Hey, Pamie: “How do you know what you want to write about?”

Happy New Year, everybody. I’m guessing you were feeling really proud of yourself yesterday because you didn’t break your resolution to be more productive/write every day/outline that screenplay/etc.

And now here it is, Jan Two and you’re already trolling blogs for inspiration. I get it. I do it, too. I am taking a break from the things I’m working on to do a quick Weekly Procrastination because while I’m sitting here working, I’m also thinking of you. I mean that in the most literal way. When I’m writing, I’m thinking about the audience. Sometimes I picture a reader, sometimes I picture an actual audience of bodies in the dark watching the finished product. I think of my script or my story as one I’m telling to a real, live person.

We tell stories differently depending on who is listening. How you talk to a first date sitting across from you in a dark restaurant is different than how you gossip on the couch in your pajamas with your best friends. You know how to play to different audiences, how to keep them interested. Don’t forget to use those skills when you’re writing.

So, here we go: Continue reading

Acts of Incompetent Genius

I had this sudden idea the other night while I was eating a steak dinner and watching some Frontline special about technology (settle down, boys, this girl’s taken) that it’d be an interesting, potentially time-saving experiment to see if I could keep myself from Wonder Killing for an entire week. For me, that means not Googling something the very second I have a question.

I thought I’d probably need to keep a diary of this time, both to keep my hands from Googling, and to write about whether or not it was difficult for me to stay away from Googling. Then I imagined the essay I might write after the experiment was over. There’d probably be this list of things I’d been wondering over the week. Important things, like, “What season did George Clooney join Facts of Life? or “How many cups in a liter?” or “Horse jokes dirty” or “Bare Necessities Promo Code.” Bloated by my Frontline-enhanced ego (it’s similar to when we all think we could just write for This American Life or when someone says, “You should do my life as a sitcom”), I pictured this essay would create an entertaining discussion of how many random questions float through our minds during the day that we perhaps used to use to engage in entertaining conversations, but instead now we answer things on our own, clicking into our private encyclopedias at the end of our fingertips. Continue reading


About sixteen seconds after you finish your first derby practice you start to think about your derby name. It becomes pretty much an obsession. Every name you hear gets twisted into a violent and/or sexy pun. It might seem silly, but it becomes an all-consuming task, because you are essentially naming your alter ego. Your permanent Derby persona.

You see, you have to pick a name that nobody has. Nobody in the entire roller derby… world… league… thing. There’s a registry. And you can’t take someone else’s. That means when you’re driving down the street and you suddenly think to yourself “Canna Whoopass!” you will be disappointed when you finally get to a computer to find that awesome name to be taken.

Same with Lorelai Killmore. Taken. Rory Killmore. And Killmore Girls is a team. All taken. Continue reading

you be the judge.

Dinner is cooking, my Moxi tells me it’s overheating, and Time Warner Cable tells me I’m experiencing a hold time of upwards of thirty minutes, but please be assured it’ll be handled as quickly as possible.

This means you now get to ponder the question that bothered me during the two plus hours I was in traffic this evening. I was behind this truck for almost a full hour:

Okay, I haven’t looked it up yet, because it’s important to wonder, right? Continue reading

you know you’re right.

I have a long history with being right. When I was a kid, I was right all the time. Knew the answers, knew why I knew the answers, knew what the next questions would be. Moving all the time meant I was always being given another series of placement tests, and I knew what those would be like, too.

I didn’t know everything, but I found a way to be right about what I did know.

One of the cruelest (and probably best) things about getting older is I find I’m not right as often. In fact, these days I’m usually wrong. I’ve found that my main tool for always being right — my memory — isn’t doing its job as well as it used to. I don’t think I’m getting dumber, I think I’m starting to understand how much more I just don’t know, and because there are all these things I don’t know, I can’t possibly be completely right about what I do know anymore. The bravado I needed to be sure and confident through my teens and twenties isn’t necessary right now. In fact, I seem to need to not know things in order to learn anything anymore. I have to enjoy being wrong.

Because I’m wrong a lot, I now really appreciate when I’m right. When I know I’m right, anyway. I can have a hunch I’m right, but when I’m right with facts and proof, it’s a pretty good feeling, as it doesn’t happen as often as it used to. Probably because I no longer spend much time taking math tests. Continue reading


Yesterday I made a list of people I needed to call to schedule appointments. At the top of the list: allergist. Mom called yesterday morning and said, “Have you seen the wheat doctor yet? I really want you to be able to eat bread again.” I think the next time I come to town, she’d like to be able to serve “normal food” again. It’s very difficult to eat like a proper Polish girl without pierogies. Also, I don’t like life as much without pierogies. Continue reading

because i feel stuff.

To put it mildly, I’ve been dealing with an overabundance of feelings. Apparently this is all very healthy and normal, and I’m handling it with the closest I can come to grace. “Grace,” for me, is crying until snot falls, flailing around my bed like an angry pre-teen, whining to any friend who will listen until he or she says the one thing they all say, “You will be okay.”

Visiting my book at a store the other day, I came across Andrea Seigel‘s To Feel Stuff. I was drawn to it for two reasons: Continue reading

wonder killer moment #496.

stee’s mom
[laying down scrabble tiles]
Doesn’t it look like “radios” should have an “e” before the “s”?

Yeah, I guess so.

stee’s mom
I wonder if it should.

[who isn’t playing the game, but is nearby, reading a book]
No, because there’s a vowel before the “o.”

stee’s mom
Excuse me?

The plural of an “o” word only adds the “e” if there’s a consonant before the “o.” Like “potatoes,” or “tomatoes.” But you wouldn’t have it in “radios.” Or “videos.”

stee’s mom
I never knew there was a rule for that. Isn’t that fascinating?