Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Weekly convo with random folks I meet in Austin, TX (although this story could easily take place in many other cities and towns in the US):

“Where are you from?”

I’m from New York.

I'm So NY

Note to self: buy this t-shirt

“Oh? Really, what part?”

New York City.

“How long did you live there?”

Huh? I’m from there.

“I know, but for how long?”

I was born and raised there.

“Do you still know people there?”

Of course. I’m from there. I grew up there. Don’t you know people in the town you grew up in?

Yeah, but everyone could have moved away.”

Like ALL of my neighbors, all of my family, and all of my school friends?

“You went to school there?”

My parents are from there. My grandparents lived there, my great grandparents lived there, my great-great grandparents lived there. I’m from New York.

“Oh wow.”

Yes. We have supermarkets, too.

“What?! Where? I’ve been to New York, but I’ve never seen a supermarket. Like a big one? I’ve seen those little tiny markets.”

Those are bodegas–little grocery stores, corner stores. You do major grocery shopping at a supermarket, not a bodega.

“Where’d you grow up?”

I’m a Bronx girl.

“They have grocery stores in the Bronx, huh? Oh, but not in Manhattan.”

There are plenty of supermarkets in Manhattan.

“No! Really, where?”

Probably a block away from whatever hotel you were staying at.

“Shut up! Well I’ll be.”

Never ceases to amaze me how fascinated the rest of the US is about supermarkets in New York City.

“Why’d you move to Austin?”

I’m a weather refugee.

“What does that mean?”

I hate snow.

“We get snow.”

No you don’t.

“It does snow sometimes.”

That’s not snow.

“No, it really does snow here.”

Have you ever shoveled you car out for an hour, then had to wake up the next morning at 6am and do it again?

“Oh no. We don’t get snow like that.”

I know, which is why I live here.

“Wait, you had a car? I thought you said you were from New York.

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“Writing is one of those talents that don’t get easier with practice. Every time I sit down to write I feel as though I have to poke around to find a new vein to slice in order to get the words to come. The most that a writer can hope for is to be surrounded by people who love her and care enough about her to stand by with gauze and help bind her wounds when she has bled enough.” (Renita J. Weems in Listening for God.)

Rewrites and editing are not for the meek at heart. Thinking in metaphor, I’m finding myself with a new appreciation for high divers. The perfect jump happens a few steps back, where the ladder and the diving platform meet.

Commitment to keep climbing, keep going, and focus on the task at hand.
The initial endorphins that kick off your writing are not unlike that initial rush of energy you get when stepping foot onto a ladder, climbing past the low dive (for amateurs), and climbing, climbing, climbing, higher and higher above ground. The hard part, the part that is mastered by champions, is those last few steps, and that moment when you hoist yourself up onto the platform and steady yourself and your mind. The success of the dive, or in the writing, happens there. It is the place where so many freak out and climb back down the ladder, refusing to descend into the craziest thing: jumping off the edge. Others press their nerves and haphazardly run and jump, belly-flopping and making a spectacle of themselves. (Have you ever read a poorly edited book?)

Publishing is when you jump off the board. At that point you’ve done all you can, and you pray that your preparation and set up were on track, and that you can just stay with it, not fighting the momentum, but leaning into it.

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Katie Ruppel
Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, September 23, 2011

Inspired by her mother and aunt, both Harlem Renaissance writers, Ms. McGrath and her husband started Renaissance House in 2001 as a haven for writers and artists of all kinds simply to have the time to work, think, write, paint, draw, and most importantly, do nothing.

 This past week’s house-full featured Fern Gillespie, a journalist-turned-fiction writer from New Jersey, Simone Monique Barnes, a New England creative nonfiction writer working on stories about foster homes and orphanages, and Lesago Malepe, author of Matters of Life and Death, a true story of an African family’s struggles under apartheid.

That’s me, third from the left!

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