Word Citizen

Word Citizen: Uncommon Thoughts on Writing, Motherhood & Life in Jerusalem
USA, Tailwinds Press
September, 2015

Order here.

For a few years, I’d been puttering along, happy in my generation and broadcast of individual works of poetry and of prose. I’d been a rhetoric professor, a journalist, a frequent flyer poet, and a storyteller.

Recently, though, the niggling feeling that I ought to write less, but write better, had begun sucking on my toes. So, I shifted my focus from short works to long ones. Whereas I refuse to entirely cease and desist from jotting down, refining, and submitting select wee ideas, especially those cute ones that blow bubbles when I stroke them, I am making strides in applying myself to “grand discourse.” I am also getting better at catching dust bunnies, and am dropping tons of weight. If you are interested, I have a bridge that’s available for sale, too.

Interestingly, I didn’t invest in “big projects” to satisfy my academic, my speculative fiction, or my general interest readers. Rather, I pursued such matters to please my toughest audience, my “Familial Five.” Prior, during what amounted to a significant span, I had able to claim lassitude. Then the kids grew up and the husband grayed, and the bunch of them, collectively, pointed out I was no longer chained to diapers or to carpool duty, but had become, instead, fairly subservient to my keyboard. That is, in their esteem, I had only myself to blame for writing about flaccid wildebeests or about the one hundred most popular recipes for swimming pool-sourced fungi.

What’s more, those adorable sons and daughters and that beloved spouse had taken to rolling their eyes at me, if that, whenever I announced that another of my poems, essays, or stories has been accepted for publication. I was no longer their darling and my successes were no longer their glory.

In fact, those folks had ranted loudly, with alleged impunity, about any of my texts that proffered a goofy tone or that contained embarrassing referents. If they could have, my family would have poofed away all such shared accounts of explicit descriptions of perimenopausal changes in women’s bodies and of my hibernaculum of imaginary hedgehogs. Toward that end, not only did they stop celebrating my work, but they also began scrutinizing and attempting to sanitize the goods I forwarded to masthead personalities and to publishers.

In response, I created Word Citizen, a book that thumbs itself at my family’s sensibilities. This assemblage embraces my growing awareness of the word business and my never ending conflict between identifying myself as a parent who writes, and as a writer who parents. I never asked those much-loved others which version of me that like best; some facets of life are given.

 

Preface: Beyond Puttering
Introduction: Writing, Not Making Moonshine

1. Working as a Writer
1.1 The Matchmaker: A Highbrow Comedy Coupling “Brief” and “Straightforward”
1.2 The River Guide
1.3 Space Squids and Editors
1.4 Plodding versus Widget Writing: Electing Not to Write in Response to Changes in Publishing
1.5 Compassion for Editors: The Color of August Pumpkins
1.6 Book Publishing as a Seemingly Random Creative Act
1.7 Avoiding Temptation: Saying “No” to Unfavorable Book Contracts
1.8 Writer’s Commerce and Unified Communication Devices
1.9 Kill Fees, Red-Eyed Monsters, Souks and Audiences: Throwing up One’s Hands and Trudging Forward, Anyway
1.10 Reading and Writing as a Means to Publishing ‘rithmatic
1.11 Writing as More than Bridges
1.12 Dust Bunnies and Manuscripts
1.13 Professor in Wonderland
1.14 Signs of the (Old) Times
1.15 Writers’ Responsibilities
1.16 Perimenopause and Scanned Documents

2. Growing as a Writer
2.1 Budding
2.2 Books
2.3 To be a Writer
2.4 Belated Vocational Dreams
2.5 Editor-at-Large Swims Up
2.6 Science Writing
2.7 Pulp: Literature’s Costume Jewelry
2.8 The Contemporary Short Story Market
2.9 Contemplating my Novel
2.10 Poking and Rummaging; More Job Searching
2.11 Sorting Myself Out: An Answer to a Bewildered Gatekeeper
2.12 The Heuristic Value of Naming
2.13 A Midlife Aesthetic of Writing
2.14 Abstractions in Communication
2.15 Therapists as Writing Students
2.16 Gotcha: One Professors’ Impact on a Cadre of Students

3. Parenting as a Writer
3.1 Mommy Writer
3.2 Mommy Writer Revisited: Partnering with my Children
3.3 Evolving Maternal Identity
3.4 Unintentionally Raising the Next Generation of Writers
3.5 Uncomplimentary Writing Notions
3.6 A Galloping Mommy Writer: Putting the Pieces into Perspective
3.7 Teaming Parenting with Writing and other Fantastic Aspirations
3.8 The Literary-Styling Mama
3.9 Raising Children is (Un)like Writing Books
3.10 Writing While Raising Teens
3.11 Still Writing and Still Parenting
3.12 Not Racing for the Phone
3.13 Book Publishing with Teen Witnesses
3.14 Writing Interrupted
3.15 Parental Boundaries
3.16 Acts of Creations as Concomitant to Parental Responsibilities

Conclusion: Weeding
Acknowledgements
Credits
About the Author