Remembering Madeleine

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
–Madeleine L’Engle

I was ten when my librarian grandmother pulled from her suitcase a book called A Wrinkle in TimeIt had a funny cover with silhouettes floating in circles. I’d seen it at school and it looked too science-fictiony for me.

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Today I must retravel

The taut ground of soothsayer
Who broods in caverns for a glimpse of light.
How have I lost the glinting stone
I kept so long in my fist?
I have thrown down despair
And taken Struggle
And now it prowls round me as I sleep.
The eyes of Struggle
Are amber and do not blink,
The eyes of Seer in the dark
Who pleads for just one breath of day.

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Go Where the Longing Is

20150408_113351Perfectionism is a thief of time. I used to be plagued by this wily thief—I’d let it into my mind and give it full access. There it would scold and prod and criticize. And I would go slower and slower as my muse slogged toward mirages of excellence. After all, isn’t excellence what we are after?

It took me a long time to learn that excellence and perfection are not the same thing.

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The Violin Diet

Katherine violinWith the Full-Bodied Novelist Retreat coming up this weekend, I’ve been playing the violin again. There is a connection, so stay with me here.

I usually let months go by without my music. I play only to prepare for performance, thinking I need an “excuse” to play. But lately I have played for the sheer joy of playing with no audience but the Universe. I work on a piece that is hard for me,

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When It’s Hard to Relate

DSCF1569As a writer you know you must allow your characters to live through you as they unfold on the page. But what if the character feels unlike you? A character you can’t relate to is hard to, well, relate. But you WANT characters who are different from you–whether they are sympathetic, antagonistic, or simply “other” because they are outside of your community or life experience.

When you find the connection point with such a character you expand your empathy,

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Wordless Times

DSCF1561

I lost my father in July. Then in August, my husband underwent a high-risk surgery. And then last week, I had surgery to determine whether I have cancer. (It looks like I do not.) Now everything that has always felt certain is entirely up for grabs. We have been so well-loved and supported by friends and family that I am not frantic or filled with dread. In fact, the time feels distilled.

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Writing the Hidden Story

SpyI love those “aha!” moments when a character sneaks up on me–and I suddenly realize I’m not writing the book I thought I was writing. It might mean big changes, but it invariably makes a deeper and more authentic story than the one I started with. This is just as true for memoir as it is for fiction

As I prepare for my fall writing classes, “Writing the Hidden Story”

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Game of Poems

Young woman dancing

Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

You speak in riddles because

You ache to speak.

You ache for space

To expand and contract.

You cast your words into the chasm,

To be caught by one

Whose breathing holds your breath.

 

When your foot finds the brink

You ask the air

Questions.

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Can We Talk?

I have not shared any of my work-in-progress here because it has felt too close to the bone. It’s a YA. It’s about art. And it’s about time-travel. It’s about a girl who feels responsible for keeping someone else alive, and how she goes back in time and thinks she wants to stay there. It’s a verse-novel, so it’s made up entirely of poems.

But it’s time for some mutual sharing. I’m looking for a small group of young people (high school/college) and some art.

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