KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!


The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Is there anything so real as words?

“Magazines all too frequently lead to books, and should be regarded by the prudent as the heavy petting of literature.”~Fran Lebowitz

I often think of this quotation from Fran Lebowitz after I’ve started reading something when I should be doing something else.  “Just a little,” I tell myself.  I’ve glanced at the clock.  Then, I swear, it only felt like a moment.  I’ve only just gotten up a good head of steam on the story.  The clock must be lying!  But there they are again, the rest of my life’s obligations rudely insisting on interrupting a really good read.   For us tough cases, of course it’s not just magazines that lead to books.  Books lead to books.  All the time.

Just the other day, I picked up my first Christmas present to arrive in the mail.  A dear friend sent me Betsy Warland’s Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing. I opened it just about the time a responsible adult, a prudent person, would probably start thinking about making dinner.  “The act of reading is the act of belief,” says Warland.  And she had me.  Within the next few pages, she prompts: “As an exercise, you may find it useful to pull a number of books off the shelf and read only the first page of each.”    What a good idea.  Lots of writing teachers suggest exactly this.  What harm could a first page or two do, just before opening the frozen broccoli?

But because for me reading is like candy—who can stop at just one page?— before long I’ve read the first 50 pages of The Picture of Dorian Gray.   My children come into the kitchen.   The stove is cold.  All they can smell is my afternoon coffee. “Isn’t it time for dinner?” they ask.

It’s Oscar Wilde’s fault.  Not mine.  I hang the blame on the characters Lord Henry Wotton and Dorian himself, and more than that, on (page 36), “Words!  Mere words!  How terrible they were!  How clear, and vivid and cruel!  One could not escape from them.  And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed … to have music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of a lute.  Mere words!  Was there anything so real as words!”

But because kids can’t eat words, they finally convinced me to put the book down.  Dinner got made and eaten.

And today.  Well, today is a new day.  I can try reading the “only the first page” of a couple of books again today.  Before breakfast.

Falling Apart: In Defense of Procrastination

When I was in high school, I had a wonderful piano teacher, Mrs. Blackwell. A few weeks before my senior recital, I drove my family crazy practicing the same tricky sections over and over, trying to get the music as close to perfect as I could. Then, a few days before recital time, the music that I thought I had perfected fell apart under my fingers. Suddenly, I hit all the wrong notes and couldn’t remember entire passages. Instead of advising me to practice more, Mrs. Blackwell patted me on the back and told me to play something else for a few days. Something fun. She said, “Don’t worry, Mary. You’ve worked hard and the music is still there. Sometimes things fall apart just before they come together.”

It was hard to follow her advice. I wanted perfection, after all, and the only way I knew to achieve it was to work harder.  But being an obedient student, I put aside the broken pieces and played something else instead.  Then, on recital night, the music flowed. It wasn’t perfect, of course, I never managed perfection, but it was very good. It was better than I had ever played it before. It was a miracle!

It’s been over forty years since I graduated from high school. I went to college as a music major and graduated as an art major. I married and raised two children who have given me four wonderful grandchildren. I’ve continued my work in art and branched out into writing. Yet, the advice given such a long time ago by a gifted music teacher still comes to mind when I’m struggling to perfect a paragraph or finish a quilt and it’s not going well. I back off, work on something else for a while. Then, when I return to my project, I tackle it with a renewed spirit and see solutions to problems that before appeared unsolvable. I call this method creative procrastination and see it as part of the process. Mrs. Blackwell was right. Sometimes things fall apart just before they come together.

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