Ask the Quarterback to the Prom

I have a novel coming out in July of this year. My publishers asked me if I knew a few authors who would be willing to give a blurb to help promote the book I know a few authors. I attend workshops, a writer’s group, and every literary event in my vicinity that I can. I’ll stand in line for an hour to exchange a few words with someone whose books have meant something to me. (My students have suggested I am overzealous in my admiration of authors. To that I say, I am always respectful of boundaries and if anyone minds my…

Fire the Introject

The introject, as I understand the term, is the critical, disparaging voice we hear inside our heads after being criticized and disparaged over a period of time by others. That is, if there were people in my life who hurt me, I continue their abuse on myself long after the relationships with those people are over or minimized. I’ve done some serious inner work this past year over firing my introject. It hasn’t been easy. This isn’t about going to the sink and getting a glass of water and feeling better. This is about taking an honest look at the…

Drink Water

You bought a new notebook for this? After the build-up and the vortex of accomplishment and the go big on resolutions hoopla, the first thing I have to say to myself is drink water?! Drink water. A few years ago I went through RCIA at the Newman Center. During the session on Baptism, the leaders asked us to reflect on water as a symbol of renewal and rebirth. One of the other students was a Physician Assistant. After the talk, my new friend and I walked together to our cars. “I never thought about the symbolism of water,” he said. “But in…

5 Things Exercise Taught Me About Writing

I can do more than I think I can. When I begin, I can’t imagine finishing. Just go for ten minutes, I say to myself. Just give it a try. Focus only on this rep, this workout, this page. I try not to notice that it is five in the morning and dark outside. I once wrote ten thousand words in one day. Most days I work out before the sun rises. This isn’t the Army. This is my life. I can do more than I think I can. I can ignore the inner (and outer) naysayer.  Getting up at 4:30 in…

There Is No Such Thing as Writer’s Block

There is no such thing as writer’s block. You just don’t feel like writing. So don’t write. Why should you? Unless you are a student tasked with completing an assignment for a grade, there is no reason to write. Unless you are a worker who has to communicate to someone in a written fashion at your job, why write? There is no reason to write. Unless there is a man or woman you love so much that your voice quits when you try to explain. Love letters are important. So unless you are a student, a worker, or in love,…

Friday Free Topic: Thank You for Everything

My usual gratitude lists are reserved for things I feel actual gratitude for. This week I’ve been saying thank you for everything. Because when you’re having dinner at someone’s house and she serves brussels sprouts or whatever, you don’t go, “Oh my God. Craptastic.” No, you say, “Thank you.”  You express gratitude as a form of good manners and also because you understand that it is a privilege to be at the table in the first place. So I say thank you for My anger management problem The way even one piece of candy awakens a hunger dragon inside of…

How to Be Manly for a Year: A Great Yes

Yes is my favorite word. This week marks the one year anniversary of one of the greatest yes answers of my career. When Rachel Miller and Anna McCormally of Giant Squid Books told me they wanted to publish my YA novel How to Be Manly, they offered a big, beautiful yes that changed everything. I always believed in How to Be Manly. It was brilliant to find editors who loved my story too. I wrote How to Be Manly in 2009, inspired by my high school students who were showing amazing integrity and generosity through struggle. Many of these students…

Santa Cruz Is the Jerusalem of My Life

My oldest daughter goes to the same college I did, UC Santa Cruz. We dropped her off today for her second year of school. We helped her move her stuff into her new rental before walking to lunch downtown. She is very pragmatic and well-adjusted and surrounded by nice friends. This post has nothing to do with her and all to do with the effect visiting Santa Cruz has on me every time I go there. Santa Cruz is a place out of space and time. It was a beautiful, strange, horrible, wonderful place to decide what kind of person…

Friday Free Topic: Gratitude

The best thing to do the day before the Holy Bowl football game is to write a gratitude list of ten good things, and then as you are feeling grateful and glad add five or ten or a hundred things that you wish would happen. I am so happy and grateful that. . . .  I have a great job.  My students are awesome. I have readers now. The quality of light this morning as I drove lost and strange through South Sacramento in a misbegotten attempt to go to my great job was smoky and pink and moony. I’m…

Patti Smith on Youth and Friendship

The Patti Smith on Youth and Friendship podcast from the New York Public Library kept me company today while I chipped away at an enormous domestic chore that my husband and I have been working on for weeks. In this 2010 interview Patti Smith discusses her education, her early days in New York City, and her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe. That was the year her memoir Just Kids was released. It’s a brilliant conversation but has left me feeling skinned and with a headache. Readers have begun to officially follow my blog now with this impulsive crashing into September I’ve done, vowing…