Monday, December 20, 2010

The Work We Love

On this winter solstice I feel the amazing circularity of life. So much changes and old things circle back, seemingly new. This post was written a few weeks ago as I embarked on a short stint as “librarian in residence” at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Interim Librarian -- the old fashioned kind.
Okay, this is one of those opportunities to return to basics, embracing, as the Buddhists say, beginner’s mind. Working this week at the Ghost Ranch Library I had to learn again to stand on my feet for hours “reading” the shelves, focusing on the call numbers so as to catch a displaced stray. I searched for missing volumes, organized the overdues, brought the serials log up to date. When I was tired of that, I found the archival glue and book tape and repaired all the dilapidated Star Wars series in the children’s room. After the first day when I had washed my hands fifty times I walked to the Trading Post to buy a tube of bay leaf bee balm. I had forgotten how dust and paper dry your skin out and, in New Mexico, even more so.

The Ranch was nearly free of guests, but the staff (cooks, farmers, wranglers, maintenance folks, and office workers) use the library a lot. They immediately began singing my praises simply because the place was clean and tidy once again. Anyone could come in and read the Rio Grande Sun and find all three sections of the paper in one spot. It had been a long time since I’d done such simple work and received so much appreciation. I thought this was going to be a breeze, a lovely breeze.

But on day three I got the key to the two back rooms where all the hidden work was waiting. Anyone who has ever worked in a library knows there has to be a rat’s nest where what you don’t have time to do gets stored and often falls into a variety of confusing heaps. This is where an old professional has to get her hands (and knees) really dirty; where she has to bring some order out of chaos. I was tempted to shut the door . The Ranch is going to hire a full time librarian next year. Let the newbie do it.

No. I could at least get a start on this. So I sorted all the gift books, all the books marked vaguely “problem” and threw out catalogs and advertisements long since out of date. I fired up the catalogue computer and read the manual for using Bibliofile, a software made to pull down catalogue records, as we say, and print out cards and labels.

I should tell you right now I didn’t get it all done, but every night as I walked in the dark to my lodging I was tired. I’d done a good day’s work, the kind of work I used to do a long time ago, and could still do, apparently. For being such a way-back week where I had to call upon an accumulation of former skills, I sure felt new. Renewed, I guess the word is.

I’m wishing all of you good work, paid or unpaid, but always satisfying, as we circle into a new year.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

RACH Students Read and Review Dave Egger's Zeitoun (see previous post for background)

Michigan State University and East Lansing
One Book/One Community Project

Assignment Completed

Professor Skeen and MSU students of RCAH:  

I’m happy to post your fifty-word reviews here for all to enjoy. My review of your work, you may notice, is also limited to fifty. Am I becoming a fifty-phile, a bit obsessive with the miniature review? There are worse things, surely. I hope each of you will discover many literary fascinations and follow them.

When reviewers must limit themselves to fifty words is that blessing or curse? Struggle or piece-of- cake? Students, most of you chose carefully, others rushed the assignment, breezing to fifty ASAP. Notably, Pappalardo, Molnar, Speigel found evocative language to capture the tensions, tembre/tone and moral cautions implicit in Zeitoun’s Katrina. Jane Vincent Taylor

 Grace Pappalardo
Accustomed to mending things with a hammer and nails, Muslim contractor Zeitoun is challenged with the monumental task of repairing his life after Hurricane Katrina strikes. Armed only with a canoe and a passion for humanity, he braves both the detriments of natural disaster and those of America’s racist past.

WIDK(words I didn’t know): attrition, gregarious, derrick

Quote: “It was the very nature of this small, silent craft that allowed them to hear the quietest cries. The canoe was good, the silence was crucial.”

Allie Speigel

Its eerie, dreamlike cover speaks for the contents. Follow Abdulrahman and family through Hurricane Katrina, their eye-opening story of perseverance interlaced with Qur’an verses and intensely personal, involved family history. Alone in the semi-deserted city, he experiences tremendous human strengths and failings. Shows what fear, disaster, stress do. Humbling, heart-breaking.

WIDK: Bycatch

Quote: “He always remembered this dolphin, a magnificent ivory-white animal shining on the dock like porcelain. The fishermen nudged it with their feet, but it was dead. It had gotten caught in the net and, unable to reach the surface to breathe, it had died underwater. If they had noticed it in time, they could have freed it, but now all they could do was throw it back into the Mediterranean. It would be a meal for the bottom feeders.”

Natalie Molnar

Zeitoun chronicles the attempts of one family to pick up the pieces Hurricane Katrina left. Those pieces had once formed a collage of days spent painting homes for fickle clients, the scowls of strangers at the signt of a hajib, and, throughout the devastation, liltingly lyrical excerpts from the Quran.

Alyssa Sprague

A quick and fast-paced read, Zeitoun describes a resilient family struggling with the aftershocks of Hurricane Katrina. Provides a raw, unbiased account. Tackles a variety of prejudices. Unnerving yet hopeful. The characters? selfless acts remind us of the value of community. Offers hope for New Orleans and America.

WIDK: symbiosis, technophile, abaya, hubris

Quote: "Anything could happen. Anything had happened."

Laurie Hollinger

This story of the Zeitoun family’s experience of Hurricane Katrina, told with a journalist’s balanced spin, exposes events largely hidden from the media. A must read for believers that martial law couldn’t possibly occur in the good ol’ USA, and for professed patriots adamant that Muslims can’t be “real Americans.”

Quote “Everything happens for a reason,” he tells them. “You do your duty, you do what’s right, and the rest is in God’s hands.”

Lauren Hall

Gripping, powerful, and inspiring; Zeitoun simultaneously embodies the best and worst in human nature. One man, one family, and one city transform as the chaotic ocean spreads love, humanity, and honor with fear and misconceptions. When waves recede, destruction rages. What can we do? As Zeitoun says, "build, build, build."

WIDK: crux, idyllic, dissonance

Quote: "Without someone guiding us, wouldn’t the stars and the moon fall to earth, wouldn’t the oceans overrun the land? Any vessel, any carrier of humans, needs a captain, yes?"

Arielle LaBrecque

David Eggers' attempt to portray life of the Zeitoun family in the aftermath of Katrina would better serve as a journalism piece. Undeniably informative, yet lackluster detail and minimal characterization leaves reader dissatisfied; the book's controversial topics and characters are not nearly as deep as the waters of New Orleans.

Quote: "This has been the pattern of his life: ludicrous dreams followed by hours and days and years of work then a reality surpassing his wildest hopes and expectations."

Mallory Deacon

A gripping memoir of the man/family Zeitoun during Katrina. A story of stubborn compassion and the adage, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Graphic depictions of citizens’ survival and captivity send warnings of Islamophobia and racism. Appalling incarcerations make you feel anger, disbelief, compassion, respect. It makes you want to revolt.

Quote: “If he was innocent, then I feel very bad…Here’s the bottom line: I wouldn’t want something like that to happen to me personally.” –Officer Ralph Gonzales

Abby Schottenfels

Zeitoun, written by Dave Eggers, is a story of particular bravery. The author presents Zeitoun as a hero, but also a human. While reading this you see one man's reaction to a tragedy, and his family's reaction to that. Best read all at once. Recommended to those who desire hope.

Jessica Bluhm

Captivating account of one family during Hurricane Katrina. Zeitoun is a suspenseful and yet hopeful page-turner. Experience the overwhelming power of love, faith, tragedy, and triumph. A juxtaposition of modern prejudice and the American dream exposes this country’s false assumptions of equality. Gives new meaning to “One nation, under God”.

Quote: “Be strong, be brave, be true. Endure.”

Hallie LeBlanc de Smith

Katrina’s horrifying aftermath is revealed through the survival story of a Muslim American family. Expect to be overwhelmed with emotions— fear, pain, sorrow, stress, anger, relief and joy-- of the Zeitoun family. A painful realization of police brutality, lack of control and racism in the face of a national disaster.

WIDK: ubiquitous, wuduu, salaat, nepotism

Quote: “When a crime is committed by a Christian, do they mention his religion?...A white man robs a convenience store and do we hear he’s of Scottish decent? In no other instance is the ancestry mentioned."

Andrew Smith

Dave Eggers' Zeitoun isn't a pretty story. His account of a Muslim-American family dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina certainly isn't a tragedy, either. Sweet remembrances of family and small heroics drift by as we learn a bit too much about our country and those supposed to protect it.Patricia Miller/town

Patricia Miller, a member of the One Book/One Community annual writing workshops, contributed this 50 word book review of Zeitoun.

An engaging, touching, horrifying account of a Muslim family following Hurricane Katrina. The natural and political worlds collide in a violent zigzag between horror and beauty, devotion to duty and city, and personal degradation beyond American experience. Riveting action and pride in family, religion, and place illuminate this tragic story.

Thanks to all of you who participated.
Good Luck and Good Reading!

See below for an overview of the Residential College.

The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) at Michigan State University is a unique undergraduate degree program for students interested in literature, history, ethics, the visual and performing arts, and the study of languages and cultures. RCAH students chart their own paths within a flexible program that encourages individual expression, exploration, and achievement. They meet and learn from some of the world’s leading writers, artists, and performers. They live and learn together in Snyder-Phillips Hall, a historic building at the heart of the MSU campus. And they dance, sing, play music, act, create art, and write in their own classrooms, theatre, art studio, gallery, media center, and music practice rooms. Live your learning.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Fifty-Word Book Review

Special Post
for Michigan State University
Professor Anita Skeen’s Creative Workshop (RCAH 291): Writing Miniatures.
(but you non-student readers are welcome, too)

Below you will find a sampling of 50-Word Book Reviews originally posted for fun on my Facebook. I wanted to generate more book talk among my bookie friends. But I think the original impulse arose when I realized my Book List notebook was inadequate. For years I’ve kept track of books I’ve read, noting the date, biblio-info, and a few words of response, plus a five star rating. In 2007 I read Winter’s Bone and gave it a full five. I loved that book. I wished I had written a bit more than…yeah for the strong female protagonist. Now that the movie is out, I’m going to reread it and write a decent review…but in only fifty words.

The fifty words is purely arbitrary but I’ve found it makes the task more interesting and, like poetry, makes every word do some work. And, since I was posting these into Facebook Notes, I respected the fact that Friends wanted to read quick and move on. A possible add-on feature outside the fifty word limit was sometimes a list of words I didn’t know (WIDK) and a favorite quote. Perhaps this is just a way to use my reading notes, but pulling pertinent language out of the text provides a little teaser.

As you will see, my approach is to write in a familiar voice as though talking to a friend. I usually had a hundred words in a first draft and began whittling down from there, looking for more judicious ways to express the thought. I also tried to capture something of the tone of the book into the review. How to do this, I’m not sure. Upon finishing a book, I have the author’s voice in my head and I always wrote immediately after reading while I was still surrounded by the world of that book.

I hope you enjoy this assignment. I find it a good practice for a reader/writer, keeping the reader a writer and the writer always in conversation with other readers. I look forward to reading your fifty words, and if you and Professor Skeen agree, I would love to post your reviews here on my blog.

Sample of my 50-Word Book Reviews
Too Long a Solitude: poems by James Ragan (University of Oklahoma Press)
First, you want to hold it: the cover a pearly sky above icy ocean; book bound the size of a fat sympathy card. It does in thirty-five neo-Wordsworthian poems what such a greeting ought to do: help you see the world so close you want to live and trust again.
WIDK(words I didn’t know) merle, supernal, heliopause, whimbrels, kittiwakes
QUOTE If for each of us a rope/could swing us/ long and light across a widening trough /I would want to land upon the Isle of Echo/

2. The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet/A novel by Reif Larsen (Penguin, 2009)

If you’re one who tends to quit a novel early, read to about page 275. You’ll have enjoyed T.S. (Tecumseh Sparrow)’s post-traumatic fascinating lists, graphs, numerations, but you won’t have to wonder why the author let some adolescent child (?) finish the heretofore beautifully wrought backwards-train-ride of a story. Mr. Larsen, please!

Cutting for Stone: a novel by Abraham Verghese (Knopf, 2009)
Marion/Shiva, conjoined twins severed at birth, are little gods at the center of this Ethiopian saga. Love and doctoring in a mission hospital: no chapter anemic, characters fully fleshed, politically sobering, spiritually and sexually lavish. So many ways to go under the knife. Instructive. Terrifying. Beautiful to the last page.
WIDK: Tizita, injura, kitfo, krar, fistula (I’d head of but didn’t fully understand)
QUOTE: We are all fixing what is broken. It is the work of a lifetime.

4. Gate at the Stairs: a novel by Lorrie Moore. (Knopf, 2009)
Always a wizard of wit, Moore’s jokey pen runs amok. Her farm-girl freshman spouts academic acerbity while looking for a focus: marriage/birth, class/race, terrorism. Dark . Funny. Billed coming-of-age, I think not: someone’s too self-satisfied. And after so much death, she ends too easily with an adolescent quip, dear reader.

5. ZOOM/ a wordless picture book illustrated by the artist Istvan Banyai (Picture Puffin, 1998)
Cataloged “visual perception -fiction,” zoom is pencil-dynamically psycho-cosmically true. Who doesn’t want to zoom, divine the world? First, a red landscape turns into the comb of a barnyard cock, then zooms out to two children who, like us, think they know place and distance. Each page asks, is this it?

6. FACE: Poetry by Sherman Alexie (Hanging Loose Press, 2009)
Face: courageously confront; a look we’re born with.
Born encephalitic, exaggerated, imbalanced (big eye, small eye), Alexie takes given forms, mashes them with rez/runaway Indian speak. In Vilify, (villanelle defining Native American poetry as funny grief) he considers history’s lyric and footnote, refusing carved stone. Face! a declaration of victory.

Friday, August 6, 2010

At Cottonwood, The Ghost Ranch Library

(This essay was written a few years ago. The library now has an online catalog and wifi is available...sometimes.)

Cottonwood, like almost every old library, has a ticking clock that quietly marks time in the background of your reading. This one is simple and accurate. Nine o’clock. The wood carved Spanish clock chimes softly as it hangs in the reading room above the fifty-drawer oak card catalog. Yes, only fifty drawers! Small, this five-room adobe library, small and sheltering, old and trusting.

I love the circulation counter, a mere trestle table with pens and a box in which to toss the check-out card when you decide to take a book beyond the building. It’s modern in one way, though. It is open 24/7. The sign says to leave the light on at the entrance but please switch off the others if you’re the last one out. Conserving energy. Conserving years of southwest history, particularly of this Piedra Lumbre, Valley of Shining Stone as it’s called.

Here is a quiet conservatory of stories: anthropology, theology, myth, poetry, fiction and the vast arts of New Mexico’s High Desert. The collection reflects the reading habits over time of those who’ve lived and summered here for fifty years.

Ghost Ranch is comparable in size to the island of Manhattan, just as storied, but perhaps more haunted. The oldest structure on the Ranch is Ghost House, but this biblio-casita just a few yards further down the dusty road was christened Cottonwood when it became the library. Its ghosts are not the shades of rustlers or rustlers’ enemies thrown into a nearby well or hung in the huge and gnarly cottonwoods. In these few rooms live the lucky ghosts of writers who were inspired by other spirits to write their stories down, to map their knowledge in paper and ink. Paper and ink is what a library lives on, what it smells like, how it generates. In libraries such as these, the printed word still hangs on the pages of long gone trees. Nothing has yet been digitized. There is an outlet for your laptop. There is a little alcove with a Smith-Corona electric typewriter you can use when no one else is reading in that area. (an unspoken rule of courtesy.) I’ve typed out many poems in that corner when I used to come to the Ranch sans this handy Dell.

At 2:00 a.m. when the place is draped in starlight-cluster black, when it seem an empty bowl for coyotes to sing into, you can sit at a carrel at the end of a row of music and drama. Above is a tall narrow window and a hanging lamp with tin-worked shade sending a quadrilateral of light down on your page. In this spot you can write a litany of complaint, a letter to your distant father, or a lyric note to the most secret love you’ve ever had. I think one could write a shopping list and be pleased that pen met paper in this hour of night.

You can also pull the silver chain and douse the manmade light and sit in the dark with only a hint of your own reflection; only the outline of kitchen mesa there for you to ponder. In such a quiet hour, you might be visited by the memory of the ones who built this structure as their home in 1932. Robert Wood and Maggie Johnson were fleeing the increasing threat of child abduction after their friends, the Lindberghs, lost their little son to a murderous kidnapper. One of the Johnson & Johnson brothers, Seward, took his family to hide in the Bahamas, but Robert knew the Packs who then owned Ghost Ranch and offered it as a getaway for many easterners and others fascinated by these pueblo lands. So, in distress, the Johnsons came and brought their fears, their finances, their little daughter, Sheila, her nanny and her burly body guard. They built the first and only two-story adobe dwelling on the place. The Johnsons only stayed a year or so but they made a footprint on the land. They left this safe house, now a book house, still sitting cozy among the rabbits, lizards, and Hollyhocks in summer.

Sometimes during drought a deer comes down at night from the surrounding mesas. I saw one once hidden in the tamarisk fronds, looking in the western window of the library. For a wandering doe the patch of light might have signaled danger. For me, this cool adobe space always says don’t be afraid to go a little deeper, consider further, consider, just consider.

The Ghost Ranch library has a Reference Room with massive dictionaries, atlases, oversized art and photo books of Ansell Adams, Walker Evans, Georgia O’Keefe, Eliot Porter and a fine collection of Pueblo arts of every era. Past the References, the newspapers (yes, they have the New York Times) and the thirty current periodicals, is a central reading room. Tucked behind is an almost hidden children’s room with bean bag chairs. Just now a little boy is nearly swallowed up in a bag of blue intent on his Nintendo. Alas. He could be reading about the dinosaurs found here a few decades ago. Ceoleophysis, a small chicken dinosaur, is practically a mascot at the Ranch. But never mind. No one here tells you what to read or do. Perhaps the young boy needs a moment to himself making things happen the way he wants them to, even if it’s only on a tiny screen.

Off the central reading room is what I think must have been a bedroom. One step down and through a low-slung door is what I call the ‘God Collection.” Anything that falls into the BL/BX call numbers is shelved together in this special alcove. Two stuffed chairs with ottomans, plus one wood-hewn reading table with four wide and leather-seated chairs await the reader. When sitting at the table, you can almost reach the books shelved on the walls to your left and to your right. I know by now that at my right elbow sits religions of the East, and to my right I can feel the heat coming off the Desert Fathers. This room is where I love to be. If I could read every page of these 2,000 wisdom books I think I might just levitate. I might fly like a nightingale out the crank-out window like a saint in a bright retablo. But now I have to rise and close the window because a storm is coming in like Jesus off the mesa. When it storms the library is a lovely place to be. It can get crowded as folks duck in to wait it out and watch the lightening from the portal shelter.

A library should always be a refuge. I think all libraries should have a couch, and Cottonwood has two in the adjacent lounge where, daytime, writing classes gather. I’ve come into the foyer in the early morning to make a cup of tea and see there on the sofa a mom and little girl arm in arm, curled up together. Sometimes when kids can’t sleep the parent and child schlep over to the library to read Goodnight Moon, or come just to escape the snoring closeness of the family packed into one 4-bunk room all week.

In this hour of early morning I engage my personal library ritual: to pull a book at random off the shelf and read a sentence from the middle, digging like an archeologist for something I’ve not seen or known before. I lift the phrases out like ribbons of lost breath, mystery from someone else’s mouth, a spark that once lit another human brain and now lights mine.

Today my pick is initially disappointing: some man named Thomas Odan interpreting First and Second Timothy and Titus. Uh-oh. I’m not really up to speed in Bible. I confess I know not Thomas, Tim or Titus. On this page the author speaks of duty. Immediately I want to choose another book, at least, another page. I see the scholar strains to find a right interpretation, to do his job. My job, my practice is to gather language and fold it back into a body, the body of my notebook, the body of my day, perhaps the body of a poem. The quote my eyes rest on: be ready for any honest work. My work, my task this year is to find and mine the hidden libraries left in the ever- changing landscape of the book. I start here. And if you are in the area, wonder into Cottonwood, pick up a book, opening randomly. There are voices here. Perhaps they want to speak to you as well.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Retreat with Owl

There are many ways to abandon routines and retreat for writing. Where ever you go, it’s a matter of finding empty space and you know how much most of us hate empty space. Fill those shopping bags, play that music, restock the dwindling pantry. Gosh, I’m hungry. I better read the New York Times. Is it time for Dancing with the Stars?

I’m telling you this after seven days alone in a lovely woodsy house facing the empty space I wanted in order to make new poems. Right now, I do not like it. It’s really empty. Yesterday was the same until the barred owl flew across the deck and into a copse of oak sheltering herself in soft green and mottled light. “I have your back,” I said to her from the screened in porch. She twirled her head and gave me a film-noir look of secret collaboration. Very brown in her barred gown. Very Bette Davis.

This is the place creativity needs, a theatre of vacancy and potential drama. It’s available to us when we get our writing selves queued up, primed and open. The critic, Peter Brook, refers to it in his book, The Empty Space. Drama happens not just on a stage, but everywhere when we are in that heightened place of expectation. One dramatic gesture can set it off. One whoosh of a wing. One glance of intrigue.

Today I wait for my barred beauty to fly back into our shared woods and invite me into her blinking consciousness. My job is not to strain after her avian nature. It’s just to fill up the blank page with lines that draw us both into perhaps a kind of nightjar of language. You know what I mean. I want to write a poem that contains the perfect balance of thought and empty space . It should be a poem big enough for you and me and the natural world to meet. I’m missing you, my friends, my loved ones, for whom I live and write. But I’m gratefully on retreat. Clouds are darkening. Now it’s raining and there’s a lot of space between the drops.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Power of Play

It's almost summertime.

Remember when that meant we had lots of time to play? Tag, Red Rover, Hide and Seek, and games we made up as we went along. As a poet I learn over and over how play sets the imagination to work and I surprise myself into writing something fresh and new. Moving through the squares of hopscotch with my grandchildren leads to a phrase "the rock falls on the line more often now" and I can feel a wave of language and song pushing me toward paper.

It is in this sense of play that I will offer a writing class the first week of August at Ghost Ranch called Rock, Paper, Scissor: Writing from Choice and Chance.

DATES: August 2 - August 8, 2010 (arrive Monday evening, depart Sunday morning)

PLACE: Ghost Ranch/ Abiquiu, New Mexico

REGISTRATION: $250.00 before May 15/ 350.00 after that date

ROOM & BOARD: varies based on choice of accomodations (camping,casitas,single or shared room, etc)

CONTACT for more information:, or email

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Poetry Summit

I like summits. And lately they seem to be in vogue as a way to solve intransigent problems, or at least let competing ideas bounce around the room.

When I have the scantest, thinnest, roughest start to a poem and am of little faith, I gather a congress of former teachers around an invisible table and imagine what each might say in response to my new draft. I call this my telepathic critiquing summit – diverse, contradictory, and multi-partisan.

First to arrive is Betty Shipley, my original prime poetry teacher, saying: image, image, image. Don’t amass abstractions. Power up your verbs. Tighten lines. Trim.

Betty tends to go on and on, so I pass the talking stick to Judith Johnson, mythopoetic wonder-woman, who gets up from the table and dances some kind of rumba and insists that my poem needs space to breathe and is cramped in too-tight stanzas. Reformat, release it. Read it from the bottom to the top and feel the way it opens up.

Mark Doty, with whom I’ve only had one chance to learn from in a workshop, smartly orders me to write longer: you’ve stopped too soon to know the possibilities of this poem. Push forward. Don’t be lazy or afraid.

I always love to see Naomi Shihab Nye,(shown in picture) whose teaching is as wise as it is kind, advising me to look in my notebook for the line I may have left out. Write three sentences a day in your early-morning voice. Listen to the voice.

Uh, oh. Ed Allen, the dreaded one-time writer-in-residence, frowns: these poems are so dull you should just give up! (Excuse me, Professor Allen, who invited you to my special summit?)

Jane Hirschfield sits at the table, lovely as Kuan-Yin, quietly pointing out the place where I am being clever. The striving to be a smarty-pants makes a sour note.

Teacher extraordinaire, Anita Skeen, who knows my trouble spots so well, suggests my poem doesn’t start until stanza two and perhaps ends stronger earlier. This is Skeen’s “hats and booties” test. Many poems are too warmly dressed with unnecessary openings and closings weakened by a tendency to make things click. Where is the negative capability? Heaven help the poem that turns into a little sermon-ette.

At one of my recent sessions I was visited by the amazing Francine Prose, who never mentioned poetry the one time I heard her speak on the creative process. Now she looked around and said, oh, excuse me, I was looking for the writing room.

I remembered how she had told us that when she sits down to write the room is always full of people—her mother, grandpa, lovers, teachers. As she writes the room begins to empty out until she is alone. And then when she falls deeply into writing, it’s as though she herself goes missing, and only the creative energy remains.

Indeed, sometimes that happens. In summit, I might find just the right advice, then go on to write away all my dear advisers. I like summitry… as long as I don’t forget who holds the gavel.