field notes (2.1.17)

I think good fiction books (good art in general) create a deliberate emotion in the person experiencing it — ‘deliberate’ meaning i’s the emotion the author of the book set out to create…” from Cheryl B. Klein in SECOND SIGHT

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Reading: SECOND SIGHT by Cheryl B. Klein, LET MY PEOPLE GO FISHING by Yvon Chouinard, THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES by Peter Wohlleben, PARENTING by Paul David Tripp, TWO LITTLE SAVAGES by Ernest Thompson Seton, FOUR QUARTETS by T.S. Eliot, RAINWATER HARVESTING FOR DRYLANDS AND BEYOND by Brad Lancaster, HOW TO READ WATER by Tristan Gooley, KEEPING A NATURE JOURNAL by Clare Walker Leslie, CLOTH LULLABY by Amy Novesky, GEORGIA’S BONES by Jen Bryant and OUT OF THE WOODS by Rebecca Bond

Visiting my new, local bookstore weekly to discover and learn. Country Bookshelf is such a stellar place. Grateful to live in a place where an independent bookstore thrives.

Deep in hibernating mode. This year I am not fighting it. I am letting myself be consumed by it.

I am four days into my nature journaling practice. A combination of a driving urge to learn to better communicate via drawing, a desire to connect to my new landscape/home and fond memories of drawing detailed diagrams for biology and zoology courses in college are pushing me onward…oh, and very low expectations!

Creating a limited to-do list: When I have only 1-3 items on my to-do list, I focus on just those things. With a longer list, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out where to begin and doing the easiest instead of the most important work first. A short list helps me focus on what’s the most important, what really matters. It’s not about doing less work. It’s about doing the most important work.

Honing my essential intents. I have three areas of focus and I spent January building routines to support my efforts. It is so easy to let trivial, distracting details clog up my days. Must stay diligent.

Downloaded new music for my daily bike rides. New music = new thoughts. Also, let me declare my undying love for my fat bike. It is the best thing (object) in my life. I am grateful it found its way to me.

Steady on with two manuscripts I’m working on…

In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness.” from Antoine de Saint-Exupery in THE LITTLE PRINCE

We bought some land in mid-January. Now, we are working, working, working on designing a house, finding contractors, making materials decisions, deciding on placement of the buildings. It’s exciting and demanding.

Until next month…

field notes (12.30.16)

I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’ think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment.” – Joan Didion

field notes (12.23.16)

Merry Christmas!

This quote, “Many adults…stall in the information-gathering stage of a project. They keep collecting inspiration and ideas without ever moving forward to the point of making something of their own. Forget about finishing – they can’t start,” from Lori Pickert’s PROJECT-BASED HOMESCHOOLING is kicking me in the butt

I was completely immersed in BARKSKINS by Annie Proulx until I realized, with a jolt, that even though it was brilliant and amazing, I had to stop reading it because I knew that I couldn’t both read this novel and get my writing done. I had to choose. And I choose writing.

Working to re-establish writing times

My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.” – Pat Conroy

field notes (12.16.16)

Note to self: 1. do one thing at a time 2. say it simple

Writing so many thank you notes.

Reading: SOME WRITER! by Melissa Sweet, BLUE LIKE JAZZ by Donald Miller, Project-Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert

Three quotes that are steadying me right now:

Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” – Jack London [Because I am loving, loving, loving my early morning journal writing. This is the bedrock of my writing efforts. The essential effort that holds my writing universe together.]

Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” – Pablo Picasso [Because I am living in a new town, and rather than feeling lonely, I am enjoying the solitude. Pair my recent move with cold, winter weather and the result is delicious.]

The best writing is often done by persons who are snatching time from something else.” – E.B. White [Because I have unrelenting demands on my time, my writing time is snatched from a loooong to-do list.]

field notes (11.4.16)

Oh November, I love you so!

My latest column: On Rejection

Current sanity-saving habits: not turning my smartphone on until after lunch, then setting it to airplane mode, and finally keeping my FB capped at a daily 10-minutes (kept honest with a timer)

Last week I drove a minivan for 900 miles and I’m embarrassed to admit that it was ah-mazing. So much space! (I usually drive a compact car, so the size difference was enormous)

Spent last week in Montana absorbing the landscape and taking great notes

Kicking of a 4-day Art Camp in which I will make all the things I’ve been wanting to make since forever: map stationery, tiny books, cyanotype prints, a skirt for my daughter, potato prints, paper marbling, I may even manage to sew a patch on the knees of my son’s torn pants

Collapsing into bed each night

Excited about all the changes that are ahead: trying to keep clear on what is the most important and let the rest go

field notes (10.28.16)

Two quotes are pin-balling around my head these days:

“He carried a country of his own in his mind, and was able to unfold it like a tent in any wilderness.” – Willa Cather

“Listen to me. You need to be a home for yourself and your work. You need to be the safe place to present things to be admired and loved.” – Elizabeth Berg

field notes (10.21.16)

Fitting in my writing in the spaces between all my other responsibilities. Even though I yearn for large blocks of time to submerge myself in, I am grateful for the time I’m given. (Also, It’s remarkable how much all the little bits and pieces and scraps of time add up.) Steady on, steady on.

Overdue for a conversation with my writing/accountability partner.

Catching up on my sleep! (Don’t laugh!) Being well-rested is a huge part of my creative process. I don’t do anything well if I don’t sleep enough.

Rebounding after learning that I was not awarded a grant I’d set my heart on.  Initially, I tried to distract myself from the disappointment I felt. But then I decided that I’d just allow myself to be sad without trying to fix it. I did other things that helped to soothe me: went to a local art gallery, drank extra peppermint tea, got an adjustment at the chiropractor and did some reading. And I worked to change my negative internal dialogue.

Reading: a story by Willa Cather called OLD MRS. HARRIS and SWALLOWDALE by Arthur Ransome

field notes (10.14.16)

attended the IA SCBWI writing conference in Des Moines and was fortified by the time spent with fellow writers and makers

planning a writing marathon with my writing partner this weekend: can’t hardly wait to sink into that big swath of time

drafting a proposal for my next book

finishing up my residency application and hoping for the best

completed a solid draft of my next column

championing the use of an unlined 11×14 sketchpad for corralling ideas and words and scenes – such a great tool for playing on the page and capturing ideas

sorting through all my notes, sending thank you notes and creating a to-do list from last weekend’s conference

reading: CLOTH LULLABY by Amy Novesky

field notes (10.7.16)

My latest column: HOW TO HARVEST WILD RICE

Just finished road tripping around Lake Superior. 1,602 miles from Duluth, Minn. to Duluth, Minn.! Discovered Paddle-to-the-Sea Park in Nipigon, the Winnie-the-Pooh Park in White River and Apostle Islands Booksellers and so much more.

Reading: WINTERING by Peter Geye, WRITING TOOLS by Roy Peter Clark, KEEPING A NATURE JOURNAL by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E Roth


field notes (9.30.16)

A gem of a quote from Tobias Wolff via Mary Karr’s book, LIT: A MEMOIR

“Don’t approach your history as something to be shaken for its cautionary fruit…Tell your stories, and your story will be revealed. Don’t be afraid of appearing angry, small-minded, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else. Take no care for your dignity. These were hard things for me to come by and I offer them to you for what they may be worth.”