Showing posts with label literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label literature. Show all posts

Thursday, May 2, 2013

mantras for the writing life

I have read a lot of composition theory. When I think intellectually and reflectively about how writing works and what my process is, I come to a pleasant melange of the ideas of Peter Elbow and Donald Murray. For the most part, I build my writing life carefully and try to encourage my students to learn good writing habits.

But that which I experience in the midst of a project and what I know in the abstract to be true often look very different. Thus it is that I find myself repeating like a breath prayer not the wisdom of composition theory, but the wisdom of popular literature through the ages.

Here are my mantras:

1. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. -The Shewings of Julian of Norwich

2. -It wil all work out in the end.
    -How will it?
    -I don't know. It's a mystery.
-Shakespeare in Love

3. Have you eaten your rice? Then wash your bowl. -Zen anecdote

4. Make. Great. Art. -Neil Gaiman

How do you get through a tough project?

Monday, February 18, 2013

on days like this...

...when making progress on the dissertation feels like climbing a mountain, I remember the time my friend Katie and I

bushwhacked our way up the back side of a mountain.

It was difficult and hot and full of branches. Sometimes the dirt slid away under our feet. Oddly, it got easier the higher we went.

We were exhausted, thirsty, and aromatic when we got to the top. But the view

was amazing.

And the way down the other side was more clear and much more quick.

Best of all, Lake Baikal was waiting for us at the bottom.

These pictures and more over here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dear Beloveds

Dear beloveds,

Deep down, I do know that, God willing, I'll "do just fine" on all the tasks remaining between me and the PhD I'm working toward. Barring unforeseen calamity, I will get there. However, the path is not without stress and worry.

You do not help me when you respond to my stress by dismissing it. When I take the long view, I have confidence about my ability to complete the whole project, but when I am in the throes of a single task with a short deadline, as now with a prospectus defense in mid-October, that one task consumes me, worries me, and stresses me out. When I tell you how I am feeling, I need you to not dismiss it. Remind me to get enough sleep, remind me to take a walk, remind me to pray, remind me that you believe in me, but don't tell me I have nothing to worry about.

I know that you love me and you think I'm brilliant. You might even be right. However, in my community of scholars, I'm nothing special. No one gets here without being brilliant, and when one is surrounded by brilliance, remaining shiny requires effort. When I worry about ridiculous things (being late, running out of cat food, whether my shoes match my sweater), I keep it to myself. If I'm telling you about my stress, please believe that it's warranted. 

I love you, too,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Reading Walden Pond

Read Write Poem's NaPoWriMo #2 Acronym Switcheroo

Reading Walden Pond

When I slip into the pages
of Henry David's Walden,
I dip into the self-same
stream Thoreau went a-fishing in.

Reading, remembering, relearning-
sitting at the feet
of the master reflecter
I am connected.

This prompt was harder to write to. Nothing in the list sang for me, then I read Rob's take on RWP in Remembering Willow Pond, and Walden popped into my head. Not every poem-in-a-day will be a gem, but this may grow into something better with time.