30 May 2010


A few weeks ago, I spent some time at the Oregon Extension in Lincoln, Oregon. It gave me some space to focus solely on my writing, specifically on the Wildish Boys novel. Funny how it was just a few weeks ago and it already feels like months. That brief moment of stillness came and went, quickly followed by the excitement of the reading at the Press Club, travel arrangements for my darling husband, and a flurry of graduation preparations for my daughter from the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and my brother, a new PhD graduate from the University of Washington.

Lincoln is a place given to the study of spiritual matters and contemplative retreats. It is a place where men are hand-milling the wood for the building of the new chapel in the meadow across from the bunkhouse, near where I saw grazing deer.

My own spiritual center is nurtured in solitude. It glistened with the rainwater on the leaves of the fir tree in the morning. Spread out thick and rough with the bark of the Ponderosa pines. Paused with the attention of a black-tailed deer. Reflected in the gray-white clouds from the slick surface of the millpond, cut through with the vees of the swimming Canadian geese.

I can reach back and touch that quiet from Lincoln. It opens like the winter memory of cherry blossoms. As restorative as the recall of a child's birth. Sacred as love. I carry it with me, writing forward.



Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

25 May 2010

shout out!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the reading at the Press Club. It was a really great experience for me, and I was honored to be included with my fellow writers, Joanna Rose and Scott Sparling. They both read pieces that were engaging, unique and full of real life.

Reading from the podium was a bit nerve-wracking. Had to keep pulling my breath from deep, like the monks taught in meditation. That seemed to work. Kept me from feeling like I was drowning. Had my game-face, my story-telling voice and my favorite boots. On.

Once I started, I didn't look up so that I wouldn't lose my place (that was the nightmare from the night before, along with the one where I turn the page and it's blank, and so is the next one, and the next...). 

Keep pace. Keep breathing. Don't rush or your tongue twists up. Read my story.

It's a far cry from my 9-year old self. Dyslexic. Displaced, this time into a whole new country called the United States. With a severe lisp that landed me in special education for a few years. (You can still hear it, soft, but still there.)

It's even further from some dark places where I ended up in later years. Spiraled down and dragged along the bottom for far too long. Or perhaps just long enough.

The victory for me last night was just to be there. Bonus points for the positive response to the Wildish Boys.

A big shout out to the Mountain Writers Series. They continue to sponsor readings every third Wednesday of the month at the Press Club. Check their website for the list of events, including the upcoming conference: www.mountainwriters.org.

Another to the Pinewood Table Writing workshop. That's the fancy name for Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose, both amazing writers and poets, mentors and teachers. Both my friends.

I remain grateful. And amazed.


"Make connections; let rip; and dance where you can."
 - Annie Dillard

17 May 2010


Sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up and realize the answer to a stuck point. It's the solution to some twist in the story, or blank spot in the plot or one of the characters.

It always feels odd, but I shouldn't be so surprised. It's happened that way for years. When I am doing heavy programming (in my alternate work-life), the midnight epiphany is sometimes the untangling of code or direction of structure. Graphic designs have come to me in the night, a vision of layout or branding.

Occasionally it is so amazing, I have gotten up out of bed and headed to the home office for immediate implementation. Other times, I write it down on some scrap of paper or bookmark. On the headboard, there is a collection of torn-out corners of notebooks, sticky-notes, and magazine pull-outs, each with some middle-of-the-night scribble. Even my cell phone has a set of digital night-notes.

Granted, it's not always the greatest of thoughts or the be-all-end-all answer. Some of my notes make absolutely no sense the next morning. Like this one:

"Anticipation is the 32nd Flavor."

No clue.

The process is what I latch onto. Like simmering a good sauce, distillation of the thought jumble. My brain turns it around and over while I grocery shop, drive to the kids' school and back and forth and back, cook dinner, water my garden. Sleep.

I become our own best fortune teller. Holding my questions forward, the answer manifests. Whether it is in the night, on the elliptical at the gym, or smack in the middle of some really horrific draft of writing.

It's a good day when I get to participate in the process. In those terms, I've certainly been gifted with a lot of good days. I remain grateful.