the Insoluble Problem of Motivation

It had been on the vacant lot next to the church

For over half a year and no one in all that time

Could rustle up enough motivation to mow the lawn

Or clear it of rubbish. I thought of calling

The number on the back a few times but just couldn’t

Get motivated enough to ring or attend one

Of their weekly meetings





& I thought about something

A friend had said about running a Special Olympics

For the Motivationally Challenged but the problem

With that, I said, was that nobody would bother

To turn up. I thought then of the historically highly

Motivated: Hitler, Stalin, the rapacious bankers, Isis

And concluded that a low motivated populace isn’t

Necessarily a bad thing.

How Many of These Have You Read?

I was chatting with Worms the other day about Proust,

about his masterpiece, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’

and how neither of us had read it; Worms even found

the name ‘Proust’ intimidating; and I thought how many

of the world’s best known works I have never read,

like Longfellow’s ‘Hiawatha’, Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’,

even Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’ and even though

everyone has heard of it, who’s read Dickens’ ‘Little Dorrit’?

There’s even a short story by David Gilbert devoted to

the George Elliot book that no one I know has ever read,

and few have heard of: ‘Adam Bede’. There must be others.





*can you think of any?

* have you read any of these books?

* what has put you off reading them?

pic of Proust courtesy of Wikipedia

The Ninth Crypt

I am about to read a book called ‘The Ninth Crypt’,

A novel I acquired for twenty dollars at the supermarket

But fear I may have made a grave mistake:

Browsing through the blurb I see mention of only

The ninth crypt, all well and good, but what about

The other eight? Perhaps the author is planning prequels

Based on the success of this volume but seeing he is

Now a septuagenarian who came to writing late,

This is most unlikely; perhaps if I bury myself deeply

in the text I shall disinter enough cryptic clues

To keep me happy — but at 800 pages !!! I await

Clarification; in the meantime this tombstone of a novel

Shall stand on my shelf of great unread books.





  • have you got any big unread books on your bookshelf?
  • photo by Grangeburn on Pinterest

The Worst Thing

“What’s the worst thing?” I was asked in my zoom workshop.

“The worst thing? What a writer can do? Let’s see.” I said. “The worst thing is being staid”.

I had to spell the word to make sure they got the right meaning.

“You know what ‘staid’ is?” I asked.

:Yes,” Tamara answered. “Unadventurous. Dull.”

“Correct. And you know where the word ‘staid’ comes from?”

There was silence.

“It’s the adjectival use for the past tense of ‘stay’ which is ‘stayed’ so the worst sin of a writer is being rigid, unadventurous, unchanging, unwilling to take risks, staying the same.”

I let that sink in.

“Living things evolve,” I said. “Let your writing evolve. Take risks. Don’t worry if some don’t take off. Others will hit their mark. But you don’t know if you don’t try.”

We took a short break … and we all came back a little different.





  • do you agree? what do think the worst sin a writer can commit?