Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

pencils at the ready

been thinking it a while –
but is it one more step away from writing?
Or toward it?

I admitted to these very thoughts
while riding to church a few weeks ago
and wouldn’t you know it?
The morning’s passage included
immediately they left their nets.”
I like that.
(Long before Nike’s “just do it”
were the first disciples.
They were more cutting-edge than me.)

So what’s the hold-up?

I will miss the friends I’ve met in cyberspace,
not that I won’t be in cyberspace,
but I think I’ll feel only half-in.
Now that I see that in print,
I realize my thinking on that is wrong.
This hadn’t struck me before.
(This is one reason writers write, says Joan Didion,
to find out what they are thinking.)

I’ve been blogging over a decade, so it’s a hard break,
like parting with a old sweater,
too tattery to be seen in
but there are so many memories attached.
Okay, my blog isn’t that tattered.
Still, sentimentality is often the obstacle to the uncluttered life, is it not?

But mostly the hold-up
is the cry of the platform-builders,
“You must blog.”
Must I?
Did anyone actually say that
or is that how it got twisted in my mind?

I wish to say something fabulously acceptable,
such as,
I’m working on my doctorate
or going to do third-world orphanage work
or donating all my writing parts to a needy person
and so – apologies, apologies – I no longer can blog.

But I don’t have a noble cause to give as excuse.
And my faithful readers do not require it of me.

It is enough to say
I have nothing to say,
that what I have to say,
the topic closest to me right now,
the one I dedicate my peak writing time to,
which is as it should be,
doesn’t belong here,
and I belong where it is.

You are nodding. I know it.

A few times in my life I wondered how to explain to a friend a decision I made, only to discover no explanation was necessary.

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I stole this off Megan's blog because it's cool.MEGAN WILLOME, fellow-writer-I-met-in-cyberspace-and-got-to-meet-in-person-at-Laity-Lodge, devoted an entire post to her reflections on my car wash thoughts in “Poetry with Marilyn Yocum.” (It’s really weird to see your own name pop up on Feedly.) I was honored! Plus, I learned more about what I was really writing about. Sometimes someone has to point these things out.

Anyway, it’s nice for writers to know something they’ve written spurred someone else’s thoughts. We rarely hear about this. BTW, Megan is a fun person to follow on Twitter for all things tea, poetry, dogs and more.

* * *

A MAN in THE CLASS I’M TAKING on Wednesdays said, “Aren’t all writers just people who stand on the sidelines? Isn’t that why they write, because it’s the only way then can engage with the world?” Just so you know, I did not lean forward and clock him on the head.

* * *

THE POST OFFICE PEOPLE are used to me stepping up to the counter and asking what kinds of cool stamps they have. I use run-of-the-mill flag stamp for letters going to places where the stamps are removed before the envelope is delivered (AKA prison ministry). More than once I’ve taken a picture of my latest cool stamps and inserted the photo into a letter, just to inject some color.

BTW, the run-of-the-mill flag stamps have improved. They have a better look.

* * *

my cabin

I HAD A GREAT CABIN of 7th-graders at the winter retreat in January, but when I saw the photo, I couldn’t for the life of me remember when it was taken. Certainly I would not have voluntarily posed in a t-shirt, front and center. Maybe it’s a dummy somebody stuck in there, propped up by the girls. Maybe it was the IBC root beer.

About this….getting involved in ONE ministry of the church was yet another thing done intentionally this past year as a way of getting a life back.

* * *

Someone told me I have spunk. I’ve never been told that before. I’ve been living off the compliment for two weeks. :-)

I hope you are well. Drop me a line.

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morning tracks in snow

across fresh snow
on the back porch
beg to be captured,
I don’t know why,
the same way
I don’t know why
I had to write down
all that happened,
just so it’s there
the view from my window.

But they’ve caught my attention,
made me wonder.

Have the tracks I was leaving
been erased by what’s happened?
The answer, I think,
lies in my response,
the steps still to come.
It’s all one long story,
the story of a life.

I think I’ll get dressed and go to church and see my people,
the people with the long view.

How It Starts

How It Starts

Real Reason Most Journals are Abandoned

Real Reason Most Journals are Abandoned

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light switch

It’s a routine, a habit, a tic perhaps. Every day the same thing.

A small light at the far end of the kitchen signals the outside lights are on and every morning, seeing it, I am drawn through the dining room and across the length of the kitchen to the far end, to turn them off, but then…

Peering out and seeing no hint of daylight on the eastern horizon,
I leave the lights on.

From somewhere deep in the recesses comes a voice.
“Turn off the lights! Don’t you know what electricity costs?”

But I can’t do it. The road is just so dark.

“Turn them off! There’s nobody out there.”

BUT there might be, you never know.
Someone walking a dog before leaving for work
someone walking to catch a ride,
a kid with a backpack hurrying to meet the high school bus,
though that’s 7 o’clock.
(You can set your watch by that bus,
just not on snow days.)

“Your one puny light? Not making that much difference.”
Probably true, but….

I have walked in the dark
and know what it is to be glad for every porch light

and strive to get to the next one,
to get my bearings,
to keep going,

and I’ve been grateful for every person
who left one on
when they didn’t even know I was out there

I wrestle this through every morning,
this same decision,
then take my coffee
and go sit to write
until the sky lightens.

All these voices are old hat to writers. :-)

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THE SETTING SUN of early January
hits the upstairs window
of a house on Chamberlain Drive
in just such a way
that it blinds us
here in our dining room
with promises of Ground Hog’s Day just 4 week’s off
and beyond that another 4, crocus.

Don’t be fooled.
It was 3 degrees yesterday morning in Lower Salem,
a woman in town told me.
(Okay, it was Walmart,
but nobody wants to admit they go there.)

The frigid temps don’t keep the kids at the College
from wearing shorts and sandals
while crossing to the Dining Hall.
(Stay off Butler St, if the sight makes you shiver.)

I love my job.
Have I mentioned that?

I wrote for 15 years,
then the words dried up
so I got a job
and as soon as I started working again
the words came back,
so I kept the job.

A writer needs to be around people,
to be out in the flow of life
to be away from the words
and then come back
as a daily rhythm….
…and not to be frightened by silences.

There is beauty even when things are frozen.


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and the dishes brought out of the cupboard, too,
but the patch of woven color helps warm.

I go to make oatmeal,
but am sidelined
by thoughts of eggs and English muffins
and before you know it
they are out of the pan,
out of the toaster,
on the plate,
please pass the butter.

I make no apologies for this indulgence only 3 days into a new year.

* * *

I RECEIVE IN THE MAIL these words:
“I loved your entire letter of the 12th, the WHOLE thing!”
and I know which one is meant
without looking it up on my computer.
It’s the one I had so much fun writing.

A reader can tell,
I learned long ago,
if the writer is interested or not.

I had said,
the day I mailed it,
“Gee, I had fun writing that one!”
I didn’t know why.
I wasn’t trying to say anything in particular,
make a point.
I was just telling about what was going on here at the moment.

“THIS is how fiction writers must feel,”
I said.
“just telling a story for the sake of telling it.”

I wrote for no purpose
and both of us enjoyed it,
What more can I ask for?

* * *

THE OTHER NIGHT I WATCHED the movie “Miss Potter
and it starts with these words:
“There’s something delicious about writing those first few words of a story.
You can never quite tell where they will take you.
Mine took me here, where I belong.”

It’s a good thing to be where we belong
instead of always striving to be elsewhere
and missing what’s here.
The warm woven colors, for example.

* * *

The countertops this morning are cold
and the dishes brought out of the cupboard, too.
They remind me of the past year,
how most every thought came from the cupboard cold.
But I’ve not been left alone.
Looking at my placemat,
I think of how those,
near and far,
and unaware of each other,
each as a single thread,
and were woven together
as a cushion
upon which I could set my thoughts
just as they were, no pretense.

Credit goes to the One who weaves.
Had it not been cold, I may not have noticed.

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paper chain

Usually I write a post, then tweet a link to it. This time I tweeted a thought and now will expand on it.

The tweet: Stop thinking “This should be a book.” Start writing on the topic and see what it turns out to be. #creativity #writing

* * *

DRIVING HOME FROM THANKSGIVING, I have a thought, and the longer I think about it, the more I think I may have something worth writing about.

“I should write a book about that,” I say.
Or maybe he says it and I nod. No matter.

Yeah, actually this idea is a refinement of another idea I thought I might write a book about.
But there’s no book.
There’s no book on the original idea nor several (dozen) before it on other topics.
Add it to the list, not the list of discarded ideas, but the list of ideas never acted upon.

This “I oughta write a book” thing is the wrong way to go about it, I think. Maybe it’s best, when an idea seems promising, to just start writing and see what form it wants to take. Maybe it’s better to write down the thought, then write down the thought that comes after it, and so forth and so on, until you’re done writing about it. Then see what it is you have.

Maybe you have a book’s worth of stuff to say.
Maybe it’s an article’s worth or a blog post.
Maybe you have thoughts that ought to go in a letter to someone – just one someone. Or an email.
And maybe, just maybe, like with this, the whole shebang can be contained within the confines of a tweet and there’s no need to expand. Still, some of us can’t resist. :-)

Eliminate preconceived notions about what form a thing should take and just start writing. It will become clear as you go.

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