The road in 

It is not what you write or what you produce as you write that is important.

It is what happens to you while you are writing that is important.

It is who you become while you are writing that is important.

— Louise DeSalvo

Well, that takes some pressure off.

After last week's writing retreat, I'm picking through the ruins of my journal, searching for nuggets of promise. This is the mix of hope and dread; I felt so 'in-the-moment' while writing and later, upon rereading, time and distance diminish the heat and my words seem flat and routine. Does this happen to you, too? 

I am heartened by DeSalvo's sentiment of process over results. I also find perspective from Candice Crossley, whom I met at the retreat. Using Lonesome Pine Special, a poem by Charles Wright, as our prompt, we lifted his line: 

The road in is always longer than the road out, 
Even if it's the same road. . .

As I dig through the muck of my journal, Candice's response offers me much-needed perspective:

There is no arriving
There is only the going

You can fashion a beautiful writing
And drop it on the side
You have not come to the end
Of that small perfect poem
You will find another . . . 

That is not the last dark stand of trees
Or burst of flowers
Or glorious vista
The horizon is always there in front of you
And you will never reach it
You will only move towards it

— Candice Crossley
excerpted from The road in is always longer than the road out. 



Thankful Thursday: Writing at Menucha

It's Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause of appreciation. Because gratitude begets appreciation begets joy, I offer thanks.

This week I am thankful for Creative Arts Community. CAC offers residential art workshops at Menucha, a historic estate located 20 minutes east of Portland,  in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. 

With the good fortune of time and opportunity, I recently spent a week in the company of painters, potters, sculptures — and seven writers enrolled in a workshop led by poet Ann Staley.

"Refuge" was our theme, and Staley, a kind and generous instructor, led an intense dive into essays, poems, words and ideas. We were equal parts saturated and invigorated as our group was quickly knitted together in laughter, tears, wine and encouragement. With a focus on generating new work, we spent day and night reading and writing and writing and writing. Nestled among wooded trails and soft rolling grass, we were at play in an adult version of summer camp. 

After a week immersed in creative community, I am grateful to feel awash with words, and to swim again in possibility.

This poem (inspired by a line from workshop colleague Tom Tucker, in a phrase exchange) served as both prayer and praise — and is best read aloud:  

Make Alive Again the Magic of Art and Word 

An Invocation

Bring back the joy 

Make words easy, effortless

Let them float across the page


Let sadness cease 

as the vehicle for art 

Let art rise as a 

messenger of joy


Let the music of the day 

be heard

and called

and cooed


Let my steps be light

an invocation

a benediction

a psalm 

Let me hear again

Let me here

Make me

Wake me


Help me set aside 

tricks and cues

clever plays

tricks of phrase


Make alive again


placed together

strung along

passed and pleased


Make the magic 

rise and slip

sleight of hand

graceful steps


Let the mystery

of art   stutter


start again


like a child 

dressed in shoes too big

a wand in hand

Let the magic of art


fill every blank page 


- Drew Myron 




Win! Old books. New life.

You've heard me prattle on about 
Ex Libris Anonymous
— my very favorite journal company — and now, just when I think I can't be any more in love, my heart grows another chamber. 

Jacob Storm Deatherage, the creative genius who turns vintage books into one-of-a-kind journals, is not only innovative but generous, too.  He's sent me SIX fabulous journals to give away.

I'm spreading the book journal love. 

To win one of these wonderful book journals, simply add your name in the comment section below. On Friday, August 27, 2010, I'll place all names in a hat and randomly pick six winners.  Winning is that easy  — and I'll pay the postage. Not only will you get a free journal, but you'll also receive real, handwritten mail in your old-fashioned mailbox. It's a double win, really.

What will you do with your journal? Sketch, paint, collage? Write songs, poems, stories, confessions? Just think, this journal could enhance your joy, feed your spirit, and change your life!

The possibilities begin NOW!    



Thankful Thursday: Alone 

Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless  

— Tanya Davis, from "How to Be Alone"

I've been scratching for gratitude this week. Appreciation lies just beneath the surface of everyday life, I know, but these gray days have me a bit listless and worn. Today a friend shared a video-poem that gave me a jolt of joy, and suddenly — as though infused with sunshine and Diet Coke — I've got some bounce back.

On this Thankful Thursday, I am happy to share a poem-performance-illustration-song by Canadian writer/singer/songwriter Tanya Davis and filmmaker Andrea Dorfman.  

Thankful Thursday is a weekly accounting of gratitude. Each week, I share my appreciation for the big things, such as life and love, the small things, such as bok choy and books, and all sorts of people, places and things inbetween.

Will you join me? Please share your Thankful Thursday thoughts in the comment section below, or on your very own blog, facebook page, twitter account, school locker, bathroom mirror . . .  



Bookish Inspiration 

What is the best
writing book or advice
you have ever read or received? 

Looking for fresh ideas and inspiration, I recently quizzed my writer-friends with the above question. The responses rushed in. I now have a stack of new material to absorb — and to share:

 Rick Campbell  Florida poet, professor, director of Anhinga Press, and author of Dixmont, suggests:

The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo

"Specifically, I like the idea about the triggering subject giving way to the true subject of the poem," notes Campbell.


 Sage Cohen  Portland Oregon poet, teacher, and author of Writing the Life Poetic, suggests:

Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg

"A mix of spiritual, practical and inspirational, this book helped me find my way into a sustainable writing practice," says Cohen. 


 Judyth Hill  Mexico-based poet, teacher, and owner of Simple Choice Farm Artist Retreat, shares this advice:

"I hosted a gathering of college poets to meet Joshua Beckman,  a wild-eyed young poet who wrote 20-page poems," explains Hill. "One student asked Joshua if he ever had times he didn’t write while he waited for inspiration. He made the greatest reply I ever heard: I have found that writing is the best way . . . to wait!"

 Mark Thalman  Oregon poet, teacher, and author of Catching the Limitoffers this suggestion for beginning writers:

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser

"Write about what is uniquely yours and out of that world which only you can create, stake out your territory," advises Thalman.


 Kate Maloy  Oregon Coast fiction writer, and author of Every Last Cuckoo, suggests: 


The Anatomy of Story by John Turby

"Written for screenwriters, so differences need to be kept in mind, but still the best I've seen for novelists as well," says Maloy. "Very detailed and specific about every body part of a story — space/time, premise, key structural steps, character, moral argument, and much more. Excellent writing (or just thinking) exercises." 


 Sean Nevin  Poet, author of Oblivio Gate, and director of Arizona State University's Young Writers Program, suggests:

The Unemployed Fortune-Teller by Charles Simic — for essays 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — for quick inspiration 


 Ce Rosenow  Oregon poet, author of Pacific, and publisher of Mountains and Rivers Press, suggests:

Tribe: Meditations of a Haiku Poet by Vincent Tripi

(Note: This book is out of print and difficult to find but worth the search)


 Rhett Iseman Trull  North Carolina poet, and author of The Real Warnings, suggests:

The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo 


I hope these books and ideas ignite your creative life. Have I missed any of your favorites? Let me know!