Archive for November, 2009

Sarah Palin is Fit and Runs Fast.

November 20, 2009 2 comments

Don’t look for the subtext in this post.  I’m not implying Palin runs from responsibility or runs from Katie Couric questions.  This is not a political rant at all.  And I haven’t read her book so it is also not a review of Going Rogue.  All I really want to say about Sarah Palin is this: we’re sisters in fitness.  Brava for your prowess on the running path—you go, girl.

But Sarah, what’s with your Newsweek beef? The magazine featured you in fine fit form, yet you decried the photo as irrelevant and fumed at Barbara Walters that you felt degraded by it.  Sarah, no offense, but you missed the high road here. See, we’re a nation of fatties, and rising obesity rates are crippling our health care system.  If you really want to “go rogue” then be the Jillian Michaels of politics and whip this lard ass nation into shape.  Read more…


Stalk Your Calling

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment


stonefor-the-time-being Who says writing is lonely work?

Today I feel the gaze of three stalwart knights looking down on me from a shelf over my desk.  Three books by Annie Dillard stand as paragons of courage beckoning me to bravery. Dillard’s rank as a master essayist is certain in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, For the Time Being, and Teaching a Stone to Talk— three of her books that inspire and daunt me at once.

They say that writers are sometimes lonely. 

I say maybe we’re not lonely enough.  Today I wrested sentences that jerked from my grip as I fought to bring clear thoughts to the surface. Write. Wrest. Write. Wrest. Well. It was a tough topic. Viktor Frankel-ish.  Existential.  The kind of stuff that’s way too deep to expose with succinct and poignant clarity.  I went for a run instead. 

Plodding around the reservoir  I stopped in mid-stride: Dillard could write  it.  She already has. At home I pulled down Teaching a Stone to Talk and there it was, human conflict resolved by her so simply. In the book’s opening essay, “Living Like Weasels,” with poignant and sometimes pungent prose Dillard sums up our human dilemma: we have too many choices.  We’d do better to live like a weasel and “stalk (our) calling in a certain skilled and supple way.”  Such terse and sure observations fill Dillard’s pages.   She uses words to unearth meaning the way an excavator uses a power shovel to crack open a creek bed.  Compared to Dillard most of us are merely kicking at the dirt. My instinct in that moment was to shut the book and forget I ever knew her genius.

Who says writing is lonely work?

Today I followed a Twitter about Dillard that led me to a beautifully written homage.  Alexander Chee’s personal essay, “Annie Dillard and The Writing Life” reminded me whyI kept company with Dillard in the first place–she helps me aim higher.  As is true with all great writers.  Listen to Chee on Dillard’s advice to her class:

If I’ve done my job, she said in the last class, you won’t be happy with anything you write for the next 10 years. It’s not because you won’t be writing well, but because I’ve raised your standards for yourself. Don’t compare yourselves to each other. Compare yourself to Colette, or Henry James, or Edith Wharton. Compare yourselves to the classics. Shoot there.

That’s when it struck me that the work of a writer is anything but lonely.  Indeed.

© Shelly Roberts and, 2009