Elliptical wars

Ever since I joined my gym in 1998 the elliptical trainer has been my choice for cardio exercise. In those days, there was a long row of these machines in the back of a room also lined with stair climbers and treadmills. They were plentiful enough so I usually didn’t have to wait in line to grab one, though then the club gave us a 30-minute exercise time limit if people were waiting. Fast forward nineteen years. Only two of those old, rusty, decrepit ellipticals are left; the others have been replaced by newer versions. However, there is a group of people like me who prefer working out on the old equipment, and a few of us prefer one over the other. I always prefer the one on the left because it goes faster. Here’s my competition: Two women who can’t wait. When they are ready to use the elliptical they come over and ask how long a time I have left. I hate that. I’m always in the middle of a The New Yorker article I’m reading and their question interrupts me. And if only … [Read more...]

How my memoir came to be

I wrote the following piece a little over a year ago for the Women's Writing Circle. I'd like to share it with you now. When I Knew I Had A Memoir I returned to writing regularly when our son Paul was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in March 1993. He had just turned 21 and was a senior at the New School in New York City. Early on during his illness I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1992), and her suggestion to write morning pages resonated with me. Because I was employed full-time then, I didn’t always write in the morning, but I always finished my three pages before the end of the day. So writing about my son’s bipolar disorder and later about his 1999 suicide death became my therapy. Writing during the most stressful time of my life became an obsession and a balm. It gave me a way to organize my fears, pain, and thoughts. Besides journaling I began to take writing workshops at the UCLA Extension Writers Program and Esalen Institu … [Read more...]

Short Fiction Break

While I'm awaiting feedback on my novel, I've been dabbling in other writing. Of course I'm always writing poems, but I'm now ensconced in editing some of the poems I wrote during our trip to Africa with the goal of putting together a book of images with poems. I've also written a couple of pieces of short fiction, inspired by an article I read in "The New Yorker" a few weeks ago about Lydia Davis, a short story master. According to her Amazon page: "Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and seven story collections, the most recent of which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is the acclaimed translator of a new edition of Swann's Way and is at work on a new translation of Madame Bovary." I immediately bought a copy of The Collected Short Stories of Lydia Davis.  What intrigues me is that she writes stories of varying lengths - some only a short paragraph or a line or two long. I like writing short poems -- Haiku and Twitter-140-character poems -- so I like t … [Read more...]

Overcome by writing

I’ve really been working away at my novel – at least the first three chapters. I'm getting them ready for a First Three Chapter Strongest Start competition that I plan to enter by June 22. I actually printed out a copy of the first 35 pages in no time at all with our brand new Epsom Artisan printer and did a line-by-line edit on the hard copy. Like back in the good old days. But even after reading it through, I still wasn’t satisfied with the opening – which I think is the most important part of the book. Well, I had an epiphany while I was on the elliptical this morning – even through the Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee on the TV, the article I was reading in The New Yorker about the artist Christian Marclay who created a digital piece of art called The Clock, which I’m dying to see, and the mix of music on my iPhone – I was able to think about writing. That’s how it has totally taken over my life. It’s on my mind constantly. I’m never bored with it. There†… [Read more...]