Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Poem in the Fall Issue of Narrative

Thanks to Narrative Magazine for publishing my poem Cuban Customs Attempts to Confiscate her Mangoes in their fall issue. Scroll down to my name under “Poetry.”

Click here to read the four poems that they’ve published over the last few months.

While you’re there, be sure to read the other great poetry, fiction, graphic stories, interviews and more that they publish. I’m really honored to be in such a great company.

Orhan Pamuk @ The National Book Festival

During the session before Orhan Pamuk’s live interview and talk at the The National Book Festival last weekend, he entered into the tent where another reader was answering questionson. Even though the earlier speaker had been holding everyone’s attention, there was a sudden silence and then whispered chatter from the audience in more than one language. Two young girls sitting on the grass next to me started to point and talk excitedly in Turkish.

Marie Arana, writer at large for the Washington Post, introduced Pamuk and interviewed him. The questions ranged from a focus on his life’s trajectory to his many published books and writing habits. While I have only had the pleasure of reading Snow, I do hope to read more of his books in the future.

Pamuk’s answers focused on the fact that “writing is a craft like any other.” He reminded the audience that the “craft” side, the “work” of writing, is often forgotten. Writers are praised for their creativity and art, but most of their work revolves around “turning around sentences and writing.” Renaissance painters were artists, but they were also craftsmen, almost like plumbers. There is work that has to be done and the craftsmen do it in order to create art.

When discussing his family life growing up and his daily writing habits, he brought up his Nobel acceptance speech, “My Father’s Suitcase “ (you can read the entire piece here, which I encourage you to do for the insight into the writing life, as well as Pamuk’s childhood.) The “need” and “weight” of literature, set quite literally in his father’s suitcase, are eloquently described. Here is a telling line from this essay, “The writer's secret is not inspiration – for it is never clear where it comes from – it is his stubbornness, his patience.”

Pamuk asserted that it is possible to learn how to write, but a writer must learn not only the craft from literature, but also learn from life. The “university of life,” he added, “includes some good books. But, just like everything else, you need luck, vigor and more.”

The audience members posed questions and one asked him about his books available in translation. Of course, he noted, “something is lost and something is gained” in a good translation. His emphasis, though, was on the many layers that a book offers that indeed can be translated.

The most entertaining comment came from a psychologist who said that he prescribed Pamuk’s newest book, Museum of Innocence, to a local janitor. He said that he often prescribes literature as a part of his therapy. Pamuk joked that perhaps this recommendation should be on the front cover of the book.

Have you read Orhan Pamuk’s work? I hope you will share your thoughts below in the Comments section.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week

There are still Americans relying on fear as motivation to protect readers, even in this era of information and open access.

Banned Books Week runs this year from Sept. 25 – Oct. 2. To celebrate, I encourage you to read, read, and read some more. Read anything that can teach you something, make you question something, affirm your beliefs or make you smile when you consider its beauty. Look here for more ways to celebrate reading – and therefore writing – freedom this week and afterwards.

What is your favorite banned book? Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty to choose from. The American Library Association offers lists of books here.

Catcher in the Rye remains a controversial book this year. Regardless of its current popularity, I honestly don’t know who I would be without having thought about the “phonies” when I was an adolescent. I felt less lonely and more alive reading that book. If I’d disagreed with the ideas presented at that age, then after reading the book I would have better understood what I disagreed with instead of being told what to believe by someone else who had the opportunity to read the book.

The American Library Association reminds us of this week’s history: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association(ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Association of College Stores. The Library of Congress Center for the Book endorses it.

I welcome your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Guest Blog Post “Write From a Good Place” up @ Andi lit

Thanks to Andilit for publishing my guest blog post, “Write From a Good Place.” Author Andrea Cumbo and I teach writing at George Mason University. It is so lovely to start at a new school and immediately find like-minded colleagues who share and challenge my ideas.

While you are visiting Andilit, I hope you’ll look around and return often. The recent review of Anne Lamott’s Imperfect Birds and the Literary Blogroll should keep you both inspired and busy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ann Patchett

She read from a new manuscript, yet unpublished. Themes of sacrifice, fertility, culture and ownership were all present in her clear and enthusiastic reading. The scene, with a giant anaconda, was dramatic and intriguing. The suspense in the plot reminded me that perhaps, even with all the discussions about gender inequality in writing awards, men and women are truly on equal terms to write about any subject in any way today. (Of course, we know the answer to the question about whether the end result achieves equal attention after the book is read.)

Patchett’s new manuscript features a student/teacher relationship. The two come together years after being in the classroom and the teacher doesn’t entirely remember the student. Patchett noted that she had a similar real-life experience and wasn’t bothered that the teacher didn’t remember her. She noted that a student “needs to know a teacher like a religious leader. You don’t need them to know you.” (Another GMU professor who blogs at shared some more insight into this discussion.)

This reminds me of my relationship with writers whose work I love. While, or sometimes after, reading, I am reminded that a good piece of literature is a teacher in itself. The clear prose, the careful consideration of ideas and the organization of each piece that creates the whole is something from which a writer can learn. A poet in one of my classes recently told me that she didn’t like to find out too much about her favorite writers because the gritty truth often let her down. While this is sometimes true, being in the presence of Ann Patchett was like listening to a favorite instructor or knowledgeable friend. I only want to know more.

When Patchett described her writing process, she noted that she writes about what she wants to know, not just what she already knows. Like with the subject of opera in Bel Canto, she immerses herself into the research and becomes a bit of an expert.

Her books, with their many characters, enter into a dialogue with her. She said that she doesn’t take notes on her characters just as she doesn’t come home from an evening out with friends and scribble down notes. Sometimes she has to ask questions of the characters to remind herself of something, just as she would with friends, and the characters themselves become friends.

Patchett is a writer who not only shares, but also asks for the reader’s contribution to the subjects she addresses. An audience member asked Patchett what her message was behind her newly published book Run. She said that ideally she would open a conversation with the readers and generally pose questions about the responsibilities every reader holds as citizens of a country and the world.

I taught Ann Patchett’s lovely novel Bel Canto to students in an introduction to literature class this semester. They seemed to enjoy it and be excited for the possibility to hear her live. (It is always disheartening to realize something I’m excited about, like a reading, is believed to be a boring assignment for students. Perhaps some of them thought that, but they didn’t let on.) I encourage you to attend any of her future events. You’ll learn something, be inspired and forget about boring assignments.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall for the Book Festival

The Fall for the Book Festival, held primarily on George Mason University’s campus, started yesterday. I hope you’ll be able to attend some of the many exciting events scheduled between now through Friday. (Can you tell I’m excited to be working for such a great university that celebrates literature so publically?)
In my introduction to literature class, we just finished reading Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto and I’m looking forward to attending the event featuring her tonight. I’ve read this book a number of times and everytime I re-read it, I’m still surprised by some of the descriptive language and plot. This will be my first time hearing her live.

On Friday afternoon, I will be introducing cookbook authors Lisa Jervis and Tracye McQuirter. In an Advanced Composition class, we spent some time reading their blogs and discussing what constitutes a well-written and designed blog. (If you are interested in food writing, you might enjoy my food blog, Fare La Scarpetta.)

I hope to see you there! (You might be interested in an earlier blog post on the Festival.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Keep a Journal

I have friends who are starting adventures living abroad in China, Egypt and Italy. I encourage them to keep a regular journal and write down impressions of their new culture. Later, when the culture is familiar, it will be harder to notice the details in a new way.

The writer’s ultimate job is to pay close attention to the surrounding world, physical and not, and share those observations with readers in a meaningful way. When you, the writer, finds yourself in an unfamiliar land, it is easier to notice the similarities and surprising differences between this new place and home.

So how can a writer both navigate the new culture and keep a journal? I remember being exhausted, completely exhausted, when I first moved to Florence, Italy, in 1996 as a study abroad student. Little things, like ordering a coffee and then running an errand to buy hangers, took every ounce of energy I had because it was work simply to ask basic questions and understand the answers, let alone figure out the bus system to return home again. When I finally found myself back in my apartment, the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a pen and jot down notes on my recent adventure. In fact, I felt embarrassed that ordering a cappuccino had turned into an adventure in a country whose language I supposedly knew.

I eventually did write, although not as regularly as I should have, and kept notes on what I saw, did, thought and felt. There were so many questions and thoughts running through my mind that it was hard to avoid writing.

The key to keeping a journal is to write about and ruminate on subjects that interest you. If you give yourself the task of writing down every little thing that you did that day, you’ll slowly bore yourself and stop. Instead, choose something baffling, inspiring or funny to share. Allow yourself to focus in on that architectural detail you noticed and the pastry you had for breakfast, but also respond to a news article a friend posted on Facebook. With the freedom to explore whatever you’re thinking about, you’re more likely to craft something new and surprise yourself, which is the key to eventually surprising your reader, too.

Being in a foreign culture makes it easier to notice the world around you, partly because you pay more attention and perhaps because you are a bit isolated and have more space to think, but it isn’t required to leave the familiar. Wherever you are, take some time everyday to record your thoughts. You never know what might turn into the seeds for a more polished piece of writing.

You might write regularly in a physical journal, on your computer, in letters or email or even in blog posts. Whatever form your journaling takes, the regular practice will help to improve your knowledge and skill of the craft of writing and the development of your ideas.

I invite you to share your thoughts on journaling in the Comments Section below.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poetry Bestsellers

Yes, there are poetry bestsellers. And the Poetry Foundation gathers that information together for you. Enjoy browsing through the list.

I was especially happy to see that not only are favorites like Sylvia Plath and Mary Oliver in the top 30, but also my Sarah Lawrence College MFA poetry advisor, Kurt Brown. I look forward to reading his new book.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quick Blogging Tips

Raise your hand if you’ve recently read a poorly written blog. That’s what I thought. Here are a few quick tips to ensure that your blog never falls into that category.

Have a focus to your content.

Finish your thought. Lots of folks will start a thought and then leave it hanging. Delve deeper.

Maybe your entry is starting to meander. Perhaps you should break the entry into two, or even three, entries?

Outline and organize your thoughts.

Properly link to outside sources and give credit to others.

Know your audience. How much background information do they need?

Revise, revise, revise.

Edit, edit, edit.

Is that so different from essay writing? No, of course not. The only difference is that instead of writing a formal, academic essay, you can be less formal.

When you are blogging, keep a schedule and let readers know when your blog post is up (social media, emails, etc.) That will help keep your readers actively clicking on your blog. Some blogs, like Practicing Writer, has a theme every day so readers know what to expect.

Overwhelmed with ideas on some days but can’t remember them another day? Why not keep notes for the future and remember what you want to blog about in the future? If you are stuck, you can always follow up on earlier posts, respond to other writing or pose questions to your readers.

Think blogging won't work for your business? Dianne Jacob’s blog post How Blogging Got My Book Reviewed on Epicurious will prove you wrong.

What suggestions would you add?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Writing Prompt: Look up

My mother, a photographer, taught me to always look up and behind me. There is so much to see that isn’t right in front of you.

For today’s prompt, I suggest that you do just that. Wherever you are, look up. What’s there? Maybe there are cobwebs, the sky, interesting molding or the top of your bookcase.

Consider what might be even further up, especially if you live in an apartment building. I like to look at the building next door and think about what our roof might look like if we were to walk out there (which I don’t advise, of course.)

Write for ten minutes without stopping and see if there are lines, words, or ideas that you can expand upon later.

You are welcome to share your writing in the Comments section below.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Online Poetry Workshop Begins Wednesday

There's still room in the Online Poetry Writing Workshop that begins on Wednesday. Won't you join our group of beginning poets to write, read, revise and discuss poetry?

We are all busy adults, perhaps even too busy to write poetry. But if writing poetry is what you want to do, you can find the time. We all can. By taking an online writing class, you’ll learn how to integrate writing into your everyday schedule. I know you can do it.

We can start small. How about by eating a poem? Here’s a favorite from Mark Strand to help get those juices flowing.

Email me to save your seat today {Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com}.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Defining the Literary

In one of my classes, I'm asking the students to consider what makes a piece of writing literary as opposed to non-literary, like a manual, propaganda or guidebook (all of which, perhaps, could be literary in some way.)

There are dictionary definitions of literature and many possible aspects that make a piece of writing literary. Issues like tone, character, setting, theme, message and audience could be considered. The form that the words take on the page could be considered. The authors themselves, perhaps, are the element that transforms the words into the modules that create a piece of literature.

I’ll leave you with this question to consider over the weekend: What makes writing literary? I hope you’ll share your thoughts below in the Comments section.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Online Poetry Writing Workshop

Tomorrow is the deadline to register for the upcoming Online Poetry Writing Workshop. The class begins Wednesday and will run for five days online. There are still virtual seats available! Integrate writing prompts, short reading assignments, poetry readings and poetry discussions into your life.

To register, email me {chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com} and I'll send you information about payment. You can either mail a check or pay through Paypal for a small, added fee.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

{Guest Blog} My Writing-Space Makeover: A New Year's Resolution Accomplished

Thank you to poet Hila Ratzabi for today’s guest blog post about her writing space. As someone who has moved often and lives in a small, city apartment, I am inspired by the thought of a more comfortable writing space. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her piece as much as I did.

I have a confession to make: for the past three years since graduating from the MFA program in Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, I have been a writer without a desk and chair. Going back in time even further, throughout my seven-year post-college career in which I moved a total of four times (twice in Manhattan, twice in Brooklyn), I have owned exactly two desks and two chairs. The first desk in my first Manhattan apartment was a nondescript and awkwardly screwed together IKEA cliché. All I can remember is that it was briefly functional and it boasted a nauseatingly neutral fake-wood glow. By the time I left that apartment, the desk had all but fallen apart as a result of my own faulty DIY craftsmen skills. The chair was a gray suede roller from Staples that I eventually gave away when it seemed useless and a bit sad without a desk to go with it. I vowed to find the perfect replacement desk, perhaps even made of real wood, with a matching chair to go with it, but my search for perfection eventually led to stagnancy as no desk that fit my standards simultaneously fit my price range.

In my first Brooklyn apartment, an old desk and chair (mismatched to each other and clearly found on the street) had been left in the living room by a former roommate, and I decided the price was right. However, the chair didn't fit properly beneath the desk, making it impossible to tuck one's thighs under the desk comfortably. I promised myself to resume the search for the perfect desk and chair, but unsurprisingly the holy grail of authentic woodenness and sleek comfort failed to materialize. I finally threw up my hands and ordered a cheap desk (made of real wood) online from Gothic Cabinet, not realizing that the desk's cheapness went hand-in-hand with its size, designed for--at most--a ten-year-old child. Separately I had bought a chair on sale at a local furniture store that was going out of business, and when the child-desk was delivered, it became instantly clear that the chair was by far too large to fit the desk. Yet again, my legs didn't fit under the desk (unless uncomfortably squeezed), and I was left in a state of dejection from one more failure to set up a proper space for my post-MFA writing life.

This is not to say that I stopped writing completely due to lack of a basically functional adult-sized desk and chair. As I always had, I continued jotting down drafts of poems and essays in miniature notebooks that I carried in my purse, writing on subways or in parks, and typing and editing on my laptop on the sofa or in coffee shops. I had also joined a fairly regular informal monthly poetry workshop with fellow MFA alumni, thereby establishing a source of discipline and inspiration for generating new work.

But the long sought-after desk and chair remained unfound. Finally in my second (and last) Brooklyn apartment, which I moved into with my boyfriend eight months ago, I brought along my miniscule child-desk, fresh with hope that in our new (and much larger) living space I would be motivated to find the perfect chair to fit the tiny desk, or the perfect desk to fit my oversized chair. But again I put it off, instead focusing on filling the space with a luscious new sectional sofa, thick and soft, in deep red, found on sale at a Macy's furniture outlet. I indulged in playing adult by decorating the apartment with framed poetry broadsides and a combination of mine and my boyfriend's art work. I had hoped to set up a nice writing space in the large bedroom, the location of most the apartment's natural light and the peaceful view of a neighbor's backyard. My boyfriend's desk was set up in the living room, where there was less light, and he didn't mind. My ill-fitting desk and chair remained in the bedroom, awkwardly taking up space, practically frowning at me as I turned my attention to other areas of the apartment. The desk and chair search fell by the wayside.

Thankfully a few weeks ago my writing-space fate would change when the lovely and talented Chloe Yelena Miller posted an exhortation on her blog to perform a writing self-evaluation. I dutifully accepted the challenge, considering it was the month before Rosh Hashanah, a time for self-reflection and making the commitment to change and improve one's life as the New Year approaches. I decided, as the rabbis say, "if not now, when?" I immediately went onto and then, comparing desks and chairs by size and price. When I was able to calculate that a particular desk was much larger than the baby-desk that sat at home, with lavish amounts of leg room, and a particular chair was the precise right height, shaped ergonomically and with an inviting and professional burgundy faux-leather exterior, I was sold. I purchased the desk and chair and they arrived exactly one week later.

After almost breaking part of the desk trying to put it together myself (I would love to get a side job writing clear and easy-to-understand furniture-assembly instruction manuals), in most un-feminist fashion I let my boyfriend take over, leaving him to figure it all out while I typed away quietly on my laptop on the living room sofa. An hour or so later he emerged and announced that the desk and chair were ready. I helped him position the desk right by the window with the optimum light and view, sliding the chair in place to the sweet, pure sound of plastic wheels rolling on a hard-wood floor. The transformation was complete. Now all that was left was to try it out. I slowly sat in the chair, adjusted the height, and rolled myself in to the desk, like a first kiss. As I type right now, a cool end-of-summer evening breeze puffs and deflates the curtains in a slow, easy rhythm. A new year is just days away, and I am writing, and this is as close to perfect as it gets.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fall Online Classes: September Poetry Writing Workshop & November Memoir Writing Workshop

This promises to be a writing intensive fall! I’m happy to announce that I will be offering a two week, online Memoir Writing Workshop this November. For more information, click here or scroll down. If you are in the DC area, you might be interested in a Travel Writing Workshop at Presse Bookstore in Georgetown on Wednesday, September 22. Click here for more info.

There are still virtual seats available in this month’s online Poetry Writing Workshop that starts on September 15. Register by September 8th by emailing me {ChloeMiller(at)gmail(dot)com}. Click here for more information.

Memoir Writing Workshop II (Prose & Poetry)

In this creative writing workshop, we will discuss memoir writing in both prose and poetic forms. You will write and workshop your original work with published writing teacher Chloe Miller for two weeks. She will present writing prompts and exercises, links to short online readings and lead discussions around your work. You will receive longer individual feedback from her on your two final assignments. Through group peer editing sessions, you will hone your editing abilities and receive additional feedback on your work.

Short assignments will be posted every day. Your longer assignments will be due each Friday. It is suggested that you spend 30 – 60 minutes per day on the class. No assignments will be given over the weekend, although the lively discussion and writing will continue.

All levels welcome; beginners encouraged. In the two week Memoir Writing Workshop I this spring, we spent some time defining memoir, creative non-fiction and approaches to writing, editing and revising pieces. This conversation will continue in Memoir Writing Workshop II, with new readings and questions. It is not required to have taken Memoir Writing Workshop 1 to take the second level. The only requirement is that you’ve completed some brief memoir writing and considered the genre.

The class will be held for two weeks from Monday, November 8 – Friday, November 19. Class enrollment is limited to ten adult students. It will be held in a private Google group that will be available 24/7. With a free Gmail account, you will be ready to start.

The cost is $200.00 payable by check due Monday, November 1. For an added $4.00 fee, you may also pay via PayPal. Chloé’s current and previous private writing students receive a 10% discount. To register, email Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

For daily writing tips, please visit Chloé’s writing blog:

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email: Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

For more information on Chloé:

Chloé Yelena Miller has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in Italian language and literature from Smith College.

She has taught writing at a number of places, such as George Mason University, VA; Fairleigh Dickinson University, NJ; Northampton Community College, PA; Hudson County Community College, NJ; Thomas Edison State University, NJ; Maplewood South Orange Adult School, NJ; Recreation and Education, MI and presented at a number of writing conferences, such as The Association of Writers and Writing Programs; Sarah Lawrence College’s Conference Women’s Stories, Women’s Lives; Rochester Writers’ Conference in Michigan; Ann Arbor Book Festival’s Writer’s Conference; Writer’s Center of Indiana’s Conference; and Winter Wheat: The Mid-American Review Festival of Writing.

Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Cortland Review, Narrative Magazine, Alimentum, Sink Review, Storyscape and Lumina, among others. She currently reads poetry for The Literary Review and was previously an editor for Portal Del Sol and Lumina.

Her writing was a finalist for the Narrative Magazine’s Poetry Contest and the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. She has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center, A Room of Her Own’s Retreat in New Mexico and Summer Literary Seminar’s program in Prague.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ode to Writing Prompts by Jen Maidenberg

Thank you to Jen Maidenberg for today's guest blog post! Her poem Ode to Writing Prompts makes me smile. Indeed, there are writing possibilities everywhere!


Before I took two recent memoir writing classes with Chloe, I wasn’t familiar with the phrase “writing prompt,” nor how valuable it could be to budding memoir writers. Little did I know that the phrase would tag along behind me, even after class was finished. Nudging me. Nagging me. Inspiring me. Here is my Ode to Writing Prompts.

Ode to Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are everywhere now.

In the living room. Under my bed. On the way to work.

They pop up at random.

They take the shape of an old wallet. My great-grandmother’s antique chair. The dust web hanging from the ceiling. And the crack in the wall.

Writing prompts while PMSing or waxing nostalgic or drying my hair.

Writing prompts are everywhere now.

Suddenly I need to schedule more time

To write. To think. To remember.

I type my way past pain.

It’s healing me in ways I don’t even know. My head is lighter. My heart hurts less.

Suddenly I am a poet.

I am.

Jen Maidenberg is the founder of Mindful Living NJ and currently wakes people up to wellness at The Wellness Bitch.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

NPR’s "Our Storied Lives"

I write to understand. Through writing, I can untangle some of life’s knots and eventually share human truths through individual fictional or autobiographical pieces. Meanwhile, I order words to make them both clear and beautiful.

When students tell me they hate writing and reading because it is all “made-up stuff” that doesn’t matter, I work to remind them of its possible significance. Almost every writing or literature syllabus that I present to my students says, “Writing is part of a dialogue.” It isn’t a monologue, but rather a response to something written or something in your world that can then be responded to in kind, perhaps even in writing. Everyone is welcome to participate.

(Of course, this is somewhat ideal thinking. I have files of drafts that would never change anyone’s life, let alone offer me clarity. It takes time and a lot of work to arrive at this point, but it is possible.)

Jon Hamilton’s piece Our Storied Lives: The Quest For 'Something More' on NPR explains just this idea through the human need to “write our own life story.” These stories are influenced by movies and plays, and presumably fiction and poetry. The artist is able to transfer truths through narrative and the audience just might alter their own life course.

We are all word-crafters as we work to understand and mold our own realties. Why not write it down?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Continuing to Write After an MFA Program or Intensive Summer Writing Program

Some friends who recently graduated from MFA programs or finished an intensive summer writing program have told me that they find it hard to continue to write after the program ends.

Is there a solution? Start by believing in yourself and valuing your writing.

It is helpful to create a self-directed schedule that mimics the intensive writing program that worked so well for you and your writing. Set deadlines to write, edit and submit pieces. Make a regular schedule to meet other writers for workshops or share work online. You might even want to sign up for a class. This integration of a regular writing schedule, which might have been easier to follow while enrolled in a program, will help you to continue to write.

I know, you are thinking that this is fine and dandy for someone who has more time and money than you. That you are not in a position to spend time doing something that doesn’t bring in an income. You certainly can’t sign up for another class with the bills that will be due soon.

I’ve not only heard it all before, but I’ve felt the same way. It can be hard to justify to yourself to spend an hour or two writing everyday when you need to focus on your job that pays the bills.

Instead, remember that writing isn’t only an art and a career, but it is also a lifestyle. It means committing time and energy to writing. You can find the time.

Start small. When someone asks you what you do, say, “I’m a writer.” You’ll find that it is easier to fit yourself into the category – and dedicate the necessary time - if you take yourself seriously. I bet everyone around you – partner, family and friends – believe in you. Now believe in yourself.