Six Tips on Writing by John Steinbeck

Six Tips on Writing by John Steinbeck
Interview in Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review.

john steinbeck

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

“Playing Games”


View artists carvings
Designs of creatures dancing
Running feet chasing

Answers then questions
Perceive the races outcome
Let beginning end

Crashing heads and balls
Taking down the hero best
Satisfaction comes

Love two one child wins
Hitting tramples tender minds
Winners hug at end

Punch the sphere with fists
Palms wanting to touch the sky
High as one can fly

© jk 2015

#12 scattered minds (c) jkm 2015

#12 scattered minds (c) jkm 2015

So I Needed To Talk

So I Needed To Talk

maggie the cat - so i needed to talkby ‘maggie the cat’

I left a voice mail for this case worker who I had been talking to since my therapist had surgery. Needing a therapist is essential to me. So I needed to talk. I didn’t realize every word I spoke was being mis-evaluated, mis- interpreted and used against me in the future, when it shouldn’t have even been on this person’s radar to be recording or remembering what I was saying. It was the ravings and rantings of an addicted client in need of her therapy fix.[ I do exaggerate in this instance].

This person suddenly brought up the need to write up my Treatment Plan. I always do that with my therapist, and only with my therapist. But she countered with the time restrictions and urgency. Bullsh*t. Well, she wrote my plan. Wanted me to sign and return it, but gave me the alternative that we speak about it at the date and time written below. I fretted over what to do. The Treatment Plan was so f’d up and contrary to what I am even close to needing or wanting to work on in therapy. A complete misinterpretation of who I am and what I stand for and an insult to my sensibilities. I have a better idea of what I need and I thought I was getting across to her in our talks what I was about. She missed the path and heard the need I was projecting, the strong need I had for my therapist. She saw herself as a stand-in.  I now see speaking with her as a huge mistake. I wish now I never uttered a word to her.

She looks like Chloe Sevigny. A trusting face. I thought I could trust her. My therapist suggested I talk to her every few weeks, but not to trust any of the other therapists. Reason, they would not get me. Danger Zone. I may just be having an overreaction but my partner was impressed with what I wrote below and left as a voice-mail on the case worker’s machine. I was polite enough to thank her. Taught well as a kid in the realm, ‘we have our ways of making you obey.’ I feel a weight has been lifted and my therapist will be proud of me, doing something I see and I think she will see as bold, brave, and gutsy. I don’t do confrontation well.

It is best not to let those who are there to ‘help’ think in their minds, they are better than you b/c you are the one ‘needing’ to see the therapist,  I must need them & can’t do without, therefore I conclude, their thoughts fall into the category as a stigma-tizer. And no one is going to stigmatize me b/c my brain decided to be different. It has its own special ways of reacting. Also, I didn’t choose my childhood, filled with things that should never happen to anyone, especially not to a child. Like Humpty, I fell off of every wall that existed but technically, I was pushed. There was no teetering. They were all direct hits from the long hand of the maternal parental warden and the paternal and fraternal members and extensions, who decided torturing my childhood was their game of thrones. They were royalty and I was Cinderella, Sybill [except I am Bipolar, not the mis-diagnosis I received of MPD/DID], and Carrie w/ the wacky mother. So when the therapeutic community tries to push you into a prescribed method of healing & behavioral development, I tell them to go f off. I just want my therapist. – maggie the cat 09.03.15

maggie the cat - james thurber - every body you look at seems to be a rabbit - rabbit is shrink

“You Said a Moment Ago That Everybody You Look At Seems To Be A Rabbit. Now Just What Do You Mean By That, Mrs. Sprague?” – James Thurber

Below is the Voice-mail of my Fear turned into Courage

I AM CANCELING Appt. Friday 4th Sept. @1:30pm

In the past months I’ve spoken to you while under duress. When the Treatment Plan came up I was told it had to be completed and signed by a specific date or time. Not ACCEPTABLE. Left message with Dr. M. that the pressure of dealing with Treatment Plan without my therapist is bad for my health – causing Panic Attacks. Feeling pressure to talk w/ someone not a therapist, not my therapist, has been difficult. But to share with them what I want my treatment to be without my therapist involved is one step too close to my line of confidentiality. I rewrote the Treatment Plan I received b/c I felt it did not reflect what I need from therapy. I felt it was 90% wrong. It missed completely what my therapy needs are now. When I talked with you I felt too vulnerable so what came out would have been meant for D [my therapist].

She is away. Not b/c she wants to be. When she returns we will work out together where we need to start our work together again. A great deal has changed since her surgery and treatment. It has changed for both of us. Something I need to discuss with D. Until I show her what I wrote as my treatment plan and we work on what it should ultimately say, I will not be signing anything with which I am in strong disagreement. I am canceling any further talks with you. I feel it is counterproductive at the present time. When D returns, we will designate what I need to work on and what she feels are best for my life as it is in the present. At that time we will make my Treatment Plan together, D & I. And only then, not before, will I sign my Treatment Plan.

Thank you

'maggie the cat'

‘maggie the cat’

yoda - do or do not, there is no trymaggie the cat’s alter-ego / Yoda – the universal eclectic

“…then you are a writer”

book of magical images growing

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.” ― Ernest Hemingway

“In my letters to her…”

“April ended and May came along, but May was even worse than April. In the deepening spring of May, I had no choice but to recognize the trembling of my heart. It usually happened as the sun was going down. In the pale evening gloom, when the soft fragrance of magnolias hung in the air, my heart would swell without warning, and tremble, and lurch with a stab of pain. I would try clamping my eyes shut and gritting my teeth, and wait for it to pass. And it would pass….but slowly, taking its own time, and leaving a dull ache behind.

At those times I would write… In my letters to her, I would describe only things that were touching or pleasant or beautiful: the fragrance of grasses, the caress of a spring breeze, the light of the moon, a movie I’d seen, a song I liked, a book that had moved me. I myself would be comforted by letters like this when I would reread what I had written. And I would feel that the world I lived in was a wonderful one. I wrote any number of letters like this…”

― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

light thru trees

“It was the best of times…”

“It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to heaven,
we were all going direct the other way

– in short,

the period was so far like the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received,
for good or for evil,
in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
[First Sentence from the Novel]

a tale of two cities