Wishing well.

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I’m having knee replacement surgery tomorrow. I know I’m lucky that I can afford the health insurance that makes this possible, lucky that I’m in excellent health otherwise, lucky that my recovery will likely be smooth and complete, lucky that Dick will care for me through this. All week, messages have come from friends and family wishing me well. My knitting group, fantastic Duluth women, delivered a week’s worth of homemade food for us. I’m grateful for all of this. And yet, I haven’t shaken the feeling that it isn’t fair to interrupt my life for surgery so that I can simply enjoy walking again. There’s going to be a lot of sitting around before I can move the way I want to.

And then a couple of things happened that knocked me into a better perspective.

My dad, appreciative of the medical care my mom received in her final year, and mindful of the news from Aleppo, decided to donate to Doctors Without Borders instead of buying gifts for children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. He knows it’s a way to step outside the fortune of our family ties to acknowledge that families very much like ours have unbearably sad burdens that they somehow bear, every day. I’m glad he’s doing this, especially as we turn the corner into whatever the new year will look like, here in the U.S. and around the world.

Then, my Book Club in the Twin Cities decided not to continue the traditional book exchange where we all bring a wrapped book, open them one by one, and try to guess who gave which book. This usually becomes the larger part of our reading list for the coming year. But there are other ways to make a reading list. Instead, we are donating items requested by one of our members for her homeless clients. Jane, a former ballet dancer, went back to school a decade ago to get her R.N. degree. Now, she’s a public health nurse in St. Paul, who begins her days at 4:30 a.m. wearing a headlamp to visit homeless people wherever they are camped.

When we asked what we should buy, Jane answered by email:

The people on the streets are there for a variety of reasons; poor mental health is always a factor and most of the people I have met have fallen through the cracks, unable to obtain housing because they are not able to follow through a long list of requirements that would enable them to do so.  And, aside from other street homeless, they have few friends or family.

I do see women, but mostly men and except for 3 rather emaciated men, the majority are large — tall and big.  Big hands and big feet.

Anything you give, I will send you a story in return about who I brought that particular gift to and how they reacted to it.  I would imagine that not many of my people I see will be receiving wrapped gifts.  Whatever it is, please add a tag for me with what the item is and size so I can deliver what is most needed to a particular person.

What we need: I’ll start big to small:  pup tents; sleeping bags, sleeping matts for comfort; backpacks; battery operated radios with batteries; flashlights with batteries; warm clothing: gloves (warm gloves and socks (wool);  long underwear (tall  and large or extra large); warm hats (large sizes) and gift cards to restaurants downtown so they can get out of the cold early in the morning or late at night and go get something to eat and something warm to drink and so they can be inside out of the cold.  Some ideas are Brueggers, Micky’s Diner and Cosetta’s. Not Holiday (which is close to where lots of people camp) because they sell cigarettes. If you have second-hand jackets and second-hand boots  that you are discarding, please think of me.

While I was digesting this message, Jane sent another message:

I was out this morning (with our doctor, Mark) and saw someone I neglected to think about for gifts…  I will call him C. His first language is Spanish. He lives about 2 blocks (for lack of a better easily understandable reference) down a bluff deep into the trees (now bare, of course). One couldn’t see him from the road or even at the top of the bluff, but once I start walking down the bluff, I am able to spot the top of his blue tarp. There is stuff jettisoned everywhere —some of it from previous occupants. I spot a typewriter, old baby carriage, bicycle tires, a bike pump, a urinal (someone visited a hospital), old shoes, old Kowalski bags, a baseball bat, a soccer ball, an old sink, a stuffed pink bear that is missing an ear, a pile of summer clothing, old broken bottles of every manner of drink. The usual junk we see — but here there is something magical: C has pots of fake flowers everywhere. He told me he loves flowers and tried to grow roses last summer. A little shady here for roses. He also has Christmas ornaments strung up, a shrine with Mary and Jesus, and a makeshift door (an old cupboard door strung with rope). He has hanging bells so he can hear visitors.
When we look at these pots of flowers, Mark and I cry. C is very fearful of people. When I inspected the skin condition on his hands the first time I met him, I asked him what happened to his finger.  He said he was attacked at age 7 and the people who accosted him cut off his finger. He used to work as a dishwasher or line cook in a Mexican restaurant on the west side but was told to leave because of his skin condition. This morning at 6 a.m. he was getting ready to go to work. He was so proud of the fact he was just hired to clean a different Mexican restaurant in off-hours. He is happy to have any work. He walks about 2 miles to the restaurant…
Last night he hardly slept for fear of missing his first day of work. So, what does he need?  A watch. A simple inexpensive watch. Probably better than a battery operated clock that could get wet.  Because of his skin condition, he needs a non-metal band on the watch.  The simpler the better.
We serve the undocumented, but C is very fearful.  Like the fox and the little prince, where the fox tells the prince he has to return at the same time and same place every day if he wants to tame him or make friends with him, Mark and I went back every week at the same time and we started by leaving bag lunches and notes. It took almost 4 months for C to talk to us. C also needs boots… his shoes are falling apart. They are too big, plastic and have holes (Crocs).  
So… as I stored the delicious food my friends made for me, I thought of Dad’s decision to donate. I thought of C and the rest of Jane’s clients. I tried to imagine what it feels like to be alone — to feel absolutely alone — in the world.
And I couldn’t imagine it. The truth is, when difficult things have happened in my life, there have been people who wished me well, and who helped my life become well.
There are people who wish me well. Such a simple thing — shouldn’t everyone be able to count on that? And yet… so many people can’t.
I’m going to have a lot of time sitting still in the coming weeks to think about what I can do to change that.

4 Authors, 4 Books Published

Last Saturday, October 29, in the lovely space at Duluth’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation, four local authors talked about the road to publishing their most recent books — an event organized by Lake Superior Writers, thanks in part to a grant from Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. All photos above by Maddie Cohen.

I learned something new from each of the four authors:

Alice Springer Marks, Missing, published privately 2016
A former pre-school director and teacher, Alice turned to writing when she retired. She’s published some of her short stories in anthologies, and has written plays for non-profits. She and her husband, Sam, moved to Duluth 3 year ago and live in the Lincoln Park area of Duluth. Alice has a friend who self-published medieval stories set in Texas (I think I have this right!) through Women Addicted To Heroines — this friend encouraged her to join the ranks of “indie” authors to publish Missing, the story of two detectives who solve the mystery of a doctor who goes to lunch one day and never returns. Some of Alice’s points:

  • It took her seven years to write Missing, but only one year to write the sequel.
  • As an older author (her term, not mine!) she didn’t want to wait around for the typical submission/publishing timeline.
  • Revising is hard work.
  • She uses her computer like a typewriter, so she hired someone to format her manuscript.
  • Next project: sequel to Missing, called Break, starring the same two detectives who solve a double-identity puzzle.

Lucie B. Amundsen, Locally Laid, Penguin 2016
Lucie and her husband, Jason, own Locally Laid Egg Company in Wrenshall, MN, a “middle-agriculture” farming operation, where chickens are pasture-raised. Lucie’s background is in marketing; when her freelance career collapsed in 2008 she entered Hamline University’s MFA program (which she notes is no help at all in selling her writing).

  • While there, she wrote a manuscript for a graphic novel, queried five agents (researched them, followed them on Facebook, i.e. “benevolent stalking”). All passed on her manuscript, but one asked to see her next book.
  • Locally Laid is narrative non-fiction — Lucie jokes that this means, Where do you shelve it?
  • This personal story has a couple of arcs — memoir, then the business story arc, then the teaching stories (among them, explaining “middle agriculture”)
  • She sent 10 book proposals over an 8 week period to her agent. More or less a full-time job, on top of real life, getting to a satisfactory book proposal that her agent was willing to sell.
  • Offers came from Harper Collins and Penguin within nine days. Lucie chose Penguin because they wanted a teaching book — but Penguin wanted the book to be 40% longer.
  • 18 months after submitting the final manuscript, the book came out.
  • Then — she began marketing the book, a nearly full-time job on top of other full-time jobs like farmer, mom, marketing department at Glensheen, etc.
  • Next project: book about marketing and entrepreneurship for farms; nervous about the first draft — which is like shoveling dirt, then crafting sandcastles.

Felicia Schneiderhan, Newylweds Afloat, Breakaway Books 2015
Felicia worked as a freelance writer for several years in Chicago and elsewhere, and has published essays, short stories and poetry; she’s a regular writer for Lake Superior Magazine.

  • Her book started as a blog during her “liveaboard” days, along with her husband, Mark, on his boat Mazurka, in downtown Chicago.
  • She published articles based on the blog that later became chapters in the book — this helped her define a larger audience.
  • She queried 10 agents — of the 5 who replied, 3 asked for sample chapters or 10 pages of the book.
  • Learned BEFORE you query, you should have the whole manuscript ready!
  • Applied for and received an ARAC grant to finish a novel during this time, so she was working on more than one project.
  • She googled boat book publishers and found Breakaway Books, a small independent publisher, in upstate New York — publishers of outdoor adventure books with a literary tone. The owner and publisher does everything and outsources what he can’t do himself.
  • Queried them anonymously — now, she knows better! — but they wanted it.
  • Due out in Fall 2015. That August, publisher announced he didn’t have enough time to provide Advanced Reader Copies. (aka ARCs, these are the books sent to reviewers ahead of publication.)
  • NOW she knows that ARCs are REALLY important — almost no one reviews a book after it’s published.
  • Next project: She likes accumulating the “dirt” of a manuscript; feels elation and grief upon finishing a book, then sees “here’s the next thing and maybe I can say it” with writing.

Julie Gard, Home Studies, New Rivers Press 2015

Julie is an accomplished and award-winning poet who teaches at University of Wisconsin-Superior. She lives in Duluth with her partner, the poet Michelle Mathees. Julie says she’s been a writer all her life; her work has been published in chapbooks and literary journals. The 59 prose poems in Home Studies (a finalist for the 2016 Minnesota Book Award) were expanded from 18 poems she wrote between 2004-2007 when she and Michelle lived in North Dakota and adopted a 9-year-old daughter from Russia.

  • The book is divided into three parts. The middle section of the manuscript was going to be another project, but the [poetry] genre is flexible, so work can fit into different genres; this middle section was written in Duluth from 2007-2015.
  • She tends to overwrite, then pares back. She also writes more poems than she will use in a collection, then pares back the number.
  • In summer of 2012, she decided to put together a book, sent it out to contests and presses and queried 5-8 places.
  • Like Minnesota writer, Alison McGhee, she was prepared to go up to 80 queries!
  • She knew she wanted small literary presses, rather than an agent. The manuscript for Home Studies was the winner of the 2103 Many Voices project at New Rivers Press, a teaching press located at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
  • Next project: Living in the uncertainty of beginning another book. “This (Home Studies) is a book — will my next ideas be a book?”

    ASSORTED WISDOM FROM THE Q&A:
  • Contests often require a fee; in effect, you’re paying someone to read your manuscript
  • Marketing your book is a lot of work — and it’s expected no matter which publishing route you go
  • Consider low expectations — then, when people respond it’s great
  • Do a great job getting pre-copies out to reviewers (aka Advanced Reader copies)
  • Felicia noted that ARAC provided a grant so she could travel to the East Coast (where she’s from) to do readings
  • Poets & Writers database is a good resource
  • So is Writer’s Digest
  • Alice says Reader’s Digest usually pays $100 for 100 words
  • Lucie suggests a tiered approach to getting published: devote X number of weeks or months to 1) securing agent, then 2) small press, then 3) self-publishing an e-book.
  • With every query you write, you are sharpening the marketing of your book.
  • amazon has resources for self-publishing; mixed-genre books can do well with this
  • Book talks appeal to larger audiences than a book reading — tell how you wrote the book or researched the subject. An entertaining presentation draws an audience. Lucie: “Making it funny is coping.” (Meaning your book content and/or your presentation.)
  • Business Facebook gives you many options for targeting audiences for small cost.
  • Couple a visit to a library (for a book signing) with a writing workshop that you teach — much more fun than sitting in a bookstore hoping people come by.
  • Write from your gut and heart first. Later, you can fine-tune the message.

So there you go — see what you missed? You’ve gathered by now that none of our four authors published their books expecting, or even hoping, to get rich. But they all found it satisfying. What will you do to make finishing and publishing your book a good experience?

The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council provides funding and support to Lake Superior Writers, and a host of other regional artists and arts organizations. “Funding for ARAC programs and services is provided through appropriations from the Minnesota State Legislature, the Arts and Cultural Heritage Amendment, and a grant from the McKnight Foundation.”

 

 

Grace Paley and me at Carver County Library Writers’ Retreat.

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Last Saturday was the Carver County Library Writers’ Retreat at Charlson Meadows in Victoria, MN — a wonderful day funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  The librarians who organized it were hoping to attract a mix of members from their established writing groups and people new to writing. They succeeded. An interesting and engaged group of people paid attention to each other, and to writing, all day.

I carry Minnesota writers with me wherever I go — in my head, quoted in my notebooks, passages copied into my calendar. Minnesota is awash with talented writers. When I teach, I read passages from their books — Alison McGhee, William Kent Krueger, Louise Erdrich, Tim O’Brien, Joyce Sutphen, Patricia Hampl. Because I was talking with other Minnesotans in Minnesota, I relied even more on local writers for this retreat.

But I was pleased that heads nodded at this passage by Grace Paley, who knew a thing or two about good writing. From her essay, “Some Notes on Teaching, Probably Spoken”:

“It’s possible to write about anything in the world, but the slightest story ought to contain the facts of blood and money in order to be interesting to adults. That is — everybody continues on this earth by courtesy of certain economic arrangements, people are rich or poor, make a living or don’t have to, are useful to systems or superfluous. — And blood — the way people live as families or outside families or in the creation of a family, sisters, sons, fathers, the bloody ties. Trivial work ignores these two FACTS and is never comic or tragic.”

A good reminder, especially when writing memoir, to LET SOMETHING BE AT STAKE. Because something always is. In any good story, there is always something at stake. Something changes between the beginning and the end of the story. It’s the reason the writer needs to tell the story. It’s what keeps the reader interested. Whatever is at stake is what connects two human beings who might otherwise never encounter each other.

On Saturday, we were talking about memoir, a particularly personal kind of writing. But I maintain that all writing is personal. All good writing either asks a question, or answers a question. As long as we keep that question in mind as we write, we can’t go far wrong.

We ended the day with William Stafford’s poem, “You Reading This, Be Ready,” written just two days before he passed away. I cried when I read it. I always do.

Safe in the arms of Koko.

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Robin Williams left too soon. When you hang yourself with a belt in your bedroom, there’s not much doubt that you intended to end your life. That is sad beyond words. But words are all I have, so here goes.

Sadder still is the story and photo posted by the St. Paul Pioneer Press a few weeks ago when Williams visited the Dairy Queen in Lindstrom, Minnesota while he was in treatment at Hazelden. He looks gaunt, even ill, but poses dutifully with a DQ employee, his eyes avoiding the camera. I have some familiarity with this Dairy Queen from the time a few years ago when my former husband spent 28 days at Hazelden. Pete didn’t enter Hazelden willingly, and hoped that the family would keep his secret. It was a disorienting four weeks for our kids and me, but of course, much more so for him, another step in recognizing what the disease had done to him and to our family. He did the work as best he could, and boarded the van a couple of times each week for the DQ outing. You take what breaks you’re offered, I imagine. He wouldn’t have welcomed being recognized by anyone he knew.

And yet Robin Williams put his private self on very public display, surely knowing he’d be recognized. Perhaps he felt he had no choice.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between curing and healing. There’s no cure for addiction or mental illness. Nor for most cancers, or heart disease, or diabetes, or a host of other medical conditions. No cure for the human condition at all. But we can learn to manage our conditions. We can help each other heal. And we can be — should be — very sad when beloved people leave in spite of that.

My friend Ed Hessler sent me a link yesterday to a piece on Slate.com about Robin Williams’ encounter with Koko, the gorilla who has learned American Sign Language. Ed has taught me a great deal about science, and poetry — about life — in the years I’ve known him. With this link, he reminded me of our deepest connections to every being, every thing, in the “entangled bank” of our world.

“We shared some interspecies laughter,” says Williams in the video. At the end, Williams and Koko embrace, at first tentatively, and then Williams smiles and relaxes into the embrace, eyes closed. Whatever greeted him on the other side of yesterday morning, I hope he was embraced with that joy. And I hope he joyfully returned the embrace.

Local workshops coming up!

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I love traveling to teach, but I’m thrilled to offer these workshops and retreats closer to home in the Twin Cities:

Monday, July 21 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm at Deephaven Education Center. Register at Minnetonka Community Education. If it’s a beautiful evening, I promise we’ll go outside!

Saturday, September 13 from 8:30 am to about 3:00 pm — Carver County Libraries Writers’ Retreat at Charlson Meadows Retreat Center on the border of Excelsior/Chanhassen and Victoria, just off Hwy 7. This is going to be so cool – details soon!

Book Art — several people have asked me about teaching an altered journals or book making class. I’m still playing around with all of this, but will post photos and info soon. If you’re really eager, sign up for a class at Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

 

Writing About the Dead

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Mt. Zion Cemetery, Georgetown

Mt. Zion Cemetery, Georgetown

A colleague from the Association of Personal Historians forwarded a link to Ken Budd’s 11/20/13 piece in the NYTimes about the choices he made in writing about his deceased father. Budd quotes C.S. Lewis in “A Grief Observed” that mourning those we’ve lost makes “the dead far more dead.” His essay describes why he disagrees with Lewis, and how he came to terms with writing about his father in a way he knew his father would not have liked.

I’m constantly reminding my memoir students that they can only tell their own stories, can write about others’ lives only from the perspective of their own. I explain that telling their truest story, with integrity and love, is the only armor they’ll need when family members say, “That’s not the way it happened!” I remind them that someone, some time, will inevitably challenge their memories, and their right to record those memories. And I say they should do it anyway.

When we write memoir, we’re writing more about our understanding of the events than about the events themselves. We strive for accuracy and fairness, and we hope for the best. No one writing about their own life ever gets it all down, every little detail exactly right. We edit and filter without knowing it, simply by going about our days in the ways we’re accustomed to. If that’s the case with our own stories, how can we hope to capture the entirety of anyone else’s story? The point, I think, is to record something, some small thing, about any particular life.

But the C.S. Lewis quote reminded me of a workshop exercise at the APH conference last month where a colleague from Argentina, Eduardo, said something I’ve been contemplating ever since. Eduardo said that if we don’t remember and talk about those we’ve known after they are gone, it’s as if they have died twice: once physically, and again in memory when those who knew and remembered them are gone. He worried that his English wasn’t good enough to express this thought, but he conveyed it beautifully.

The troubling thing, of course, and the point of Ken Budd’s article, is that we can only tell another person’s story through the filter of our own story. It’s not entirely fair, or entirely accurate, to tell anyone’s story this way, especially when they are gone and have no way to correct the record, or contribute to the story. Memoirists struggle with this mightily. We should struggle with this, and pay careful attention to it, in the same way we should be paying attention to the people alive all around us.

That’s the deal, you know. Paying attention to how we affect the lives of others, and how their lives affect ours, is the price we pay for the privilege of being alive on Earth with other humans. Telling stories is how we make sense of that privilege.

Oradour again.

Ghosts of War - Oosterbeek Airborne museum; The eternal curator

I’ve written about Oradour-sur-Glane, the small town in France burned by the Nazis in 1944, and my 2010 visit there with my French friend, Nathalie.

Oradour is in the news this week as German President Joachim Gauck joined M. Hollande and an 88-year-old survivor of the massacre. President Gauck said he accepted the invitation with “gratitude and humility” but hoped to remind his French hosts that “the Germany that I have the honour of representing is a different Germany from the one that haunts their memories”.

To say that the atmosphere at Oradour is haunted is to understate by a million-fold what happened there on June 10, 1944, and before that, and since then. The air itself holds atoms of the lives lived in the village, of the attackers, of those who survived, of those who posted plaques, of those who visit. Layers and layers, decades of haunting. It’s hard to imagine that it will ever not be haunted.

We need that though, don’t we? Places that demand we remember, that we remind each other of what happened, and why. Given the length of human history, and the history of humans, there are many more of these places than we acknowledge.

Jo Teeuwisse’s Ghosts of History project places WWII photos inside modern photos of the same locales. In some photos, people from the 1940s look at people from 2012.

Except, of course, they don’t really see each other. View Ms. Teeuwisse’s entire collection here.

 

 

Ordinary grace.

My book club read Ordinary Grace this month, by Minnesota’s own William Kent Krueger. The author voices the opening pages in this trailer, quoting Aeschylus: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain – which cannot forget – falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

It’s a beautiful book, beautifully written, its characters demonstrating grace through their actions page by page. Sometimes, through their choices not to act. We spent some time talking about the difference between “ordinary” grace and “awful” grace — the kind of grace that is bestowed upon us versus the grace we earn through endurance, by living a life grounded in the realities of  relationship and circumstance.

No conclusions drawn; I’m still thinking. The hallmark of a really good book.

Do-It-Yourself Writing Prompts

I promised a group of my writing students a list of my favorite do-it-yourself memoir writing prompts. Here they are:

Writing A Life
If you don’t tell your stories, who will?

 

Some Favorite Writing Prompts

What do you most want to say? Which one story best illustrates that?

 If you’re writing about yourself, try this:

–  write about someone or something you loved with all your heart at age 10 –  or 16, 38, 67.

–  tell about a time you moved from one place to another. What did you miss? What did you like/dislike about the new place?

–  where were you when (Pearl Harbor, JFK’s assassination, 9-11) happened? What were you doing? When did you realize what the event meant?

–  write about a trip you took. Did it meet, or fail to meet your expectation?

–  is there something you wanted but never got? What filled that space?

 

If you’re writing about someone else, try this:

–  did the person emigrate from another country? Why? What did they miss about their old home? What did they like and dislike about their new home?

–  who left for, came home from or stayed home from a war? What did this mean to family members?

–  think of an object you associate with this person, and describe it in detail. What does it say about the person?

–  what do you wonder about this person’s life? What would you like to ask if you could?

 

To add details and depth to your stories:

 

Think of family sayings, regionalisms, etc. and how and when they were used.
Think about the place where your story happens: a room, town or region. What did you (or the person you’re writing about) absorb from that place? What didn’t you absorb?

Think about some of the things you or your subjects took for granted, but that readers might wonder about:

Food – cooking, eating, buying, growing, likes/dislikes, plates, pots, washing up

How did they get from one place to another in their daily lives?

How did they deal with the weather?

What would they have said about themselves?

How did they get news?

What objects were admired? What ideas?

 

 

 

 

 

Ideas to help you get to the end of your story:

 

Begin and end your story with the reason you’re writing it.

 

Write about your homes in the order you lived in them – home can be a house or a town. Or begin or end with your favorite.

 

Write about your children or your siblings in the order in which they were born. Each person is a chapter.

 

Write about your jobs in the order you held them. Or begin with your favorite.

 

Divide your life into decades and write about each one. This can work well as an outline or timeline, especially if you have some photos to work with. What happened in each of your decades? What does it mean to you?

 

Further resources: Many of these writing prompts are inspired by Bob Greene’s book, To Our Children’s Children, and from Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Non-fiction by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola, and from Sara Mansfield Taber’s forthcoming book, Writer’s Field Notebook, and from class exercises at the Loft in Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota.

 

 

What I Know About Writing

 

Writing can be a scary business. When we do it well, we place a little bit of ourselves on the page, exposed and vulnerable for anyone who comes along to see, to poke at, to prod, to question. This is especially true when we are writing for family members. “That’s not the way it happened!” we fear they’ll say. Well, they may see things differently from where they stand. You can only tell the story you see from where you stand.

So, a word about telling the truth: there are facts and then there is the truth. It’s easy to find facts like birth and death dates, who lived where when, etc. But the truth of the lives lived around those facts – including your own life – is the story you’re here to tell. Transforming memory to story is a priceless gift to both reader and writer.

Need help? Please contact me at judybudreau AT gmail.com

In Class, Before and After the I-35 Bridge Collapse

In Class, Before and After the I-35 Bridge Collapse

This is the question someone asks.
This is the idea one wonders about. This is the idea another is sure of.
“An artist’s only obligation is to offend,” says an artist.
Tell the truth with love, we’re told. Tell the truth but tell it slant, another advises.

These are the constraints, boundaries, borders, edges, rims, margins, brinks, hems, limits, traditions, cultures, customs, laws we bump against, challenge, cross, shatter, test, provoke, dare, threaten, defy, dispute.

These are the circles around inspiration, interpretation, plagiarism. We drew them carefully with wobbly lines from holding the crayon too tightly, or not tightly enough.

Is this a Venn diagram?

Later:
This is the bridge that collapsed. These are the people who died.
This is the situation which renders such questions moot. Or does it?

8/1/07, rev. 1/11/12