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.”

field notes (9.23.16)

I found this quote from Bowdoin College’s web site and have not been able to determine the author beyond the fact that s/he is an instructor or professor at that college. But, I’ve got to share this. I’ve been going round and round with keeping a journal and this quote is so helpful:

“The function of a research journal is to set down your thoughts about the primary and secondary source material you are reading. It is a record of your questions about the materials you read, and provides a place to record the questions this material raises. The object of the journal is to record your thoughts about the primary and secondary material at hand. You want to do this as close to the moment of having the thought as possible, and you want to minimize anything that hampers this objective. Make your journal accessible and easy to use. Use a special computer file devoted to the purpose, or a spiral-bound notebook, or whatever device works best for you. Don’t worry about correct spelling or punctuation. The journal is not for anyone’s eyes but your own.”

In short, your research journal is a record of wondering.

Now, I’m off to read HARRIET THE SPY  by Louise Fitzhugh (again).

field notes (9.16.16)

RANT: I read one of the worst YA novels I’ve ever encountered this week. The main character was surrounded by loving, intelligent adults who solved 95% of the MC’s problems. I was irritated the entire time I was reading because YA books should be about the struggle of adolescence (of course) but also it must show how the MC acts to save themselves because that’s what adolescence is all about: trying to act adult-ish for the first time. 3-year-olds need adults to fix everything for them. The point of a YA novel is to sort of show that “Hey, you 15-year-old, you’ve got the emotional resources to do more than you think.” The point is not for the MC to run to doting mommy and wise teacher and helpful guidance counselor so that they can fix all your problems for you. I didn’t stop reading because after the first few chapters I started studying how NOT to write YA. As a kicker, in the final scene, the girl kisses the boy and then everything is OK because boys are the solution. When that happened, I threw the book across the room. [No, I’m not going to name the title or the author because that is mean and there is enough mean in the world.] RANT OVER.

And then I read ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven and my hair almost caught  fire this novel is so deeply amazing. Read this book! Niven did not take short cuts, she did not take the easy route. She took the hard, brutal, HONEST route and it was such a beautiful book. This is how you write YA. Read it and learn from it. Brave, brave, heart-filled writing. Well done, Jennifer Niven.

Having a blast writing my next column!

Writing a grant (which seems to be an acceptable form of navel-gazing)


field notes (9.9.16)

(slowly) transitioning to early morning writing again and realizing that this isn’t just a quick habit, but a choice that I need to build my life around

my latest column in the Bemidji Pioneer published BRAVE-HEARTED CHOICES

doing research and wondering about the practice of keeping a research/reflection/inspiration/purge/character/etc. journal

noticing abundant signs of autumn’s arrival: leaves beginning to change color, increased wild animal activity, temperatures dropping, geese flying south, and craving steaming cups of hot chocolate

writing against a grant application deadline (grant writing is difficult for me, but ultimately such a beautiful way to clarify my vision and goals)

preparing for a research road trip

reading: FEATHERS: NOT JUST FOR FLYING by Melissa Stewart, THE YEAR AT MAPLE HILL FARM by Alice & Martin Provensen, THE PRINCESS AND THE CURDIE by George MacDonald