Category Archives: creative search for inner self

Authorial Heroes


John Steinbeck is mine, and I’m guessing an author’s name came springing to your lips when you read the title of this post.

Because they offer us different lives to live (if only while we’re enjoying their stories) storytellers are our greatest teachers. They give us diverse shoes to wear, opening our minds to possibilities unconsidered. They are our conscience and consciousness.

Why is John Steinbeck my authorial hero? Because he wrote Cannery Row. Doc, Mack, and Lee Chong tell the stories of the denizens of Cannery Row in Monterey, California. The people range from middle-class to homeless citizens, each trying to make their way through life as best they can, wishing each other well but ending up in pickles of their own making. I love the way he interrupts his primary tale with short stories of particular people who never appear again. The woman who gives tea parties for the neighborhood cats, the neglected boy who can’t quite control his hand-eye coordination, a wife who won’t accept her new home in an abandoned, windowless cannery steampipe unless she has curtains, and Hazel who’s mastered the ability of never answering a question by always asking a new one, these are the jewels scattered along the row. Perhaps one of the finest character driven stories ever told.

Of course, other authors and stories have made profound impacts on my life, far too many to even try to list. Some authors write better, others have offered more insightful characters, the stories told much deeper than friends planning a party. But when I think of who I’d most like to be compared to as a writer it’s always John Steinbeck.

Too bad he wasn’t a woman.

Who is your authorial hero? Leave a comment and let me know!


Wicked Lover or Death Disguised?


It’s the end of September and the seasons are changing. The days of summer are over, and autumn has begun. It’s that time of year when I look for my favorite blanket to put on the bed, pull out long sleeve shirts and hoodies, and enjoy the warmth of my favorite socks.

I see bats and skeletons everywhere, and deal with pumpkin-flavored everything. I bake banana bread and chicken pot pie. The last of my wife’s garden become fried green tomatoes. Apple Pie and Cinnamon candles fill our living room with the scents of the season.

The biggest sign I’ve given over to autumn are my favorite pair of earrings, hand painted ceramic pumpkins I bought in Pismo Beach about 30 years ago. I love them. They are pretty, heavy, and large. People comment on them every year, and I love it. I wear them with the brown, wine, and gold colors I only wear during this time of year.

Winding into, through, and around the cities are the scents of dusty leaves, plowed under fields, ripe apple orchards, and chilling lakes. My wife rakes the yard, beds the roses, and cleans out her garage in preparation for the inevitable snow. My granddaughter begins to seriously consider Halloween costumes, which she will decide upon with the help of her best friends so they can coordinate. I pull out my well worn, tattered, and beloved Ray Bradbury classic, The October Country, and Poe’s Telltale Heart, and read them aloud in an empty room simply for the love of the words.

The prompts I bring to writing groups take on a decidedly spooky tone.

When people talk about the changing of the seasons they mean weather and over all temperature, but to me it means much more. For my wife, who thrives during spring and summer, it’s the inevitable end of good times in the garden and sun. She mourns in autumn. I, on the other hand, come vibrantly alive.

I thrill to the changing colors, encourage the struggle of each leaf to last as long as possible, await the rising of large harvest moons, and watch the night sky for shooting stars. I look forward to preparing for Halloween, NANO, and Thanksgiving. Most of all, I look forward to being cool for the brief time in Minnesota between blistering heat, and freezing snow.

So here’s to autumn, and all those who love her.

Authors Are Artists Too

Elly Wagner’s clay work during Celebrate Yourself!

I just got back from a wonderful weekend filled with powerful women. I was reminded how pleasant it is to be surrounded by women who are unafraid of asking questions and eager to explore both inner and outer worlds.

The youngest was eighteen while the oldest was ninety-something. Although there were fewer than forty women there, the place rang with creative energy. Women wrote stories, painted, drummed, expressed the feminine form in clay, and explored their inner selves through various mediums. There was a labyrinth in the middle of nature, and a sauna in which to relax among like minded women. Perhaps most importantly, new people were welcomed with open arms, and old friends reconnected at the yearly event.

The gathering was Celebrate Yourself! and was held at the Koinonia Retreat Center in a truly beautiful part of Minnesota. I was hired to teach two sessions on writing, but found myself wishing I had at least one of those sections free so I could attend one of the exciting classes occurring throughout the building. Tapping into your inner artist is such a vastly rewarding experience.

Writers – yes it’s important to work everyday, and agreed, it’s also important to join and participate in writer’s groups. But when was the last time you let your painter’s voice speak, or your inner drummer bang long and loud? I believe that we need to step out of our writing selves once in a while, in favor of remembering those first days of creativity, when we hadn’t found our preferred voice.

If you are a woman artist or creative soul living in or around Minnesota, and you’re interested in the Celebrate Yourself! artist’s retreat for 2015, drop me a line and I’ll forward it on to the planners of the event. If you do, you’ll most likely meet me there next year, as a participant!