Keeping the Coals Warm

Listen to Audio about Writing

Toni Morrison wrote, “They straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places … but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. … All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, what valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place.”

The written word flows like the mighty Mississippi!

“Foul Shots: A Clinic”

Be perpendicular to the basket,

toes avid for the line.
Already this description
is perilously abstract: the ball
and basket are round, the nailhead
centered in the centerplank
of the foul-circle is round,
and though the rumpled body
isn’t round, it isn’t
perpendicular. You have to draw
“an imaginary line,” as the breezy
coaches say, “through your shoulders.”
Here’s how to cheat: remember
your collarbone. Now the instructions
grow spiritual—deep breathing,
relax and concentrate both; aim
for the front of the rim but miss it
deliberately so the ball goes in.
Ignore this part of the clinic
and shoot 200 foul shots
every day. Teach yourself not to be
bored by any boring one of them.
You have to love to do this, and chances
are you don’t; you’d love to be good
at it but not by a love that drives
you to shoot 200 foul shots
every day, and the lovingly unlaunched
foul shots we’re talking about now—
the clinic having served to bring us
together—circle eccentrically
in a sky of stolid orbits
as unlike as you and I are
from the arcs those foul shots

leave behind when they go in.

William Matthews– “Foul Shots: A Clinic”
Remember your obligation is to write, And in writing, to be serious without being solemn, fresh without being cold,
To be inclusive without being asinine, particular
Without being picky, feminine without being effeminate, Masculine without being brutish, human while keeping all the animal graces
You had inside the womb, and beast-like without being inhuman.
Let your language be delectable always, and fresh and true.
Jean Rhys, author of The Wide Sargasso Sea, said, “Listen to me. I want to tell you something very important. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are trickles like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters.”