Cruel and Beautiful

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life…

–from The Waste Land
T.S. Eliot

I never believed April was cruel. I have always loved the month hovering between winter and spring. The trees mostly still winter bare, yet the grass growing, turning unimaginably green, and flowers of all colors rising out of the ground, small bursts of surprise, delighting both eye and nose. (Read more…)

Buying Avocados

Dark_avocados_fruit In yesterday’s mail, I received a check from a magazine for a poem of mine they had published. Something all writers hope for. Something all writers are grateful for because it is a form of validation. Someone, somewhere liked something I wrote, decided others would like it too, and respected me enough as a writer to pay me as a professional. I can’t complain, right? (Read more…)

The Long Road

The Long Road
It’s snowing again in southeast Ohio. The snow is beautiful, and I love to look at it, but I am tired of the hassles it brings. I live in the country along a gravel road and up a gravel drive. The road and drive are nearly impossible to navigate in this weather so that means parking at the bottom of the driveway or over by the mailbox and trudging up and down, up and down, with groceries, briefcase and computer, dog food and bird seed.It is a good workout, but not one I look forward to. (Read more…)

Reasons Why

“Through it all, I write. Writing keeps me sane, gives me a way to get it out, get it down. And this place where I live, these hills, those damn horses, the children–my own and my young students–have molded me as a writer, given me a voice. I know without a doubt that had we stayed in Cleveland, I would be on a very different path. I belong to the trees, the river, these sometimes smothering hills, as I have never belonged to anything else.”

Feeders in the snow

The quote above comes from my essay, Five Doors, Three Windows: Writing Against the Odds, an essay written at a very different time in my life. Those of you who know me well, know that many, many things have changed since the essay was written and published in 2002. But the thing that has stayed the same is my need to write, and the connection I feel to the place in which I write. My office, for now, is still that old sitting room with the impossible five doors, and three windows looking out on my 59.6 acres of Appalachian Ohio.

When I thought about names for my site and blog, I returned to the title of that old essay because I think it says a lot about my growth and determination as a writer. I really don’t know any writers who have a completely easy go of it. We are all scrambling to carve out a place for our craft, a quiet time to collect our thoughts, a brave space in our hearts in which we believe we have something unique to say to the world. It would be easier to knit scarves or bake fragrant loaves of whole wheat bread. Most people would recognize those gifts. But writers long to play with words, get giddy about office supplies, and often prefer to spend hours and hours with imaginary friends. Though we may be excellent knitters and bakers too.

In this blog, I want to explore what it takes to be a writer, not just for myself, but for others on this journey as well. I recently corresponded with a writer considering pursuing her MFA and her questions to me were not just about the program itself, but about structuring a life that can include raising a family, a full-time job, creative and critical writing, extensive reading, and all the other demands on her time. In short, I told her it is always a work in progress. There will always be parts of our lives calling out for attention, demanding first dibs. But if writing is more than a fling, if writing is something you cannot not do, then you are going to be continually finding your way to the desk, to the page, writing against the odds.

All good things,


A Beginning

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog, or starting a webpage, for some time, but the fear of trying something new online stopped me. As my daughters would be happy to tell you, I am not completely comfortable in the computer age. It wasn’t that long ago that I was asking for help remembering how to cut and paste. I know. How basic can you get? But trust me, I’ve come a long way. Well, at least, from where I started.

So today, I took the leap. I have no idea if I can fly, but then I’ve done plenty of other things in my life I never thought I could do, so perhaps I can. Maybe there is something you have always wanted to do also, and my leap of faith can inspire you to leap too. But let’s be gentle with ourselves as we begin. There is so much to learn and more to come.

Here we go…