Writing in the body

On not writing about illness

On not writing about illness

I don’t want to write about this, she said.

For the woman who spoke these too familiar words to me, this was illness. Insidious, consuming, chronic. I nodded because it was also my story, just with different symptoms. We spoke in the shorthand we had each become practiced at employing around our narratives, framing conditions that did not, in spite of our best efforts, abate. I don’t know how to write about this, I thought. And I wondered if that was what, deep down, she had meant.

On releasing expectations

On releasing expectations

I’m trying to travel light next week for Vortext, a lovely writer’s salon hosted by Hedgebrook and the Whidbey Institute on an island just outside Seattle. I drew the Hanged Man this week as I started packing in earnest, an apt reminder to approach the task with — wait for it — non-attachment. I’m always afraid I’ll forget something I need!

On a deeper level, the card is an invitation to enter this writing retreat without placing too much pressure on that time, rare as such a getaway is for me. Not that there isn’t opportunity in the everyday to do some kind of writing — I’m passionate about supporting other writers in cultivating windows, large and small, for their practice — but three days devoted solely to that work is something to be relished.

On creative dialogue: a conversation with the tarot

On creative dialogue: a conversation with the tarot

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about the buried memories my memoir has been inviting me to reclaim — stories I was told about who I was, or should be, in childhood and adolescence that I didn’t know how to integrate or reconcile into a cohesive sense of self. I’m emerging now from three weeks in subterranean search mode with much more of the picture. But reentry has been jarring.

One reason is that I’m holding so much new information. Writer’s block isn't always about a lack of words or ideas — sometimes it’s having too many.