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Love and the Writing Life: Ms. Merriwether

Ms. Merriwether’s Advice to Gentle Reader.


Dear Ms. Merriwether,

I have always lusted after a professor; not a particular one, just a generic one in a tweed jacket with leather patches on the sleeves. That life seems very romantic — reading books on the back swing under a shady oak, a glass of pinot in the late afternoon. The aroma of cherry tobacco occasionally floats through the air from a pipe lit outside. The stability of life on a tenure track, summers in Europe…

What can I do to achieve my dream?

Twee for Tweed

Gentle Reader:

Please write a romantic fantasy and give your characters the particular attributes for which you lust, or take up reading British cozies. You must get your fill of tweed in other places.

Ms. Merriwether knows college professors who struggle with bills, children’s schedules, and publishing for tenure. The reality is laundering T-shirts and jeans rather than lounging in tweed with aromatic pipes.

Ms. Merriwether has known only one pipe-smoking professor in the long-ago days when smoking in a classroom was acceptable behavior. Opening the tobacco pouch, packing the pipe, tamping the tobacco, and lighting the pipe were all great shows of procrastination. This particular professor would then roll their eyes heavenward when taking the first draw, and students were to believe in divine inspiration.

I dropped the class, as when I listen to fabrication, I prefer to call it fiction.

In academia, one must publish in the right scholarly publications. It doesn’t matter if the articles are ever read, unlike popular or literary writing where one hopes for eyeballs or prizes.

Adjunct professors are an ever-growing proportion of employed college-level teachers. Adjuncts are paid a pittance with no job security. It’s a great deal like being a writer.


Dear Ms. Merriwether,

I am on a writer’s retreat where we will go hiking through the rocky surrounding hills. We will then write poems about beauty in bare places.

We listened to a presentation on the difference between gopher snakes (harmless) and rattlesnakes (not harmless). The snakes are roughly the same size and same coloring. One of the differences is that gopher snakes have round eye pupils and rattlesnakes have vertical eye pupils, like cats.

I am inclined to stay in my room and describe nature from a distance. What is your opinion?

Baring the Beauty?

Gentle Reader:

If you are determining whether a snake is harmless or not by its eye pupils, it is already too late, and I am past giving advice.

Ms. Merriwether gladly accepts questions on life or love or the writing life in the comments.

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2 Responses

  1. kaystratman
    | Reply

    Loving the levity.

  2. SingingFrogPress
    | Reply

    yes indeed! 🙂

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