A PEP TALK FOR WRITERS, by Art Smukler, author and psychiatrist

Last night, Hillary Clinton said something on the Rachel Maddow Show that really struck a bell, more like a gong. She said, “I’m living rent free inside of Donald Trump’s brain, and it’s not a very nice place to be.”

Wow. For many of us, it’s just the opposite. The Liar In Chief, like an obsessive-compulsive-disorder, is living rent free in OUR brains.

So what does this have to do with writers?

Obsessions take up too much space. They stifle the creative process, and don’t allow for the tiny sprouts of new ideas to battle their way up from the darkness of our unconscious to the light of our computers. When the trillions of synapses in our brains are occupied 24/7 by injustice and greed, they short-out. Our ability to take the “road less traveled”, to ideas that we’ve never had, is severely limited.

Writing is our food and oxygen. Without it, we wither and gasp.

Take a Trump break.

Flush him.

If you can’t nourish yourself, you won’t have the strength to nourish others.

Write. Rewrite. Write!

A fully satiated writer has a better chance of going viral and winning back our democracy…

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.


The saint I’m referring to is Theresa Belmont, my main character’s mother (In Chasing Backwards). The anger towards “the saint” is one of the novel’s driving forces. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about that anger, but most of the time I just accept it — no problems. Sometimes I even enjoy it.

One of my favorite author’s, Pat Conroy, is a genius when it comes to mothers. In Prince of Tides, his opening lines in the first chapter are awesome.

“It’s your mother,” Sallie said, returning from the phone.

“Tell her I’m dead,” I pleaded. “please tell her I died last week, and you’ve been too busy to call.”

“Please speak to her, she says it’s urgent.”

“She always says it’s urgent. It’s never urgent when she says it’s urgent.”

How can there be such anger towards someone so important? She gave us life and had ultimate power over our ability to survive. We weren’t like little colts who stand immediately after birth. Without intense care, we wouldn’t make it. And it gets even more complicated. In this breast driven society, the image of suckling at your mother’s breast is horrifying to most men (I don’t think women see it exactly that way). Yet horrifying as it may be, from puberty on, our fantasies of breasts and all parts of female anatomy are common obsessions (very pleasant obsessions).

Ambivalence, a combination of love and hate, are common feelings towards dear old mom. There’s no way that anyone can be perfect, including mothers. It’s not possible.

For a writer, the essence of great fiction is conflict. Ambivalence is wonderful! Loving and hating the same person is what it’s all about. It happens in our fiction and it happens in our lives. Wiggling out of impossible, conflictual situations, makes great reading and gives us a chance to learn how we can deal with the difficult problems that present in our own lives.

Thanks, Mom.