How to Write a Book

Sit down. Don’t get up. Start. Keep going.
It might be awhile.
It’s the pond; is that
a skim of ice still floating? Don’t test. Don’t
look closely. A foot dangled
will no, don’t! you out of it:
Instead: jackknife. Unfold into dark water.
Emerge. Let your shocked skin burn with joy.
Stand on the old deck.
Shake off water like a blue-eyed border collie.
Put in collard greens. Put in Marrakech.
Cut paragraphs apart with scissors.
Place in pillowcase. Shake well.
Dump contents on the floor:
You’ve found your structure.
Put in itemized bills: each suture, blood unit,
Mr. Robb from the collection agency, who told you,
“I don’t know you, Miss, but I’ll pray with you.”
Put in the girl in cut-offs, secretly walking
the narrow porch rail above the forsythia,
or running, red lollipop in red mouth,
saying to herself the words she didn’t say to Mother:
“See? I didn’t fall, I didn’t choke, I didn’t put my eye out.”
The exhaled whiff of florist’s refrigerators:
cold freesias, lilies, baby’s breath
crackle of green paper, long distance
you’re breaking up I’m losing you there’s only 1 bar:
sweetheart roses would not bring you back, sweetheart
you never had me
Add garlic, ginger frying in ghee.
Put in ripe Red Haven peaches.
Put in the lost skate key, the lost earring,
the khaki canvas duffle SwissAir never found.
Add the smell of a burning bridge
Add the smell and squeal of a tire, burning rubber
I’m outta here
Omit transitions, jump
from rock to moss-wet rock:
The reader will leap with you.
Put in love, death, fear, mercy and deceit
But never say the words.
Don’t say, “The house was drafty.”
Instead, write about the windows in winter, and how,
though they were closed (it being January)
the yellow curtains ruffled with the wind.

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About the Author

Crescent Dragonwagon is the co-founder of WCDH, and the author of 54 published books, one produced play, numerous magazine articles and blog posts, spanning seven different genres. Her most recent books are WILL IT BE OKAY? with Cameron/Abrams, illustrated by Jessica Love, and THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION: DAIRY HOLLOW HOUSE SOUP & BREAD, A COUNTRY INN COOKBOOK… for WCDH was once an inn and Crescent, with her late husband, Ned Shank, a co-innkeeper. She now lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.