Murder, She Wrights' Writing Tip For When You're Stuck (Episode 5)

Murder, She Wrights’ Writing Tip For When You’re Stuck (Episode 5)

In this episode of Murder She Wrights, Erica Wright introduces one of her favorite books titled The Lice by  W. S. Merwin and shares a writing tip for when you have trouble writing and feel stuck.

Murder, She Wrights with Erica Wright is a video series that offers recommendations of books, stories, poems, and shows then uses those as inspirations for writing prompts.

You can think of these prompts as exercises or as jumping-off points. Don’t feel obligated to stick with the instructions. Instead, you can make them your own. And hopefully have fun along the way. To watch the last episode (Episode 4), please visit here.

*****

Hi everyone, and thank you for clicking on my video. If you’re anything like me, sometimes when you’re stressed, you might like to revisit favorite texts or favorite shows. So I just pulled a couple of my favorite books off of my bookshelf to share with you today, starting with The Lice by W. S. Merwin. I read this book when I was about 19 or 20 years old.

I checked it out in the library, and it’s one of the books that actually made me fall in love with contemporary poetry. I think Merwin had this really singular ability to stay very still and be very patient in terms of waiting for questions or waiting for ideas or waiting for images. You don’t get the sense of a big ego when you’re reading the poems, which I think relates to this idea that John Keats had named a century before, which was this idea of negative capability.

It’s kind of one of those pretentious poetry terms, and I almost hate to use it, but it is a very useful one. Keats mentioned it in a letter to one of his brothers. He was trying to determine what makes a person a genius, so what quality they might possess. And he came up with this idea that to be a genius, you have to be able to dwell in mysteries, uncertainties, and doubts. And in my mind Merwin is kind of aces at that.

And The Lice in particular—it might be because I was the first [Merwin] book I read, but it really just is special in terms of how he’s asking these big questions. In fact, there’s one poem that is entirely composed of questions and answers called “Some Last Questions.” You probably can’t see it, but that is what I sometimes use or what I sometimes think of with this writing prompt I’m going to tell you about. I’ve got my little postcard stamps.

When I’m really feeling stuck, when I’m just having trouble writing anything, I have this trick that I use, and I hope that you’ll find it fun as well. I pull a random book off the shelf. It doesn’t matter what genre; it doesn’t matter what book. And then I flip it open to a random page and try to find a question on that page. So I just looked for a question mark. And I answer in writing form whatever this book has sort of given me.

I pulled one of my favorite novels, which is The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie. My copy is almost falling apart here. And I, you know, you would take it and flip to a random page. I didn’t do this in advance; hopefully we’ll get something good. And the first question I see is, “who have you been talking to?” I like that that’s a really nice question for a prompt.

The next one is really good, as well. “Who has been pouring this snake poison for you to swallow down and then throw up?” Hmm. So who has been pouring snake poison. That actually might be an even better one. So again, any book you’d like. Take it off your shelf, flip to a random page, and see if you can answer the first question that you find. Thanks again for joining me. I hope you all are safe and well.

Transcribed by Otter.

*****

To access the collection of essays by Erica Wright on fiction and poetry, please visit here. To subscribe to Murder, She Wrights video series by Erica Wright and another interviews and content by Mystery Tribune, please visit here.

*****

Famous in Cedarville, the latest mystery novel by Erica Wright is a diabolical mystery wrapped in Hollywood tinsel.

When reclusive, retired silver screen actress Barbara Lace dies in her bed, only the young widower of Cedarville suspects a crime. But Samson Delaware has always been something of an outsider, and his wife’s death hasn’t exactly improved his reputation. In fact, the local gossipmongers think he might be losing his mind. Their bless-your-heart manners can’t disguise their distrust, which makes his amateur attempts at an investigation even more difficult.

When Lace’s assistant is found decidedly murdered, the town starts to change its tune, though, and soon Samson finds himself in the thick of an improbable chase. Hollywood hotshots and small-town law enforcement make strange bedfellows—especially when secrets are getting women killed.

When Lace’s assistant is found decidedly murdered, the town starts to change its tune, though, and soon Samson finds himself in the thick of an improbable chase. Hollywood hotshots and small-town law enforcement make strange bedfellows—especially when secrets are getting women killed.

Log In

Enter username or email
More Stories
Video Series Murder, She Wrights with Erica Wright (Episode 2 - Steph Post) Main miraculum
Video: Murder, She Wrights with Erica Wright (Episode 2 – Steph Post)