Writers: Afraid of Your Idols? Guest Post by E. Victoria Flynn

E. Victoria Flynn

E. Victoria Flynn

Victoria Flynn’s particular slant on writers, writing, and life has riveted me since I first read her blog, V’s Place: An artists’ cafe. Her open and questioning approach never fails to engage me.

I commented on one of her posts, No Man’s Land, and I was thrilled when she asked me (or allowed me?) to guest post on her site. And I knew from the first that I wanted her to guest on my blog.

And here she is. Enjoy her dose of courage.
– Lynette

E. Victoria Flynn[/caption]Thanks to the Internet I’ve met a lot of authors over the past few years. It’s done wonders for my complexion. There’s nothing like getting over a case of star struck heebie-jeebies to give a person a healthy glow—especially writers, who tend to be socked away all on their lonesome for huge stretches of time. A little book-scented air will clear your ailments right up.

How intimidating it can be to approach a writer you admire and attempt to strike up a conversation. Once you take a moment to realize we’re all just people mingled together on this same blue and green planet breathing the same air and sharing the same water it gets easier.

I remember several years ago when I attended a Natalie Goldberg workshop in her beloved Taos, New Mexico. I grabbed on to the idea of the workshop as a way to identify my dreams and take hold of what was really mine, but after a night on my own and an introduction to Natalie, I lost my nerve. Oh I could talk a good talk. I was like the camp cheerleader, cajoling my cohorts over bagels and tea.

“Of course you can write,” I said over and over again while spending all my off time hacking myself to death on the page.

I was terrified to approach Natalie. Her mythical ethos was huge compared to her relative size and calm manner. During one exercise she instructed us to sit silently with our eyes closed, listening to our breath while she asked a question of the class. Random answers were tossed out, but they were never the right one. I had it nailed, but instead of speaking, I chanted the words to myself, praying someone would gather them up and run so I wouldn’t have to. The minute or two or five stretched on until finally I spoke aloud. Natalie was pleased. Someone picked up the thread and continued the talk. Natalie looked at me and mouthed a few words. I wished she’d look away.

A few days later in a discussion about The Great Gatsby, the topic of Tom and Daisy’s cold fried chicken came up. Natalie said she’d always remembered the chicken, which brought to my mind a scene from her book Banana Rose where the main character Nell buys a whole chicken and then proceeds to dump it in a trash can. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the book, but that scene still sticks with me. It’s something I would do, given the right heartbreak.

At lunch that day I tracked Natalie down. I said, “I just wanted to let you know that I always remember the chicken in Banana Rose.”

It sounds a little hokey now, but if it’s true, we have every right to say it. Natalie gave me a huge smile and reached out for a hug. She thanked me then and said, “Everyone always talks about Bones. I’m so glad you remembered Banana Rose.”

Time has moved on and I’ve realized that we have so few chances to take those personal dares. Some of us think of ourselves as writers not talkers, prone to seek out the dark corner in the back of the cafe rather than sit up front and raise a hand. So what if we say something off kilter? We have just as much chance of getting a hug as anything else. And anyway, it gives us something to think about, doesn’t it? There’s that time when each of us may get our moment, standing in the warm book-scented air, holding up a freshly published baby for all the world to read.

Got any writing idols who frightened you? Come on. Don’t be afraid to confess in a comment.

E. Victoria Flynn is a mother writer in southern Wisconsin. As the curator of V’s Place: An artists’ cafe, she has a penchant for old typewriters and hot coffee. Victoria is currently writing her first supernatural novel.

She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

What Keeps Me From Writing? Gourmet Food

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Writer, editor, writing coach, Lynette Benton

This time last week I was arguing with a salmon. The Whole Foods butcher had boned it nicely, but left some unappealing tan flesh attached to its underside. I was struggling to scrape that off before chopping the fish into chunks for a soup I was making.

I had already cleaned the sand from between the layers of the leeks. Fresh spinach was draining in a colander before being cut into strips to add to the soup at the last minute.

Once that was all simmering nicely, I started on the Spanish—or was it Cuban?—pork stew.

My husband, a vegetarian, mashed up a few of those delicious Garnet sweet potatoes, ladled sauteed mushrooms over them, then topped them with crispy oven “fried” kale. Somewhere along the line, he also peeled steaming yellow beets, a job I dislike.

We are accidental members of the “slow food” movement. Never having had fast food while growing up, neither my husband nor I eat it now. Since we eat almost no processed foods, dislike banal food, and eat many times in the course of each day, we’re driven to cook a lot.

This time of year, my landscaper husband (who used to be a professional cook), is available to do good deal of meal preparation, so cooking interferes with my writing less than during warm weather. When I’m on my own again from April through half of December my writing time will contract accordingly.

I just finished making a roux for a root vegetable “mac ‘n cheese” casserole, a whole lot better than last week’s fight with the fish. So, I’m out of excuses . . . gotta get back to working on my memoir.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like “What Keeps Me From Writing? My Furniture.”

Twitter: @lynettebenton

How Does a Mother of 5 Find Time to Write?

I met Darah Zeledon, the Warrior Mom, through one of the LinkedIn groups for writers that she and I both belong to. She’d posted an essay she’d written; I loved it, so I contacted her to tell her so.

Since then, we’ve become fast online friends. We seem to share a similar high-energy enthusiasm and intensity. Having hit it off so happily, we’ve committed to buddy up to help each other further our creative writing plans.

When I learned that Darah, the mother of 5 (gorgeous) young children, has pumped out 25,000 words of her memoir, I asked if she’d be willing to reveal her work schedule. What follows is the first part of my interview with her. And if you click on the links, you’ll be able to read samples of her essay writing.

Do you write every day?
I aim to. At the very least, I’ll jot down ideas by putting pen to paper while on the go with my kids. My writing habits are far from exemplar. In fact, my system is rather dysfunctional; would probably be counterproductive for most writers. I write in short intense intervals of about twenty minutes—essentially the length of my two toddlers’ attention span. I probably squeeze in a total of 80 minutes a day using this “technique.”

With your family responsibilities, how on earth do you find time to write?
I have 5 “spirited and dynamic” children that range from ages 9 to 2 years old. The youngest two, ages 4 and 2 are home with me 24/7. At 2pm we fetch the rest of the pack from school and from that time on, it’s madness as they all ruthlessly compete for my attention. And about 7pm, my loving, medium-maintenance, Latin-hubby strolls through the door and expects to spend time with his wife. I have no down time, no “me time.” Every waking moment is consumed with someone demanding my undivided attention. I write frequently about this mayhem and how I attempt to manage it all. [“See Girls Night Out: It’s Not What You Think.”]

Check back for the next part of Darah’s interview on shoe-horning time into the day to write, even if you have 5 young kids and a “high maintenance” husband.

And check out her blog, The Warrior Mom.