a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Comfort Zone

I am watching an episode of TLC’s What Not to Wear.  Clinton just said that part of the process of the show is to “push people out of their comfort zones.” 

Earlier today I was talking to a student, who said that his favorite slice of life was the one he typed today (I would like to take this opportunity to add that he was our school spelling bee champ and the speller from our district who advanced the farthest at the county bee):

Ges wut? Ah iz da skool spelin b champeen. ah kan spel reel gud. ah kan spel kat und dug und hippopotamus. and toonah. aint yall prowd uf me er b ing awwsum iz spelin wurds?

After a chuckle, I told him that I had a different favorite slice of life.  Initially, he guessed (probably because I had expressed to him my appreciation of his humor when he wrote it) this slice:

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Don't ask. Please. Just accept this poor bunny. a lawnmower killed his parents. his name is francis. and for $1.25, you can provide francis a home. please put your donations in Locker # D619. Cash only.

However, my favorite slice of his was really this one:

Isn’t it hard to write when you’re sad? I mean when you’ve got that empty feeling inside your heart, and it starts draining away your creative thought. It first happened when last summer, worst one I ever had, mainly because my Grandfather died on the frickin’ fourth of July.. I was going really good on this book idea I had when Summer went to hell and I just couldn’t write anymore. I was drained. It’s happening now, why, I don’t know, but it sucks. The Beatles couldn’t cure it, neither could The Who, I am now attempting emergency does of Queen, greatest band on Earth.

My explanation to him was that he never writes anything that reveals his emotional depth, and I loved that the slice of life challenge encouraged him to take some baby steps out of his comfort zone.  Call me the Clinton Kelly of writing workshop. 


  1. You have one creative mind to nudge out of the comfort zone and nurture into a full fledged writer. I very much enjoyed his slices.

  2. I know which student you speak of. In talking to him, you get the sense that the greatest weight of what he experiences is in-between what he says - lurking in his eyes which are never still. He channels the comedy-gods divinely, but robs the page of the depth of his spirit. Nevertheless, I hesitate to push him, knowing how heavy the burden of his own self-expectation sits on his shoulders.