My love, will you hold my hand through this crisis? Ok that’s enough. Your hand’s, like, sweaty. When was the last time you washed it?

My darling, will you sit alongside me when I’m frightened? But scoot over, you’re on my hair. No, like over over. Ow, god.

My one and only, will you talk me through this terrible time? But like, ok, not about your boss again. Actually, let’s have some quiet time. I get it, he’s a jackass. No more words until the big hand’s on the nine.

Hold me and tell me everything’s going to be alright…

We stood on a closed-off street at a music festival, near midnight, third or fourth beers in hand, when the musicians on stage stopped in between songs to say, “Thanks for coming. Please go to our website, double-u, double-u, double-u, dot our band’s name dot com. We’d really appreciate it.”

Having studied marketing over the last year during my attempts to be a for-real-ass professional writer, my first thought was, Oh god, honey no.

I looked around. Did I see one person whip out their phone and start typing those three w’s? Negative.

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Here’s what was wrong:


I’d be driving and think, “Oh damn it, I never followed up with Susan.”

I’d be shopping and realize it had been six months since that editor offered to read some pitches.

I’d look in my email for the last time I made contact with that person who would help me get where I want to be, and it had been two years.

And I realized that I need a better system.

As cluster-f*ck prevention, I’ve been keeping my Writer’s Mission Control Center for years, tracking my submissions, story ideas, and publications. …

My coaching student scoffed. “Why are you learning grammar?”

A part of me was with her, scoffing at grammar that meant memorizing latinate words. Grammar that was removed by the spectacles of a stickler. Grammar that was about analyzing rather than creating.

I decided to learn grammar, really damn well this year, because of Chef’s Table, and because of Audre Lorde.

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What Chef’s Table Taught Me About Grammar

I’ve seen every episode of Chef’s Table, and I love it so much because it’s the story of an artist’s life. They work in food. I work in words.

One thing I noticed…

The good people at Every Writer’s Resource rank the best literary magazines in the country using twenty data points, including how long the publication has been around and how often the work they publish is anthologized.

They gave the top ten spots to these magazines, which you should definitely check out:

  • The New Yorker. No introduction necessary. It’s technically a commercial rather than a literary magazine, but its greatness is known globally. It was started in the 1920s, has more than a million people reading it, and may make you feel like a speck of dirt on the back of…

In my book, I talk about how there’s no need to go nuts buying fancy writerly accoutrements. By fancy, I mean expensive. I do not mean this ridiculous feather pen I got for $12 for my book launch’s Bad Author’s Photo Booth.

After the launch, I mean, I had the pen, so one day I started writing with it. It’s a good pen! I just had to explain myself on a video call when I was gesticulating with it. But it’s just a little thing that brings me joy.

This is the favorite fancy pen on which I spoke. It…

I picked out some books I thought you might like. These aren’t the most obvious classics that I’m sure you’ve heard of before, not anything particularly traumatizing (no Hubert Selby Jr.), the ones on my list with the widest appeal. The crowd pleasers, if you will.

Here’s a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry that I just bet you’ll like.

Novels I Think You’ll Like

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

Before my trip to South America last year, I looked for places he’d been. I had 24 hours in Cali in Colombia, and he’d gone there, had dinner with some local musicians. When they showed the outside, I paused the show and googled the name: Sevicheria Guapi.

A month later I was there. The owner came out as I approached. Can I help you? he asked, as if I’d approached a home and not a place of business. You guys got dinner?

Oh yes, he said, then ran off some Spanish I missed, but in the unmistakable tone of a…

I have a lot of money in my bank account. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll soon turn it into a negative balance. That is my number one talent.

My online course had a good month (1,450!) and then I got the final payment from my book, 1/4th of the total of what I got to write 75,000 words. $1,300 has never looked like so little money.

But there it sits, $3,000. Sweet freedom. To go to the cafe, to get sushi, to meet a friend out for a drink. In the land of four digits, I prance around time, feeling…

Monthly Money Check-in: December 2017

Back home for Thanksgiving, I asked my sister what she thought our problem, our family problem, is with money.

She didn’t even need time to think. “We want to do whatever the fuck we want to do,” she said.

And there you have it.

This is, perhaps, my biggest issue. To be both the person I’m trying to keep in a financial enclosure and the one holding the key to that enclosure. …

Paulette Perhach

Paulette Perhach has been published at The New York Times, ELLE, Marie Claire, and Cosmo.

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