Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

“April Fool’s Day for Writer’s: It’s No Joke” by Suzanne Strempek Shea, this week on the Stonecoast Faculty Blog

by Suzanne Strempek Shea

Today is the day to play jokes. To set someone up only to announce, at the last crucial moment, “April Fool’s!” To assure that whatever line of malarkey we just stated is totally untrue.

Many writers and various other creative types do a version of this, no matter the date on the calendar, delivering all kinds of silly statements. The difference: We often say these things not only to others but to ourselves, and we’re not joking. Whether bestselling accomplished or just-uncapping-the-pen novice, we often spout the same baloney about so much of the writerly, from personal incompetence to industry-wide conspiracy. On this day of foolishness, let’s look at a few of these tired tropes, and see right through them:

“I have no time to write.”

We have time to do anything we wish. It’s already all there, long been manufactured—there truly is no need to “make” it, and we couldn’t if we tried. We just need to figure out how to take advantage of the time we have.

I see the minutes and hours of a day as the little sliding tiles on those puzzles kids played with on long car trips before portable technology. If you moved the tiles around correctly, you created a picture. We all have the same number of tiles. How can we move them around to make the picture we want? If that’s an image of you holding your first or fourteenth book, you might slide aside 15 minutes of lunchtime to bang out a paragraph.

Anne Lamott says, give up the 10 o’clock news—it only serves to ruin the morning paper. There’s 30 minutes of writing right there. Don’t have time for a paragraph? How about, on the bus home or while waiting for the dog to return to the back door after a call a nature, writing even a couple of sentences? Enough of those and you’ll be on your way, and zooming right past would-be writers slouching against this excuse.

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