Friday, May 11, 2012

The Interior Life of the Writer

I wonder, sometimes, why anyone would follow a blog written by an author who was taking keyboard in hand for no better reason than to put off working on her book. Perhaps some of you read my posts because you want to know how to achieve my stunning level of publishing success. For you, I have seven delicious recipes for beans, which I may reveal to you in next week's post. Or not.

As for my other friends, the ones with a more realistic handle on the literary life, I assume you're tuning in to see what I've been up to lately. Besides trying to keep from writing. Or trying to force myself to write. Whatever it is I'm doing.

You'll be happy to know I've completely recovered from the various conferences of last month. The seductions of the consignment shop I discovered a few blocks away from the Malice Domestic hotel in Bethesda are still lingering in my mind, though. In another year or two, if I can ever stick to a diet and exercise program, I might even be able to fit into some of those gorgeous clothes. For you size eights out there, the name of the place is Second Chance, and they have a web site at They don't sell the clothes online, but you can get an idea of what the shop is all about.

Tuesday the sewing machine came, the one I bought to replace Old Betsy, and I promised myself that as soon as I had written another two thousand words on the Work in Progress (which has been retitled Monkeystorm) I would cut out and sew up a dress. The fabric came from Mood Fabrics, a purveyor of jaw-dropping yard goods to the New York designers. Big fun. Check it out. Since they're in North Jersey somewhere the delivery was extremely fast.

So that's what I'm doing these days. I hit my word count and cut out the dress this afternoon. It might be lovely, or it might turn out to be a rag; I never know with my sewing. I have to go cook dinner now. Tomorrow I'll set myself another writing goal and when I achieve it I'll sew up the dress.

Leave a comment. Let me know what you're up to. Let me know how you make yourself write. Let me know whether you like beans.

Kate Gallison


  1. Kate,
    I don't, can't make myself write until I get sufficiently annoyed with myself that I do. It helps, I believe, that I always have something unfinished in my head and on the page to take up. I have several fascinating-sounding books on my shelves (e.g., 'The Midnight Disease') that treat of my disorder (unread, of course). I have come to accept this bald mystery: when I want to, I may, eventually, and when I don't, I won't. Good thing I don't have to make a living at it. Bob

  2. My writing just won't leave me alone. It nags and nags at me, crowding out other thoughts and things from my 'to do list' until I have no choice but to sit down and get to the writing. And as far as bean are concerned, I don't much care for the smell of raw bean cooking. They kind of have an acidy smell to me and I have to doctor them up with lots of herbs, spices and other nice smelling goodies to get me through the long cooking time. Working with canned beans is easier for me to deal with.

  3. Kate, My life has taken a turn for the worse recently. So I won't sound like a blubbering jerk, let's just say aging is not for sissies. You know! Our boats are painted different colors, but we are all in the same boat anyway. The doctors ask me what I do to control stress--shouldn't I join a support group or take one of the calmative, and very likely addictive nostrums manufactured (probably in China) by one of the pharmaceutical companies that populate your fair state. I tell them I don't need any of that. Every chance I can possibly manage, for as long as I can manage, I go the library and work on my next book. As soon as I put on my earphones and start up the playlist for the latest story, I am in heaven. All onerous responsibilities evaporate in the heady air of some fascinating period in South American history, and I inhabit a world where I have control over the events. Writing is saving my sanity. What's left of it.

  4. Margaret: I'm starting a new project for Saturdays, seven recipes for beans to feed starving writers. At least three of them are made with canned beans, and one is a cold salad, so maybe you'll like those.
    Annamaria: I'm hip, as we used to say. It's always something. But you can't complain on the internet or you'll have people you hardly know showering you with gooey sentimentality, bless their little hearts, and you can't complain at cocktail parties without hippies offering you drugs and social workers pressing their warm business cards into your trembling hand. Anyhow that's what used to happen to me. Sweet music and joyful writing are as good for pain as anything else.

  5. Robin Hathaway May 13, 2012 9:28
    The interior life of the writer. Hmm? Sometimes I'm not sure I have onr, or even that I'm a writer. I've been working on the same book for 4 years. That is ridiculous! It doesn't deserve that much time or attention. There are other books crowding in on me that I want to get to. But I have to finish this current one, don't I? Maybe not. Maybe I should chuck it. Anyway, that's what's going on in my interior life at the moment. Aren't you sorry you asked?

  6. Your comments stirred up a ton of responses from me - but we don't have the room here! Writing is an inner drive, itch, longing to do, the whole range of emotions and needs. We may all react differently, but it is the same gnawing au fond. And we are all, somehow, different, even in our mutual sameness. I'm always trying to decipher what makes good writing! Lately, I've read several well-received books that simply are not written well! But with 6 not-yet sold novels how dare I make a judgment!!
    I'm one of those who likes canned beans, esp. Bush's - maybe it's the picture of his lovely dog that sells me! tjs