Remembering How to Write

Karen Ashburner

After giving up writing for close to five years, I am writing and submitting at least one thing¬†every day now. I have been rejected twice in the last three weeks, and accepted once. At first the rejections were bothering me, but now I am easing into it, remembering what it felt like: yes, no, yes, yes, no…maybe. The writing is becoming a part of me again, like growing back a long-lost limb. My writing limb was lost in a fire, along with all my books and my clothes and my house and my sense of well-being.

After it all burned down, I put my mind to tangible things, concrete things: raising children, making jam, cooking dinners. I put everything poetic into a box labeled “silly” and hid it away because to write means to feel in a way non-writers can’t understand. It hurts. It makes us fall in love with melancholy; it makes us long for impossible relationships with far-away people.

I am starting to feel things again, remember things, bad things and good things. Bad things make for good writing more often than good things so it is sometimes difficult and it sometimes makes me sad. To disassociate and to connect with the sadness, at the same time, I listen to the same song on repeat while I write. The repetition clears my head. I don’t even hear the words. I don’t even know how many times I repeat it. Over and over, some disco song from the seventies that reminds me of my childhood. Some indie rock song that makes me feel like a teenager.

Outside, it is snowing, On the television, the studio talks to a reporter driving on the highways with a camera to prove how dangerous the roads have become. I flip through the pages of a book that tells me how to raise honey bees. I am storing it all for later and when it gets too crowded in my brain, I will write it all down, combining the sadness of my burning house with the swirling white snow, and the trick to retrieving a summer swarm of bees that has settled into the branches of a tree.


karen-ashburnerKaren Ashburner is a sci-fi prop artist and lives in North Carolina. Her prose is published around the Internet. You can see her sci-fi designs at and view her list of publications at