from norman maclean

“If a storyteller thinks enough of storytelling to regard it as a calling, unlike a historian he cannot turn from the sufferings of his characters. A storyteller…must follow compassion wherever it leads him. He must be able to accompany his characters, even into smoke and fire, and bear witness to what they thought and felt even when they themselves no longer knew.”

Bon Fire001

today by mary oliver

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.


cabinet of curiosity

In Austin Kleon’s latest book, Show Your Work, he challenges artists to show their “cabinet of curiosity” by answering these questions:

Where do you get your inspiration?
What sorts of things do you fill your head with?
What do you read?
Do you subscribe to anything?
What sites do you visit on the Internet?
What music do you listen to?
What movies do you see?
Do you look at art?
What do you collect?
What’s inside your scrapbook?
What do you pin to the corkboard above your desk?
What do you stick on your refrigerator?
Who’s done work that you admire?
Who do you steal ideas from?
Do you have any heroes?
Who do you follow online?
Who are the practitioners you look up to in your field?

Answer these for yourself. I’ll be back to share my answers.

steady & vulnerable

My writing goals for this year are to be more steady (my computer wants me to write “steadier” but that’s not what I mean!) and more vulnerable. I realize that those goals may seem to be at odds. But what I mean by steady is that I’d like to not be so high and so low over my efforts but I’d like to just continue to plug along regardless of my emotions surrounding my writing.


As for vulnerable I’d like to share more truth in my essays. Sometimes I settle for the cheap ending. I must be willing to go all in. I’ve been working on my latest manuscript for 21 months. And I still hesitate in some subtle ways to really go after some of the answers to my research questions. So being vulnerable right now means that I will wholeheartedly research my ms. knowing very well that it may not get published. Or that I’ll have to scrap what I have and try a new form: instead of writing a picture book I may have to try writing for a middle grade audience or something along that line. I’m not sure. There is something that’s trying to get through to me regarding this story and it’s just not penetrating my mind yet. I fear it’s going to ask me for something that’s going to hurt.