Be A Better Writer To Be A Better Lover

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I am a writer, which means that as I sit before a blank page, I check my e-mail, hop on Facebook, and read about writing all as an elaborate warmup to the actual writing. Or, to be brutally honest, I goof off before word one hits the page.

As I was goofing off today, I was reading an excellent article about the psychology of writing, and I began to see a subtle but sure relationship between writing – something I enjoy but don’t always protect the time for – with, well, romance.

The article said that writers perform best when they achieve a state of “flow” that overcomes anxiety and boredom. I have written without looking at the clock in a fever of creativity, surprised when my plot hits a crescendo and I stop, amazed at how much time has flown by. Similarly, nothing stops romance colder than anxiety or clock-watching. There’s a great scene in one of the Sex & The City movies in which Miranda, the brainy one, lies beneath her good-guy husband, Steve, and asks him to hurry up. You can imagine his…um…crest-fallen reaction.

The article continues that ritual can be important for writing. Sit in your “writing place” so that becomes where you get used to being creative. The article talks about “cognitive cueing,” in which ritual can ensure that the same sights, sounds, smells cue your mind that now is the time to create. The analogy between this and romance is undeniable. How many times have we set the scene with candles and music to indicate that tonight we’re not watching Jon Stewart?

Finally, the article says bluntly, “There is no ideal rotation of the chair or perfect position of the desk clock that guarantees a Pulitzer. What counts, ultimately, is putting your backside in the chair.”

And that, too, is great advice for those of us in love. Just be present. Just put in the time. Because, there are no flowers or candles that are more romantic than someone who really listens, who is there for you without distraction.

Sometimes, just doing is your inspiration.Pen and Ink

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Comfortable in Your Skin

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Quick, what’s the one thing you’d change about your body?

That was the question a young filmmaker from the Jubilee Project asked. The adults? They wanted better skin, smaller ears.

One woman asked plaintively, “Just one?”

The children? They wanted a shark’s mouth, a cheetah’s legs, a mermaid’s tail.

What if it didn’t have to be quick? Everything moves more slowly in the South; so with all that time to consider, what do Southern women want to change?

I talked with two of Charleston’s top makeover experts – the lead aesthetician at Cos Bar, and a makeup artist at Blue Mercury – about what it is that women my age want to change.

And the answer is that most of us want to change our skin: it’s dry, it’s lost elasticity, our neck is sagging, our décolleté is a mess.

“They want to take care of wrinkles, anti-aging, more firm. They don’t want a knife or needles. They want less invasive, but want more results,” says Jamie Biering of the Cos Bar.

Of course, not all women of a certain age have eschewed surgery.

“Some women come in to preserve plastic surgery” says Sara Nicole Massraf of Blue Mercury. “We sell them creams to make their injectables last, makeup to cover suture marks.”

She adds that mature women can get in a makeup rut and can be hard to convince to change routines.

But, according to Massraf, most Southern women don’t have to be convinced to have a routine, even if it is outdated.

“In the South, we’re the glamour culture, the pageant culture, the cheerleader culture. Our culture is slow and easy; we take the time to look good – like lipstick instead of just a dash of gloss – and we take the time for beauty sleep,” Massraf says. “The ladies of the South have the luxury of time to invest in themselves.”

I too want to look younger, firmer. But is it wrong that I also want a mermaid’s tail or cheetah’s legs?

mermaid tail