While I’m writing…..

Posted December 27th, 2013





I listen to music while I’m writing, revising and editing. So this year is ending with work on Things I’ll Never Say, Short Stories About Our Secret Selves (Candlewick, spring 2015) and music by Cloverton, which is so different than the music I usually listen to — those of you who know me, know that I’m more a Joan Jett and Pink sort of fan.

The anthology is also a reach for me because I’m not a secret keeper myself. It came out of a workshop I participated in at Mount Mary called Untold Stories–a workshop facilitated by the Voices & Faces project based in Chicago, a project that uses writing to change the face of violence in our culture. We were encouraged to write from  the perspective of a different gender and I found the voice of a boy named Luke who….well, you’ll just have to wait until it comes out to know his secret. The stories I’ve received provide a breadth of young adult experiences. They’re about the good and bad things that can happen when we choose to keep a secret or share a secret or break a secret. I don’t want to say too much about this anthology until it’s closer to publication. So I’ll just recommend that you stay tuned.

This has also been a year in which I have come to fear that I can’t teach full time and manage to stay with a novel long enough to do the sort of revisions it takes to really nail a novel. It’s been frustrating to sit day after day with characters who just haven’t felt like talking because my head is full of student work and the details of our English Department’s day-to-day responsibilities. So I’m turning to something different for awhile. I’m working on a lot of short stories and poetry in the hopes that this shorter work will fit inside my days. I’m also hoping that playing a bit more–at writing and, well, just playing at life– will clean out my soul a bit and maybe make room for the work of a novel.

As a result of the Untold Stories workshop, I volunteered to facilitate a ten-week workshop for women at Sojourner Family Peace Center. I worked with some amazing women to create Empowerment poems and prose as they moved through the series which we called Writing as Healing.  They inspired me and gave me hope. That hope and inspiration are what drew me originally to Cloverton. That music, by the way, can draw me to tears.

And so I’m ending this year with a prayer of sorts for us: “I hold close those whose days are long because their lives have taken difficult, sad turns. I pray that as the days get longer, their own choices lead to better places and I pray that horizons expand and they discover hope and meaning in the task of living each day with a conscience.”

Happy New Year.

Can we change the world with our words? I think so.

Posted December 14th, 2013

Kho Thi dancer by Ann Angel 001It’s time to say happy graduation to five more writers from the Mary University English Graduate Program and to welcome them into a world where their creative work will inspire and challenge readers to transform and make lives that are true celebrations of each day.

If I could be a fairy godmother, I would give them each the gift of dancing and singing and writing each day.

I think they’ll do that without my magic because through this program, they have discovered the magic of their own talents. And now they’ll head on out to share their talents. I expect great things of each and every one. Whether they’re teaching writing in their own classrooms or writing grants for the arts or nonprofits or free lance writing and publishing articles and books, I know that their writing will be read. Their work has the power to change the world one word at a time. That’s the power of the arts — to create magic — to create understanding — to create change for the good.

Blessings to you, graduates!!