Friday Five

1. Sarah Kay is a spoken word poet from NYC. She began performing at the Bowery Poetry Club in Lower Manhattan at the ripe old age of 14. She is the founder of Project V.O.I.C.E. (Voice Outreach Into Creative Expression). Why am I telling you this? Because her performance at last year’s TED conference will amaze you and inspire you and maybe even remind you to soar. This piece led to two standing ovations and I wouldn’t doubt it if you jumped out of your chair at home to join the attendees, especially after the poem titled, “Point B, If I Should Have a Daughter.” Whether you have children or not, press play!

(If you don’t have time to watch the entire presentation, do yourself a favor and watch at least the first 4 minutes.)

2. Most of us don’t have gardens here in NYC, so we improvise the best way we can. We decorate our stoops instead. Happy Spring!

3. You’ve heard of the slow food movement? Using the same basic premise, Maura Kelly suggests we start a slow book movement. When you have time you’d normally be switching on the t.v. or trolling Facebook (again), why not pick up a classic? Read books that “took some time to write and will take some time to read, but will also stay with us longer than anything else.” In her article in The Atlantic, she makes a great case for the need  for keeping literary classics alive by, among other things, “shaping our consciences and our identities. Strong narratives—from Moby-Dick to William Styron’s suicide memoir, Darkness Visible—help us develop empathy.”

I know many of your are involved in web reading challenges or book clubs. How do you feel about reading classic literature? Do you feel there is continued value in these works? Or do you prefer contemporary stories? 

4. Speaking of slow books…I’ve finished the last major edit of my novel before it goes out into the world. As one final check, I decided to print out the entire thing – all 325 pages. Is the pagination correct? Did I write the character was born in 1930 on page 10, and then 1932 on page 15?  Are there any plot point dead ends?  Also, I wanted to do a continuous read-through – read it as a reader rather than a writer – as my legions of fans will do someday. 😛

So this is the first time I’d ever held the complete manuscript. It was a little overwhelming, having nearly a decade of early mornings and late nights and weekends in the coffee shop where everybody knows my name culminating into this tangible, heavy representation of all of that effort. It was also a little sad as the creation process is just about over and now it moves to the business process – trying to sell a manuscript. Then it’s no longer mine alone.

5. This week, I went to the dentist for a routine cleaning. That sounds like the opening line from a Stephen King novel or Little Shop of Horrors. Because then everything goes horribly wrong.

Does your dentist use a tool that looks like a sophisticated water pick but is really a high-powered pressure cleaner that could be used to remove gum from a sidewalk? And it sounds like a cross between nails on a chalkboard and Darryl Hannah from the movie Splash? At one point the hygienist said, “Honey, are you okay?” I think a tear had escaped from my eye, but she never stopped power washing my teeth.

Meanwhile, to distract the patients from this torture device they have two forms of entertainment. One is muzak piped in overhead. (Now playing: Green Day’s Holiday. No kidding.) The other is a small t.v. screen hooked to the chair where they ran a continuous loop of Speed 2: Cruise Control. You really want to distract me? Have George Clooney clean my teeth.

I stumbled out into the mid-day sun with my gums bleeding and a migraine that wouldn’t quit.

Have a great weekend everyone! I’m off to Amsterdam soon. I’ll have lots to share when I get back.



  1. ” Read books that “took some time to write and will take some time to read, but will also stay with us longer than anything else.”

    This is so very true. After reading a classic I have a feeling of internal fullness. When I read what I call a “quick read”, I feel so empty afterwards and immediately start reaching for something else to fill the void. Classics allow you to get lost in their world like no other 🙂


    1. What a great way to put it, Jenna. There’s a reason these works have such staying power. They are so rich and varied. They take us to different worlds.
      Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Okay, first off, I think you need to find another dentist! Unless you live on a diet of carmel and cigarettes, and never brush, getting your teeth cleaned should be a pleasure. That sounds like it was horrible. Poor you! ((hugs))

    I try to read a few classics every year. But I intersperse them with lots of bestsellers. There’s room for both, I think. I wouldn’t want to have to read just one or the other.

    Congrats on finishing and printing off your novel…10 years in the works. Woo hoo!!! I totally believe in doing this part of the edits. When I printed off mine a few months back and did a read through I found tons of stuff I missed when it was just a computer file. Read with a red pen in hand, but have fun. Read it like a reader would.


    1. Thank you for the dentist sympathy, Cynthia. I think this hygienist was new and “trying to prove herself.” Practice on someone else’s teeth, lady!

      Isn’t it amazing how much differently you read in printed vs digital form? For example, I find I have trouble scrolling back and forth between chapters to sort through a plot thread, but laying the pages out helps me visually see the progression. Maybe I’m too old school! 🙂


  3. I saw the first bit of the Sara Kay talk but didn’t know there was more. What an amazing woman! And huge congrats on finishing your book. There should be special award for people who can maintain a rich creative life and also have a full time job!


    1. I don’t often get the opportunity to listen to spoken word poetry but Sarah Kay was just wonderful!
      Thank you for the kind words about the novel.
      Have a great weekend!


  4. Congrats on the manuscript…I can’t wait to read it! I love reading the classics. This year I am concentrating on Charles Dickens. He has such a way with words and strong character development. And I hate the new power washer at the dentist. They used it on me last year and it made my teeth sensitive to hot and cold and I never had sensitive teeth before. It wasn’t permanent. Good luck with the novel!


    1. Yes! I remember that you were in the middle of a Dickens “marathon.” 🙂 No better place than London to take on Dickens. That man can write about fog like nobody’s business.
      Do you have a favorite so far?


      1. So far I’ve read Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and Martin Chuzzlewit. Out of those Nicholas Nickleby is my fave. I have 7 more to go this year!


  5. The decorated steps is excellent!
    I’m not sure why I am steering clear of classics – I’m not even sure it is a conscious decision. I tend to read what is recommended to me by word of mouth. I like the idea of “slow book”.
    I’m so excited about 1.) your book and 2.) your trip to Amsterdam.
    Now excuse me, I have to listen to the TED bit. 🙂


    1. I just love those steps too! That would have never dawned on me. I enjoy seeing how creative people are.
      There is something to be said for word of mouth book recommendations. You usually can’t go wrong there. I’ve read that is the biggest motivator for a person’s book purchase. Have you read anything lately you’d recommend?


  6. A lovely Friday Five once more.
    I watched more tha the first 4 minutes, she great but I’ll have to watch the whole one on another day.
    The steps are so pretty.
    How wonderful to see the whole novel like this. I’m excited for you.
    I do read classics but shy away from books over 400 pages. I don’t want to be stuck with the same book for weeks.


    1. Great point, Caroline. I feel the same way about really long novels. For example, I enjoyed Anna Karenina, but I started wondering, around page 500, does it really need to be this long?


  7. I can’t even type ‘dentist’ without going into full-on cringe mode…
    yup… it happened again!
    Congratulations on your incredible progress, Ms. C! Truely wonderful! I know all that time and dedication will pay off!
    And have a wonderful trip! I’m very excited to hear all about it of course!


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