Tag Archives: letters

Dear Paper and Pen,

Dear Pen and Paper,

I bought a manual typewriter from a junk shop downtown Aberdeen and typed my first short story on it. I was eighteen. I didn’t own a computer until college. My son was just learning to walk and he spoke only in the roundest sounds and brightest gestures. Before then, I composed in notebooks. I never went anywhere without a notebook in my hand or backpack. I often had several notebooks going a once.

Finding time to write then felt the most impossible it ever has, enrolled in eighteen credits as I was, tied as I was to my first responsibility–parenthood.

In ten years, I composed fifteen or so short stories on the computer and filled twice as many –more–notebooks with a disorganized collection of journal entries, quotes pulled from other writers, poems, and story ideas. On my computer now, I have hundreds of poems, more than fifty short stories, and four full-length novels in various stages of development. But, pen and paper, I always start with you. When I’m stuck, I fall back on your forgiving blank page, nothing like the cold white of the computer screen, cursor flashing.

Pen and paper, with you, I can write anywhere and recline while I write, and there is something about the hand’s grip, the way ink loops and scratches across the page with my whim or intent, something about the way I can scrawl out lines or words and draw arrows to move pieces of prose around on the page.

Pen and paper, I prefer you for starting anything and when I’m stuck. You are my choice for letters and love notes. Among all the remedies prescribed for writing emergencies–the software, the apps, the social networks–you emerge as that simple solution people sometimes talk about.



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Dear Adulthood,

Dear Adulthood,


Why did I not hold you off a while longer?

I used to skip classes to spend hours penning ideas into notebooks–black coffee, toasted bagel to fuel my inspiration. I would stare out windows, at lovers walking down the street, and at old ladies on their raincoats on the transit bus that I took home for one shiny quarter. I would write and listen to music and daydream for hours.

“What will you do?” They asked.

“I’ll write,” I answered.

“What if your writing isn’t any good?” They replied.

“I’ll write better,” I stood my ground.

“Will you go to college?” They added.

“Why?” I asked.

Impassioned, impertinent, rebellious, alone against the world: Ah, that was me!

Eight years college. Twelve years high school teacher. Fourteen years wife. I learned to sacrifice writing for dollars and gold stars.

What if I let the house go? What if I stopped putting things back in their place? Started coming to work unprepared?

What if I got fired? If all I had to do was pen these lines?

I tell myself–being adult as I am–I don’t deserve to write at all until I’ve done my duty.

What you “do” if the first thing we ask a person we’ve just met.

I’m a teacher.

I’m a mother.

More meekly, I’m a writer.

When I tell people that they want to know if I’ve been published and whether I’ve written any books.


These responsibilities are endless.

What if I refused? Made unreasonable demands? Used my charm to get my way?

Would you tell me to be more mature?

What if I stopped cooking dinner? What if I really wrote every day? Really put in the time and let the muse take me even if it meant I wasn’t pulling my weight, wasn’t being my best in every way? Meant I missed appointments and forgot to pay my bills?

What if I lost track of time?


You tell me I must care, I must serve. I must work hard even if the reward is merely the satisfaction of having done my best work. I should put others before myself. I should volunteer more. Exercise more. Keep my house cleaner. Be a better parent. Stay in touch with old friends and make new ones if I can. Organize all the clutter. Be generous to my lover. Have a solution for every problem.

You make it so hard to write, sometimes.


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Dear Indecision,


Watercolor Sketch by wastedinspiration@gmail.com

Dear Indecision,

How have I come to trust so much in the process that I haven’t written a new sentence in two weeks? I moved some around and deleted others. I made a chart and a theme collage. For a day, at least, I moved my back burner project to the front and vice versa. I felt so relieved by this new plan and relieved again when I changed my mind the next day. I spent considerable time considering whether I should edit the six interconnected stories I have written or forge ahead with the fourteen that are mere concepts on an idea map.

Indecision, you allow me to stall indefinitely, make everything but writing a priority including joining Pinterest and trying new recipes.

Last week, I sat down to write at three in the afternoon and at four fifty had ticked five less important tasks off my to-do list but hadn’t written a word. I told everyone in my family that I was staying at work late to write, so I responded to the question, “How did writing go?” upon my return without specificity and with plenty of shame.

I’ve heard some tips famed to help with all this. Butt-in-chair. Begin with a line from a famous book. Write one page and then delete that page before you begin to write for real. Stay in the room. Communicate with your family that for ___ hour(s) you really can’t be disturbed. Hell, ask for even twenty minutes at a time if that will help you build a habit.

Trouble is, I’m having some trouble lately deciding just what my process will be.

*Googles it*


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