teaching snails to fly

(image courtesy Ana Luisa Pinto/Luminous Photography)

writing is…

standing on stage with your skirt up over your head. they approach, wielding sharpies: flabby, they write. cut this. question mark. the click of a camera shutter.

all talk, no show. all show, no tell. on your knees in the confession booth, whispering murder.

the child forced to eat the spinach. she gags, presses her lips together. she’ll never forgive.

dropping a dozen eggs into a bowl. fishing the shards of shell out with a finger.

a blind homeless woman groping for dinner in a garbage can.

whittling your big toe into a bust of beethoven.

the lover who calls you a moron, who pawns your stereo for a fix and flirts with your friends. the one who’s really good in bed.

an opera singer yowling at the bottom of an empty wine barrel.

pouring blood into a tape recorder. pushing “play” to hear a long, yawning uuuuuuummm.

stuffing a pregnant teenager inside an old lady: deep fry and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

masturbating with a spork. an eggbeater. a handful of pennies. a glue stick.

the secret locket full of poison you keep tucked between your breasts. the pit bull clamped to your ankle. the husky siren that wakes you up in darkness. sleeping with leeches. sucking your thumb. teaching snails to fly.


what is writing, for you?

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. Well, good lord, that was something.

    Writing for me is … taking dictation, the fingers flying with the words of Her

  2. you nailed (snailed) it–every line here is pitch perfect.

    (that picture makes me want to sit and stare at it for hours.)

  3. Wow, really? That sounds painful. Perfectly pitched writing though!
    So far, maybe because it has been repressed for so many years, writing has been: exciting mistress, whom I can’t wait to see at the end of the day, or the beginning of the day, or any time I can, whom I want to see so badly that I will make any excuse to sneak away…
    giggly best friend, getting me drunk on revelations, self-absorption, fun, fun, fun…
    my delicate newborn, love of my life, with head so small and neck so tender that I need to hold, protect for just a little longer…

    • I tried to write some nicer ones but they just didn’t fit. I don’t know where it came from but I just let it happen. Yours are lovely. I feel that newborn poem in my arms. I want to read more of yours….

  4. Asking myself “where the hell did that come from?”

  5. Writing is for me…

    An umbrella on a rainy day
    A girl in a hat
    A hat on a bald pate
    A proper hat on a proper head
    A gentleman with white socks and black sandals
    The Philosopher’s Stone
    Free-fall from great heights
    An empty pistol, a blunt sword
    A woman in a wrapover dress, with an offthe shoulder cut that reveals her milky shoulder
    A gossiped love story
    A cat that caught a mice
    A park bench under a cherry tree
    A river that runs by, darkly
    A golden tooth seen through a looking glass
    A midsummer night carnival
    A whore in love
    An innocent convict
    A petition
    An earnest entreaty
    A fixer of broken toys
    An empty glass full of nothing.

    • Holy moly, VM– did this sizzling hot poetry come shooting out of your fingertips just like that? What the hell happened!!?? You were channeling the stars. This is FABulous.

  6. Romantic Dominant

    This is immensely entertaining. And clever. And good

  7. YES. When it’s good, writing is better than anything, and when it’s hard, writing is worse than anything— and yet writing is still better than everything, really.

    You’ve captured that feeling with such evocative prose. OHmygosh, I love this. Thank you.

    • YES TOO! It’s all I want now, but it’s summertime and I have two kids to entertain and there hasn’t been time and then when there is time I’m too rusty so on my first writing opportunity in weeks, this is what came out. Thank you for understanding!

      • In moments like that, it will get so bad that you’ll crave words the way you crave food and then, you sit down… and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but still it’s ink and you and the moment. I totally understand. And I see no rust in “snails”— just muscular, smooth language.

        • As a person who writes every day, you know that writing is a muscle. I’m glad to hear mine hasn’t atrophied yet. Now I’m going to go flex at myself in the mirror.

          • Nope! I see no atrophying of the muscles, whatsoever. You may be feeling that thing that all folks do when they’re at the top of their game— if you take a few days off, things don’t feel quite “right.”

            Yes, please, go flex in the mirror. And then write some more. You have a way of working words that is so acrobatic and athletic, it is a wonder to witness.

  8. YOUR writing is perfection.

  9. Blood in a tape record. Yesss.

  10. writing is a trip away with out leaving your desk, a hidden secret you never thought you knew or forgot and it turns black into white and grey into pink and all the world floats just above your head

  11. Writing is for me: the me that I know.

  12. I can’t reply to the reply I replied to your post.

    What I meant was…

    A woman in a wrapover dress, with an off-the-shoulder neckline that reveals her milky shoulder

    If you would take the time to edit my comment above and correct that sentence, so my enemies will not be able to use it later on against me, I will be forever in your debt, girl in a hat.

    As to the poetry, I confess I was not born under a rhyming planet.

    To conclude, if you liked what I wrote above, it was because I was wearing my fabulous magical thinking cap. And because I like the blog. And the friend of the crows.

    • 1. I just learned a new trick. Didn’t know I could edit comments.
      2. I think you have to scroll over the comment to see the reply option pop up. (?)
      3. Are these imaginary enemies or real ones?
      4. Even geniuses make typos. Perhaps you are your own worst enemy?
      5. Rhymes usually annoy me. Your hat is working like magic.

      • 1. Now I know how to reply to comments on your blog
        2. They are the critics. they are everywhere.
        3. I am my worst enemy.
        4. I dislike rhymes because they are pompous.
        5. If one rainy day you find yourself in the street, hatless, whisper to the wind ‘floccinaucinihilipilification boy with a hat’ and the wind will carry your words to me, and I will presently conjure myself before you. with an umbrella, which I will hold proudly over your glorious head, so the ravens won’t get wet.

  13. writing, to me, is what i read. always enjoy reading you.

  14. inkspeare

    Wow, that was intense. Love it! Writing for me is my life.

  15. TheOthers1

    Um… Some days it’s a fountain bubbling and overflowing out of me. Other times is like a bone stuck in my throat; no amount of prompting gets it to come out (and consequently I end up choking to death).

  16. “the secret locket full of poison you keep tucked between your breasts.” That may actually say it all for me.

    This made my jaw drop, Anna. The whole poem shot into me from different angles and just made my jaw drop from the raw intensity and the lazer focus. Wow.

  17. Absolutely amazing!!!

    For me, writing is a pill that at times goes down smoothly; but sometimes…it leaves that chalky residue on your tongue that makes you a gag a bit.

    But no matter what, you manage to swallow it anyway, so you are always doing yourself good.

    • I like the idea that writing is a daily medicine you need to feel good– that’s certainly how it is for me! I just don’t get to do it every day. And it’s quite unhealthy when I skip.

  18. (Unless, of course, that pill is something illegal!!! ;))

  19. raina

    Words that crawl, stop, walk, stop, run, stop, fly….

  20. You pretty much said it all and then some. Thanks to that lovely Bluebird, I wound up here and I’m glad I did. All day long, I’ve been in this career questioning place and the resounding answer has been the simple refrain of “just write.” After reading your lovely post, I think I’ll finally listen.

    • Well that’s interesting, since I just applied for a job. Really, the thought of people writing makes me very very happy. Welcome to you and look forward to seeing what you do!

  21. but where is the ecstasy? That’s why we do it. Isn’t it? I’m a painter, not a writer, but I think the creative process is the same.

  22. Writing is a thing I do, like lining up pinecones along a trail, or stacking fruit at the table to see if it’ll balance. Like drawing faces on the steamy shower door, like talking to cats, like opening up someone else’s cabinets so I can know what’s inside. It is simply a thing I do.

  23. kathleen

    All these great comments! Thanks Anna and all your friends!

  24. Fresh out of witty, or even relevant comments, except that I do have a powerful compulsion to go to KFC. 😉
    Seriously, these are great examples of what writing is that you’ve come up with. Writing is walking a fine line between wooden prose and flowery bullshit, between letting a little out (causing the world to yawn) and telling the world your deepest perversions (causing the world to stare open-mouthed and lock its doors).

    • Kevin!
      I guess I like it all– I like a bouquet of perverse blossoms mixed with orchids and sweet-smelling roses and carnivorous plants, too. Sometimes it comes out sweet and sometimes it’s nasty and I find that if I try to edit and control, it just stops coming.
      Nice to see you again– I was starting to wonder!

      • I’ve been waffling back and forth (in my non-work time) between total busy-ness and doing absolutely nothing, neither of which has left me any time, energy or desire to blog or comment till the last few days. Nice to see you also.

  25. Pingback: On not being a grown-up | satsumabug.com

  26. Masturbating with a spork?

    Yeah, that. This post is fantastic.

    (WordPress is making me insane. I. Want. Emails, WordPress, when my friends post something new. How many times to I have to request it?)

  27. Loved it…………..for me writing is like………….
    painting…………..or writing music …………capturing snatches, grabbing them like knickers on a washing line after dark…………Arnold Lane………….

  28. Lord have mercy, Anna. That was just fucking brilliant.

  29. Aia

    I want to bow down to you for your courage & strength…and for opening your fascinating mind to us.

    Teri, above, pretty much sums it up perfectly.

    You inspire me to no end. But your genius makes me look at what I write and realize it is shit, and a total bore. And then there are so many things that are more important…..like doing the laundry or dishes. 🙂

    Thank you for being that light of creativity and expression.

    Love to you, you creative, expressive and beautiful woman!!
    Hugs from Provence,

    • Aia! No nonono! I look forward to reading more of your beautiful words. I will be inspired and moved by your writing and hope my twisted words can do the same for you. Writers have to stick together. We’re all different but we’re all in this together.

  30. Hello. You’ve been award an award. I’m not sure what award but i was awarded now i’m passing it on.

  31. I just read “How Do You Feel When You Are Heartbroken?” by boy with the hat and saw your comment, suddenly I find myself searching for this!lol 😀 cool! God bless 🙂

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