An Object in Motion Can Still REST

Only the maple trees have begun their slow turn toward brightness before death, here in the North Carolina mountains. As I kicked off my 2023-24 season of mentoring and writing, I could not bear to lose this view from my writing desk.

Rather than block that view by setting up my desktop computer again (I take it down every summer), I pulled out an old slab of wood my father held onto for decades, and which I have stored under a couch for the past seven years. Such a lover of wood is my father that he even moved that slab of wood from Oregon to North Carolina twenty years ago, not knowing–but perhaps hoping, somehow–that I’d pull it out this year and discover it fits perfectly between the built-in bookshelves of my book nook. I now teach from my book nook (below) and write from my writing desk (above). Two desks–an honest-to-goodness dream come true!

I’ve continued to heal in my long covid journey and can even lightly exercise for a few weeks at a time. My energy and spirit are back and my immune system is slowly recovering. I can still get zapped quickly, but I know how to care for this new version of me, mitochondria included, which means I am learning how to avoid setbacks more often. My pancreas will likely never heal. Goodness knows, I miss vegetables, grains, dessert, and, well, anything store bought. I miss my old body, too. But these are small things, compared to the human spirit. The fact that I can once again bring more of my true self to my child and spouse is an immeasurable return.

I opened myself up to sharing these personal aspects of my journey about ten months ago and it’s been a vulnerable, but necessary, experience. After this month, I won’t be including personal health updates in my newsletters and on my website. Many of you have emailed or supported me through efforts organized by Des Cooper, who just posted the final and more detailed explanation of my prognosis. If that’s you, would you please add your mailing address to this form (even if I already have your address elsewhere), so I can print labels and begin writing real letters? I love writing letters, and want to include you.

And as the season changes and life moves along, the new term of Monthly Mentorship is officially underway! My 2nd year writers are looking closely at generative approaches to deep revision, and one challenge I’ve invited them to consider is creating a list of questions they will ask when coaching themselves toward their next best draft. Interestingly, the WRITEABILITY Guild Members received a spontaneous teaching on a similar subject when Michael Zapata visited our Zoom room. He invited us to ask these questions of ourselves:

  • What processes have we, as individual writers, developed for expressing the phenomenal world?
  • What rules/parameters have we set for ourselves?
  • Can we drop any of those rules, or expand others?
  • Where’s the sweet spot of experiencing a sense of play/discovery, within the parameters we set for ourselves?

I couldn’t have (and haven’t!) said it better myself. I hope you will take them to heart, and hit reply or leave a comment below, letting me know your responses and reactions to these questions about the creative process!


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