First thing in the morning I make my tea, sit in the red chair, and read the early Christian mystics. Then Gwyn wakes, curls in my lap, and we read Greek myths. I bustle off to work where I write stories, read emerging writers’ stories, review published stories, and teach others how to create effective stories. I return home to Gwyn listening to an audio book. I read magazines on the toilet. I listen to Gwyn read her homework. I tell her a bedtime story. Finally, exhausted, I curl up with a good novel.
I’m steeped in stories.
When I take the stuff of my life and make it into a story, I feel myself and my world transformed. I come alive. I participate in ongoing creation. One of my greatest delights is that I get to support others in this work. When I teach writing, I help others know the “aliveness” that, as Ann Belford Ulanov says, “springs from our making something of what we experience and receiving what experience makes of us.”
Is it any wonder, then, that my most intimate name for God is Story? Continue reading
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
Inspired by the 2015 Key West Literary Seminar, I’ve been thinking about these Leonard Cohen lyrics for months now. So few literary attempts ever achieve perfection! The Shakespeares among us are rare. Most of us are embarked on foolish, impossible, and yet strangely and ultimately worthwhile projects. “What matters most in our lives is unsayable,” Mark Doty said. “We’ve got to attempt to make meaning… Of course it’s impossible, but if we don’t, we despair.” Continue reading
The novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives a wonderful TED talk about the human inclination to tell a “single story” about others, especially those we barely know. When she left Nigeria for college in the United States, her roommate was surprised that she spoke English so well and knew how to use a stove. “Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity.” The roommate’s single story of Africa was one of tragedy and poverty.
Single stories are the stuff of stereotypes, “and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Continue reading