The recent article I co-authored with my attorney daughter, Meehan Rasch,
has been blogged about in the Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/06/11/tips-for-the-legal-procrastinator/
I’ve had the good fortune of being able to co-author an article with my daughter, Meehan Rasch, for the New Mexico Law Review . It focusses on writing productivity challenges for lawyers and how to address them. Meehan is an attorney who has taught legal writing at UC Davis and USC, and the article brings her experience teaching law students together with the principles and strategies from my book, The Blocked Writer’s Book of the Dead. We’re excited to bring these ideas into to the arena of legal writing in a fresh and hopefully useful way. Check it out.
Several months ago I publicly pledged (in this blog) to write a hundred, 100-word stories in a year. It was a well-intentioned attempt to insure regular writing and improve my writing skills. I’m ashamed, mortified and perversely proud to admit I only wrote 65 of them.
Be that as it may, I did have enough material to submit to a the Monterey Weekly’s 101 word story contest, and as luck would have it I was awarded second place for one of the stories and honorable mention for another (http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/2012/dec/27/unpredictably-genius/).
Not too shabby for a writing regimen failure.
For this achievement I was awarded a $50 gift certificate at a local brewery, which may not seem like a lot for a year’s worth of writing, but hey – if I could build up to winning six of these a day it would be a living. Sort of.
Bottom line – now I’m planning a small book project around some of these stories that will include illustrations. The moral of my story is: Just do it. You don’t know what will happen, but something will.
The Words is a story in which Dennis Quaid, who lost his wife, gives a reading of his novel about a writer, Bradley Cooper, who finds and copies Jeremy Irons’ lost novel about losing his wife. Bradley then has enormous literary success from his copied novel but he feels tremendously guilty about this and then loses his wife. Although maybe Dennis Quaid’s novel is really a story in code about how he dealt with his own writing block through plagiarism and then lost his wife. The movie was written by Brian Klugman, and I hope he didn’t steal a screenplay about a writer who lost his wife and wrote about a writer who stole from another writer and lost his wife because, he might lose his wife like the rest of them.
I see why they entitled it The Words, because it takes a lot of them to summarize the plot. In any case the moral is clear: If you plagiarize, you lose your wife (or your husband if that’s what you’ve got). Don’t let this happen to you, no matter how desperate you become at the keyboard. Maybe if you’re single it’s safer to try.
You’d think Bradley Cooper would have stuck to brain enhancing drugs, which was how he overcame his writing block in Limitless. In that movie he didn’t lose his wife either – he wrote a book and got the girl.
The Words is a good portrait of the stresses a writer can endure, and of how tempting it can be to be to seek a quick and dirty path the success. In the end a writer has to live with himself, and his wife has to live with him too. And vice versa. A good movie to watch twice.
In the movie The Life of Pi, adapted from Yann Martel’s novel of the same name, we have a story within a story about a struggling writer who is looking for a story. Martel inserts himself into the plot as a blocked writer who has abandoned a novel he can’t finish, and is searching for a tale to tell. He is led to a man named Pi who provides the amazing story he needs to get himself writing again.
Much of Pi’s story involves being alone in a lifeboat, trying to survive while negotiating a relationship with the tiger who shares his vessel. On some level, I wonder if this story is an allegory for the life of a writer. Pi struggles alone on a sea of uncertainty, as writers do, and he experiences inspiration, exhaustion, exhilaration and hopelessness during his voyage. He must find a way to coexist with the tiger in his boat, or all will fail, just as writers have to learn to deal with mysterious and powerful forces of their own nature in order to produce their work and share it with others.
It may be that the frequent appearance of the blocked writer in fiction and movies is explained by the fact that the writer’s life resembles the “hero’s journey,” as described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Writers are heroes, whether they are acclaimed or not, by virtue of taking on this daunting, lonely challenge and having the courage, curiosity and fortitude to stay in the boat with their tiger until the destination is reached and the story is shared.