Friday, September 19, 2014
Writing about Place
We can write about place as a way of exploring and tracing our inner landscape. Feelings and memories resound like chords of music as we envision a particular place we have lived or visited. The memory unfolds and we are there with our senses enlivening the lyrical experience.
Posted by on 11/9/2013 8:02:00 PMComments 0
Explore Your Senses and Write
Want to write and don’t know what to write about? Explore your senses and write about the experience as fully as you can. Put a strawberry in your mouth. Let your mouth feel it before you bite into it. Take a bite. Relish the flavor. Is there more than one taste? Does it taste sweet? Wild? Slightly sour? Refreshing? Healthy? How many ways can you describe the flavor?
Posted by on 11/2/2013 1:11:00 PMComments 0
Top Ten Reasons Why Writing is Transformative
Writing changes us. When we create text, the self-reflexive process of writing allows us to interact with ourselves, our minds, our feelings. The inward and outward direction of our awareness during the writing process transforms our experience our understanding, our knowledge, and our skill.
Posted by on 11/2/2013 1:09:00 PMComments 0
Storytelling for Writers
Listening to some great stories today during a storytelling performance session reminded me that the art of storytelling can be an excellent exercise for writers. To tell a story artfully, capturing the listener’s attention, a storyteller must know all the component parts of the narrative but then be able to stand apart and enliven the narrative with gestures, voice, and timing. It is not enough to just tell the story, the storyteller must be able to create the significance of the story in a manner that is dramatic enough to stay with the listener.
Posted by on 11/2/2013 2:25:00 PMComments 0
New Beginnings
I live by the academic calendar and have for most of my life, so for me the new year starts in early fall, not January. The beginning of the new school years brings freshness, excitement, and a time for new beginnings. In earlier years, the excitement was accompanied by the smell of newly waxed floors, clean chalkboards, and new faces in the classroom. Today, new faces still bring a promise of new beginnings–warm friendships and interesting conversations to come. 
Posted by on 11/9/2013 5:25:00 PMComments 0
Change is Constant
Reflections on change seem to arise naturally out of the news these days. From earthquakes and tsunamis to tornadoes and floods, change is affecting thousands and thousands of people. Even at a distance from these disasters, we are affected by observing these often catastrophic changes.
Posted by on 11/9/2013 5:27:00 PMComments 0
Dara’s Top Ten Favorite Short Stories

All literature majors, whether undergraduate or graduate, eventually sit around and discuss what they would put on their lists of favorite stories, novels, poems, or plays. Though my lists tends to disassemble and reassemble themselves, my top-ten list of short stories remains the most stable. Below are Dara’s top ten favorite short stories (in no particular order except as they occurred to me):

Posted by on 9/21/2013 2:48:00 PMComments 0
Reflection–Dynamism and Stasis
I’m caught by the notion of stasis implicit in the dynamics of reflection. When we think visually of a reflection, for example, mountains and trees reflected in a pool of water, the dynamism occurs in the act of reflection–the bending back of the light rays–but the reflection itself is static (supposing the day to be windless and the water still). I believe part of the charm of reflections is this coexistence of opposites–the stasis and the dynamism together in the same experience.
Posted by on 10/19/2013 3:27:00 PMComments 0
Road Trip Shepherdess

I may not have been herding sheep but taking even a small group of college students on a road trip can be a wandering and confusing drive. Where were those idyllic moments when I expected to be gazing at the lovely Iowa countryside or the moments when I would pull over to photograph another gorgeous barn with a quilt painted on the side?


Posted by on 11/2/2013 12:56:00 PMComments 0
On the Road Home
The road trip I’ve repeated most often in my life runs from Iowa to North Carolina and back again. For much of my adult life I’ve lived in Iowa, but my family home was in NC, so two or three times  a year, I made the trek back and forth. I looked forward to these trips. I always feel free as soon as I take to the road, and I’ve made the trip so many times I didn’t need to worry about directions. I just took off and started driving.
Posted by on 11/2/2013 12:38:00 PMComments 0
Neil Armstrong and I
I visited Europe for the first time the summer Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, 1969. My friend Junie and I traveled with a summer-abroad program offered by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which we attended, and by nearby Guilford College, a Quaker college attended by friends. We flew to England by way of Iceland as most cheap flights did at the time, landed in Brussels where we marveled at the architecture, spent a week in Paris looking at art we’d only before studied on page or screen, and settled for the summer in London.
Posted by on 10/20/2013 11:19:00 AMComments 0
Road Trip to the Beach: Part I
I saw the ocean for the first time when I was seventeen. It was a cold, gray day but the ocean seemed infinite and I fell in love. After many other beach trips, mostly sunny and filled with play, my delight in the ocean has continued to grow. The sea and the beach always call my name.
Posted by on 10/19/2013 3:37:00 PMComments 0
Beach Road Trip: Part II
Before we headed on to the beach the next morning, we gassed Crawford’s Firebird up in Laurel Hill at a country store called Cash on the Barrel Head that Junie’s pop ran. In the store Walter Cronkite was always pea-green on the huge television in the store because her dad was color blind and never bothered to adjust the color. We chose sodas from the old fashioned coke case where you had to stick your arm down into a slurry of ice and freezing cold water. Somehow the cokes always tasted better from there. Junie would hug her dad and we’d be off. Sometimes we tried to time the trip so we could go to Calabash where everyone headed for seafood before we set up camp at Huntington Beach State Park, and sometimes we just headed straight to the beach.
Posted by on 10/20/2013 11:18:00 AMComments 0
Childhood Road Trips
My earliest road trip memories come from when my family traveled a couple of time a year from western North Carolina across the Smokey Mountains to visit my father’s parents on the family farm in eastern Kentucky. Interstates 40 and 75 didn’t exist then, so we usually followed U.S. 25 north across the southwestern tip of Virginia into eastern Kentucky. U.S. 25 was then a narrow two-lane road that wound and twisted through steep mountain passes and along the French Broad and Cumberland rivers. Drop-offs on the outer edge of the road plunged down steeply into valleys into what were called “The Nars,” small narrow gaps between the mountains. Sometimes we drove through the “The Nars” and other times we wound our way to the top of a steep mountains then and down again.
Posted by on 10/19/2013 3:41:00 PMComments 0
Mind Drift and Writing Prompts
Letting our minds drift is a good way to stir our creativity. A major pull of reflective writing is the freedom to drift, letting one idea, one image connect with another–seeing a rocking chair in a magazine ad and having it call up a memory of rocking on a screened porch in the South, sipping sweet tea and snapping green beans. Thinking about green beans brings the memory of the rows of beautiful home-canned green beans my mother put up every summer and stored on the pantry shelves, saving them for delicious meals later in the winter. That memory makes me wonder whatever happened to home canning? Do many people still home can their vegetables, or is it cheaper and easier to get them at the grocery stores?
Posted by on 10/19/2013 3:43:00 PMComments 0
Epic Moment—Learning to Read
I remember the exact moment I realized I could read. I was in (hmmm . . . I think) the second grade. My family lived in a large drafty old house, and on Sunday mornings my father would get up early and light a fire in the livingroom fireplace to warm the house up. Then he read me the “funnies” from the Sunday newspaper. This time was a special ritual for me. The house was quiet. The fire was roaring. The cartoon “funnies” made me laugh.
Posted by on 10/19/2013 3:46:00 PMComments 0
Threading Our Way toward Wholeness by Writing
Reflective writing is a conduit for memory. One prime stimulus for eliciting memories for reflection is returning to a location where one has spent time in the past. Twice I have returned to live in an area where I lived previously. The first time, ironically, I was returning to a community just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, the town that author Thomas Wolfe made famous in his novel You Can’t Go Home Again.
Posted by on 10/20/2013 10:40:00 AMComments 0
Pausing for Blueberry Reflections
Blueberries are luscious. For me, no other word is so apt to describe the taste of this fruit. Luscious. I have always loved these small, glorious berries. I discovered them in the wild when I was about eight. I lived in the mountains of North Carolina, in walking distance of my school and church if I cut through the woods behind my house. These woods were an old-growth forest of Southern stalwarts–pines, hickories, oaks, maples, and magnolias–and bushes and ferns.
Posted by on 10/20/2013 9:57:00 AMComments 0
How Writing and Transcending Differ
In an earlier posting called “Reflective Writing and the Experience of Transcending,” I talked about some similarities between writing and transcending, namely that both processes begin with an inward turn of awareness, both processes allow the experience of moving to deeper levels of thought, and both processes result in more creative expression. In my conclusion to that posting, however, I pointed out that the parallel shouldn't be drawn too tightly. 

Posted by on 10/20/2013 9:54:00 AMComments 0

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