Tag Archives: creativity

the garden

I can never resist the garden in the spring. Houston’s been in a false spring since January, and I’ve been outside happily cleaning and clearing and filling bare spaces with what I hope will thrive. I’ve watched many a season of what I like die or grow spindly from lack of sun, for the yard I work in is a shady one towered over by a very old camphor tree that is quite decided in what it lets grow beneath. I’ve been in a battle with that tree for years, and mostly it won. But with time, I’ve been able to edge the yard with things that thrive, ivies, gingers, cannas, iron plants. There’s a life lesson there….to make a regular habit of cleaning away muck…..and something  about acceptance. To work with what you have. To bloom where you’re planted….but what if there’s shade? Then you green where you’re planted, don’t you?

What’s in your spring garden? Outside and within? Have you raked it lately?


Something fun is going around. It’s called a 7×7 link award, and it’s virtual. When you receive it, you have to share about yourself and then give it out to 7 other blogs you think worthy.

Well, I’m the proud recipient of one from Shala Howell of Caterpickles. Here it is. Thank you, Shala.

I have to share one thing about myself that you don’t know…….once upon a time I was a Miss Deer Park. A beauty pageant? Not. It was a high school award for best over-all student that could only be given to a senior, and I was over the moon with pride.

Now, I have to recommend  7 of my blogs posts :

Poetry in the morning: my wonder and awe at seeing Tor House, where Robinson Jeffers and his wife/helpmate lived….

To my Christmas cactus: a kinda haiku to my plant…..

For my son, whose middle name is Edward: a Memorial Day post that I think is ageless…..

Psychic Order: fans always ask what’s next. Here’s how novels are unfolding in my imagination, and while they may be about the same people, the stories aren’t chronological……

Journal entry from 1999: I love this one; my thoughts about seeing a woman and her child, both sitting too still at a bus stop…..

Yesterday…..a day in the life of me…..

Haiku practice…..just me and those syllables….

This is the best part: I give the award to 7 blogs I think worthy. Drum roll. Here goes:

Just Six Journal, maintained by  Jan Chapman. She describes her world in just six words and a photo.  It’s a wonderful exercise for those who wish to express themselves but feel overwhelmed by the idea of a blog.

The Barefoot Heart is an amazingly creative blog, but that’s too simple a description. As the author, Wholly Jeanne, says, she weaves cloth, stories, laughter and photos together. And I can find nothing more about her full name, other than Wholly Jeanne. I like that.

Ann Lauren explores her passion for history and beauty in this hugely researched blog that has immense detail and beautiful pictures about every interesting woman in history.

Leadership Sadhana is written by friend and dancemeditation colleague Sandi Longhurst and is about developing leadership skills that help the planet and help the individual soul.

The Book Deal is a sharp industry blog by New York editor Alan Rinzler about the changes taking place in publishing today.

Dancemeditation is by Dunya, creator of dance meditation, my personal meditation. Her writing is a lovely blend of how the body and mysticism unite.

3x3x365 is 3 friends from 3 states sharing 1 photo every day, with a little bit of verbiage if you want to see it. I adore the simplicity of this.


I’m back listening again to The Writer’s Almanac. It’s fun and heartening for anyone writing, whether that’s in a journal or something larger. In addition to reading a poem every day, the host, Garrison Keillor, always includes anecdotes about writers, how we fumble and fail, stumble on success or don’t. If you write to be published, there is an enormous amount of work that is completely unseen, that which is dropped, changed, rewritten dozens of times. Anyway, this quote was up on the site, and it touched a nerve.

Writers end up writing stories or rather stories’ shadows, and they’re grateful if they can, but is is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough.

I think it’s speaking of the gap between the vision and the finished project…….do you know what I mean? Is it always impossible to grasp the vision? An artist I know says she has learned she can’t control creativity. What do you think?


Two small things have made me happy recently. WordPress is adding snow flakes to the blog posts for the season again. It’s likely the only snow I will see, and the sight of them on the screen and across my words makes me smile. And I found file folders for the new book. I don’t know if you were a school supply freak like I was, but office supply stores are the way I’ve taken that delight into my adult life. For several years now, one can purchase file folders with really beautiful patterns or designs on them. And I do. And each book has its own set of folders. And I had a simple and lovely blue for this next book, but then I saw a more dramatic navy and teal background with new-grass-with-yellow-still-in-it green slight design of a flower and feather and bird, and that was it. It’s the next book’s folder.

I think I’m calling the next book: Our Bed is Green, from the Song of Solomon…..an Alice and Richard story. I need small things that please me as I grow older. I have this memory of reading about Sir Alec Guinness saying, we must gradually, gracefully grow into a less grand position. He was speaking of aging. When we’re young we’re the center of our drama, but drama doesn’t travel well in the forward motion that is life.

What do you think?


My latest book comes out tomorrow. I navigate for awhile in another part of a writer’s life: the public part, being reviewed, discussed, doing a few book signings. I’m out here in the New Mexico high desert on a retreat and different cacti are blooming at the ranch where we’re located. (It was created by one of the creators of Biosphere 2.) Anyway, one of the cacti, the cholla, can’t help but catch your eyes.  It stays a neutral gray green  and spiny all year, but right now there are these amazing rose-like flowers opening all up and down its arms. I’m like that cactus, I’ve decided…..staying internal and blending in with the landscape around me as I work to craft a story. And I keep my psyche and creativity surrounded by thorns so no one gets too close and hurts me because if I get hurt enough, I can’t create. The thorns are also out so I can keep distance around the thing I’m creating, so it doesn’t wither from the wrong kind of attention. But now I’m in flower and whether I want it or not. What I’ve created is out there for show. I feel awkward and gawkily on display. I don’t know how to take compliments or criticism. I don’t know how to be in flower. Only my thorns seem familiar.


We sat talking tonight….a playwright, two writers, a photographer, and an artist….of our bosses, how cruel they are, what ugly things they say to us. They’re within, these bosses, for we, more or less, work for ourselves. They tell us we don’t do enough, don’t work well enough, fast enough, aren’t going to make it….whatever “it” is. The photographer, the wise one among us, said: you have to learn to ignore those voices. You have to concentrate on the work, on doing the work as best you can. It’s a habit, thinking those harsh thoughts. You must form another habit.


I’ve been given the ultimate artist’s date. I’m on a three month writing residency in Taos, New Mexico.  All around me is meadow, and yet town is just four or five blocks away. Clover and dandelions march right up to my small front porch. Some kind of wild berry is advancing toward the side window. Towering over me are cottonwoods and Dutch elms. Apple and wild plums are everywhere, and they’re blooming. Soft petals float through the air. Birds dart here and there like they own the place. Today I watched magpies (I think) build a nest. No loose sticks on the ground for them, but a deliberate pulling of twigs from trees all around. I just peeked at the nest. It’s magnificent. The road to my house is dirt. If I look west I see mountains, some peaks still covered with snow. If I go into town, I see gallery after gallery, shop after shop offering the best and finest of crafted things. The first day I arrived I sat outside in a chair and let the crystal clear air fill me up. It felt like cells were filling, too. I have to bring the outside world in. There is no television. No internet. Some of this is frightening. It’s so much easier to distract than it is to feel. An artist’s date is an hour a week you give yourself to fill back up, to feed that within you which creates. Already it’s occurred to me that I don’t take what I do…the writing….seriously enough. By that I don’t mean ego pounding on the chest. I mean more a nurturing and feeding of it. A respecting it. An asking what it needs. There are challenges in this all, the solitude, the inner critic, the making of a day when I am the day…..

Questions I ask….How do you nurture and feed yourself? Or better yet, a question I once read that stopped me in my tracks: what feeds your soul and makes you glad to be alive?

Earlier today as I sat in a chair, deep into the revisions of the novel, a hummingbird came to the window, making that special tweet they do, and hung suspended just long enough for me to look up and see…..that fed my soul…

getting ready

I leave soon. I leave Houston’s flat, coastal plain, the humidity that will open out for certain this week and make every breath heavy, make shirts and blouses soggy with perspiration. I leave a marvelous greening  that will be jungle by July if the summer has its usual rain. I leave routines: picking up grandchildren, going to exercise, sitting at my desk to work, lunching with friends, going to visit Mother. I leave friends who are like flowers in my life and circles of women that meet monthly or weekly to aid and comfort and listen to one another. I leave a husband who takes me for walks and makes me take my vitamins. And where do I go? West, to a writing residency in the town of Taos, which sits in a valley of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I will be all by myself, in my casita. Near will be other writers, artists, and composers, but we are to respect each other’s solitude, the literature tells me. We are here in create.

I feel amazed that this hovers on my horizon, I who live at sea level and don’t have a grand horizon. What will I create in a solitude I’ve never known? What will I see in my one small life that normal distractions keep me from seeing? What thoughts will visit me? What dreams? What work will I do? I know something inside will be shifting, moving the chairs and tables. I’m reminded of lines of the poet Mary Oliver that I looked at tonight: And have you finally figured out what beauty is for?/And have you changed your life?

Have you? Will I?

memory through


Notes from the journal……….fictional world: a unique landscape for the reader to enter…….short story: one incident or revelation…..novel: needs overarching story, deep and big enough to encompass ongoing development over time of related characters and themes

An exercise from a workshop/list of words describing childhood:

pine cones and saffron….red dirt and cotton plants….crushed crepe myrtle pods and blackberries….the crook of Granddaddy’s cane….screen porches and Eva’s daylilies….bright green mold on red bricks….dominos…iced tea….Aunt Lillie’s garden….gold fish and gravel paths…lantern-jawed men…biscuits and bacon grease….hanging clothes on the line….the old rugged cross….nearer my God to thee….candles for souls glimmering….

It’s poetry without trying from memory through the senses……..

The clay


I was talking to a friend of mine who is an artist. I was complaining that I’m having a hard time writing the ending of this next book. She said an interesting thing, that she can’t control her creativity. That what comes out comes out, even if she has something else in mind.


Yes, being patient, waiting for the shape of the story to show itself takes more than I have in me sometimes. I have to put words down, though, or the shape doesn’t show itself. It’s as if the words, the scenes, the sequels, on the page are the clay. If I never put anything down, I never have anything to touch and mold into something else. It’s only after words are down that mind starts flashlighting the better shape for me––have him say this, have her do that, take that out. The scene changes, but it can only change when I have written it down. I must bear the imperfection until the muse refines it to something that works for the story. Christmas has me frazzled. All my creativity seems to be going into that. But maybe I have to do what I’m doing, errands and cooking and decorating and making or finding presents and having lunches with old friends, no time at the moment for the book. I guess that’s the clay of my life, the way it’s shaping it to its final form, to its one and only story.