A Writing Prompt from Me and T.S. Eliot

Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson Every writer needs a bit of prompting at times. I have several techniques and explorations that help us write when we have fooled ourselves into believing we are stuck. I find that there is never “writer’s block,” when we are in conversation with the world around us. There is always something to write about. When I can’t seem to move forward on a particular idea I either write on something else, go … Continue reading

Give Your Words a Place To Go

On my morning walks I commit to a certain destination out to a broken tree, which is about 2 miles from my home. This way, since I hold my destination at 2 miles out, I am sure to have a 4 mile walk. In some ways I trick myself into commiting to walking 4 miles, having to walk the two miles back. In my upcoming Write-By-The-Lake retreat and workshop through the UW, Madison, we focus on giving our words a place to go on the page, and then, our pages a place to go once written. Through developing a Rainbow Theme Arc with our chosen … Continue reading

True, Truer, Truest

“The kind of truth that matters does not make itself known to those who shout for it to come out and then try to batter down the door. The truth that matters must trust us before we can have a relationship with it.” Parker, The Promise of Paradox I celebrate disappointment. My disappointments met as a Spiritual Friend are openings to other possibilities, to something Spirit-handed. I trust this place of disappointment and discouragement as a threshold and doorway to what can emerge. I wanted “this”, but got “that.” This is true. Truer yet is that something always waits on the … Continue reading

Why Did the Chicken Cross The Road?

We have a few magnets on our refrigerator. Okay, more than a few. So, it took me a few days to discover the one my sister-in-law put on after house sitting: Another magnet asks: What Would the Buddha Do?   (What we choose for magnets and postings on our refrigerator does speak to our politics, leanings and causes. But this blog isn’t about what we post on our refrigerators–– or why.)       Questioning WHY the chicken crossed the road points to our attachment to a misguided question, at least off the page. In life when you ask WHY someone lost something, why they failed … Continue reading

A Bit of Tough Love

Our lives are rich with pivotal moments and themes that have become the very fabric of our lives. Your mother’s narsistic, you grew up in abject poverty, you were sexually abused, your losses out number your gains, you survived cancer, twice. Your heart has been broken and shattered. You’ve been abandoned, ignored, humiliated. Or (and), you have had spiritual visions, epiphanies, you have saved lives or witnessed others’ heroics. You are the first to climb the mountain and survive. You have traveled to exotic places, alone. You have a unique skill. You have saved numerous abandoned animals or people. You are … Continue reading

Be The Cause of Your Life

“It’s your life – but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else . . . you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” – Eleanor Roosevelt I work with a lot of writers, mostly creative nonfiction writers who want to share personal experiences … Continue reading

Grasping The Opportunity

“Whichever step of the staircase you enter upon, the journey will, in its own way and own time, lead you to all the other steps. The only requirement is that you continue to put one foot in front of the other—one thought, moment of interest, and effort after another. That is all teachers really require of their students. They have trust that the teachings will unfold their results naturally, if the student will only grasp the opportunity.” –Geshe Lhundub Sopa with David Patt, Steps on the Path to Enlightenment As I write this I am surrounded by my beautiful home and … Continue reading

Why Write? Ask William Robichaud

All of us have or will be there–– we wrestle with whether or not we should keep writing. Here is one writer and poet, William Robichaud, answering this question for himself, and perhaps for all of us: I write so I don’t have to think about it anymore, and to think about it more.  I write to get things out of my head, get them archived onto paper, and thus free room in my mind to think about the next things. At the same time, the process of assembling my ideas and prejudices into a cohesive and cogent piece of writing … Continue reading

Finding What We Already Possess

Truth is within ourselves, it takes no rise from outward things; whate’er you may believe there is an inmost center in us all where truth abides in fullness; and around, wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in, this perfect, clear perception which is Truth. A baffling and perverting carnal mesh Binds it and makes all error; and to know rather consists in opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape than in effecting entry for a light supposed to be without. Robert Browning, from “Paracelsus” I have written in journals since the age of 16, which is … Continue reading

Which Goes After Which?

The centipede was happy, quite! Until a toad in fun asked, “Pray which leg goes after which?” This worked his mind to such a pitch He lay distracted in a ditch, Considering how to run. Zen poem (memorized from childhood) Sometimes we make writing more difficult than it needs to be. We feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of our project or find our selves distracted by details. We get caught up in structural questions, like, what goes where? Then, like the centipede, we get stuck in these distractions. This is the reason I recommend we start and return to our list of pivotal moments. … Continue reading