Ben Franklin reading

The Importance of Readers

There’s a phase of the writing process to which I’m particularly resistant. It’s not the dreaming phase, where even the worst ideas look golden. It’s not the sitting-down-to-a-blank-page phase, where I hesitate to ruin those golden ideas by turning them into words. It’s not even the arduous process of writing an entire first draft, then a second, then a third. When things look like crap, with no trace of inspiration anywhere, I…

Fidelity

A Story for a Very Cold Day

It’s 10°F this morning, and there’s ice on the inside of the windows. First thing I did? Go out and check on the chickens. Who were out in their yard apparently as happy as ever. I took them a big pot of hot water since their regular water dispenser was frozen solid. And I threw them…

Christmas Ornaments

God In Us

Two thousand years ago, a baby was born who grew up to claim he was God. All the church people–the Sunday School teachers, the pastors, the Awana leaders, the evangelists and theologians of ancient Israel–they threw a fit. After all, how much more blatantly heretical could you get? According to Hebrew Scripture, you couldn’t even…

Blurry Lights

Do Negative Emotions Sharpen Perception?

Lots of people carry in their heads the image of the tortured artist: the writer/painter/musician whose brilliant artistic achievements spring from a soil rich with personal failures, miseries, addictions, and/or mental illnesses. Writing guru Julia Cameron persuasively argues that creativity does not require depression. Or agony. That well-adjusted artists are, actually, quite successful and productive–maybe even more so than the…

Unfinished

Mondays

Is it just me, or do most off days seem to be Mondays? It’s strange, because my Sundays seem so inspirational. I spend time with my family and read for pleasure. Usually that reading leads to one or two “aha!” moments, in which I jot down the solution to a problem that’s been plaguing me for the past…

Magnetic Poetry

A Matrix Poem

Lately, I’ve been playing around with creating a poem that reads two ways. All poems, of course, can be understood in multiple ways, but I wanted one with words that could actually be read in two different orders–and make just as much sense in each. Early on, I came up with the idea of arranging the…

Dishes

Washing Dishes

Some days in my life are so full it feels like I’ll never get everything done if I don’t use every spare second. If the cornbread muffins are going to take 12 minutes to cook, that’s 12 minutes I can spend grading papers. And if one of those papers is taking a long time to…

Tears

The Tears of Men

From Pat Conroy’s Beach Music: American men are allotted just as many tears as American women. But because we are forbidden to shed them, we die long before women do with our hearts exploding or our blood pressure rising or our lives eaten away by alcohol because that lake of grief inside us has no…

Gossip

A Gossiper of the Imaginary

“When you’re a novelist, you’re a gossiper of the imaginary.” -Jane Smiley, winner of the Pulitzer Prize It’s been awhile since I’ve written any fiction. Sometimes I think I’m too analytical to do a good job of it. I am, after all, a philosopher by training, and philosophy requires thinking very systematically, and favoring rigor…