The Truth About Writers

June 30, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno

Written by J. Robert Lennon for The Los Angeles Times:

Ask a writer what she values most in her creative life, and she is likely to respond, “Time to write.” Not many of us have the luxury of writing full- time; we have spouses, families, day jobs. To the people closest to the writer, “writing time” may seem like so much self-indulgence: Why should we get to sit around thinking all day? Normal people don’t require hour after continuous hour of solitude and silence. Normal people can be flexible.

And yet, we writers tell our friends and children, there is nothing more sacrosanct, more vital to our intellectual and emotional well-being, than writing time. But we writers have a secret.

We don’t spend much time writing.

There. It’s out. Writers, by and large, do not do a great deal of writing. We may devote a large number of hours per day to writing, yes, but very little of that time is spent typing the words of a poem, essay or story into a computer or scribbling them onto a piece of paper.

Recently, I timed myself during a typical four-hour “writing” session, in order to determine how many minutes I spend writing. The answer: 33. That’s how long it took to type four pages of narrative and dialogue for my novel-in-progress, much of which will eventually end up discarded.

Let’s assume that this was an unusually brisk day. Let’s estimate that, in general, I spend between 30 minutes and an hour writing, on days when I’m writing at all. What this means is that, even at my absolute peak of productivity, I am actively writing less than 5% of the time. Considering how many days of the year I don’t write at all (most weekends, all holidays, teaching days, sick days, days of self-doubt, hangover days, bill-paying days), I could easily revise that figure down to 2%.

Should such a person, a person for whom writing consumes 2% of his life, even be called a “writer”? Given this logic, here are some of names by which I might more legitimately be referred:



bus rider

naked girl imaginer

child reprimander



Read the rest here.

posted by Caroline Picard

What follows is an excerpt from :

African Folktales,

selected and retold by Roger D. Abrahams,
pub. 1983 by Pantheon

Wonderous Powers: Mirror, Sandals,

and a Medicine Bag


An old man had three children, all boys. When they had grown up to manhood, he called them together and told them that now he was very old and no longer able to provide, even for himself. He ordered them to go out and bring him food and clothing.

The three brothers set out, and after a very long while they came to a large river. As they had gone on together for such a time, they decided that once they got across they would separate. The eldest told the youngest to take the middle road, and the second to go to the right, while he himself would go to the left. Then, in a year’s time, they would come back to the same spot.

So they parted, and at the end of a year, as agreed, they found their way back to the riverside. The eldest asked the youngest what he had gotten during his travels, and the boy replied: “I have nothing but a mirror, but it has a wonderful power. If you look into it, you can see all over the country, no matter how far away.” When asked , in turn what he had gotten, the second brother replied: “Only a pair of sandals that are so full of power, that if one puts them on one can walk at once to any place in the country in one step.” Then the eldest himself, said: “I too have obtained but little, a small calabash of medecine, that is all. But let us look into the mirror, and they all looked into it and see how our father fares.”

They youngest produced his mirror, and the all looked into it and saw that their father was already dead and even the funeral custom was finished. Then the elder said: “Let us hasten hoome and see what we can do.” So the second brought out his sandals, and all three placed their feet inside them and, immediately, they were borne to their father’s grave. Then the eldest shook the medicine out of his bag, and poured it over the grave. At once their father arose, as if nothing had been the matter with him. Now which of these three sons has performed the best?



June 30, 2009


  • Three men stand about the coffee stall reciting pi to the fifth decimal as if it were the Greek alphabet. They all agree on 1415, but each has a unique subsequent number, and they each have a ten percent chance of being right. One has predator eyes, and looks up from his cappuccino every time someone joins the line. His eyes tag them for a moment, and he interrupts the conversation on pi to offer a new fact about the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Santa Claus on the street is accused by a loiterer of being ZZ-Top. Santa Claus makes the mistake of smiling and stopping, and the street person quickly asks him for presents. Santa whispers through his moustache that he is really a vagabond, and they both laugh as friends.
  • Two drug addicts posing as punks sit outside the Nike store before it opens to talk about the day. One announces to the other the secret to life: “It’s science!” He then quickly tells the other to shut up.
  • An Asian mall security guard is perched like a Bedouin reading the book “The Agitator” on his 15-minute break. His eyes can barely see above the top edge of the book.
  • An obese tourist in a polo shirt walks with his nipples erect to the world.

posted by Caroline Picard

Tobias’ book is out! And it’s beautiful. A super-high end limited edition of 25, An Implausibility of Gnus comes in a box with individual story cards, beveled corners and all, on the inside. It’s great and it’s absurdly cheap. So check out the link and pick one up!

In the words of publishers, Another New Calligraphy:

An Implausibility of Gnus is the product of Bengelsdorf’s compulsive pick-pocketing from the coats of the American psyche. Over 30 short and shorter stories pack into the collection, each revealing sparkling tidbits of the ordinary or ordinary disclosures of the fantastical: kitchen slop and siphophores, travel and murder. Connect the dots if you care to, or just marvel at the rounded corners and think about swimming.

posted by Caroline Picard

written by Matsuo Basho


A man, infirm

With age, slowly sucks

A fish bone.

He lets a lover in,

Unlocking the small gate.

posted by Caroline Picard

written by Matsuo Basho


At Nano in Noto Province

It’s hard to live through a wintertime.

A man, infirm

With age, slowly sucks a fish bone.

posted by Caroline Picard

written by Matsuo Basho


She sets her mind

On Nirvana, when cherry blossoms

Were still in bud.

At Nano in Noto Province

It’s hard to live through a wintertime.