Bait Fish

David made fun of me when I told him, two weeks ago, that I had "started writing the first post" for this blog.

"You don't get it, do you?" he asked, knowing perfectly well that I do.

I probably threatened to throw something at him.

I erased that fragment of first post. It was too mannered and laborious. It was all about what I want this blog to be about. It was all about my anxiety of influence re certain other writers (namely George Eliot), and about the wonder of coming upon a manuscript of Middlemarch in the British Library about 5 million years ago, and the little paperback reproduction of her quotation-filled blotter I bought in the gift shop.

The paperback looks like this. (I haven't actually read it.)
Miraculously, I was able to find it in less than 5 minutes,
despite the shocking disarray of my bookshelves ... it was on the attic stairs.
(more on bookshelves in some other post)

In the intervening two weeks, I have made a list of possible topics for blog posts - everything from "writing like cooking" to "sexual abuse sucks" to "my life in fantasy careers, foreign service edition," but I still haven't begun the blog.

Sure, it's easy for David to make fun of me. He has about 500 blogs (like this, this, this, and this). He uses them to organize his thoughts, to promote projects, to comment on certain topics of abiding interest to him. I admire and envy the particular kind of creative focus/compulsion of which this is a symptom.

My blog will be different. It will be a compendium of all topics interesting to Toni, depending on what she is working on, teaching, thinking about, or feeling called by. (Likely there will be many posts about books, music, food, shoes, children, and writing). I called it Shiny Things because I am a mental magpie. I collect pretty idea trinkets that glint in the sun, some are diamonds, some tinfoil. Here I will strew them about in a great, festive heap, and hope you, dear reader, will admire them.

When I was young I hoarded my shiny observations and ideas, my inspiration, in a dark, locked box. I feared that if I let them out in the world, I would run out. They dried up and died in there. This was one reason I suffered crippling writers block in my late teens and into my early mid-20s. Then, after writing on deadline for pay, after finally finishing college, after stillbirth, after yoga, after my first graduate degree, I finally came to trust the source. It was innate. There would be plenty. And for a while I thought it was enough to notice them as they occurred and to let them go. Catch and release, occasionally keep one to grill up into a story. If I were a true yogi, maybe that would be enough, but I have now begun to fear running out of time before I get to do enough with them. Now, I want to keep them, fresh and alive not locked in a box, so they can grow on their own or for me to use as bait when I go looking for the harder catch - the bright silver marlin, this goddamned novel I've been working on forever, my all-girl rockabilly movie, the list goes on.

Shiny Things is a holding tank for the quick, flashing bait fish I bring in each day. Watch them as they swim.


  1. Delicious metaphor, catch and release. We should all be so good at that - world would be a more forgiving place. Mazal tov on your first sproiiiinnnnggg. May this be a fruitful enterprise for you in exactly the way you wish.

  2. I am so excited for us! Finally, a window into the soul of a most admired woman. Can't wait to see what you catch, what you release, and what we can eat on toast. Congratulations Toni! So excited to read your shiny posts!

  3. I'll read...if only to be the first in line for the all-girl rockabilly movie premiere. Plus, I figure I've exclusively blog-stalked your husband enough.

    Welcome to the blogosphere!

  4. My brain has its own catch and release policy, as in an idea occurs, I think "FABULOUS BLOG IDEA" and then something happens and I am distracted before I can remember it long enough to write about it. Sigh. I look forward to reading your sparkly musings.

  5. Welcome! I started blogging in 2004 as a way to make myself write daily. I stopped blogging there after a dear friend died-- the blog was too tied to him. I have started and abandoned two more since then, but I think it's done it's thing for me. Still, I loved my experiences with it and wish you joy and rich friendships and relationships from it as well.

    I came across this quote on Twitter, right as I was also toggling to your new blog, and it seemed immediately relevant. I love it when the universe lines things up like this:

    kazoofus Found this via my friend Stacey: GEORGE ELIOT VIA RECOVERY CONNECTION: "it is never too late to be who you might have been."

  6. Shiny things kept locked in a box...the best of us keep them there. So glad to see you are going to set yours free.

  7. @beedie: Well, there you go then! :P


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