Category Archives: Journal

Precious suffering?

Credit: cohdra |

It is not suffering that is precious, but the concentric pearlescence with which we contain it. The raw grit of anguish will never be in short supply. There is enough of it in the happiest life to serve these instructive purposes, and there always will be. We are more sympathetic to Holocaust survivors than to malcontent children of privilege, but we all have our darkness, and the trick is making something exalted of it.

Andrew Solomon

Accept Sorrow

Credit: dtcreations |

Accept sorrow—for who cannot be profoundly sorrowful at the state of our nation, the world and our ecosystem—but know that in resistance there is a balm that leads to wisdom and, if not joy, a strange, transcendent happiness. Know that if we resist we keep hope alive.

Chris Hedges

A Life Raft

Credit: arcturusangel |

The artist, if true to his or her vocation, recovers the past and explains the present. The artist is the true chronicler of who we were and where we came from. Culture, in times of distress, is not a luxury but a life raft.

Chris Hedges

This is Precisely the Time

Credit: bluecot |

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

Toni Morrison

An Invitation

I’ve done it three times in the past few months and have loved it so much I’ve decided to make it a part of my life.  I’ve invited a writer into my St. Paul, Minnesota, home and provided comfortable, private space, meals and mentoring.

The writers who came to me were all previously published, though that is not a requirement.  All happened to have recalcitrant manuscripts they had been working on for too long.  Two of them brought novels that had grown cumbersome in their complexity, one a picture book that had seen many incarnations.  Each wanted a break, a new environment, nurturing, and one-on-one time with an experienced mentor.

And I wanted to dip back into teaching in a quiet way, have the pleasure of sharing my home and meals (I have more house than I need and I love cooking), and simply be of use to a fellow writer.  Women only, with apologies to any men who might be interested.

The way I’m framing this venture, now that I’m ready to embark on it more formally, is that the invited writer will arrive on a Monday afternoon and leave on Friday morning. I am ten minutes from the airport and will pick up and drop off.  Prior to your coming, I will read your manuscript.  No more than 40,000 words, which is approximately 150 pages, or if it’s picture books or easy readers no more than three, and I will provide a brief, written critique before you come.  A longer manuscript can be accommodated by judicious summary or we can discuss a different fee arrangement.

While you are here, I will go about my life and my work, but I will provide all meals and be available for further readings and all the consultation and good writer talk you need.  If you want to take time off for cultural activities—the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is rich in its offerings—or outdoors ones, I will join you.  (During good weather I keep a couple of kayaks on a nearby lake.)

If this invitation appeals to you, check out my website at If you’re interested, I’ll ask to see a small sample of your work to make sure I have enough to offer you, and after that we can talk about a time.  I’ll be offering these one-on-one retreats no more frequently than once a month.  First come, first served.

I have been publishing and teaching writers for more than forty years, and this kind of one-on-one mentoring feels like the work that my life has prepared me for.  I would love to welcome you and whatever manuscript you are working on into my home and my heart!