To escape the net, I need to dance it out—to return to my body and its elated improvisation. With my first book, As She Appears, it was a careful writing and, at times, a difficult one.
In this online exclusive we ask authors to share books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired them in their writing. We see this as a place for writers to turn to for ideas that will help feed their creative process.
I rarely get stuck in my writing and that’s not a flex. I just make sure to have a bunch of options at my disposal. For one thing, I work on multiple manuscripts at the same time so I’ll always have several books I can jump into, which helps demystify the singular artifact.
I often find, while stuck in the mire of a book—when progress feels stalled—the best thing I can do is to teleport through space and time to a different part of the story.
In hip-hop there is something called a cypher. A cypher is a circle of emcees. There they “spit” or perform their best rhymes in a highly competitive and supportive atmosphere. According to the emcee Rakim from the group Erik B.
I remember the dramatic moments that nearly stopped me as I wrote my first story collection. After a tough manuscript review with a top-notch editor, I dove, seemingly irretrievably, into deep despair. I lost belief in myself. I mean, it was bad. Days dragged into weeks, my desk uninhabited.
When I’m slightly stuck in my writing, I do the dishes; when I’m medium stuck, I think of life’s terrible brevity; when I’m very stuck, I write fanfiction. Writer’s block comes from so many places. As a young person, I thought that it was just an excuse people made.
When caught in the tangles of a creative dead end, I resort to the time-tested act of walking. Our bodies are built in such a way that we’re very efficient at walking, allowing most of us to not actively think about how to put one foot in front of the other.
I’m at the pet store buying dog food and the counter is full of tarantulas. Seven of them, stacked in sturdy plastic bins with airholes punched along the tops, tiny nightmares from some haunted bulk foods department.
I’d like to say I’m a daily writer, but as a working mom, I can’t always make it to the page, and certainly not as my most productive or best self.