Dolly Parton and the Life of a Writing Capricorn

Today at the pool, of all places, where my skin was turning the color of muddy pigs and I was sweating like my skin was shedding, I had a revelation.

I was at the pool with two of my closest friends (one childhood, one high school…and they’re dating) and I was collecting Cicada wings on the side of the pool, slowly talking myself into getting my boobs wet (because all women know, that’s the toughest part) and I just…felt it.  I felt those little brain churns moving along, like when you see the inside of a watch.

I was really, during all of this, reading Sextrology, learning about the Capricorn female (me) and how ambitious and utterly perfectionist I am (not to mention a complete grandma – that is my signs archetype so it makes sense.  I’m also totally an emotional loner who’s soul is black.  Almost literally word for word what was written, I kid you not).  But, I’m reading this, thinking about all my pent up anger about not receiving that large, manila envelope filled with adoration of my writing and schools begging me to attend their program.  Instead I got e-mails about wait-lists from beautiful blonde women, and sat and waited (which I’m not very good at).  All this virtue patience baloney and all of my crushed expectations have completely jeopardized my writing.

I attended a writing workshop this weekend led by the Raleigh Review, with two unbelievably talented poets: Joe Millar and Dorianne Laux (who happen to be married).   I was furiously taking notes about just the way they were speaking.  The pure poetics in their everyday language between themselves and a group of old women + me.  I’ve looked up to Dorianne from day 1 in my first creative writing workshop with her, and now that she’s a huge part of a magazine that I’m also entirely in love with, it’s just been a complete and utter blessing to listen to her, and stand in her smoky haze (as I wrote in one of my personal statements).  She knows this.  She knows my creepy, pre-teen, boy band enthusiasm about her and her writing that I share with countless other struggling women and men across the globe.

But instead of making this a complete gush fest on my love of living and breathing the same Raleigh air as these two unearthly people, let me talk about my writing block.

I’ve been blocked.  I wasn’t even pre-ejaculating, I just wasn’t ejaculating at all.  There has been no writing coming out of these here fingers.  There WAS nothing.  I was making lists like I was grocery shopping at the store of language (a Joe Millar creation).  I was leaving this workshop, sobbing in my car on my way to work, rubbing furiously at the horror-movie look my mascara was leaving on my cheeks.  I was trying so hard to leave it all on that paper, in that striped notebook, out of my swollen head.  I would leave feeling like I had just retaken the SATs and couldn’t even read.  I mean, I was desperate.  I still am desperate, is what I’m saying.

So, I’m doing what I was told, for once.  I’m going to write 30 minutes to an hour a day and whether it’s a good day or not I’m going to keep writing.  Because this morning, I woke up, scratched about a page about the end of my inner critic who so very much likes to mention the food in my teeth and my morning breath when I begin writing and then later exclaiming about my sad try at poetry.  Well he’s no more, him and his french accent.  I’m trying something new.  And lucky for me, I have peers who were also in this workshop (two lovely ladies) to help me keep pushing through this by doing weekly exercises with me and sharing a bit of their poetry lives.  It’s always, ALWAYS helpful to have a few writerly friends, I’d say.

But, more than that, this morning with my dying pen, I managed to poetically describe Dolly Parton’s breasts (it’s important in a poem for my grandfather, who I never write about because I’m always harping on my dead grandmother…did I mention I was a Capricorn)?

So, here I am.  A page full of metaphors for the size and shape and pillow of Dolly Parton’s breasts and a hammer slowly nailing away at my inner critic.

I know everyone has these problems when they set out telling themselves that they’re going to be a writer because they have (sappy) shit to say and dang-on-it someone is going to hear it.  Really I write because it’s the only thing that doesn’t turn me into a complete neurotic asshole (if I didn’t write, I’d literally have no friends other than cats).

So here we are.  Writing for the sake of fuckin’ writing.

Dolly Parton, eat your heart out.

(PS. I applied for a librarian job at my church, that I’m never going to get because of how many times I cussed during this blog.  And that also, is infuriating.  Let’s all hope they don’t find this because I’d be such a good story-time gal).

6 thoughts on “Dolly Parton and the Life of a Writing Capricorn

  1. Sarah Dion says:

    sigh…I have nothing to say other than I love you. even if you had no friends because the litterbox smell of 12 cats wafted out your window, you’d still have me eating up all your words and loving you still.

  2. cassiemannes says:

    Haha, I love you as well. And that’s just why I keep you because when everyone else fails, I know you’ll be there (across the world, but still within technological reach). That’s bestfriendship right there, haha. 12 cats and we’re still goin’ strong.

  3. sheree says:

    I love this writing. Thank you thank you for a smile today. And breath of fresh air. Skin the colour of muddy pigs and cicada wings. The images will linger. You are a poet.

  4. bea mannes says:

    First, I want to say I love Dolly Parton, not her boobs, and second, please clean that litter box! If you ever have 12 cats, I’m not visiting. Sara knows you so well.
    As for the blog, loved it. Now, stop reading this and get back to that writing.

  5. BooksDevoured says:

    Hi Cassie,
    Sorry to have to leave a comment but I could not find another way to contact you. I am a moderator for the Book Blogger Directory and I wanted to double check the Name that you want your blog listed under. In the form it has the link to your site but we usually list a name, then link. Please let me know what you want me to do. You can email me at BooksDevoured at


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