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The successful novelist probably borrowed the idea from Alan Watt’s ‘The 90-Day Novel’

photo by Larry D. Moore

Ottessa Moshfegh learned a tough lesson early in her career. During an interview, she revealed too much about her writing methods. She said she purchased a writing book, The 90-Day Novel by Alan Watt, in the hopes that she could make a lot of money.

Some people — people in the literary world — thought Moshfegh’s desire for money and fame sounded obnoxious. Moshfegh defended herself, saying:

What I meant is that I need to make a living as a writer, so I need to be famous enough that people will buy my book so I can feed myself and…

Django Reinhardt died on my birthday, thirty years before I was born. When Django died, Adrienne Rich celebrated her 24th birthday.

Django died; Adrienne celebrated.

Thirty years later, I was born, on the anniversary of Django’s death, on the birthday of Adrienne Rich.

Django, the musician, the man who influenced countless guitar players, including the legendary Willie Nelson. Django died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 43.

I wrote about Django, in college, while studying Romani culture. Before then, I didn’t know that “gypsy” was a derogatory word.

My father called my siblings and me “gypsies” when he…

illustration by Melissa Toldy

What the negativity in my head looks like today: People don’t like me; because I’m not smart enough; because I don’t have interesting things to say; because I make conversation awkward; because I don’t wear nice enough clothes; because my hair is limp; because I don’t smile enough; because I’m boring; because I’m not accomplished for my age; because I don’t say funny things.

I’ve been thinking about going to see a therapist. I’m pretty sure it could be helpful, but I don’t know how to go about finding a good one. I’m also considering some kind of medication. Taking…

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

If you are reading this, you are my reader, for the time being. I don’t know who you are — because I can’t see you. There’s a small chance we know each other in real life. But most likely, we have never met, and we will never meet. Still, I care about you. Not just because you are my reader, right now. I care about you because I care about people.

I am writing these words on a Friday morning. As I type this sentence, I look at the clock: 8:02 AM. I plan to write until 10 AM, at…

I have a few special powers:

  • Listening
  • Waiting
  • Dreaming
  • Making salads that taste delicious

I believe these are special powers for this simple reason: Other people do not wield them. Some people listen, yes. Some people wait, yes. Some people dream, of course. And salads, well, salads are less complicated.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, late aughts, early morning, weekday, fall. I am wearing a cocoon sweater. A cardigan made in the 1980s. Black cuffs, black trim, black placket. Copper body.

I did not make up the word cocoon for this sweater coat. Someone else called it a “cocoon” first. It has batwing sleeves — or dolman sleeves. Two terms I also did not make up.

Is it a coat or a cardigan or a sweater? It is all three, in one. I found the cocoon at a Salvation Army. …

Cherry, magnolia, Japanese maple, forsythia, tulips, daffodils, flowering quince, and more

clockwise, from top left: magnolia, forsythia & serviceberry, flowering quince, cherry & magnolia, cherry, tulips & daffodils

If you are reading this today, April 16, 2021, and you live in Brooklyn, you need to go to Prospect Park. Like now. Or this weekend. The park is gorgeous. Mesmerizing. Absolutely stunning. I visited the northern part two days ago, and I snapped a bunch of photos on my Google Pixel, but these images barely capture the magnificence of the flowering trees, bushes, and wildflowers.

A few winters ago, in a dark restaurant, I sat across from a friend who confessed the following: She records her schedule in a giant book. As she described the behemoth, with her arms as wide as her placemat, she mimed the shape of her unwieldy planner, looking smitten and secretive, as if she was telling me about an illicit affair.

Not only did my friend track her appointments on paper, she wrote in cursive.

Days later, I opened an old Moleskine of mine, greeted by text in all CAPS, a style I tried out because I disliked my printed…

The mysteries of my universe can be summed up with those two words

All women in this yoga class. The instructor, seated on a block, says, “Lunar cycle.” This is code for menstruation. To be on your lunar is to be bleeding, hopefully not through your yoga pants.

In the fifth grade, pencil marks on a large pink eraser. Mandy. This is her homeroom desk. I sit here for Language Arts. We write notes to each other on the pink eraser. Short notes. We are never in class together, but we see each other at lunch and on the playground. Mandy is tall and strong. A big girl. We start out with simple…

Melissa Toldy

Writer living in Brooklyn, NY.

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