REVIEW: “Feed Your Engine” by Jack Skillingstead

Review of Jack Skillingstead, “Feed Your Engine”, in Tod McCoy and M. Huw Evans, eds., Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer (Hydra House Clarion West Writers Workshop, 2021): 123-125 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

The “moral” of Skillingstead’s very short essay is this:

I want to impress on new writers that “being a writer” has a lot to do with a working-class mindset (p. 124),

and it’s good advice, too, for writers that are not so new!

Writing is work. Oh, we’ve all had the days when the words come easy and flow off the tips of our fingers like magic; some of us have had the days when more acceptances than rejections arrive in your inbox; but for most people those days are probably the exception and not the norm, and those days only come on the backs of the days where every word is a slog, when “it can still be a real grind” (p. 124). It may seem like this is a sad, depressing piece, but in fact I found it the opposite: A reminder that we writer write because “it’s harder not to write than it is to write” (p. 125), and that while we may each be on our own train, there’s plenty of stations we can visit where we can meet up with other engineers. I, currently in a bit of a dry patch re: writing myself, found this piece enormously comforting.

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