But back to Bri’s comment:  you absolutely must separate the idea of publishing from your writing, especially early on.  Not the idea of a reader, which is based on give and take and important to the writing process, but the idea of a publisher, which is completely marketplace driven.  Considering publishing and all that comes with it can be crippling if it’s done too soon.

Unfortunately, family and friends and even our own alter egos, have a way of pressuring us to see results.  Several examples: the beginning student writing a children’s story in my writing for children class years ago who asked, “You think I could publish this?” To which I responded, diplomatically, “Well, you could try,” and she replied, “Good, I could use the money.”

And yet another undergrad confessing angst about a novel, just begun, and whether it should be written at all, because will it ever be publishable? 

If all writers approached their early drafts with that question, given the odds in publishing, we’d never even start.

You need to write because you have a story to tell, something to say.  If you stay with it, publishing, in one form or another, will probably come someday, though monetary rewards, in any great Amy Tan/Stephen King-like numbers, will probably not.

Meanwhile, you have to learn.  And you can only learn by writing.  There is no other way.  And there is no failure except in not writing. 

In other news. . .


Comes not from our usual source but from our older son, whose interest in things sartorial continues to be nonexistent except when it comes to Natalie Wood.

At his insistence, because he’d watched in music class and LOVED it, we rented West Side Story for family movie night.  Yes, you heard right, not Shrek 3, not Happily Never After, our usual family movie night fare, but West Side Story!  And we sat rapt for the whole 2 1/2 hours, for although it is dated, there’s a reason why it won 10 oscars.

And older son may have revealed a few things about his tween self, basically that he seems to be crushing on Natalie Wood (we haven’t had the heart to tell him what became of her).  During the early scene in the dress shop,  Maria tries to get Rita Moreno to lower the neckline on her dress and complains endlessly about being the only one at the dance in a white dress.  Then she puts it on and all bets are off as she appears transcendant.  At which point our eleven year old, turns to us and says,

“You have to admit.  That is one beautiful dress.”

Out of the mouths of babes.


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Readings, more readings, and a book review

 A brief “Hi Mom,” moment to my Uncle Tom, who I found out is reading my blog.  And a real “Hi Mom,” to my actual mom, who probably sent him to it.

My colleague, poet and fractal artist, Terry Wright, gave an astounding reading at the Clinton Presidential Library Sunday.  Terry’s readings are always a great example of audience awareness, as in, he’s aware that there is one and he’s got to keep them entertained.  He reads one of his poems with the gusto of a Shakespearean actor and keeps you riveted to the content. 

He also kept us on our toes by handing a poem to an audience member after he read it.  It was the artsy equivalent of being at an Arkansas Travelers game and wondering if that fly ball is going to come to you.  Very cool.

Last night, I went to a fantastically well attended reading sponsored by the Vortex, our literary magazine.  Students read some great stuff while Nosferatu played on the Jumbotron in the background (they wanted to do this last year but were rained out).  We may have witnessed a first too–a student read a poem from his cell phone!!! 


78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might
Pat Walsh

***** out of 5 stars

As you might guess from the title, Pat Walsh is not about cozying up to the reader.  In fact, it feels at times as if he’s chewing you out.  But that’s not exactly a criticism–I stayed riveted to the book and I’m not a masochist.  Walsh, an editor at McAdam/Cage, just wants to save us from making all the mistakes that writers who’ve submitted to him have made over the years.  And give us LOTS of excellent advice for navigating the often-mystifying world of publishing.  Seriously folks, this is a top notch book, in fact, perhaps the best insight I’ve read on publishing so far.  Read it when you’re ready, really ready, to start thinking about publishing.  But not till then.  Till then, work on your writing because that’s all that REALLY matters.


Monday and Tuesday passed without wardrobe incident (the rents are beginning to clue in on the value of plain ol’ sweat pants).  However,this morning I held my breath as Will pulled on the new, tres cool (I thought) shirt I’d gotten him last week.  Sigh.  He appeared in front of me with his hands on his hips.
“Mom, this is, like, for a nine year old!” (he’s seven) 

Ok, it was a tad big (I got it at a garage sale and you can’t exactly choose your sizes).  But just a tad.   You could roll up the sleeves a bit and it was fine. Really.  I wouldn’t send my kid, especially this one, out in public in a shirt five sizes to big for him.  It was one of those “he’ll grow into it” decisions, and it really was a nice, current-style skateboarder shirt. 

  Took some convincing but he finally agreed.  Then he moved on to the cargo pants.  Unfortunately, these actually/accidentally were his brother’s and about six inches too long and they were simply not going to fly, I could see that.  So out came the old standbys, the gray sweatpants.  And all was well.  Phew. 

But tonight is Halloween.  Lots of opportunities for sartorial angst.  We shall see.


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