Day 4 of #1000wordsofsummer 2020

If it feels urgent, use it.

Hi friends,

Today you will write 1000 words. Because now is the time for you to be heard. The world is moving so quickly, spinning on its head. Spinning us, too. So there is no better time to get your goddamn business done. And I know you can do it.

Close your browser window, open whatever medium you write in/on, and get to work. Do not blink, do not think twice, do not scroll in the other open windows one last time, because whatever you think you will find there, it will still be waiting when you are done. Do nothing else but write. Let it pour out of you. If it feels urgent, use it. Be there on the page. Now.

Today’s guest is Marie-Helene Bertino, author of three books of fiction. The New York Times called her a writer to watch this summer. Her latest book is Parakeet, which is published tomorrow, so we are lucky to have her today, with her vibrant and inspiring thoughts.

“Hello, writers!

Cheers to your desk, from mine in the epicenter of the global pandemic. The world is a shit show right now. Do your best. Go easy. I’m a fan of the hodgepodge, remnant bag, ala carte, a little this, a little that, design-your-own type everything, so I thought I’d share an assortment of thoughts/ideas/quotes that help at different times in my process. Choose, repeat, ignore whilst cursing my name, recalibrate as necessary.

*Build a sacramental space for your writing—literally and figuratively. Literally this manifests as ordering your space: Absolutely nothing will be on my desk, or only this one book/talisman/photo, or this flower, or no flowers, or no desk, etc. Figuratively: Put to route anything that takes you away from your writing, whatever shape that may take. This could be good reviews, bad reviews, negative people, your own self-editor, submitting to that one magazine, looking at that one website…

*Rejection is protection. – Jasper Black

*Not writing is part of writing. Gathering, ie: walking around the world noticing with an empathic, grasping mind, is also writing.

*There’s a difference between what’s good and what’s a favorite. You know when you’re watching a favorite, beloved movie (‘The Paper’), and a scene begins (The one where Marty visits the office because she wants to talk to her husband) and you say to the person next to you who for some reason has never seen this perfect movie (why are you friends with someone like that?): Oh, this part is so good--just wait? I can decide that I want every chapter I write to be my favorite chapter. Every paragraph can have something in it that is my favorite. I used this as a guide when revising Parakeet. I demanded of myself: I will work on this chapter for as long as it takes until it contains something I get excited about. 

*What would be the hardest thing for you to write, right now? Write it. What would you say if you were to be as honest as possible about it? Do this every so often, the answer will change.

*Is there someone around you who also struggles with writing or another art? Help them by drawing them into conversation, emailing to tell them: You are doing a great job, offering to read their work, being their fan and supporter. Too often we think we have to reach a certain milestone (a book deal, a certain publication, etc.) to begin supporting other writers. You can start right now. This is how we build community.

*At the end of the day the question is, did I write today? And there are no other questions. –Richard Bausch

 *A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. – Anonymous”

Some housekeeping:

The official bookstore of #1000wordsofsummer is wonderful independent bookstore Loyalty Bookstores in the Washington, DC area. Support our authors here.

Marie-Helene grew up in Northeast Philly next to Kensington, and asks you to consider donating here.

Go, now, write.