On Writing: Three Found Poems


But by most Friday afternoons I feel

as if I’ve spent the week with jumper

cables clamped to my brain. If I ever

come close to despairing about

my future

as a writer, it’s then.

I can see myself

Thirty years on,

wearing the same shabby

tweed coats with patches

on the elbows, potbelly rolling

over my Gap khakis from

too much beer.

And in my desk drawer, six or seven

unfinished manuscripts which I

would take out and tinker with

from time to time, usually when


If asked what I did in my spare time,

I’d tell people I was writing a book —

what else does any self-respecting

creative-writing teacher

do with her spare time?

And of course

I’d lie to myself,

telling myself

there is still time. 


But you need the room,

you need the door,

you need to shut the door.

You need a concrete goal as well.

By the time you step into writing space

and close the door,

you should have settled on a

writing goal.

As with physical

exercise, it would be best

to set this goal low at first, to avoid



Kill your darlings,

Kill your darlings,

Even when it breaks

your egocentric

little scribblers heart,

kill your darlings.


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