Embracing space: what’s left when there are no distractions

Do you know why most New Year’s resolutions fail? (I know, we’re in the middle of a July heat wave. Bear with me, here) I think it’s because we try to add new things to our lives without actually making space for them. We want to hang on to all the old ways which are familiar and comfortable and on top of them add all these other, better things which will make us new and improved. I know it’s what I do, anyways.

This concept occurred to me this morning while I was sitting with my funk. Somehow, when I was journaling this morning, I wrote myself into a funk. Usually writing works the other way around for me. So there I was, stuck; stuck in the mucky, monkey-mind mess that likes to snare me from time to time. You know the one. There’s never a specific thing you can point to and say, this is the problem. Instead all the little imperfections and quirks and wish-it-could-be’s and if-only’s pig pile on your brain and dance around in spiky tap shoes.

No? Am I alone in this?

As I sat there with all the tap dancing things I should be doing-thinking-improving-changing-being, I realized something. By allowing this fallow time in my life, by not filling it with appointments and obligations, I have no distraction from my funk. I just have to sit with it. I suppose I could have created some busy work. Something always needs washing or sorting. But I didn’t. Instead I just sat with the funk.

I am funky, I thought. Not very pleasant at all.

A funny thing happened, then. I sat there and accepted the funk without fighting, without creating a distraction, without rushing to escape. Pretty soon, all those terrible tap-dancing things began to seem quite silly. The longer I sat, the sillier they became. The more I made room for them, the smaller they shrank. After awhile- poof! – they disappeared.

How strange, I thought. This has never happened before. What’s different?

Then it came to me: space. Empty space made it possible for me to sit quietly  while the jiggering, yammering demons did their worst. When I didn’t flail and flounder or argue and chide them, they wore themselves out. They disappeared, leaving me none the worse for the experience, and perhaps, even, a little bit better.

I began to wonder how many other simple lessons I miss because I am always busy, always thinking, always striving to be something better than who I already am. Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with activity or with aspiration. Only I get tripped up by trusting in should or must instead of simply accepting who I am, and letting what comes, come.

I should be better than this by now.
This must finish this so I can be….
If I don’t accomplish what will they think? (They who? I don’t actually know.)

It’s no wonder I fall flat at resolutions, be they New Year or otherwise. I never make room for anything to be fully realized, especially not my own heart. Instead, I just try and squish newness in and around the things I love to do, the things I need to do, the things I should be doing and the tap dancing demons. I’ve never found the courage to clear out enough space for anything to change or grow. Whether I’m afraid to let go or certain I can hold it all, the result is the same. I smother everything in layers of expectation – the good, the bad, and the messily fantastic- and expect it to be different this time.

So yes, this morning I was uncomfortable. Funky, if you will. But I survived. It didn’t last too long or hurt too bad, really. Those fiery darts turned into flowers when I stopped using all my defenses against them. There’s a lesson to learn in this. I plan to make space for the rest of the day to let it sink in, making room for the newness, room for wonder.

It’s kind of amazing the insight you can find in a wide open space when you stop looking for something to fill it.


How to connect with your soul: Self-care adventures

Lately I am all about self-care. The more I journal about it, the more I realize it’s been years since I invested in myself. I don’t say this as a point of blame since I am solely responsible for self-care, from boundaries to application. Exploring ways to connect with my soul has turned into an adventure and a challenge this summer. Every day, I’m engaged in understanding myself better which in turn benefits everyone around me.

However, I  receive a lot of push-back when I talk about self-care with others. Most often I receive the ‘I could never do that‘ response. From healthy eating choices to the Month of No, there is a general reluctance to swim against powerful cultural currents.

Honestly, I believe we see self-care as a frivolous indulgence especially in religious circles. If we aren’t sacrificing ourselves to near burn out (or often past the point of burn out) then we certainly cannot be “good enough.” Or maybe it’s just me who absorbed this message.

Popular culture is no friend to self-care either. Our fervent pursuit of busyness, constant activity, pushing forward, get-ahead, stay-on-top, win-win-win mentality is quite literally killing us. Even though I stepped out of the consumer race several years ago, I still worshiped frequently at the ‘altar of should.’ Constantly working at things I should do, who I should be, ways my life should look, I lived the busyness mentality quite well even though I practiced minimalism.

Granted, some seasons of life simply are busier than others. Children, family needs or other personal responsibilities often make demands beyond our control. However, more often we make our loads into burdens with poor boundaries, ridiculous expectations and subscribing to the American dream. I don’t believe it’s only me who is guilty of these things. Ask the next person you see how they are, and it’s likely their response will be “Busy!

Oddly, I find it harder to answer people when they ask what I’ve been up to now that I can no longer claim “keeping busy.” How do you tell someone that occasionally, you feel downright bored. Mostly, I have enough to keep my mind working, but when I use self-restraint and stay away from time-killing distractions, I do sometimes find myself twiddling my thumbs.

What I do notice more often now is a general sense of well-being. Even when I am busier than I’d like to be, I can still feel it. By creating margin for my inner voice, my circumstances have less influence on my general demeanor. I haven’t perfected this state, but I am certain it will be second nature the longer I pursue this less-than lifestyle.

Recently, I actually made a list of things which I consider self-care. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious, I choose an item, or two or three, and indulge in some self-care. I’m even incorporating self-care as part of my morning and evening routines. Creating self-care habits is high on my priority list this summer.

Some of my practices include:

  • Reading (who didn’t see that one?)
  • Browsing at the library
  • Taking care of my succulent garden
  • Meditating
  • Running
  • Snuggling the dogs
  • Drawing
  • Sitting outside, breathing deeply and doing nothing else
  • Burning candles
  • Yogi Tea
  • Journaling

As you can see, nothing is complicated or expensive. For a free practice, self-care may be as effective as a year of therapy was a few years ago. If nothing else, I like myself a whole lot more than I did six months ago. And I care a lot less about situations I cannot change or control as well.

What ways do you engage in self-care? How can you create margin to do them more often?


Shaking it Up: Evolving to make life work for me

Since I started this one hundred day project, I’ve been sort of winging it. I began on a whim, and since then, writing every day means I don’t have much time to plan ahead. But it’s June now. The month of No. Yesterday I identified several things which make me grumbly. I know because I was grumbly. Since then I’ve journaled and meditated, read a book and had a run. These are all things which make life work for me rather than against me. In my journal this morning I wrote:

Evolution is the natural process of staying with something. Sustainability depends on change; nothing growing is static. Essentially, you have to shake it up or let it die.

Even in just three days of margin, I see things which don’t fit the life I’m working towards. These things are simple choices which change the tone of my day drastically, but which are hard to identify as lode bearing choices when life is busy. Eventually, these choice will serve me when I say yes again as well. Hopefully, by then they will be habit.

I actually started thinking about change last night in relation to reading. In my effort to read one hundred stories this summer, I’ve opened myself up to a wider range of book types than I normally choose. Doing this has not only helped me realize how many different types of literature I enjoy, it also has given me a better understanding of techniques and tropes which work (or not) for different genres. Changing my reading has changed how reading works for me.

Granted, I could possibly have gone another twenty years reading exactly the way I always have, reading the types I always choose and been perfectly happy. But allowing an evolution, of sorts, in my reading life has created something I enjoy more than I was already. Who doesn’t want to enjoy something they love even more than they already were?

Of course this got me thinking about any number of choices I could intentionally change, and how those changes might also make life work for me even better than it already is. How can I write better, plan better, relate to others better? Not more quantity (that’s the rat race) but more quality. I don’t necessarily want to produce more, I want to better perform and enjoy what I already know I love. And then for fun do some completely new things as well on occasion.

Because I find comfort in routine, I can hang on to something far too long. Because my perfectionist freaks out that I might not do a new thing perfectly, I can be reluctant to change. But what I shared from my journal is a sign that I am breaking free from those worn out patterns of behavior which don’t serve me well anymore. Those three little sentences are new pattern of thought an internal revolution which could lead to me enjoying life even more than I currently do.

Inevitably these changes start out a bit awkward and uncomfortable. They will change and shift, seeming to stutter before they hit a familiar groove. But the more I shake things up, the more I find routine is good, but it’s better when it’s balanced with a few edgy things to keep me on my toes.

I’d love to hear what or if you are doing anything to shake your life up. What things have changed to make life work for  you even better than before?


Bailey Bash: Something fun Sunday, Episode 7

Yesterday was all about this girl, my Bailey. Normally, I try not to tell my girls’ stories here. Their stories belong to them, to share or not as they see fit. But it is also true that my story and their stories are entirely intertwined. Sometimes, I can’t tell my own story without their part in it.

BaileyMuch like any parent, I’ve second guessed a million decisions. I’ve desperately hoped that I’m not making a complete mess of the entire parenting business. Hopefully, they won’t spend too much on therapy on my account in the future. But yesterday was one of those affirming days. This whole parenting thing happens completely imperfectly, but even so, it’s pretty damn good.
We’re so lucky to have so many people who love us and who took time from their day to be present with us celebrating my amazing girl.  The weather even greeted us with darn near perfection for the end of May.

We made the most of our photo booth (Craig may have enjoyed the raspberry beret a little too much!). We held cut throat games of cornhole where my brother earned the right to hold Olivia’s stuffed monkey, William, for one entire hour. This life long feud between Matt and Olivia stretches across states and decades. Perhaps they have finally come to some sort of agreement as they both begin to mature into adulthood…













Bailey and her friends, and sisters and sister’s friends (when you are this close in age, you drift in and out of each other’s lives easily, the relationship lines are blurry) moved from front to back, food table to carport to hammock as people came and went. Some moments are kind enough to kiss you softly and whisper, Hang on to this, it’s the only thing that matters in this life anyway.  And so it is.

Finding Calm: Something Fun Sunday, Ep. 6

The week has finally arrived. My middle daughter’s graduation party is this week, and I am knocking down the details while trying to maintain my cool, calm demeanor in the middle of it. *snort*  OK, maybe calm isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of me, but I am working on creating margin, so I have no need to panic, and making time to sleep, exercise, eat and create. Which brings us to the fun stuff.

I know Saturday is technically the day I talk about books around here (On the blog, at least; I talk about books at home on the daily). But I feel it’s necessary to put first things first when I speak of fun things. This week marks the release of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading guide. As usual, I’ve obsessed all week over what is available at my library (nothing), and what is available on overdrive (a few). I’ve picked out the ones I can’t miss, and the ones I am not so sure about. I’ve arranged and rearranged my too read list based on what I want to read now and what is coming due at the library. What can I say, book are serious business around here.

Today two of the books on the reading guide are on sale for kindle. I’ll link them at the bottom of the page.

Having reached the pinnacle week of May, I’m personally anticipating arriving in June and not feeling completely burned out. For me, this is a huge win. But as an introvert, I know by the time June rolls around, I will feel maxed out socially.

June is officially the month of no. I will not make commitments nor will I travel. I will not be out four nights a week. No will be a word I use often and with great relish. With my family and close friends I try to say yes as often as possible, but next month even those will be sparing. It’s good to give and give joyfully, but there is also a time to lay low and replenish. I loved this article about saying no.

A key component in my daily balancing act is the calm app. I’m using it twice a day currently. Those fifteen minute chunks may be the most important thing I do each day. My anxiety is better. I don’t struggle as much with anger and resentment. I feel calm (go figure). There is a free version if you want to try it out, and it’s apple and android compatible.

Finally this:


I can’t even apologize for the language. In this month of nostalgia and misty eyes, when people express sorrow that I am growing older and my children are leaving home, this is how I feel.
Empty nest party time is almost here, folks. We’re powering through.


How to wake up and find inspiration

Remember the journaling class I signed up for with my birthday money? Even though it’s only been four days, I’m having a great time learning, shifting my perspective and rediscovering inspiration. In fact, today’s lesson was to write about things which inspire and how to create more opportunities to experience those things. As I wrote, I realized I haven’t bothered with inspiration much recently. When you live in survival mode, there’s not much room for inspiration.

Survival mode isn’t always something we consciously choose. It certainly may be if we receive a terrible diagnosis or when a loved one faces a crisis. Birth and death and transitions can all be times when we focus simply on getting through the day intact. This is appropriate, but hopefully temporary. Sometimes, however, survival mode is crafty. It rises slowly around us if we’re mired in toxic relationships and unhealthy thought patterns, or when our environment suffocates rather than enriches us. Before we know it, we’re drowning. All we can do is keep our head above the water, sometimes not even that.

Perhaps we suffer from trauma. Forgetting there’s any other way to live, we keep our heads down. We strive to meet all the “shoulds” and exceed all the expectations.

I’ve been living this way, and failing miserably on all three accounts.

I don’t know what or why I began to wake up from this perspective. Although, I’m certain it began slowly.  Just as we can’t be certain what moment dark becomes dawn, we only know suddenly we can see again. At least, that’s what waking up to inspiration is for me. Maybe it was a series of unimportant choices each one leading to the next, like stepping stones back to myself. Perhaps, my spirit simply couldn’t sleep any longer. Awake at last, she nudged and prodded, slowly bringing me back to life.

If I had specific answers, I could write a 5-step program and be a millionaire.

I only know day-by-day, I find inspiration in the most unexpected places.  From a community of journalers, to a podcast, to conversation with a friend in recovery, every place I turn confirms the path I’m traveling is the one to life and light and beauty. It will eventually lead me home to myself.

I’m alert now, awake to promise and possibility. I’m searching and seeking, trying and failing, forgetting to care about what anyone else thinks.  When I journaled today I wrote about new experiences, exploring, learning, finding my voice again and using it. I wrote about reaching out and meeting new people. Traveling. Moving. Changing. Beginning again.

For most of us, it isn’t that inspiration is so hard to find, it’s that we are so focused on how to get through what’s next that we simply miss it. Most of us, just like me, don’t even know we’re living this way. I don’t know what inspires you to create.  I can only determine what inspires me. But I also hope, if you need a wake up call yourself, you might take a few minutes and think about, or write down the answers to a few questions:

  1. What inspires me?
  2. How can I develop opportunities for inspiration?
  3. How can I have more adventure?
  4. What do I want to do next?

    The crazy thing about this writing, reading, being vulnerable adventure I’m on is how much fun I’m having even when I’m afraid. Every day holds something new, even the hard days. I’ll hang on to this being awake feeling with everything I have. The time for sleeping is over. Inspiration is waiting to be discovered, here, there, everywhere I go.

The week I Read Everything: 100 Story Summer

This week I joined in the Bout of Books readathon. It was also my birthday week, although I had plenty to accomplish, I allowed myself a great deal of leeway for reading. It was my gift to myself. As you can see, I read a rather ridiculous amount, and I’ll likely finish another book today. This week I read incredible books that range across the spectrum of style, content and story-line. It’s been a truly great adventure and only whetted my appetite for reading. However, by the end of the week, I missed my non-fiction reading too. So my reading will be a bit more balanced in the weeks to come, and a bit less as I tend to read non-fiction more slowly.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Years ago I read Hosseini’s Kite Runner, which was beautiful and horrible all at the same time. I want to say I loved the story, except I didn’t always love the story. I was often repulsed by the events and yet the story unfolds with such tenderness and unexpected beauty that I loved it all the same. A Thousand Splendid Suns reproduces the same magic a second time.

Miriam and Laila are born a generation apart, but their lives become cruelly intertwined in the war torn streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. Spanning decades of history, from the cruel regime of the 60’s and 70’s to the despot warlords of the 80’s and early 90’s, these two unlikely heroines embody what it means to love, lose, survive, and even hope in an oppressive and militaristic society. By the end of the novel, I was barely breathing. I had to remind myself to slow down and read all the words in an effort to discover what happened next. Harrowing and haunting, this is a story of feminism and friendship where such things should not be. It’s beautiful and wonderful, and I am the better for having experienced this book.

You can expect to see a review of Hosseini’s third book, And the Mountains Echoed very soon.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

After reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, I needed to step away and read something completely different, something with a guaranteed happy ending. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is a retelling of Shakespeare’s classic, Taming of the Shrew.  It’s not typical of Tyler’s style or story-lines, but it is exactly what I needed after being emotionally ruined by my previous book.

Including a fake marriage to extend green card status, PETA saving laboratory mice, a sharply, brilliant preschool teacher, this story ultimately realizes family should be a launching pad, not a lifelong behavior template.

I might not have enjoyed this story as much if I were looking for more nuanced Tyler, but when I needed a light-hearted, familiar love story, this book delivered.

Lincoln in the Bardo – by George Saunders

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I put this book on hold based on a podcast recommendation. Whatever I expected, this book wasn’t it. In fact, I can’t think of another book I’ve read constructed quite like this one. Snippets of news, press releases, diaries, memoirs, internal dialogue, ghosts, vice, heaven and hell, death, grief, and redemption all rolled up together in an extraordinary way.

Based on the death of Willie Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son, of typhoid fever during the early days of the Civil War, the study of Lincoln’s grief is deeply moving. But it’s not the only story being told here. The residents of the Bardo, a Buddhist concept of the space between death and rebirth into a new life, also have stories to tell and truths to reveal. Understanding the things which hold us to this earth, regret, unfinished work, inability to let go, greed, avarice, lust and making peace with our identity are also important themes in this story.

As much as I loved this book  (the more I reflect, the more I realize how complex and wonderful it is), it is one I will recommend only occasionally. It’s not easily accessible nor meant for reading quickly without attention to constantly changing details. But, for the reader who is willing to invest time and attention, it’s an exquisitely wrought exploration of humanity and eternity.

Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls

Many, many years ago, I read and loved Jeanette’s memoir, The Glass Castle. Even though it was harsh and terrible at times. It was also beautiful and hopeful. It’s a story of accepting where we’ve come from and our inability to change the people we love.

Half Broke Horses is not a memoir but a “true-life novel” of Jeanette’s grandmother, Lily. When Lily was fifteen years old, during WW1, she rode her horse 500 miles from Texas to Arizona to accept her first teaching position.


Lily is harsh, wild, crazy, intelligent, beautiful and a stark realist. From teaching hard-scrabble western children to selling bootleg liquor out her backdoor during prohibition, her determination and intelligence inspire me.  Her audacity makes me want to stand in a chair and cheer. I love the Wild West anyway, and reading the story of this true pioneer woman is the most fun I’ve had this month.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Last year I read the book, One in a Million Boy. Since then, I recommend it to everyone who will listen and people who aren’t so interested too. Its understated beauty and simplicity are perfect. A Man Called Ove is the first I’ve read since to capture that feeling of simple, beautiful goodness.

Ove’s story is one of loss and grief, how when we’re broken, love mends us. It’s about community, and family, and being angry at the world, about losing and finding home again without ever leaving the living room.  I laughed, aloud, which I don’t do frequently with books. I cried aloud, too.  Even when it’s predictable, it’s OK because the predictability is so right, setting things exactly as they should be. I’ll read this again and again for how it’s beauty touches my soul as a very good book should do.

Something Fun Sunday: Birthday week!

Something fun Sunday is a struggle for me this week. I don’t feel bad, but I also certainly don’t feel fun.  However, what I know about myself is when I least feel like fun is when I most need it.  Plus, this week is cancerversary/birthday/Mother’s Day week and I share one of those special days with my lovely youngest daughter’s birthday, so there is a whole lotta celebrating going on. I plan to enjoy it, funk or no.  I plan to continue to avoid internet debate and the endless news cycle as much as possible, and also read my face off.

Without further ado, fun things *cue huzzahs*

Unbeknownst to me until yesterday, next week is apparently a Bout of Books Read-a-thon week. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! I’m planning to procrastinate responsibility as much as humanly possible and read until my eyes hurt. Then I’ll put on my reading glasses and read some more.

Bout of Books
We’re also planning to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 next Sunday.  Hunky wondered if it was an appropriate Mother’s Day activity and I was all, Heck to the Yes, it is!  Truth be told, I wasn’t terribly interested in the first one, but then I  saw it, and now it may be my favorite Marvel movie.
In case you haven’t seen it enough times, you can watch the trailer here (apparently, there is no embedding for this one.)

I’m also really, really, really, really am looking forward to Rob Bell’s new book
I posted before about how Rob Bell is one of the voices who keeps me sane lately.  I plan to buy this jewel with or without birthday money. You can plan to read more about it when I do.



So even when I don’t fele particularly fun, there’s still plenty of fun stuff to enjoy if I just put my mind to it. For my birthday I’m giving everyone permission to have as much fun as they want this week! Life is short. Here’s to a beautiful 44!

Something Fun Sunday: Episode 3, The one where I take a nap

I’m I the only person who feels worn out each Sunday? I know it’s traditionally the first day of the week, but my mind has given that title to Monday. By Sunday afternoon, I’m just tired. In just a little while, one of my fun things for Sunday is going to be a great big afternoon nap. Amen!

This week threw curve balls and changes galore. The Hunky and I finally got a new bed. The Portwood-ettes barreled on through their last semester before college. Summer is so close they can practically smell it, and the weather here wants us to believe it’s summer already. Have I mentioned my disdain for summer?

I’m two weeks into the Whole 30 eating plan today. Every Sunday I want to give up and eat a loaf of bread, but every Monday pushes me one week closer to the finish line and I batten down my self-control and power on. This year I am measuring inches instead of mean old LBS, and I’m about 2 more inches from a crisis in the pants department. I dislike clothes shopping, but I suppose this is a pretty good reason to need to.

On to the Fun Stuff

Yesterday I shared what I’m reading for 100 story summer. But I never read only one book at a time, and I always have a non-fiction going along with my fiction. This week I am reading about some natural ways to combat depression. I’m on a huge self-care kick (if you couldn’t tell), so this is right up my alley.

I’m always late to a band wagon – if I choose to join it – but I’m only a few weeks behind the S-town podcast bandwagon. Friends, I gotta tell you, this is one great story. I didn’t expect to be so emotionally invested or to relate to so many of the events. I’m halfway through and it’s all I can do not to quit everything in order to just sit and listen. Hello, self-control.

Growing up, I always felt very competitive. I had to be the best, all the time, at everything.  Thankfully, I’ve moved away from that mind-set over the last few years. There are many things I want to do well, but I want to do them well for me, not in order to beat someone else or prove anything. Mostly, I want to lead a quiet, fulfilling life. That’s why I love this article: What if all I want is a mediocre life?  I don’t have to be the best at anything as long as I am striving to be the best me.

I know I proclaim my love for Spotify often and loudly, but it really does bring so much fun into my life. This week I put together a playlist so fraught with nostalgia, I can’t stop listening to it. I grew up in Nashville listening watching Hee-Haw, loving the Grand Ole Opry and listening to classic country. My dad loved the Outlaws ( Waylon and Willie and the boys), and me, I just love it all. No one else in the house wants to hear it so I have to listen wisely, but just a little everyday is enough to make me happy for hours and hours. So, if you want to laugh at me, or join in my reverie, I’m sharing the playlist here.

I hope everyone gets a little nap today, and we all head into next week knowing everything is already ok. Hey, it’s May…BIRTHDAY MONTH!! Whoooo-hooo!

Someone else’s weather: Because some days you write a poem instead

I watch the weather in someone else’s city,
When dreams are dry and meaning rises slowly.
Wondering, bemused,
What would I wear today?
If I walked someone else’s streets
Instead of these familiar places where stories taste stale.

I watch the weather in someone else’s city,
When home seems unfamiliar and the walls too tight.
Wondering how the wind sounds
Sweeping someone else’s streets
Singing in the trees or playfully cavorting through wide open spaces.
Wrapped in smells sharp and sweet
Or tantalizingly filled with the scent of hurried humanity.

I watch the weather in someone else’s city
When the hour is late and night lingers long.
Imagining my surprise when
Someone else’s sunshine wakes me
Is it ocean or mountain, or buildings high and blaring horns
Waiting to greet my rumpled face when I peel back the curtain?

I watch the weather in someone else’s city
When choices are spare and hope runs fickle
While thunderclouds billow across my soul.
When someone else’s possibilities seem more likely
Than anything brewing at home.
I watch the weather and imagine myself
growing under someone else’s sun.


Sometimes I try and try to force words out that seem relevant or witty, and who reads poetry anyhow? (Hi Heather! I see you there waving) But today was a day when the words wanted to say what they had to say. Not a bad day or a challenging day or a day when anything is wrong at all. It’s simply not always up to me what comes out and when, or what form it takes. So if today is too weird and poetical, that’s ok. We all get to be who we need to be, and grown-ups don’t have to read books-or poems, or blogs-if they don’t want to. But sometimes, writers really do have to write them.