The Choice

There was once a hundred year old man. Everyone who met him marveled at his vitality and the vibrancy of his mind. He radiated joy and people wanted to be near him. When asked the secret of his long and happy life, he replied, “When I turned fifty, I was determined to find a way to stay youthful and young at heart, so I decided that every five years, I would study something new.” And so every five years, this man embraced a new activity and poured his energy into it, letting the joy of learning lead him in a new, surprising direction.

I don’t know what he chose to study, but let’s imagine what his trajectory might have been: fencing at 55, sailing at 60, Indonesian at 65. At 70, gourmet cooking. At 75, Shakespeare. At 80, a pair of knitting needles. It ... [Continue Reading]

Rachael Brown: How to Create a Space for Writing


Rachel Brown attended the Memory to Memoir weekend retreat. This piece was written in response to the prompt, "How to Create a Real or Metaphorical Space for Writing."

1. Value yourself.

2. See your time and energy and life as being important enough to spend time on.

3. Believe you have something to say, something worth sharing.

4. Stop picking up the kids' toys and putting away their folded clothes - let them.

5. Announce when you need time and space ... [Continue Reading]

The Road to Memory and Where It Leads

“…Memory doesn’t work directly…You might stub your toe one morning and your mind tumbles back to an old friend, who wrote poems, and introduced you one May to peonies. The buds secreted a sticky sweet juice that attracted ants. The ants crawled in and opened the big petals. The flowers couldn’t do it on their own, he said. With the sharp ache of your big toe, you remember everything about him. He died too young. You cry from the bottom of a dark well you didn’t know you had. “You can’t will a memory. Sure, you can doggedly recall details, but the true moment when the details merge with feeling—when the scene is alive—cannot be artificially born. It’s like combing the ocean, calling up an abyss—you don’t know what you will receive.” --Natalie Goldberg, [Continue Reading]

Life Stories

“Every life is a story. Telling the story and seeing our life as story are part of the creative process. Under the best of circumstances, the process of writing allows us to give ourselves over to the realm of the imagination, trusting that within in, we act in the best interest of self. Sometimes the simple willingness to explore story asserts the reality of the individual, and then the creative process of finding and telling the story becomes part of the way we construct a life. Our life becomes a story that we are always in the process of discovering and also fashioning, a story in which we both follow and lead.” --Deana Metzger, Writing for Your ... [Continue Reading]

Grounding Your Writing in a Place

“I think setting is, curiously, almost always underrated by the beginner or the amateur, and almost always of intense importance to the accomplished writer.  Why is that?  We only have space and time. I suppose that time happens of its own accord in a story: this happened and then that happened.  Whereas place must be achieved in words, it’s part of sleight-of-hand, finding the images and atmosphere to transport the reader to that far away.” --Janet Burroway, as interviewed by Elizabeth Stuckey-French

Make a list of ten-twenty places you no longer have access to (the crawl space under your grandmother’s front porch, your dorm room at the University of Colorado, your sixth floor walk-up New York apartment the summer you were 19).

Choose one and ... [Continue Reading]