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From “What I Learned From Five Minutes of Bad Reality TV” June 2011

So what can I learn from something that can’t be explained or anticipated? I’m not sure, but I do know I’m taking something meaningful away from these photo critiques. A reminder that making the basics second nature is what gives us the freedom to be great? Yes, but it’s more than that. It has something to do with us recognizing the possibility of fabulous success in our futures. We’re climbing our way to better versions of ourselves and our writing. We’re just getting our footing here, walking that line between too much and almost there. It has to do with confidence. And a heightened love of quality that  is just over our heads, almost within reach. It’s about believing that that paragraph or page or chapter we will create tomorrow will be a stunning surprise.

From “Full-Body Research” July 2011

I’ve done some odd things in my life just to see what it felt like (don’t worry, nothing violent or perverse) and it was worth it. I spent a year at the age of fifteen painstakingly learning Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” so that I could feel what it was like to sit down at a piano and really let loose. (It feels great, by the way. I’ve forgotten how to play the song now because eventually I stopped practicing it, but I’ll never forget the sensations.) I took archery at a community college for a semester in my twenties because I wanted to write about a girl who could shoot and needed to feel the bow and arrow in my own hands. I never got very good at it, but I did feel the string pressed to my cheek and hear the tick of the bow arching and the soft thwack when my shaft hit the hay bale (or the turf several feet short) and I felt the pain of accidentally striking myself in the arm when I extended my elbow too far. All part of full-body research.

To join the Willamette Writers (receive the newsletter in which my monthly column is published and monthly speaker meetings in Portland, OR, etc, for under $40 a year) go to www.willamettewriters.com.

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