Monday, 21 December 2015

The Power of Self-Reflective Writing

Winter is coming - a time when many of us like to “curl up with a good book.” We love the intimacy of immersing ourselves in other lives, places and events. But are we as intimate with the stories that make up our own lives? Do we know, like or understand the characters that live in us? 
A little over a week ago, I held the first in a series of writing workshops designed to shake loose the layers of story that make up our lives. We wrote from prompts, played with memory, and called our unconscious stories to the surface using SoulCollage®
What came forth were exquisite glimpse into the lives and hearts of each person in our circle. What are the stories inside you that long to be heard?

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Self-reflective Writing

I am preparing for a writing workshop - a one-day exploration of personal stories. This is something I believe in; this is work I have been quietly skirting for much of my life. We are all made up of stories. Some of these are known to us, some hidden, many just the partly conscious backdrop to our days. But all these stories shape who we are, influence how we feel, affect how we act.

My work, if I can call it that, is to tend my own stories and encourage others to do the same. My workshop is to be a place that is hospitable to stories, hospitable to the narratives that run through us like so many threads pulling and tugging, making us taut or sagged.

When we come to know our stories - when we bring them home - we live on into a narrative where all the threads can be gathered and held, where all the characters can be appreciated for who and what they are. I want my life to be a great book - a book worth reading. How about you?

Friday, 28 August 2015

Stories that come and Go

I am in the process of sorting through old notebooks...a delicious exercise that brings back all sorts of memories. I came across a page where I had listed news stories that had stayed with me over time. Looking at this random list, it struck me that I would have few new ones to add.

Too much information. Inundated, saturated, overwhelmed...
A constant media barrage - a tsunami - where individual stories sweep over and past us.
Where is the blank space in our media-driven world?
Where do we pause and craft?
Where do we fall silent and reflect?

In no particular order:

Julia Butterfly Hill saves a tree
Jane Goodall inspires
A literal tsunami sweeps away villages and lives.

Long ago sugar mountains
Power cuts
The hurricane of '87

Indira Ghandi murdered
The Challenger explodes
Di marries Charles
Princess Diana found dead
Mother Teresa leaves us in the same pocket of time.

The war in Iraq
Matthew Shepard
A story now being challenged
Clinton and the blue dress.

David Koresh
A Cuban boy "saved" from his family with guns

Anita Hill
Clarence Thomas
Torture of soldiers
Obama gets in

How do we sort through? What do we make of these stories that intersect our lives?

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Urge to Build and Create

In early June, I stayed a few nights with a friend who lives in the Pacific Northwest of America. Her home nestles among the tall trees and ferns of the southern part of Whidbey Island. Inside the house, shelves and cupboards hold the fruits of her and her husband's creative labours: fallen trees have become vases, bowls, cups, sculptures. An enchanted forest within and without.

I stroked the smooth contours of a bowl, admired the knots and whorls on a simple plate, ran a finger up the stem of a vase across the spirals of tree time. In each piece, the original essence of the tree had assumed a new shape, a new expression, under the gentle hands of these kind people. So many stories, phases, chapters of a tree life.

Some days later, I walked along Ruby Beach on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula. I noticed a simple pile of pebbles set upon a rock. That human urge to build and create...

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Sound and Expression

The window of my bedroom sits open:
I go quiet to listen:
Short trills then longer ones;
Musical phrases.

A conversation between birds:
Something light.

Across those sounds
Come others;
The short sharp cracks
of gunfire.
Clay pigeon shoot.

Flat sounds...
I insulate against them.
with plastic carcasses.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Writing Practice

My writing practice happens first thing in the morning. I write in bed, resting my laptop on a wooden tray table with my name carved in the top right hand corner. The table provides a point of continuity, a fixed ritual presence that ushers me into writing no matter where I am.

Early morning is when the birds make their voices heard, when the human world feels less congested, when the love between human and earth feels soft. I add my voice to the morning songs as the earth is waking; my words bloom on the screen and the tap tapping of fingers on keyboard becomes a prayer.

This is a small miracle: imagination flows through fingers and forms into words: the fruit of regular precious practice. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Words Have Power

It is powerful when a writer turns our view of something upside down, makes us think differently, makes us think at all...just by the way he or she positions words. Here is a nugget that caught my eye recently.

There has been much furore over the movie version of Fisty (that really was an unintentional typo) make that Fifty Shades of Grey. I have no interest in seeing it, or reading the book, but I did enjoy this article about the movie. It is from a review by Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian (February 11th):

     "This is a movie about submitting to erotic chastisement by a handsome man who plays Chopin on his grand piano and sips chardonnay from long-stemmed glassware. He is extremely rich. Because there is nothing sexy about spanking if he's skint."

An interesting perspective, I thought. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


There are many qualities that are useful in the art and act of writing fiction: stamina, insight, originality, depth, imagination. The writer's tools.

I read a breath-taking work of literary fiction, and I am in awe.
I read a formulaic novel with flashes of decent writing, and I panic.
The greatest fear is that my writing will fall short of what I imagine and sense is possible.

So, the most important quality in this writer's toolbox is TRUST.
Trust is the quality that allows the other capacities room to breathe and function.

There are days when I wonder if this story is worth
There are days when I wonder if this novel will reflect the essence of what I
There are days when I fear the cliché and the easy
There are days when I wonder if a rough draft can be beautifully

2015: A year of Self-Trust.