Monthly Archives: June 2014

My Own Two Feet

At the community rec center where I work out, there’s a cheerful, colorful poster titled “I Walk Because…” (you can see it here Inspirational posters normally give me the whim whams, but the first line of this one caught my eye. “Life is not a race.” How many times have I said that very thing about writing? (usually when I’m past a deadline and tearing my hair, but still…it’s true!) Some of my other favorite lines:

Because it’s cheap.

Beacuuse I’m proud to be a biped.

Because I can check on my neighbors’ gardens (aside: one of my favorite things about living in Cleveland Heights is how many people grow their flowers in their front  yards).

Because it’s a great way to meet people.

Because it’s a great way to escape people.

I noticed they didn’t list the reason I became a walker: because my knees hurt too much to run any more. But the poster got me thinking about what an essential part of my creative process the after-writing walk is.  After all that sitting, walking is pure pleasure. The act of it unties knots in my muscles and my brain, and it’s a rare walk when I don’t solve a problem–major or mini–in the work.  I love turning something so every-day into a kind of mediation, both nourishing and creative.  It’s pretty much impossible to feel anxious or depressed while walking, the horizon–or your neighbor’s perennial bed–beckoning.

The last line of the poster is corny but like so many other corny things,  worth considering: I walk because every step is a new adventure.


Candlewick is going to publish two more Cody books! That means I will have my first real live, actual, official series! The first, “Cody and the Fountain of Happiness”, with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler, will publish this coming April.  

The Lake House

I just came home from a five day writing vacation on the southeast shore of Kelley’s Island. I shared the rental cottage with two dear friends, one a poet, the other a prose writer. I’ve done this kind of thing before–most recently in VT on a bigger scale–and always there are surprises.

This time:

It’s a water snake, the kraken of Lake Erie! I’d heard rumors of them but this was my first encounter. They loved our rocky quiet shore–my friend Mary even began to name them (Ava, Letty). I was witness as one devoured a fish whole. Needless to say, this was zero at the bone stuff, and put a big crimp in my desire to go swimming.

Other suprises:

—One night I outlined the plot of my new novel and described a dilemma I’m in. This is Unheard Of Stuff For Me. I never talk about work in progress, partly because it relentlessly evolves and partly because I have a deep fear of jinxing myself.  But Mary and Susan were so helpful and pointed out some things lying right before my unseeing eyes. It made me wonder how much of my working methods are left over from when I  began writing, when we lived in a very rural area, and the internet was still a gleam on the horizon, so sharing my work was more or less impossible.  There’s a chance I’ll be less guarded in the future.  

—Angry Birds is not just a game. One evening  as I sat outside eating  my black walnut ice cream, a handsome bird politely eyed me. I shared the tail of my sugar cone with him, but as he flew away with it, a bigger bird pecked him and stole the cone. The humiliated little bugger turned around and  pecked me on the head! There is a story here, but it’s probably not for children.

–St. Brendan the Navigator once set anchor on a large pebbly island, only to discover, when he began to build a fire, that it was the back of a fish. Now that is a good story (thank you, Susan!).

Summer Cont’d

Our cat Habibi has made it his lifetime work to teach me how to relax. He’s forever demonstrating techniques and strategies. Today I’ll share his Sunbathing 101. Feel free to adapt to your own needs.

The Stretch:

The Wait, Is There Something Else I’m Supposed to Be Doing, For Example Meeting a Deadline?

The Nah!

Close your eyes and add a soundtrack of birdsong–relaxation guaranteed.