For Want of Slow

For Want of Slow

For Want of Slow is a piece of writing my friend and Wild Writing student, Lori Saltzman wrote in class last week. I asked her if I could share it here.


What I need you to know is

I feel like a temporary survivor of a fatal epidemic

Like walking the set of a horror movie

One of those deadly plague films

where everyone acts as if everything is normal

Suddenly there’s a look in their eye, a subtle change in the tempo of speech

Telling Them a Story

Telling Them a Story

I wonder which stories I’ll remember? That my ex-husband, their father, wrote prayers on little pieces of paper and stuck them into the walls of our house 9 years ago when we were remodeling? That when we ask for prayers we sometimes don’t get exactly what we asked for in the way we asked for it, but get something different, something even better. And so if the prayer said something like, “look after the people in this house

Where Do Our Stories Come From?

  Over the years I’ve met a lot of people who wonder if their lives are interesting enough to write about. Maybe you came from a nice family where your parents spent time with you and told you what a stellar individual you were. Maybe you married the love of your life and your children are complete angels. Or maybe you’re just an average person who came from ho-hum central. You’re not married to a rock star, you don’t juggle, can’t speak in tongues, haven’t been on television and we probably didn’t see you at the Oscars last weekend.   The truth is, most of us have haven’t the experience of riding through New York City in a taxi and looking out the window to see our own mother digging through a trashcan. Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle did, and it made for a whopper of a book.   The bulk of us are regular folks with ordinary experiences. We get up, we work, interact with a handful of people, maybe we take care of children, we shop, we cook, ride busses, pay bills, get online, get to the gym. That’s our life and like it or not, that’s where our stories live – in the ordinary mulch of our lives.   Here are some of the things my students have written about in the last few months: Becky writes about what she’s going to cook for dinner, regularly wowing us with the details of cleaning lentils or choosing lemons for a pie. Susan writes about being on the aikido mat and what she learns about patience and...

A Calm, Open Walk Through a Dark & Tangled Mess

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been gearing up for Four Uninterrupted Days of Writing, the four-day workshop I’m running here at 27 Powers with the inimitable Jen Louden. 17 brave souls showed up here this morning and mostly what I’ve been thinking about for these last couple of weeks is how to serve them.   Of course Jen and I have writing lessons and hand-outs. We’ve got tips, tricks and tools, and even a get up and shake your booty sound track so the writers can get out of their heads and move a little blood. We’ll have coffee and snacks and a delicious catered lunch each day, as well as plenty of time for writers to write and read their work. And while all of that is real nice, the thing I’m really wanting to support them in is learning how to create a world inside of themselves, an internal landscape that calmly allows each of them to move through their writing when they’ve forgotten what the hell their stories were about and why they mattered in the first place.   If you’re like me, you’d kill for a Google map that tells you exactly how to get from the beginning of a story right on through to the end.  I’d cream for an app that instructed me to begin the story in the scene where my Mother realizes that I have a rat’s nest – an impossible tangle of knots — in the back of my hair, then the app tells me to veer left when she screams, “If you don’t get that rat’s nest...

How To Get Your Writing Mojo On

    Dear Writers and Creative Friends,   If I’m about anything, it’s helping writers to take the lead out and get some ink on the page. I’m a process person – I believe Mo is Bettah when it comes to writing – which is to say, let’s get a lot of words on the page so that eventually, good golly, a story will emerge. It’s kind of like that joke about walking into a room full of horse shit. There’s got to be a pony around here somewhere.   That’s what I mean when I encourage people to write as poorly as possible. What I’m saying is, don’t sit there huffing and puffing over the right word or the right line. You’ll find both, but start writing. Perfection is very rarely going to come out of you like lightening the minute the pen hits the page. The beginning of your piece, that awesome lead, might spill out of you on the second page of your messy scrawl – but that’s what it took – if you’re lucky – two pages of messy crap to find the one thing you meant to say. I support that kind of murky goodness. That’s my practice and I would never ask you to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself. I know that if I’m just willing to keep the pen moving a story of some sort will emerge eventually. I might not even love it, by the way, but it doesn’t matter. Every piece I write makes me a better writer. I’m in it for the long haul.   It takes patience and...