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Weekly Wrap: The Shoulders We Cry On

By Posted on 22 3 m read 1.3K views

I’m guessing I’ve had too much champagne to type for my blog. Oh well. The problem with being your own boss is you just do whaever you feel like doing.

This is a picture of some butter my dad made. You’ll understand when you get to the end of this post.

I’m sitting here, wondering if I should tell a story about how long it’s taken me to learn how to cry, or to cry in front of others without being ashamed, or to learn how to accept comfort, which is kind of an ongoing struggle for me. I’m considering naming the incredible friends I have and the ways they’re there for me. I have phenomenal friends who believe in me much more than I believe in myself, and I am so grateful for each of them. I’m considring telling you about my mom, my husband, my agent, who are kind of superheroes to me.

But what I’m going to do is link back to this week’s interview with Porochista Khakpour because I have a feeling a number of you were on the road when it went up. And if you haven’t read the interview, I think you’ll be surprised how much her story might transform you. Because Porochista is not just on LitPrk for writing a great piece of literature, and she’s not just here because her book tells an important and surprisingly humorous story of Iranian-Americans living in post-9/11 paranoia. But she’s also here because her story about the despair of rejections and the fear of attending her own readings is a great reminder that even those who’ve made it know what the rest of us are going through. There are many wonderful things about being writers and artists, but there’s also this part that all of us know too well, and Porochista is with you here. And she rescues greyhounds, so I kind of love her forever.

Even if I didn’t have too much champagne, I’d tell you how much I love Porochista.

And all of you.

I would tell you without typos.

So, go back and read her interview and let it heal and recharge you. And leave her a comment. And buy her book if you want a guaranteed good read. Check out her blog, all of that.

You can read it on the treadmill as you try to lose all the weight you gained this week.

Speaking of which… many of you know, I’m in Virginia, spending Thanksgiving with my folks.

This is the house I grew up in. This is the view out the dining room window.

My dad is an awesome cook. He’s an awesome, high-maintenance cook. For just one small example, he made his own butter to coat the turkey. The butter has shallots and herbs and garlic and wine in it. Everything he does is like this, and from scratch. We just sit around and wait to be served.

So we sat around talking and we watched “Bustin’ Loose” (God, is there anyone sexier than Richard Pryor? The answer is, Of course not.) Tomorrow, I’ll regret not waiting till I sobered up to type this because I know it will be wordy. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

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  • lance_reynald
    November 22, 2007

    champagne and wordiness make for a most beautiful wrap written from the heart.

    Thank you.

    and Thank you for always being there to be one of my strongest shoulders to cry upon. The love, compassion and sensitivity it takes to be that person is a greater statement of your character than any of the words I might try to fill this box with.

    and a million thanks to Porochista Khakpour. Taking the time to chat with me for all of you out there is one of my proudest achievements to date. Read her, follow her, go get a greyhound in her honour and read through what she shared again… it’s a love of our craft that makes a writer like that.

    I’ll leave you guys with this bit I heard at Wordstock a couple of weeks ago… I tried to sketch it down in haste so I might be butchering it to hell, but You’ll get the gist of it, I hope.

    be honest, dedicate yourself to craft. make something good. like making a good chair, what you give can hold someone up. (ehud havazelet)

    Thank you all, for making such great chairs… 🙂

  • Heather_Fowler
    November 23, 2007

    Thanksgiving Day, a wee rondeau for SH

    Thanksgiving Day, we stare at trees,
    felled leaves adrift with autumn’s breeze;
    we look to parents, kids, and pets–
    we eat too much; we sing duets.
    We nap away, or siblings tease.

    We laugh and tell old tales with ease;
    Virginia’s histories move through these.
    We cry and fight and love abet,
    Thanksgiving Day.

    We drink as much as we may please.
    We bet for time like life’s trustees;
    We do not soon these meals forget.
    Our families like our restive net–
    where we our pains and fears appease,
    Thanksgiving Day.


    You see, Susan, I’m addicted to these rondeaus… *grins* I better get out my New Book of Forms, or may find myself speaking in them soon.


  • Heather_Fowler
    November 23, 2007

    P.S. And since this is comment box poetry, you’ll forgive me tomorrow if it has errors and such (or forgive me even it it sucks, right? *grins*), having just written it after inspiration from your lovely wrap and father’s butter story and lovely big tree sentiment RE the Virginia home journey… I love Virginia.

    P.P.S. I, for one, vote yes on the idea of hearing the sappy enumeration of and appreciation for your dearest friends, but then, I am a big hearted lit geek, who loves to hear other people loving and appreciating each other so you’d expect I would think this a cool idea, right? LOL!

  • billie
    November 23, 2007

    This week at LitPark triggered me thinking about writers crying alone and a little writing retreat I took a couple of years back to do an agent-guided revision on my first novel ms. I was scared b/c I knew I was going to have to let some things happen to my main character, Claire, that I’d held back in earlier revisions.

    I went to a little motel on the side of a NC mountain. My room looked out over nothing but trees and other mountains. I opened the huge windows and sat on the bed with my pages and my laptop and the granddaddy of all thunderstorms exploded right outside. I’d never seen lightning that close. It was fierce. And at the end of it there was a double-rainbow that spoke to me.

    I worked all night long. I opened some locked doors in the ms and walked inside them with Claire. I cried and wrote some more. I cut things and added things. It was frenzied, fevered writing.

    And in the morning I was drained and totally unsure of what I’d written. I felt like crying again but there was no one to cry to – the cell signal was nonexistent.

    I wandered to the little office where the couple who own the place served breakfast on trays you could take back to your room. Real breakfasts – good oatmeal or granola with fresh fruit, toast from home-made bread and jams, pots of coffee or tea with hand-thrown mugs. The owners had a little girl, and she was wandering around with her doll amidst the ten or so guests getting their trays.

    She seemed very determined, a three-year old with a mission. She was looking up at all the faces, and then moving on. Then she got to me. She pulled me over to the little sofa and sat me down. Thrust her doll into my arms and said “This is Claire and she told me she wants you to know she loves you.”

    That morning I cried with the three year old and the doll named Claire and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that weekend or the comfort those shared tears offered.

    Thanks, Susan, for such a provocative, important week here. Sometimes things just click and this one really did.

  • Sarah Bain
    November 23, 2007

    Oh, see, I’ve stayed away from this week’s question because, well, I am the world’s worst crier–that is, I don’t, I can’t and never in front of anybody. And of course I’m afraid to start because what if I never stopped. So in my house, the children think men cry and women don’t and that’s just one example of our brokenness.

    Uh, Susan, I know you don’t like cooking but maybe you should hang out a bit with your dad in the kitchen so you know, you can pick up some of his recipes before they disappear. I love cooking and someday perhaps that could be a question because I think writing and cooking well, go side by side. But I suppose if you are lucky, you might just always get to sit around while others serve you, or not. There is nothing like a good roux to inspire a short story! Happy post-turkey day.

  • Juliet
    November 23, 2007

    Some day, Susan, I hope to share many glasses of champagne with you.
    Thank you again for what you do and offer us here.

  • terrybain
    November 23, 2007

    I was just about to say something very similar to “champagne and wordiness make for a most beautiful wrap written from the heart,” but you already said it, so what I’ll say is “bring on the champagne!”



  • Carolyn_Burns_Bass
    November 23, 2007

    Love it, love it, love it. Be blissed, Heather of the rondeau.

  • Carolyn_Burns_Bass
    November 23, 2007

    I’ve been thinking about this tears thing all week.

    Did you ever cry as a child, Susan?

    I cried my eyes out the night my parents split up when I was seven. I cried and cried and cried. I cried so many tears I didn’t cry again until death visited my immediate family when I was 31.

    I wonder if traumatic events in childhood lead to tearless adulthoods.

  • Aurelio
    November 24, 2007

    Chuck cooks like your dad, Susan. He creates these amazing meals, but the aftermath is a kitchen that looks like a bomb went off.

  • Carolyn_Burns_Bass
    November 24, 2007

    Billie, the Claire story is spoooooky. It’s a story within a story.

  • Heather_Fowler
    November 24, 2007

    Awww, thanks, Carolyn. 🙂 All my best to you and yours! xo, H

  • SusanHenderson
    November 24, 2007

    Hey guys, I’m back in New York. I hope you understand the importance of me working hard on my book edits until I’m done. I am working so hard, I’m not seeing enough of my family, so know that if I have any free time, I’m going to spend it with my kids. Anyway, I’ve read all of your wonderful posts and I think you’re all great. But I can’t respond individually, and I’m not able to answer notes people leave on MySpace and elsewhere unless they’re upcoming guests here. Anyway, thanks for understanding. You know it took me ten million years to get this book deal, so I can’t lose focus.

    Okay, with that, the quick recap is: you are all great and I appreciate you so much, and carry on because this place is yours as much as it is mine. xo

  • Heather_Fowler
    November 24, 2007

    Good job, Susan! Say no to diversions and bust a&* on your edits! Even wonderwoman must polish her bullet deflecting wristbands and tend to her own garden.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 24, 2007


  • billie
    November 25, 2007

    Carolyn, it didn’t feel scary at all in the moment, although it was incredibly emotional. That entire weekend was its own tale for sure. It felt like I had tapped into another dimension doing those edits. I’ve been tempted to go back there with other work, but timing hasn’t clicked.

  • Pia Z. E.
    November 25, 2007

    My arm’s around you Sue until you finish your edits.

  • porochista
    November 25, 2007

    Susan, you are so lovely. Hopefully we can meet in NYC when you have a chance? (I live in Brooklyn)
    This place is an absolute dream. I wish I knew every damn person commenting here. Refreshing.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 25, 2007


  • SusanHenderson
    November 25, 2007


  • Nathalie
    November 26, 2007

    Finally the time to catch on!
    Just finished my NaNo story and feeling a little…heeeee.. say like an old soufflĂ© (i.e. deflating rapidly).
    I quite enjoyed the interview with Porochista and she’s on my must buy list.
    Thank you to Lance and Porochista for this and to you, Susan, for the wrap up (how can you NOT cook? With such a wonderful example?) and for this beautiful tree picture.
    Good luck with your edits.

Susan Henderson