New Harmony's Roofless Church

New Harmony’s Roofless Church


I’m writing from Historic New Harmony, Indiana (I’m here taking part in the 2nd Annual Extraordinary Time Writer’s Retreat)!

Look, any chance I get to be in New Harmony with my computer (and, especially, with a notebook and pen), is one I welcome with unbridled exuberance. I’ve been to very few places that emanate the creative energy and the sense of equanimity of New Harmony and both of those things are invaluable to a writer.

Add to that a tranquil setting with an interesting history (and some pretty cool historic buildings and parks), as well as that rare combination of quiet time and a separate space to write, removed from the many obstacles of the daily grind, and you have a writer’s dream.

Of course, one of the best things about the retreat is getting to spend a few days with one of my favorite people (and a talented writer), Terry Price, as well as some other warm, wonderful, creative writers.
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Residencies, Retreats, and R.A. Salvatore

Sunset at Ucross

Sunset at Ucross

Last week I mentioned that one of the best things I ever did for myself as a writer was attending an artist residency at Ucross. Today I’ll explain WHY that was so important and I’ll also mention two other things I’ve done that have been life-changing, especially for the writer in me.

Though some are strictly for scribes, many residencies accept artists working in various media (visual, literary, dance, musical, and so on).

I can’t emphasize enough how invaluable artist residencies can be for they offer Uninterrupted Time and a Separate Space to work on your art. Aside from possessing some sort of creative talent and a unique perspective, perhaps, uninterrupted time and a separate space might just be the most essential ingredients when it comes to creating art. After all, they’re typically quite difficult to find in our everyday lives.
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The Gift of Time

Wild and Precious Life by Cynthia Frost

Wild and Precious Life

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

It’s one thing to “plan” to follow your dream with “your one wild and precious life” (which might just be the hardest thing to do, really, considering all the pressure you’ll probably face to do everything but that), but having a vivid imagination, having something to say, even finally deciding that you’re going to be a writer, all of these essential things aren’t enough.

You still have to find a way to sit down and write.

After all, the rest of your life can make that very hard to do.

That’s why one of the very best things I’ve done for myself as a writer was to apply to an artist residency.

The semester I graduated from Spalding University, one of my favorite writers and mentors, K.L. Cook, sat on a panel about “Life After the MFA” and, while some people spoke about the seemingly insurmountable odds that stood between each of us soon-to-be-grads and our dreams of living as published writers (the sort of stuff they tend to leave out of the recruitment brochure of any MFA program, but a truthful aspect of the writer’s life), Kenny focused on things we could do from that moment forward to give ourselves the best chance of realizing our dreams.

He didn’t side-step the challenges. He nodded in agreement several times when other people were sharing rather grave experiences. He also chose to provide us with action steps we could take to move us closer to that ultimate goal.
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Stories I Inherited

Hobos Walking the Rails

Hobos (Bindle Stiffs) Walking the Rails

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – John Lubbock

There are two small scenes in my favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, that reveal a truth I had never contemplated until I was in my twenties: how we tend to see the people in our lives who were here before us only as the person they are to us, not as someone who’s lived another life.

It’s a perspective thing.

The first scene I’m alluding to is when Scout and Jem watch their dad, Atticus (the man they perceive as so-old-he-can’t-play-football-or-do-much-of-anything-worth-doing-outside-a-courtroom), as he’s asked by Sheriff Tate to shoot a rabid dog and Atticus does this seemingly impossible feat with his one and only shot.

The surprising prowess Atticus demonstrates in that scene, of course, is juxtaposed against his inability to win the larger battle he’s currently fighting, but through the responses of Jem and Scout it also reveals how, when we’re born, we enter into all these other lives.

We just tend to get so caught up in our own that we don’t often recognize the parts of our story that came before us.

And how would we even know to look?

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The Birth of a Story

An Interesting Pattern


At first, I thought this blog might be about the journey of writing a novel from start to finish. You know, a log so to speak about what it’s like to build Xero’s novel from the first word up, then try to get it published (which is one of my intentions for him).

Only I didn’t think of recording the whole process until I was halfway through the first draft (and now here I am working on final revisions, so it might be a bit late to get started on that).

Instead, I think I’ll just share with you bits and pieces from the process, starting back at the beginning (not my beginning, but Xero’s).

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