friday roundup: going to seed edition


It’s Friday again (and here I think of Robert Hass: “The first fact of the world is that it repeats itself.”).

I had planned to be at AWP this week, but Things Changed.

Today is April 1. I am not fooling about anything. Last year on this day, one of my darlings replaced the sugar with salt and I ended up with salty tea at 5:00 a.m. In case you can’t tell I AM NOT OVER IT YET, and therefore am boycotting April Fool’s Day. Forever.

Now, for the roundup:

going to seed  After my musings on a room of one’s own, a friend sent me an article by Annie Dillard in which she writes about her writing digs. She keeps things simple: sheds and tents:

“When you build a fancy study—a houslet—or add a room to your house, you lose the fun of the thing. A toolshed or a tent, like a tree house, lets you fool yourself into thinking you are not working, only playing. ‘Society’s norms be damned,’ you tell yourself, ‘I’m on the lam.'”

I can see her point, and I’m not much one for “fancy,” but I would not look down my nose at a study, a room in my house. I would not.

My favorite part of the article has more to do with the writing life than writing studios. She writes:

“In order to write books I spend fully as much energy ignoring what I was reared to notice as I spend working. The feats of discipline people think writers perform to drive themselves to their desk are easy evasions of the real hard work: not playing along with the rest of the world.”

Can I get an amen? And here’s the best line of the essay:

“Going to seed is an act of will.”

How I love this line! A friend pointed out that “going to seed” is such a nicer thought than “living in squalor.” I’m all in for going to seed. I wish I could link to this essay, but it is apparently the only thing in the world that is not findable on the Interwebs. If you are intrepid, you can go to the library and see if you can find it through EBSCOhost or something… it appeared in Architectural Digest under the title “Keeping It Simple.” Also it’s in this book.

the only thing we really have This week I stumbled upon and thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Blake’s article at The Rumpus, “Men Explain Submissions to Me.” She discusses some of the demoralizing aspects of submitting poems to lit mags, and the even more demoralizing feeling of getting mansplained in the process. But even better, she gives us a list of soul-preserving things to do (and not do), reminding us that “the only thing we really have is respect for ourselves and our art.” What I love about her list is that it is steadfastly committed to the writer keeping her agency throughout the submissions process. “Treat your work the best you can,” she writes; and, “Guard your energy at all costs. Your energy is best for your writing.”

You should go read the whole article / list here.

a poetry of shine  I’ve been spending a lot of time with C.D. Wright’s Steal Away: Selected and New Poems. Here’s a kind of ars poetica that I’ve really fallen for:



This isn’t the end. It simply
cannot be the end. It is a road.
You go ahead coatless, light-
soaked, more rutilant than
the road. The soles of your shoes
sparkle. You walk softly
as you move further inside
your subject. It is a living
season. The trees are anxious
to be included. The car with fins
beams through countless
oncoming points of rage and need.
The sloughed-off cells
under our bed form little hills
of dead matter. If the most sidereal
drink is pain, the most soothing
clock is music. A poetry
of shine could come of this.
It will be predominantly
green. You will be allowed
to color in as much as you want
for green is good
for the teeth and the eyes.


Wishing you a happy April 1, no fooling.


6 thoughts on “friday roundup: going to seed edition

  1. I want a writing treehouse! Or a shed. Someplace without wifi. A landline for emergencies, but no internet. Music but no tv. Preferably an idyllic, bug-free treehouse without sticky sap or splinters. Or bees.
    (I would follow the Henry David Thoreau model of rustic retreats – have friends from town drop by frequently with snacks.)
    I believe in writing drafts in longhand, typing up and printing out, revising by hand, typing up and printing out, revising by hand, etc…. But I rarely put this into practice. For some reason the cycle breaks down and gets stuck. The “by hand” part seems compatible with a treehouse or shed.
    My friend Beth built a prefab shed in her backyard to write her 2nd book – she called it “The Hut”. It worked great. But when the book was finished she never wanted to go in The Hut again. It’s like a discarded shell of that particular project – she never cleared it out and reset it for the next book. She knew it was irrational but she couldn’t overcome the feeling that The Hut belonged to the past.

    • A writing tree house sounds lovely! And I’m also a by-hander to begin, but have been doing revisions more and more electronically. Sometimes my pen can’t keep up with my brain. Your friend’s story is a cautionary tale, but I love it. The Hut becomes the Husk. All the more reason to keep writing spaces somewhat provisional…?

  2. “A friend pointed out that ‘going to seed’ is such a nicer thought than ‘living in squalor.’ ”

    I love this!! Here I was thinking I would just have to move to a smaller house & “simplify” my life in order to keep my home front under control, when all I reallyneed to do is re-adjust my thinking and allow things to go to seed.

    And then, after all, things go to seed and land in the dense layers of dust; and, who knows, maybe the seeds will germinate when the mildew season arrives, and I’ll get new growth indoors!

    Let’s go for it.

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