September 30, 2011
September 18, 2011
September 17, 2011
Mailart from Henning Mittendorf, Germany–A tribute to one of my favorite writers–Goethe.
My mailart and poem to Henning will appear soon at Ink, Sweat, and Tears.
September 14, 2011
September 12, 2011
Mailart from Suzanna Anderson. A manilla envelope which she has decorated with pictures, quotes, and a letter. Thank you, Suzy. I’ll use this for my manuscripts in progress!
Three Summer letters from Suzanna Anderson to Theresa Williams
August 8, 2011
This summer I started attending Unity of Toledo with Christine and her family. She is a creative writing student, and I believe she’s taking your fiction workshop in the fall. Yesterday the sermon really struck me. Leigh Macaro talked about facing the truth and perfection.
She asked why we thought we’re not perfect. She said we collect evidence in favor of imperfection. We all have humanity and divinity inside us. I shared some quotes below.
“I’m perfect but not perfected.” If we’re already perfect, then we don’t need to strive for perfection. All we have to do is improve our state of perfection. This is a more positive outlook than thinking of ourselves as imperfect striving for perfection.
“Experience yourself and what you are. Explore yourself without boundaries.” This is one of the many reasons why I love writing. I can explore and experience many things I can’t physically or financially do, but a book can take me to another country or world.
“Doesn’t change who they are—it’s an aspect of myself.” We don’t really know who Strickland Gillilan was as a person because we’ve only read one poem. If we do an in depth study like we did of Theodore Roethke and our personal poets (mine was Robert Frost), then we have a better idea of who these great writers were as people. But we do this by reading their work, letters, journals, biography, and whatever else we can find. Writing lets writers (and readers) explore parts of themselves that they didn’t know existed or knew existed but haven’t explored.
I write to explore truth, self, and life. At least a grain of truth can be found in every book, poem, short story, what have you. Since I can remember, I’ve taken notes on books I’ve read by writing down page numbers or lines that truly touched me. I call these “words of wisdom.” If I read a sentence and it strikes my truth bone, then I recognize the grain of truth and note it. Even though I am not religiously writing down everything I recognize as truth anymore, I still stop and think about it before moving on. This practice has helped me recognize the moments of truth in my own writing. I didn’t even realize I had used a truth in one short story I worked on last semester. It made me smile when I saw a truth from my own hand.
“Really notice sensory details as if you’ve never been there, take time to simply be.” I love the moments, usually during yoga or on a relaxing bike ride or walk, when I just absorb the environment around me. I don’t worry or dream about the future, I just am. I can’t live entirely in the present, but it is a nice change from dwelling on the past or dreaming of the future.
I think I’ve been seeking perfection for a long time, which is why the mindset of “we’re already perfect” is so striking. The sermon goes along with my desire to continuously seek improvement. I’m really glad to have attended the sermon and to discuss perfection and truth in depth with you. It has helped me wrap my mind around the material and explore it, connecting it to my own life and experiences.
Green attachment: I really liked “Cleanliness.” The connection at the beginning to the astrology signs was an interesting detail that brought the point of Melvin’s self-centeredness to light, along with his children at home and Molly’s husband at work.
“Autopsy” is a great short for the effects our lives have on others. Mourning does have to come to end. Misconceptions as children is always interesting and sometimes embarrassing later when we realize the error. I can’t wait for the entire collection of characters on Easy Street.
August 4, 2011
Using the letter opener was an amazing experience! Ripping paper—that’s a new one for me. I did something similar at a Winter Wheat seminar where we ripped old book pages for phrases that jumped out, kind of like a cross out poem. The sound and feel of it was quite freeing. I’m going to do it again because it goes against the way I hold books sacred.
I am framing your last letter because it is full of advice I want to keep on my writing desk: “…expose yourself to as much as you can in life and art and to pay attention to what excites you—and to do what excites you.”
It’s funny how long it’s taken me to learn that lesson. Indeed I do need to make a habit of doing the things that excite me, like taking bicycle adventures.
Growing as a writer is an important goal for me because I want to be the best writer I can be. Improvement is an element I look for in my favorite authors. It’s a process, one where I’ve already grown a lot and foresee more in the future.
Congratulations for your letter and the mailart!
I checked out Infinity’s Kitchen and the writing prompts. They are useful! Thanks so much for pointing them out.
I am so excited to work on your hat.
July 28, 2011
Thank you so much for the letter opener! It’s always been an interesting experience opening letters (usually using scissors when my fingers can’t do the job), but now I can open letters with the letter opener. I look forward to using it.
I’m glad eternal network is going so well. Hybrids are indeed a great form. There are more literary magazines open to them now with the ability to access information so easily.
After doing NaNoWriMo last year, I considered giving it up and not doing it again—just say it was a great experience, move on, and that when I write I don’t want to focus on word counts. But in April—42 thousand words in 16 days—was so thrilling! I probably couldn’t have done it without participating in NaNo. I will participate in NaNo again this fall. Last year was great too because of the write-ins at Grounds and the Union. It’s a great experience to write in the same room as others write. Distracting at times, but amusing and worth it to discover I’m not the only one trying to reach 50 thousand words in 30 days. Allies in a race against time.
I agree that writing creative nonfiction will come with time. I love how you said “right now you probably need the mask that fiction and poetry provide.” “Mask” has always been a word that grabs my attention because it has been a tool to hide my identity for several years. I hope that the healing process will lead to the journey of writing a memoir someday. I started reading “On Writing” by Stephen King. He starts off with snippets of his memories. This might be a way for me to access my own memories, by writing them in short snippets connected by sections instead of attempting a full-length piece because the smaller parts will add to a larger work.
Categories are limiting at times. Yes, a Haibun can be creative nonfiction. Each form informs the other. Creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, hybrids. They all work together to create art and share it with the world.
I reserved Requiem of a Dream from the library. I should get it soon.
Letter writing has been a phenomenal experience for me. I like sharing my thoughts with another person and receiving feedback and the person’s point of view and experiences. It is much more fun than email because I can decorate the envelope and the letter itself; even though it takes longer to receive, it’s a better present than email! Sometimes the best things take time.
The receipt for the hat’s materials is included. 🙂
You mentioned the idea of holding and releasing as a universal issue. We’ve talked before about knowing when to step in the next room and when to stay put, in real life and in character’s lives. It’s a skill that comes with time, knowing when to hold on and let go. Or liminal space, which we covered last fall in modern poetry. I feel like I’m there now because I graduate in May and have no idea what will come next. Even the weeks before the semester starts feels like the semester rests in the unknown!
I’ve been submitting several poems to literary magazines, and I sent out more today. It’s been an interesting experience to research magazines, read other’s work, and then choose which of my pieces to send. I think I’ll take a page from Stephen King and put my rejections on a nail or spike. What do you do with your rejections?