Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 3, 2013

Writing about Writing

Sitting on the porch, I look past the irises to a rhododendron bush thick with fistfuls of pink blooms the size of boxing gloves. Robins are busy at puddles on the lawn. The vase of agapanthus that Peter bought, inspired both by its color and the name that a writing friend gave one of her characters, drops indigo petals every now and then.


I think of it as a perfect day, then realize it’s actually a bit cool and moist and welcome mostly because yesterday was hot. Ideas of perfection slide and depend on context. So I avert my gaze from the soggy, brown-edged azaleas and entirely dried lilacs and look straight at the bounty of pink blossoms on the rhododendrons. I appreciate how my dog chooses my company on the porch over a more comfortable temperature inside.

It’s pleasant, if not glamorous, New England between rains and seasons, and suits my mood as I respond to recent reminders from Peter and a friend – “Hey, whatever happened to that idea of putting some of your blog posts about writing into a book?” I’ve left the poems I began to get back to compiling and changing and reviewing about five years of thoughts on my writing process, turning these into a book.  It’s kind of fun, like looking through an old photograph album, but with no embarrassing hair styles to worry about. I revisit thoughts on old manuscripts and see my youthful hope that remains a part of aging me, though some of that hope wears new clothes.

Thinking about writing while among a group of talented and kind writers, as I did back in the sweet heyday of LiveJournal, before it turned into such a magnet for spam, made the work less lonely. Online conversations developed and sharpened ideas. This book won’t include those delightful comments and takes a bit more general of a focus, though I’m trying to keep a sense of immediacy and detail. Oh, I don’t want to ever write a book without details. I first imagined patching posts together, but as one edge met another, there wasn’t the sense of being in the middle of a life that one has with a blog, and I had to find ways to let subjects lap into or settle beside the next. It’s a new process for me, and one in which at this point I’m rather more editor than writer, though after a lot of plain old sit-and-work I’ll quietly astonish myself with a new turn of phrase. Also keeping my heart in the work are memories of family and friends who made a sort of shimmer or force around the days at my porch table or window seat. A reminder that even when we feel alone, we aren’t entirely.  Which is a message of almost every book. 



  1. Best news!!!!!!! Your last three sentences suggest a theme – giving the lie to the loneliness of writers’ work.

    • Sarah, I so appreciate your enthusiasm. I can’t imagine a lovelier reader. You give me hope.

  2. Whatever you end up doing with your material, the writing will be graceful and perceptive. Looking forward to it!

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