Cleaning House


Yesterday, feeling unable to write, I enlisted the girls in a major decluttering attack on our playroom. The result was that I carried several boxes of detritus out to my writing cabin, and made a huge mess. That’s okay. Today I’ll work on that. Here’s a quote I found in Barbara Abercrombie’s A Year of Writing Dangerously:

“The essential question is, ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?’ Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words your characters will speak, ideas–inspiration.” -Doris Lessing


…something to say…

Yesterday our family was shattered by the news of the death of my niece, who was about the same age as my older daughters. Last night, feeling aimless and bereaved, I wandered out to my writing cabin and picked up Katherine Paterson’s book of essays, Gates of Excellence. She had this solace for me, and maybe for you, too.

“It might have happened sooner had I had a room of my own and fewer children, but somehow I doubt it. For as I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time and space are those who have given me something to say.” -Katherine Paterson

New Fields

“You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” –Anonymous

“To make a great dream come true, the first requirement is a great capacity to dream; the second is persistence.”

–Cesar Chavez

Or we have this advice:

Poem #1755 

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

–Emily Dickinson

How Colleen McElroy Begins

I have been thinking about how to begin. This morning I came across this passage in James L. Hill’s African American Review 42.2 (Summer 2008) interview with poet Colleen J. McElroy. It has some wisdom for anyone who is (like me) trying to transition from a busy teaching year to a summer of writing.

“…I need at least three days free for writing, because the first day is getting out of the routine of teaching, the business of making something out of nothing, creating. The first day is setting up shop, cleaning out the cobwebs, and getting the tools ready–learning to think like an artist. I may not accomplish much by way of writing, but I’m loosening up, flexing my linguistic muscles. I’m relearning how to think like a writer.”