If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.-—Joseph Campbell

Posts tagged ‘writer’s life’

Fools and Writing

What’s the connection? I babble on.

No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.  Hunter S. Thompson

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.  William Shakespeare

I have recently received several blog awards. They are flattering and encouraging. Thank you. They are much appreciated. Unfortunately I am not able to respond to these nominations individually at this time. My writing life seems to be taking off in a zillion different directions.

That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Here are some thoughts from Natalie Goldberg’s new book The True Secret of Writing which I have referred to often and which seem to be setting me on fire.

I’ve noticed that no matter how much my outward life seems to improve–a new house, a new book contract–I still have the same amount of inner torture, the same twisted agonies. Noticing this has helped. I recognize those old friends and don’t believe them as much.

There are many ways to meditate. Whatever opens us, softens the heart, makes us alive to this human world and helps us to bear it is our path.

and a poem by Ikkyu

only one koan matters


Happy writing, y’all!


Wild Mind

How does one successfully blog while participating fully in the life around them?

I pick up Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind. Now I have read and worked through this book several times, but not recently. I want to take my writing deeper. Blogging has been a writing practice for me, like morning pages, a discipline to keep my hand moving. But it’s not enough.

I also teach, both children and teachers. I want to write a book of my experiences, but the forty years of my experiences are more than “cute” stories. I want authenticity, honesty. I want to be able to say the uncomfortable things, in a way that can be heard.

So I will continue my writing practice, my teaching commitments, and working through Wild Mind again. And if I don’t self-destruct (although that might be a book for someone) I’m trusting that what I want will unfold.

Thank You

We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.  Mary Catherine Bateson

I come to this space each morning to practice sharing.  I do this to move beyond the thoughts in my head and the scribblings in my journal.  I want to move away from the perceived safety of my home.

Every day I face this challenge, word by word and baby step by baby step, because I fear living in an isolation of my carefully constructed reality.

You dear readers, whoever (whomever?) you are, are important to this process.

You have visited, “liked,” and commented on these posts. When I read over previous posts, I recognize a building confidence.  What might happen if I am more willing to share with the people around me?

And for today, that is what I am willing to learn.

A Little Spark of Madness

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.    Robin Williams

hand holding spark

This morning begins quite early.  2:21 to be exact.  The voices are demanding my attention again.  I could lie in bed and participate in the conversation like I did a few mornings ago, but instead I get out of bed, pick up my notebook and pen, start the coffee, and settle into my recliner.  It’s time to have today’s conversation on paper.

After a cup of coffee and three ranting, rambling, pontificating and whining pages, the voices are quieter.  I move to the computer to check on the world beyond my living room.  Hurricane Isaac is spinning toward New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina.  Presidential politics is sounding anything but presidential.  Only five of 24 interns have answered my email.  And I’m not sure what to say on this morning’s blog post.  Breathe, Laura.

I move back to the recliner and away from the news of the day.  I suspect the stirrings around me have something to do with the stirrings within me.  I sit still, concentrating on my breath and clearing my mind.

As the day dawns, I begin to make a to do list.  Halfway down the page I write “walk” and ten minutes later I’m heading to the nearest park.  Thoughts come, then go as I circle the park, breathing in the morning air.

Natalie Goldberg leads a silent workshop in Taos entitled “True Secret of Writing:  Sit, Walk, Write Retreat.”  I have participated in two of them.  The true secret of writing… how I will keep my little spark of madness from getting lost.

The telephone rings.  Jordan from Pro Computers wants to know if he can bring my computer out now and set it up.

My madness is back on track:)

Simply Abundant

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.  Maya Angelou

Whoa!!!  So the plan is to write morning pages, maintain a daily blog, read at least an hour a day, facilitate two weekly intern seminars, teach an afterschool program of creative word and number play twice a week, alternate exercise classes with mindful walking,  and begin gathering stories for my new writing project.

So this week I add the two intern seminars to my schedule of morning pages, a daily blog, an exercise plan and reading,  and I’m already behind.  Except in a good way.  I’m excited.  I carry a notepad with me everywhere now, so I can jot down the ideas that come to me in the car, the shower, exercise class, the grocery store, the walk, the meetings, and the Toyota waiting room.  Breathe, Laura.  This is a good thing.

My computer should be ready early next week and I’ll begin visiting interns’ classrooms–an alternative remedial reading class and a high school biology class.  One of the books I’m currently reading, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch, tells of her plan to read a book a day for a year and by the first week she’s sounding rather overloaded.  Breathe, Laura.  This is a good thing.

I am amazed at the creative energy that is pulsing through my once overwhelmed self.

I’m signing off now.  There’s tilipia in the refrigerator to be turned into fish tacos and a stack of books that needs to go back to the library.  Wonder what ideas will spark from those two activities?

The Morning After

You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.–Rosalynn Carter

These were some of the last words I saw before going to bed last night.  And this morning I’m feeling confident. Ta da!!!  The Doubts family didn’t have a chance.

My writing plans are clearer.  I’m sharing them with whomever crosses my path.  You know, the plans with the new computer and school stories.

The back story is how long it’s taken me to get to this confident place.  I’ve traveled incredibly dark  nights, through stubbornly deep seated fears.

When I retired from teaching it was because of the last two years of my thirty year career.  My pen had begun furiously scribbling classroom anecdotes,  amusing dialogue, and detailed observations from Nature Lab, the hands-on science enrichment  class  I had created for young children.  It was a positively magical environment (in my humble opinion) with a roomful of animals and an organic vegetable garden outside.  But I was ready to move on, put this collection of notes together and share the story.

Two and a half years later with enough rejection slips to wallpaper my writing room my only child commits suicide.  It was the darkest of nights.  The confidence that was waning with each new publisher’s form letter announcing they had no room for my offering at this time was now completely sucked in to the nearest black hole.

And for several years all I could do was sit on my living room couch and journal.  I was building another collection of notes.  Notes for myself.  Until I was ready to put them together to again try to share my story.  This time I was publishing it myself.  I realize now how much I really needed to see it and hold it, so I could let go of it.  And I did.  Later a friend’s small press reprinted it.

Writing Toward the Light

the book

I still wanted to be a writer, but my confidence was shaky.  I journaled on,  maintaining long distance writing buddies, meeting weekly at Barnes and Noble with more writing buddies,  sharing my experience in writing workshops, attending two silent retreats with Natalie Goldberg, forming a Wednesday Writers group in my home, writing blogs into cyberspace and reading, constantly reading.

This morning (after a wonderful Wednesday Writers meeting, no longer at my house) I feel it…really feel it.  That confidence in my ability and the drive to follow through.  And I’m back to school stories.  To be told from a bit different perspective and from farther along the path.

Dealing with the Doubts

The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it’s not without doubt but in spite of doubt.   Rollo May

After a day of feeling good about being on the ” right track,”  the Doubts creep in during the night.  Argh.

“You do know what you’re getting yourself into, don’t you?”  Firin Doubts asks.

“Um.  I think so.  What do you know that I don’t?  Wait, don’t answer that.”

Yesterday I ordered the computer I fell in love with at Office Depot last week.  But I didn’t buy it from them.  Instead I  went to a computer repair shop recommended by a friend because I need the guys that come with it.  I’m ready to plow into some heavy duty writing and messing with a temperamental old laptop that weighs twice as much as any currently on display at the four stores I visited is too distracting.  I had done my research and it was time to act.

“Well, what about that blog you started?  What are you trying to prove with that?”  Fuller Doubts adds.

“Prove?” I think.  “I hadn’t thought about what I was proving.   I’m a writer.  And writers write.  The last time I committed to a blog for a year was a good thing. Quit with your questions, please.  I need to get back to sleep.”

When I first get up I write morning pages, then head out the door for a Jazzercise class or a walk.  The blog begins when I return.  Actually that’s when the writing of the blog begins.  Ideas have been percolating long before that.
“Is that all you need to do to call yourself a writer?” Evan Moore Doubts queries.

I roll over, ready to get back to sleep.

On Labor Day (an idea I got from Barbara Abercrombie’s A Year of Writing Dangerously) I will begin my collection of  “school stories,” anecdotes from the university seminars I facilitate, the beginning teachers’ classrooms I visit, and a neighborhood after school program with which I work.

In spite of this family of Doubts.

The new computer!!!

Listening to Learn

Learning to Listen

Listening for Lessons

A Teacher and her Writing Practice

Writing Is My Drink

slake your thirst; find your voice


~ creative ideas for making a difference ~

...the house I live in...

A journal of life pursued