What will you do with your one wild and precious life? - Mary Oliver

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More Writing Quotes

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
- Isaac Asimov

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.
- Barbara Kingsolver

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.
- Anne Lamott

The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, brain surgery.
- Robert Cormier

Hoping and praying all my writer friends get some writing time in over the next few days!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who Reads Those Footnotes?

Last night in my Creative Non-fiction class at the University of Memphis, there was a big discussion about footnotes in CNF narratives. The piece we were reading was about a student's conversation/interview with his grandfather. There were about 6 or 8 footnotes included, which mostly were the writer's notes to clarify something in the narrative, something that his grandfather said or did. The instructor asked if the class members read footnotes when they were reading other works, whether CNF or whatever. Most students said they skipped over them; footnotes were annoying. When footnotes appear in anything they may be necessary, but they are not welcome.

As I re-read this writer's footnotes about his grandfather's life, I realized that that's probably where the real story was - in those afterthoughts, in those minute explanations to make or clarify a certain event. Most suggested that the writer get rid of the footnotes and put them in the narrative flow, to include them as part of the building of the characters - both the writer and the grandfather.

What are your thoughts? Do footnotes interrupt the flow of the story? Should there be endnotes instead? Do you have creative methods to include research information within a narrative?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


This semester, I am taking a creative non-fiction workshop class at the University of Memphis. The instructor is Sonja Livingston, a talented and passionate writer (Ghostbread, and others). I submitted an essay on the Jung-oriented dreamwork that I do (see past posts on this blog) to my workshop this week. A couple of my classmates said they think Jung is outdated, and another said there is more modern neuroscience that I completely left out. That if I wanted to publish a book on dreams I should do more research for the book proposal.
            Truth is, I have no intention of publishing a book on dreams. There are thousands out there from professionals in the fields of psychology, anthropology, analysis, biochemistry, and, yes, neuroscience. And even chemical engineers. This essay was about how the type of dreamwork I do has changed the way I see life – changed the way I see others, changed my relationships. The essay was intended as an invitation to others to listen to dreams, the visitors in the night, and to share my own experience.
            To say that I needed to include modern neuroscience and brain research was, well, like I’m watching a waterfall, being enchanted by the rainbows in the spray, watching the way the water spills and splashes over the rocks, whispers past the ferns at water’s edge, eddys and pools as it enters the creek, then someone says there’s no way I could appreciate the scene unless I had a better understanding of current studies in hydrology, and a scientific appreciation of H20 and geology.
            Seems this way of looking at life is somewhat like viewing the world through a tube, and the viewer can only see what the tube is aimed at. There is a loss of the milieu, the broader sense of place that comes with appreciation of the small things that make up a scene.  Can one take in the colors, the fragrance, the sounds, if the eye is only zeroing in on one element of the scene?
            Depending on one’s personality type, there will always be differences in people and their views of life. That’s what makes us interesting – our personalities and quirks. To grow our soul, do we just accept that “that’s how I am”, or do we try to learn about another way of seeing? Just as the ones who say I needed more modern science in my essay, then perhaps I need to look at the world through their eyes for a few minutes. Perhaps I should ask myself, How can you clarify words so that you don’t sound like you're clinging to an old fashioned, out-of-date concept (even though there has been a resurgence of Jung’s concepts in modern psychology circles, and I've studied dreams for years and years, and completed a two-year dream leadership course of study a couple of years ago).
What does it take to see, really see, something? Does it take a complete understanding of everything that goes into the ‘thing’? Or can one merely appreciate on a simple level the beauty of a thing’s existence? My stance is to try to understand another's perspective. Others may take a more dismissive stance. How do we better appreciate each other's perspective?