Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanks to all my readers.

I have a short list here of things I'm thankful for on this sunny, but nasty cold day (10 degrees) in Golden Valley.

I'm thankful that:

--Jacques, my 7-pound toy poodle, caught a short-tailed shrew today, but still prefers eating apple

--I have a head-to-toe down coat that allows me to go outside in this weather and, because it's brown, acts as a solar collector when there is sun

--I made it to the library and have a huge pile of books that I want to read

--I finally finished hemming the velvet winter curtains after four years of hanging them with pins stuck in them

--there are only two more months of this limited light

--Thanksgiving isn't at our house, but Pete's cousin's

--holiday music will start playing on the classical music station (I know, I'm a sucker)

--my friends and family are safe and healthy after a couple scares

--I'm back to writing poetry, the ground of my writing life

--I like turkey, but I really love pumpkin pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I got very wound up this fall--lots to do, talks, classes, manuscript work, my own work, never enough time. Forgot about walks, about friends, about quiet moments.

Now I'm starting to unwind. I can almost feel my body twirling around in the air. This process is so physical and emotional. Letting go of tension, letting go of things to do, lists, letting my shoulders drop, the email go unanswered for a day or two.

I recommend it. I'm reading more, which the dogs love because we all get under the same fuzzy blanket on the couch, I'm walking more even though it's getting a bit frigid here in the upper Midwest. I'm gazing out the window more. Watching the trees move is a lesson in unwinding. I try to copy them, swaying back and forth, letting my arms hang like willow branches.

Children's books (not so much YA) are great for unwinding. Gentle and human, often humorous, thoughtful, they tell stories that help us grow--not matter what age we are.

I'll end this short post with a couple lines from my new poem:

"Turn around as many times as you need

to finally see. Like a top you blur into a hum."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stories that Haunt You

I'm teaching a class on plot in the MFA creative writing program at Hamline and I asked my students—after having them bring in their favorite picture book and then pick their favorite Grimms fairy tale—to write a short essay on what stories they carry with them—both from their own lives and from books. Then I asked them to write about what stories they want or need to tell and how this all relates.

We are close to Halloween and the sense of stories haunting us I think is worth exploring.

I was so inspired by what they wrote that I think I will try to write such an essay myself. You might too. Make a list of the stories that you come back to again and again. A few for me are: Daniel Martin by John Fowles, Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry, The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy.

Make a list, add to it, let it brew. Think about what these stories are about. Where is the energy in them. You will learn more about yourself and your writing.

Sit down on the floor among your own personal library. Pull books off the shelf and absorb what they have to tell you about your own work.