When a Slice Won’t Click: Slice of Life 8/31 #sol17

slice of life

I had a promising idea before I sat down to write. Room 123, my first classroom. I think about it as I’m straightening the living room. Keep thinking about it as I do yoga. By the time I’m folding my yoga mat, I’ve got the first line and I’m ready to go.

I pick up my laptop and head for the dining room. Frances is curled up on the back of my chair. She’s looking especially cute, so I grab my phone to take a photo. I can’t get the light right. I try it from one angle, then another. She wakes up, shifts position, doesn’t look quite so cute. I put my phone down.

I open my laptop and settle into the armchair beside the dining room table. My old dog is now deaf but somehow always knows when I sit down in this chair. She rouses herself from wherever she happens to be napping and staggers into the dining room to join me. I encourage her to make the leap onto the chair. I reach out to help her back legs up. She’s put on a few pounds, and so have I, and now we can barely wedge in together. I shift and adjust so that she has room.

I begin drafting my piece about Room 123. I write the first line, which leads me to another line, and another. They’re fine sentences. Nothing wrong here. But I lose interest in the piece. I catch myself sitting and staring at the screen. Several minutes pass while my mind wanders elsewhere.

I try to take myself in hand and get back to this piece. I reread the sentences I’ve written, think about the direction I want to go. Do I want to write about my students? About myself? What about a description of the room itself? There are plenty of stories here. It’s been nine years since I last turned off the lights and locked the door behind me, but I think about that room nearly every day.

Several minutes later, I’m still sitting here, mind wandering, hands still.


Be serious.


I reread what I’ve written again. It’s fine. Why isn’t this clicking for me? It felt so promising before I started writing. But now that I’m drafting, it doesn’t feel right. There’s no…. necessity to it. I don’t even know how to describe how I want to feel when I’m writing a piece that needs to be written; I just know this isn’t it.

I decide to abandon it for today. After all, there are slices everywhere.

I write a few sentences about my cats. They’re fine sentences, but there’s no click.

I skip a few lines, take a deep breath. Look around. There’s the garage. Inside is my car, Irene. There’s an idea. Begin drafting.

Stop. Reread what I’ve written. It’s fine. Nice. I stop writing.

I skip another few lines, find another idea, write a couple of sentences.

But the blahs overtake me once again.


Nothing feels like it needs to be written today.





23 responses to “When a Slice Won’t Click: Slice of Life 8/31 #sol17”

  1. margaretsmn Avatar

    I love the ramblings of your thoughts. I guess I believe that writing comes so easily for everyone but me. My students have also started writing about not writing. It’s freeing somehow and completely acceptable as a slice, I tell them. Thanks for being real today.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I always believe the same thing, Margaret: it’s easy for everybody but me! Reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird years ago was such a revelation to me for just that reason: wait a second, this first draft stuff is hard for published writers too?! I think last year I ended up with 3-4 slices about not slicing. I have a feeling I’ll end up with about the same number this year!

  2. lizzypru Avatar

    You may not have been able to get into the writing flow today, but you said it so eloquently.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank you! It’s always fun to create a slice out of not slicing!

  3. Frances A Mccrackin Avatar

    I enjoyed this honesty!
    But the heart of the piece for me was making room for the dog 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      She’s loving the increased time I’m spending in that chair, writing and commenting on slices!

  4. wahooteacher Avatar

    Those moments when nothing seems to click are so frustrating, but you powered through it and persevered. Today may not have been the right day for certain ideas, but the possibility of tomorrow and the next day still exists for those ideas.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Good point–and all those attempts at drafts have been saved to return to later perhaps. It’s so odd to have ideas you’re excited to write–until you sit down to write!

  5. carriegelson Avatar

    Oh how I hear you. There are many 2 to 3 sentence drafts on my blog that are still sitting there. I think for the writing to work there needs to be an urgency to tell the story. It’s not just good writing. It’s also something that needs to be said. There is something to a magic formula. Although I need to figure out what the heck I am going to write right now and . . . I have no formula figured out so what do I know? Now I am rambling . . .

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      An urgency, yes. I really wanted to be able to put my finger more narrowly on that magic formula in this piece, but I couldn’t come anywhere close. That sense of urgency certainly isn’t about subject matter–sometimes a really non-urgent topic will spark a slice that badly needs to be written and fast. With as much writing as we do, you’d think we’d have some formula by now, wouldn’t you?? Ah well. I enjoyed popping over to your blog and seeing what you had come up with.

  6. thelogonauts Avatar

    I had two s students write their first slices about “nothing” today. Yours is another shining example of the beauty of nothing.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The nothing-to-write slice is always a favorite for me. I’m sure I’ve got at least half a dozen of them on my blog at this point!

  7. Shari Daniels Avatar

    Well, this is interesting. I just received a book from Amazon today by Abigail Thomas and on the first page, she writes, “Nothing is wasted when you are a writer. The stuff that doesn’t work has to be written to make way for the stuff that might; often you need to take the long way around.”

    You were right. I do love her writing.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      This comment inspired me to get Thinking About Memoir from the library (not wanting to search my shelves for my copy). I sat down to read just a page or two this afternoon… and thirty minutes and several pages in my notebook later, here I am. So much good stuff there!

    2. Akilah Avatar

      I love this quote! I just said the same thing to my students today (but not nearly as eloquently). I’m saving this quote. Thanks so much.

  8. djvichos Avatar

    I think that it takes a lot of courage to abandon a piece. I’m so freakin stubborn, I’ll stick with something til it makes me cry. I love how you captured the struggle here. I was right there with you feeling exasperated and anxious. I love the image of you and your dog in the chair, and how the photo opportunity ends similarly to your plan for your writing.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love what you say here about being really stubborn and trying to stick with a piece and get that thing written. I think perhaps I’m too quick to abandon pieces when they get tricky. I hadn’t even made the connection between my photo opportunity moment and my blog post until I read your comment. Didn’t that work out nicely with my theme??

  9. Emily Culbertson Avatar

    I am right beside you, tapping my pen and drumming my fingers. This slice about slicing is right on. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Some days it’s just not there. And then the next day, it’s not a struggle at all to find post after post that needs to be written!

  10. jarhartz Avatar

    Your moves sound familiar. The cat picture, t

  11. jarhartz Avatar

    Getting the idea — fine sentence s — but no click. You write beautifully about times when there is nothing to write. I will think of this when I am in that familiar spot.

  12. Michelle @litlearningzone Avatar
    Michelle @litlearningzone

    I always know I will be writing a slice about not know what to slice about. But this is the most beautiful not-a-slice slice I have read. It’s funny how the writing needs to click … feel right … feel worth sharing. You are so right. Here’s the best news … you STILL wrote today!

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