72. I Write in the Laundrymat: Marcy Sheiner

One of the problems I have with students is their recognizing that writing is a normal activity, and that many people do it every day. Some come from families that hardly speak, much less write, much less write more than a laundry list. I fight the battle that to have books in your house is normal, that the book is as good as the movie, that reading needs to be practiced, and that writing is a normal activity.

Writers write. I remember in “Bird by Bird” author Anne Lamonte whimsically describing Natalie Goldberg (“Writing Down the Bones”) offering advice to… some question about writing by simply making a scribbling motion with her hand. This is like that.

I love the diarists in my class. The fantasy chroniclers and would-be novel writers that are typists. Ah, praise the texters and the emailers and instant messengers who keep the fire of written communication alive. Now, what about those writers who need to edit?! Diarrhea of the pen is delusional, and hard for kids to hear, but that’s another poem.

I found “I Write in the Laundromat” in Ariel Gore’s “How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead“, published by Three Rivers Press. It is great. I have not been a big fan of Gore’s work, but her central thesis that you write and find an audience any way you can (poetry on a t-shirt is publication! With an audience!) is inspiring. For teens, it is a revelation.

I Write in the Laundromat
Marcy Sheiner

I write in the Laundromat.
I am a woman
and between wash & dry cycles
I write.

I write while the beans soak
and with children’s voices in my ear
I spell out words for scrabble
while I am writing.

I write as I drive to the office
where I type a man’s letters
and when he goes to lunch
I write.

When the kids go out the door
on Saturday I write
and while the frozen dinners thaw
I write.

I write on the toilet
and in the bathtub
and when I appear to be talking
I am often writing.

I write in the Laundromat
while the kids soak
with scrabble ears
and beans in the office
and frozen toilets
and in the car
between wash and dry.

And your words
and my words
and her words
and their words
and I am a woman
and I write in the Laundromat.


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