In contradiction of…



In the last blog, I proposed that you get your “rant” out of the way and then do the writing that you feel called to do.  I also suggested that you write your rant on a piece of scratch paper and then discard it.  That’s fine…

However, today as I was clearing out some papers, I came across something that I wrote in 2011.  I titled it two hours a day because I vowed that, as a writer, I would write for two hours daily.  What I wrote could be considered a rant, all 23 pages of it.  Then, sitting down to read what I had written about, I realized that it was not a rant…it was a woman expressing grief at loss.  Both of my parents had recently died six months apart after a very rocky last couple of years.  The family had been seriously divided around this process with our parents.  There was so much to grieve.

How could I possibly get that out of my system in five or ten minutes?  I wrote about my navigation through the crevassed land of grief.  This wasn’t separate from what I desired to write about.  My experience of grief related to the course my writing was taking as affected by life in the “real world”.

You don’t function effectively as a “fragmented being.”  To be authentic in your writing, you can’t divorce it from your life experiences. Your “real” life is part and parcel of what you can effectively write about.  Even when you are writing fiction.  The emotions (and even some of your edited experiences) may find their way into your fictional writing.

Consider that behind the rant or expression of an emotion is usually a value.  Forget the scratch paper idea…write it in your journal…it’s the context in which you are evolving as both a human being and a writer.

Realistically, ANYTHING THAT WE EXPERIENCE is going to influence our writing, painting and other art forms.

Writing Prompt:
Are you inclusive with yourself?  That is, do you recognize the places where your writing, painting  and life overlap?




All Aboard!

Your bags are packed with everything you need and you’re ready to go.  You are excited!  You have your ticket.  You have a destination in mind.  You arrive at the train station in plenty of time.  The train chugs into the station.  You don’t climb aboard!


With writing or painting or any creative pursuit, you really do have to get on board and, though your destination could change, you are in motion.

Too many of us believe we have something to say (including me) or express creatively.  We talk a good game, but we roost.  Sometimes, stubbornly.  Waiting for some magically “right time” to manifest and then, we’re going to say what we want to say…write the book to end all books.  Or paint that painting that speaks to everyone’s soul.  If only, or when, or we’ll just know that it’s time.

I find this excerpt from Annie Dillard’s Book “Holy the Firm” grounded and inspiring.

“…There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead–as if innocence had ever been–and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, failed, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There have been generations which remembered and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day. Yet some have imagined well, with honesty and art, the detail of such a life, and have described it with such grace, that we mistake vision for history, dream for description, and fancy that life has devolved. So. You learn this studying any history at all, especially the lives of artists and visionaries; you learn it from Emerson, who noticed that the meanness of our days is itself worth our thought; and you learn it, fitful in your pew, in church.”

Writing Prompt:
Try a ten-minute free write in response to the question “What are you waiting for?”  Then, consider these questions:  Do you think there is someone else who is better equipped than you to write what you have been bursting to write (i.e., someone with higher education or credentials or older…or younger?)  Is there something that has been calling to you to write or paint–for years, perhaps?  Be honest with yourself.  And then answer this question, “If not now, when?”



“Creativity is not Comfortable”

Awhile ago, I jotted down this quote from Billy Wilder,  “an Austro-Hungarian born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist….”  He is long gone from this earth plane…however, as you know, quotes live on.

Creative beings who’ve been practicing their art, know this quote–“Creativity is not comfortable”–in a deeply experiential way.  They understand the edges, precipices, walls; the angst, internal subterfuge and the pushing through.  They understand the daring and the doing despite doubts, fears and/or internal or external pressure to halt!

Why is creating so uncomfortable?  I think it is partly because when you are fully in the creative process, you, yourself go through changes as you create.

TRANSFORMATION could be a synonym for creativity.

Webster’s Dictionary, in defining transformation says “…to change a thing into a different thing.  Transform implies a major change in form, nature, or function…”


On the canvas, I resist because things are going to be disrupted and perhaps even “ugly” for awhile.  If I am attached to what is on the canvas, it’s going to be hard to let it go.  When I’m backed into a creative corner, I have to make a move that can feel forced upon me in some way.  There is a risk as I leave my comfort zone and engage the unknown. This whole process brings to my awareness the stuck places inside of me, the resistance and lack of daring.  It’s complex, right?

Ultimately, I love my creations, whether poetry, prose, painting or crafting.  And I often surprise myself with what comes.

Writing Prompt:
Do you prefer your “comfort zone” when it comes to writing or making art?  Or do you enjoy the adventure beyond comfort?  When you venture past the borders of the familiar, do you experience doubt as to whether or not you can create something that is “successful”?  Is that a fair requirement of yourself as you are in this process?  And, do you care about what others are going to think?  Do you make that more important than staying true to your artist’s journey?

Write your answers to these questions in your writer’s journal.  Be truthful with yourself.



Listing Your Endless Curiosities & Writing Historical Fiction

Isn’t that one huge key to being a writer?  That curiosity which leads you down a lane to explore and discover what’s around the next turn and the next one and the next…

Returning from visiting my family in San Francisco recently, I listened with rapt attention to an interview with Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach and several other award-winning novels (The Goon Squad, The KeepLook at Me to name a few).  Two things that were notable to me were 1) she doesn’t have a pre-planned idea of the direction that her book is going to go and 2) she follows her own curiosities in developing the story.  Egan enjoys being surprised as the story develops.  Her desire to find out what happens next helps her to maintain her interest in what she is writing.

Manhattan Beach is considered historical fiction.  Although the characters are contrived, the references to place and time–the setting are based in fact.  Along her writing way, these were some of the things that Egan grew curious about, explored and incorporated into her novel:  New York City in the 40’s during World War II–specifically the Brooklyn shipping docks, diving, organized crime during the prohibition era,  caring for a disabled child.  These well-researched curiosities lent her book the substance and the respect that it has achieved.

“In historical fiction, setting is the most important literary element. Because the author is writing about a particular time in history, the information about the time period must be accurate, authentic…” from Wikipedia

In writing historical fiction, the development of your characters and the unfolding story are superimposed on a ready-made scape of time and place where and when real life events occurred.  In a sense, as the writer, you have part of the story mapped out for you.  Weaving the historical with the imagined characters, their particular circumstances and where the story goes can be an interesting adventure for the writer and later on, for their audience.

Consider your own curiosities over the course of your life.  Write them down.  As others occur to you, add them to your list.  Do you have a favorite historical time period? More than one.  List those also.  Have you researched this historical period(s)? Consider how your curiosities can provide you with inspiration and entries into what to write about.

“My esthetic or my method is basically guided by
curiosity and desire…”
Jennifer Egan


She is curious about her universe.

Reminding You Once Again…


Why am I bringing this up again?  Because I needed to remember.  As a writer, I have an infatuation with what I’m writing.  Some days, it’s more like a full-blown love affair.  One path leads to another…the infinite possibilities unfold.  The mind with its cornucopia of delightful discoveries, corners to turn, ideas to share!

However, that said, I forgot, once again, that I have a body with needs besides food, drink and rest.

My body needs and thrives on movement.  When I grant this request, everything in me is refreshed and my body feels celebrated. I enjoy walking in nature, some types of yoga, qi gong, tai chi and dance.  What about you?  Have you remembered to meet your body’s requirements for movement?



When it comes to dance , another favorite is THE WAVE popularized by GABRIELLE ROTH.  Google it.  The Five Rhythms explores core rhythms of life itself–Flow, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness.  Check it out.  Perhaps there are corresponding rhythms with writing.  What do you think?

Movement Prompt:  Ask your body self what it craves as far as physical activity right now.  Pay attention.  It’s so worth it!

Do You Enjoy Writing?

“What are the greatest pleasures of writing fiction?” is the question the interviewer posed to Jennifer Egan and Carmen Maria Machado.  This short video, less than three minutes, is very revealing about writer’s process.

Whether fiction or nonfiction, do you find pleasure in writing?


These two authors declare that they are on opposite ends of the spectrum as to how they approach their writing.

Are either of their approaches true for you?  While Jennifer seeks “escape” through writing, Carmen enjoys “organizing her mind into a narrative form.”  What about you?    Or is there something else entirely that guides your writing process?

For me the pleasure in writing comes when I engage “the flow.”  Then I feel both compelled and supported.  That is when I notice that things in my world become synchronistic.  There is a sense of no separation between me, the world, the words on the page.  It is both my process of self-discovery and a broader curiosity that propel my writing.  The real gift for me comes in being able to share what I’ve learned with others, inspiring them and inviting them to embark upon their own inward journey of self-awareness and integration through writing.

What brings you the greatest pleasure in writing ?  What is your “golden door,” your favored entry into writing?  If you aren’t sure, consider things you’ve already written and recall how you began and what lead you onward.

Writing Your Prayer

Writers write.  They write in their journals.  They write letters, stories, poetry, questions, lists; they write about curiosities, experiences, circumstances, politics, religion, sex, love, doubts, fears, hopes and dreams, you name it.  They write it all down. This gives them a bit of relief not to have things rattling around in their heads. Writing something down, preferably in a journal or in a notebook, they collect their creative ideas, often on a scrap piece of paper.

Lately, we’ve seen on the news, read about and experienced all sorts of natural disasters wreaking havoc across our planet.  And we are witnessing political games gone awry in our own and other counties.  Within ourselves and our families, there is hurt and uncertainty, growing pains, grief.


In addition to what I do creatively, I turn to prayer. And I find that sometimes, writing down a prayer, a petition, a request to a Higher Power helps me to let go of where I feel powerless…that surrender to a higher wisdom with the greater good in mind. Surrender is rarely easy, but once I truly give something over, I do feel a lightening of sorts.

How to write your prayer? No one can tell you how to write your personal prayer. I won’t try…I’ll only invite you to write one that truly reflects who you are and what you feel, need and desire in these times–for yourself, others, the earth.

The Eagle is a prayer-poem written by Joy Harjo. I memorized this poem many years ago.  It begins:
“To pray, you open your whole self to the sky to the earth to the sun to the moon
to one whole voice that is you and know that there is more that you can’t see, can’t hear, can’t know except in moments steadily growing and languages that aren’t always sound but other circles of motion.”

Have a peaceful day.