What To Write About

DSCF1309Later today my daughter and I head out to register her for college. So I want to get my weekly writer’s blog done and out to you before we go.

But, what to write about? (Something we writers often ask ourselves as we stare at the empty page or screen).

I just spent a week with 14 (most amazing) writers at Write-By-The-Lake. Should I write about that?

Last night I met up with 8 writers from the Spring Green area as part of the Write Your Story Project. I could write about that.


how we live a storied life,

about this month’s free writer’s retreat at my home and how I offer this in honor of poet and activist William Stafford,

how essential it is to live our own story and not anothers’,

what it takes to live the writer’s life,

how waiting to be inspired is a flavor of resistance,

what it takes to let go and give up on a dead project,

how what we write about transforms writer and reader,

how motivation is an inner dynamic not dependent upon outside circumstances,

reasons every writer should have these two books: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Verlyn Klinkenborg’s book Several Short Sentences About Writing,

how depression, anxiety, fears and phobias can all be part of our conversation with the world around us,

how self-doubt is the hoarfrost of creativity,

how everything that shows up is material for our writer’s life,

how stories, your stories, feed the soul of humanity and keep us moving forward,

what it means to live your life in the open


how grateful I am to have chosen this rich vocation as writer, and writing Sherpa.


My Take-Away


On my way home, my soul sent out a shiver

like a deeply buried seed in February

that knows, spring is coming.


When each of you spoke

the ground shuttered beneath our collective bodies

from each syllable, each word, each story told,


(this was not new for me,

my heart will break open in a stream of other’s stories

when I die)


it’s what happened



after we said good-bye, I packed my books and notes

headed out

had lunch with friends

and drove a familiar route home.


But nothing looked or felt familiar.

Even the rumbling road spoke a surprising

dialect of sewing machines, Palestine and time.


The world

spoke in ancient tongues,

sang pristine lyrics, all along hinting, hinting and

welcoming me on . . . home.


My walk from car to door opened new internal pathways,

cleaning the chicken coop became a sacred act of comfort,

This precious life is short and full of inevitable change and loss, no one escapes untouched by trouble

My garden breathed in and out as I pulled weeds,

my blind dog saw my heart. I glimpsed the rabī in my daughter’s eyes.


My husband is a good man full of story.


All this

because I spend time with you

and your stories.


This after only five days

of feasting on just slivers and possibility of your stories . . .


Imagine, Imagine

what your full story will do for the world.


                   –Julie Tallard Johnson, for WBTL students, 2015




251 thoughts on “What To Write About

  1. Viaje a Cuba en varias ocasiones y efectivamente me confirmaron muchos de los cubanos con los que entablé amistad que era un producto mágico y milagroso, Mis amigos de España ya me habían pedido que si podía les trajera unas cuantas pastillas de estas, creo que se llamaban PPG o algo así, y como aquí no teníamos posibilidad de <a href="https://comprarcialis.

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