Monday, September 3, 2012

The Naked Writer

I am working on putting together a workshop for next spring which I hope to present at the Mass Poetry Festival, tentatively titled "The Naked Writer," about getting past our writerly inhibitions to whatever we might dig up underneath.

I stumbled upon mine by accident, when I started writing persona poems for my recently published science fiction novel, "Relocated," and again when I invented another poet for a follow-on novel.

Two subjects, it turns out, that I normally avoid writing about are:

{drum roll}

Spirituality, or religious belief,



But, I can hear you say, what's so awful or scary or intimidating about politics and religion?

Sorry, I haven't figured that one out yet. Right now, I'm working out how to get at the inhibitions in the first place.

Clearly, one way for me was to write persona poems. Another might be to free write. Perhaps another to write about a random subject.

Any suggestions?

Any subjects you know you won't write about/ don't want to write about?

Comments appreciated and encouraged.

Margaret Fieland lives and works in the suburbs west of Boston, ma. You can find her hanging out on the web at or

Check out her new novel, "Relocated" at


Anne Duguid Knol said...

Politics and religion were always the taboo subjects for dinner parties for fear of alienating guests--maybe that's why they're so difficult to write about? Thinking about your question here--interesting. Not sure if I'd even confess what I might be inhibited about writing about...

Margaret Fieland said...

{Nods}. The first poem that threw me into taking myself seriously as a writer was about alcoholism. I almost didn't submit it for publication.

And, yeah, I still want to qualify who/what/not me/ etc when I talk about it.

elysabeth said...

One thing I don't write is poetry because I have hard time "getting it" when I read it. Working with the writing class in Utah, via the web of course, one of the projects they have to do is write acrostic poems and I tell the students when they ask for advice on their poetry that I'm not a poet and can't give them much advice on the poems themselves but I can listen to them read the poems.

I wrote erotic when I first started out but those stories were terrible (I've reread them since learning what I've learned over the past few years about writing and I can tell you they were the terriblest (lol) writing I've ever done).

I think the story I'm embarking on really is political in a way in that it's based in 1980/1970/1945 China and the United States, and involves some spy type activity but not in the sense of giving secrets to other countries or what not but a prominent family spying on the family of his grandchild (keeping tabs on her as promised to his daughter who died in childbirth - it's a long complicated thought process to get to the heart of the story - I think). So I don't think politics is too taboo for me.

Religion is probably something I wouldn't write about since my father is a priest and I'd feel out of sorts writing about it.

There aren't too many taboo writing things for me since I was born and raised as an Army brat and trust me, you see and hear a lot of things that non-military children don't usually see. With my father having worked in the hospital when he was stationed at West Point on his last duty and I was old enough to remember things, he would let me come to the emergency room after school and observe - I was very shy back then but loved the medical aspect - always wanted to go into the medical field but not as a doctor or nurse - and I made it in a round about way - I'm a medical transcriptionist. My father always said as long as I didn't bother him while he was working and sat in a corner and did my homework and didn't miss the last late afternoon bus home, that it was fine for me to come and just sit. I loved observing the people coming in the emergency room but never was thinking of being a writer at that time in my life. So, I think what a lot of people consider taboo to write about has to do with their upbringing. If they were raised in very strict homes and had little exposure, they probably tend to write on the conservative side, if they are a writer; or maybe they are the rebellious ones and will write about anything.

I don't write sports either because I basically don't participate in them and haven't a clue how to write a sports story that would come off as believable.

Hope this helps with your upcoming workshop. Good luck with it and see you in the postings - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of FINALLY HOME, a middle grade/YA mystery written very similar to a Nancy Drew mystery

Karen Cioffi said...

I avoid politics and religion in regard to nonfiction - not for fear, but everyone has their own viewpoints and if those views are steadfast, you're not going to change them. And, I just don't feel the need to share my viewpoints and beliefs on those topics . . . there's more than enough other stuff to talk about. :)

Oh, I won't write erotica, for religious reasons.

I have written amateur poetry, but haven't in a while.

Shirley Corder said...

Yes, I'm with Karen. I don't write about politics or RELIGION, but I do share my faith. I write devotional material, in fact Strength Renewed which launches on October 1 consists of 90 meditations for the reader's journey through breast cancer. But I avoid anything doctrinal or that's likely to cause people to get their minds onto picky issues and away from the Lord.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I don't write about religion, but do write about spirituality. To me it's very different. Writing erotica would push me thoroughly out of my comfort zone.

Kathleen Moulton said...

I am more of a non-fiction writer and I enjoy allegory.

I have no desire to write fantasy or sci-fi. Poetry is also not a favorite of mine but I'm going right now to check out your links!


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