Writerly habits are like good bones, they create the muscle for the work to get done. It’s a rigor that must become part of one’s nature.
Early on, I read Flannery O’Connor’s wonderful essay, “The Habit of Art.” She instilled in me the idea that art cannot be created without good work habits. Her analogy, the writer is akin to a midwife. One must be there to catch the baby because one never knows when the baby will come.
I adopted this with great seriousness. As I was exceedingly young, I decided to put my writing first, which meant pretty much living on chicken scratch.
I refused to take on a full-time job. I chose a life of solitude, as I felt it necessary to protect my sensibility. When I was in graduate school, my father wrapped up an old cardigan I used to steal from him in high school as a Christmas gift.
I deemed it my “Habit of Art” sweater. I wore it while I worked until it literally unraveled. Each thread, a sentence, a line.
These habits have prevailed over a lifetime. I work every day, mostly at my standing desk. Even when married and a mother, my husband and I had a tacit agreement—I needed work time in my study.
Am I overly disciplined? I don’t think so. To get the work right requires an inordinate amount of time. Some might consider this wasteful, this chronic, tireless attention to words on a page, but for me, it’s how I make sense of the world, if only partially.
Is it a kind of self incarceration? Perhaps. I do know that the work is exceedingly demanding, that’s there’s no such thing as mastery. After half of a century, I’m still pushing myself, trying to go beyond what I think I can do.
I, of course, love it. As I’m older now and divorced, I’m in that lovely place where I can attend to the work with complete devotion. If this requires an excessive amount of time, well, I think it’s worth it.
If Elizabeth's writing touches you, then you will want to check out her latest book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts which is out on a WOW! Women on Writing Tour
Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts is a raw and intense collection of intricately layered short stories that touch on the recurring themes of sexual violence, domestic abuse, mental illness, and addiction.
The characters are often cruel and inhumane with parents speaking in riddles to their abused children. The narrators are all women, usually unnamed, who have a lost, dissociated quality to them, as the details of their lives seem to fray.
As the stories develop, some of these narrators find love and normalcy, though not always happily. Violence pulses steadily throughout the collection, but it is the author's hope that the stories not only reveal the breadth and power of her poetics, but also give voice to the disturbed, the dispossessed and the lowly in an elegant, lyrical form.
The Blog Tour Dates
November 1st @ The Muffin
Join as we celebrate the launch of Elizabeth Kirschner's story collection Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy for yourself. https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com
November 3rd @ Create Write Now
Visit Mari's blog today and read a guest post by Elizabeth Kirschner about the importance of writerly habits. https://www.createwritenow.com/journal-writing-blog
November 5th @ Bring on Lemons
Stop by Crystal's blog today and read her insights into Elizabeth Kirschner's book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
November 9th @ Mindy McGinnis' Blog
Join Mindy as she shares author Elizabeth Kirschner's guest post about how one’s thematic concerns or obsessions are presented, not stated. https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog
November 10th @ Madeline Sharples' Blog
Join Madeline as she features author Elizabeth Kirschner's guest post about the invention and supremacy of character. https://madelinesharples.com/
November 11th @ The Frugalista Mom
Join Rozelyn as she reviews Elizabeth Kirschner's book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. You can also enter to win a copy of the book for yourself. https://thefrugalistamom.com
November 15th @ Memoir Writer's Journey
Kathy Pooler shares author Elizabeth Kirschner's guest post about how the short story evolves. https://www.krpooler.com/blog/
November 19th @ CK Sorens' Blog
Join Carrie as she shares Elizabeth Kirschner's guest post about the mind behind the story, it's circular as opposed to linear nature. https://www.cksorens.com/blog
November 21st @ Word Magic
Join Fiona as she features a guest post by Elizabeth Kirschner about her obsession with language. http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/
November 25th @ The Good Book Nook
Visit Polly's Instagram page where she reviews Elizabeth Kirschner's book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. https://www.instagram.com/_thegoodbooknook
November 27th @ Lisa Haselton's Book Reviews and Interviews
Jon Lisa as she interviews author Elizabeth Kirschner, author of the book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. https://lisahaselton.com/blog/
November 30th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Join Anthony as he reviews author Elizbeth Kirschner's book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. https://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com
December 1st @ McFly Book Bliss
Join Marisa as she features author Elizabeth Kirschner and an excerpt from her book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. http://www.mcflysbookbliss.com/
Author bio: Elizabeth Kirschner is the author of Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. It was brought out by Atmosphere Press in June, 2021.
Kirschner has published five volumes of poetry, most recently, My Life as a Doll, Autumn House Press, 2008, and Surrender to Light, Cherry Grove Editions, 2009. The former was nominated for the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Patterson Book Prize and named Kirschner as the Literary Arts Fellow in the state of Maine, 2010.
Her memoir, Walking the Bones was published by The Piscataqua Press, February, 2015. It was the winner of the North Street Book Prize for best work of nonfiction by an Independent author.
Kirschner has been writing and teaching multi-genres across four decades. She served as faculty in Fairfield University’s low-residence MFA in Creative Writing Program and has also taught at Boston College and Carnegie-Mellon University.
She has collaborated with many classical composers and this work is featured on numerous CD’s, including The Dichterliebe in Four Seasons, Schumann/Kirschner.
She currently serves as a writing mentor and manuscript consultant and teaches various workshops in and around her community in Kittery Point, ME. Stay in touch with Elizabeth by visiting her website https://elizabethkirschner.com or by following her on GoodReads.