Tag Archives: writing

Invented Reading

Don’t know about you but my eyes have been playing tricks on me lately. No, not the menu tricks where I need the arms of an orangutan to order my meal; nor the kind where, stymied to make out a number in the phone book, I’d sell my firstborn for a magnifying glass.

Invented Reading is the phenomenon occurring when the eyes of a middle-aged and quite literate woman begin to read headlines, phrases and sometimes full sentences just slightly off kilter. It makes for an often humorous parallel reality.

Just today I was passing time with the latest Vanity Fair while the pharmacist readied my middle-aged birthday prescription. (The label on the pill bottle instructs me to, “take thirty-two with nineteen gallons of water and holy moly! Stand back! Or better yet, sit down.”) OK, I invented the stuff on the medicine label but I was waiting at the pharmacy reading Maureen Dowd’s terrific piece on Tina Fey in VF.

Dowd shared what a clean whistle Fey is — no bad boys, no drugs and akin to Liz Lemon, her 30 Rock twin, a virgin until she was 25. And then I read, “Her voice is true cupcakes.” Huh? What? My eyes returned to the winsome sentence. Ah. Dowd had actually written of Fey, “Her true vice is cupcakes.” Invented Reading had just reared her head and woombly eyes yet again.

“Her voice is true cupcakes” has a certain charm to it, don’t you think? I got to thinking — what kind of woman has a voice true as a cupcake? Is she homey? Sweet but not cloying? A small satisfying bite of fun? Bernadette Peters, perhaps? Lauren Bacall? Never.

So here’s a brief writing exercise. Join in the fun if you wish. Describe a woman whose voice is “true cupcakes.” Or share a phrase or two of Invented Reading your own eyes have stumbled across. I’ve started keeping a list of these gems. I figure they just might make a wonderful story. Which I shall have plenty of time to work in a week or two — after I’ve washed down the above-mentioned pills with the requisite nineteen gallons of water.

The Two-Minute Miracle

Had a chance to catch up with some reading over the weekend and happened upon a great article in my Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin on alum Laura King, class of ‘86. King, now a Ph.D. in psychology, has made a career — and a good one at that — out of studying happiness.

And guess what, dear readers and fellow writers? King has determined (through hard science no less) that writing is one of the biggest, most effective, most opening-ist keys to happiness. Yes, writing! I know this might be a wee bit counterintuitive to those who occasionally consider papering the guest bath with rejection letters, but King’s research has proven otherwise.

Writing, it seems, is good for you. The article reports that “…the benefits of intensive two-minute writing sessions may be longer lasting than those of normal journal writing. King recommends focused bursts of writing.” The link betweeen mental health and quick quotidian quill-fests is so unassailable that “the phenomena has been given a name: ‘the two-minute miracle.’ ”

OK, I’m no scientist but the above results beg certain unscientific hypotheses. Are bloggers happier than other writer types since they tend to work in short bursts of word deliverment? Is this why novelists are moody and depressive? NOT because of the constant, inescapable, inevitable, and ongoing-but-one-day-surmountable rejection but because novelists write for long disciplined stretches of time instead of penning their prose in a mere two sweeps of the second hand?

The link to this latest issue is not up yet but visit the Bulletin archive anyway. Novelists will find it a great distraction between those depression-generating writing sessions. And bloggers will surely find inspiration for a two-minute miracle. Like I did just now.

Happy? You bet!

Happier? When that agent calls.

Happiest? When that agent calls with our publisher.