I love to write and I especially love to write poetry, but I also go through long periods where I don’t write. I get busy with work and life. Or roadblocks appear that zap my time and energy and leave me with little creative mojo. 2018 was one of those years. It was a rough year. One thing after another ate up my physical and emotional energy and left me with no extra creative juice.
I didn’t write a single poem from February until the end of November. I was beginning to wonder if I even remembered how to write a poem. I started a few times, but the poems felt forced and contrived.
Then I happened upon a book my friend and writing partner gave me several years ago. “The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop,” by Diane Lockward is an incredible book with poetry prompts, essays, and articles on the craft of poetry and much more. What I love about the book is that it gives you a poem, dissects the poem, and gives you a writing prompt. After the writing prompt, you get two more sample poems based on the prompt. Since then, Diane has published “The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop.” Read more
“The impulse to create is like the impulse to breathe,” says author Rikki Ducornet, a contributor to the imaginative, playful book, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fictionby Jeff VanderMeer.
Writing, she says, is a place to reclaim the initial impulses we are born with—to play and create and love—impulses that society tries to hammer out of us as we grow up. Our parents, and sometimes teachers, tell us to “be quiet and quit asking questions.” But as writers, we’re encouraged to ask questions and be curious. In fact, to be successful in our art we HAVE TO ask questions. Read more
Have I died and gone to writer heaven? I must have, because I just discovered that two of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman, have a podcast togethe. In this conversation, between the two prolific authors, they discuss everything from The Wind in the Willows to what they remember reading as children to mysticism and science.
Near the end of the piece, Gaiman reads from his newest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
One of my favorite moments is when Gaiman says, “Imagining things is the point of it all…it is not a waste of time.”
Listen to this interview and see what imaginings you can conjure along the way.
This weekend, my writer’s soul was nourished and fed. I gave a poetry reading at our local artsy coffee house, the Poulsbohemian, with two other poets—author and teacher Bob McAllister and Bill Mawhinney who runs the Northwind Reading Series in Port Townsend.
I was honored to read with these two prolific and treasured poets and they’re part of the reason I had such a great experience this weekend. But there was another reason the night stood out for me as the best reading I’ve ever given—the audience.
When I read, I like to take turns reading from my pages and glancing around the room at the faces in the crowd. My intent is to tune into their energy and take them for a ride with me. My goal is to entertain and move my audience.
Last night, I have to admit I was a bit tired when I arrived. But as soon as I started reading, I could literally feel the audience’s intent—they leaned forward, their eyes were open, they followed my words and wanted more. It felt as if they had all dialed into the same static-free channel at the same time. I’ve given readings before but this was the first time I felt the audience was really hungry. Read more
“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible”— Jonathan Swift, author
In the movie, “The Magic of Belle Isle,” a single mother and her three children befriend their neighbor, a curmudgeonly wheelchair-bound writer, Monte Wildhorn.
When one of the daughters, 9-year-old Finnegan O’Neil, finds out Wildhorn (played by Morgan Freeman) is a writer, she hires him to give her lessons in finding her imagination. Read more
If your life were a book and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?
This is the question Amy Purdy asks at the beginning of her 9-minute Ted talk. At the age of 19, Amy lost both legs below the knees and had to remake her life. Purdy says that obstacles are where our imaginations and story begin. Being creative isn’t just about our writing or our art…see how Amy turned her tragedy into a blessing and gift by using her creativity.
Instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, my friend Nicole likes to have a theme – a single statement that encompasses a key idea that she wants to focus on for the year. For 2012, I decided to adopt a writing theme – one that would help me focus on the power of imagination.
Sometimes it’s easy to over think the writing process. I’ll worry if I don’t know where my story is going. I begin to doubt myself and the project. Then I have to remind myself (again) that we write to discover, to find out what happens. It’s okay if I don’t know everything that’s going to happen.
In The Story Behind the Story: 26 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work, author Stephen Dobyns says he was inspired to write a book of short stories after hearing advice from writing mentor Raymond Carver. Dobyns asked Carver how he had written a particular story:
“He (Carver) said the first sentence had come into his mind and he just followed it. The sentence was something like: “He was vacuuming the living room rug when the telephone rang.” Carver said, ‘It came into my head and so I tried to see what came next.’ In such a way had the story unwound itself.”
After the first sentence, the whole process had been a process of discovery. Read more