Archives for posts with tag: writing advice

my birthday 2013
Song of the Lake and the Brown Stone
by Lynne Bronstein

From old Celtic Lenna, meaning a lake or pool
Sometimes a waterfall or brook:
“Most popular as a middle name for girls.”
It’s my middle name.
But it’s the name that I like to be called.

My first name is Carol,
“A festive song, generally religious.”
When I was young
It sounded round to me
And I wanted so much
To get away from a name that sounded
Like my childhood chubbiness.
There were Carols and Caroles I admired:
Burnett, Lombard, Channing, King.
I liked it as a name for them.
It just didn’t seem to fit me.
They didn’t call me by my name that much at school.
They called me crybaby
And, for my last name,

A brown stone.
Originally Braunstein,
Filtered through Polish as Bronsxtejn.
Changed to Bronson by a few relatives.
Like so many Jewish names,
It was stuck on my family involuntarily.
The Jews in Germany
Resisted taking German names
Until the authorities cracked down and gave them
Not the nicest sounding names.

When I wanted to be an actress at age eleven
I tried out new names:
Carol Lynn—
Too much like Carol Lynley
So I gave that up.
Carol Bronstine.
How do you pronounce it? Styne or Steen?
I should have tried Bron STEEN like Springsteen.
I gave up on changing that name.
I wasn’t going to be an actress.
Writers can have any last name they want.

At fifteen I asked everyone to call me Lynne.
It seemed thinner.
I could leave behind the round little girl
Whom everyone made fun of.

I am Lynne on my bylines
But I am Carol at the medical clinic
Where they go by my I.D.
Maybe it fits for me to be Carol there
Because I dread doctors
And I need the courage
Of Carol Peletier
Of The Walking Dead,
Who is now
A major listing for the name Carol
On Google.
She’s the bravest, toughest
Carol ever.
She’s not round and she’s not dumped on
And she knows how to survive.
I’m starting to like my first name more.

My full name means
Song of the Lake and the Brown Stone.
It’s kind of picturesque.
It’s somewhat medieval.
It’s old and new,
It’s elemental and it’s got moxie.
Despite the meanings that have
Come and gone
It’s not a bad name at all.

PHOTOGRAPH: Carol Lynne Bronstein on her birthday (2013).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Bronstein came to LA in the era of album rock and wrote for the underground Los Angeles Free Press. For five decades, she’s supported herself as a journalist while contributing to the literary community with four books, poems and short stories in numerous magazines, readings, and organizing poetry events. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Awards and her short story “Why Me?” won a prize in the PoeticDiversity Short Fiction Contest. She has poetry forthcoming in Lummox, Chiron Review, PoeticDiversity, and Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts, among others. She’s in her Golden Age.


In the Winter 1981 issue of The Paris Review, Nobel Prize winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez discusses inspiration. (Read the entire interview at The Paris Review.) Here are some excerpts:

I can only work in surroundings that are familiar and have already been warmed up with my work. I cannot write in hotels or borrowed rooms or on borrowed typewriters. This creates problems because when I travel I can’t work…You hope for inspiration whatever the circumstances…

I’m convinced that there is a special state of mind in which you can write with great ease and things just flow. All the pretexts—such as the one where you can only write at home—disappear. That moment and that state of mind seem to come when you have found the right theme and the right ways of treating it. And it has to be something you really like, too, because there is no worse job than doing something you don’t like…

Inspiration is when you find the right theme, one which you really like; that makes the work much easier. Intuition, which is also fundamental to writing fiction, is a special quality which helps you to decipher what is real without needing scientific knowledge, or any other special kind of learning…For a novelist, intuition is essential. Basically it’s contrary to intellectualism, which is probably the thing that I detest most in the world—in the sense that the real world is turned into a kind of immovable theory. Intuition has the advantage that either it is, or it isn’t. You don’t struggle to try to put a round peg into a square hole.

Illustration: Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Margarita Karol, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 


“The serious writer has always taken the flaw in human nature for his starting point, usually the flaw in an otherwise admirable character. Drama usually bases itself on the bedrock of original sin, whether the writer thinks in theological terms or not. Then, too, any character in a serious novel is supposed to carry a burden of meaning larger than himself. The novelist doesn’t write about people in a vacuum; he writes about people in a world where something is obviously lacking, where there is the general mystery of incompleteness and the particular tragedy of our own times to be demonstrated, and the novelist tries to give you, within the form of the book, the total experience of human nature at any time. For this reason, the greatest dramas naturally involve the salvation or loss of the soul. Where there is no belief in the soul, there is very little drama. ” FLANNERY O’CONNOR

SOURCE: The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor, available at



I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away…Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.”

Illustration: Tin House, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.



  • A writer who is afraid to overreach himself is as useless as a general who is afraid to be wrong.
  • Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered potholder… The moment a man begins to talk about technique that’s proof that he is fresh out of ideas.
  • The most durable thing in writing is style, and style is the single most valuable investment a writer can make with his time. It [style] is a projection of personality and you have to have a personality before you can project it. It is the product of emotion and perception.
  • The challenge is to write about real things magically.
  • The more you reason the less you create.
  • Don’t ever write anything you don’t like yourself and if you do like it, don’t take anyone’s advice about changing it.
  • I am a writer, and there comes a time when that which I write has to belong to me, has to be written alone and in silence, with no one looking over my shoulder, no one telling me a better way to write it. It doesn’t have to be great writing, it doesn’t even have to be terribly good. It just has to be mine.

Photo: Raymond Chandler’s novels


The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I am pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”



writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all” CHARLES BUKOWSKI

Illustration: “Bukowski” by skroowtape


That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.” 




Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”