Getting mixed up with the ancient way of thinking about talent is no way to succeed.
From the first moment I heard Amanda Gorman answering questions about her poetry and her early success, I was, in equal measure, full of admiration and resentment.
Compelling yet too famous, too early, Gorman shattered any easy notions I had about her and left me, a middle-aged writer, feeling split open, old and bitter ideas about talent and growth revealed.
Her poem at the Presidential Inauguration and her youth left me inert, until I realized my internal warring about talent, and how it is…
I left teaching more than a year ago to write children’s books. The question from people who know me casually is legitimate: How many books have you published?
Well … none.
Poems? Uh….a few, so far.
Then comes some silence. In that quiet hides another question: So, what have you been doing?
It’s the how-do-you-account-for-yourself question.
As a way to explain myself quickly and simply, I tell people that I’m putting myself through a Do-It-Yourself master’s program. The instruction can be spotty. The tuition is affordable. I paid off no one to get accepted. …
The seductive sadness of summer’s end weighed on me when I came home from camping with my family over Labor Day weekend. I had been ignoring the shortening days, the cooler mornings, my garden’s shriveling plants.
We hear a prevailing cultural message about summer passing: The end is near. The fun is over. For weeks, I struggled to find a different way to think about fall, one without loss at its core.
The answer I found is as easy as going back to school. Mary Laura Philpotte wrote a piece in the New York Times about the idea that returning…
My Smith-Corona taught me how to write.
The manual typewriter reminds me every time I use it that I have to be careful about my relationship with freedom. It’s a drug that feels good going down, but too much of it disrupts my work flow. My slick laptop manipulates text so easily that if I don’t pay attention, I don’t write anything new for hours.
It’s not that I get distracted by social media or jumping down an internet rabbit hole. I turn off my wi-fi when writing. …
What They Call Fun Might Extend Their Lives
I expected more dancing in my life, though not in my garden. I knew we’d stay up late drinking, telling stories, and laughing. I anticipated the guitar and lovely voices during dinner duties.
The self-described Hags, friends of ours since we met in college in the 1980s, have been gathering for more than 25 years across the west, and my wife, Janet, and I knew that these “fun hogs” would bring a week of joy to our western Massachusetts home when we invited them in the summer of 2018.
What I did…