You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2008.

Describe your writing or art-making space.

Yark!  I write wherever I am–sometimes at my computer desk on the desktop computer or in a notebook.  Sometimes I write while sitting on the couch or in bed, with the laptop or pen and paper.  I’ve been known to go to the library and hide in a corner and scribble like mad in a notebook.


For art–there’s always the floor–and the table–when I can find it.  Usually the floor though–more room there and I can spread out more.  Since i cannot get to any table lately, I have actually been using my ironing board as a sewing platform to hold my sewing machine aloft as I sew.

Describe your writing implement, device, equipment, or tools you use to create.


pens of all sorts, pencils, crayons in a pinch–usually because my dd steals all my pens and leaves me broken bits of crayon in place of the stolen pens, laptop computer, desktop computer, dip pens, markers, a finger or two dipped in paint upon occasion


What is the oddest object in your creative space?

a big round metal thing–we found it on the ground during a trip to the library–it looks as if it fell off someone’s car although for the life of me we cannot identify where on any car or truck or anything else it could have come from–it’s as big around as my hand with a big hole in the middle and all rusted and beautiful–and my dd and I immediately said we needed it for an art project–that particular art project has not yet presented itself so I have the piece just lying here and there as it gets moved around alot just to keep it out of the way

Do you listen to anything while you create? If so, what?

my dd singing is a norm–Deva Premal, Duran Duran, Madonna are other typical things–of late my favourite thing to listen to is absolutely nothing at all–which has now come into conflict as we live in an apartment and school is nearly done for the year apparently as there are kids–as in near teen-agers always about yelling and screeching and basically being a menace on many levels

Do you engage in any interesting habits, exercises, warm-ups or rituals before you settle down to create?

hiding from cats and kid?  making a nice strong pot of tea is a definite–I drink tea all day and night.  other than that I do alot of deep breathing all the time

when I use the laptop I do try to keep the charging cord nearby just in case I need it lest I lose anything 


Raven TK


In no real order at all…with no real rhyme or reason…


1.  Geisha by Liza Dalby–an exploration of the real world of Geisha 

2.  Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman–much better than the movie too

3.  Emotional Yoga by Bija Bennett

4.  Drawing As A Sacred Activity by Heather Williams

5.  All Year Round by Druitt, Fynes-Clinton and Rowling



Raven TK

These are all books I’ve acquired since I moved out here, and I deliberately chose different books–it didn’t seem interesting to grab all the communication texts I teach from

1. 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Phoenix.  A book that breaks down interesting hikes by views, difficulty, location.

2. The Zen of Seeing. A beautiful book,  hand-drawn and handwritten using shades of gray and black inks, that promotes seeing and drawing at meditation.

3. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks.  Music and the brain. (I’m tone deaf.)

4. Book Proposals that Sell.  Step by step instructions for writing the non-fiction book proposal.

5. Create Your Own Artist’s Journal. A beautifully written and illustrated book that grounds you in the practice of keeping a visual journal.

My books are in no particular order:

The Creative Habit

The Witch of Portobello

The Elements of Design

Not Quite World’s End

Jottings: Flights of Fancy from Liz Smith


Only by closing my eyes in front of each section of shelves stacked with books, more or less arranged in genres, and reaching out blindly.  Thus, I came up with these five.  In an hour, or a day, there would be a different five.


1.  Die To Live – Questions and answers about meditation, existence, life, reincarnation, etc., with humor and wisdom.


2. The Source  – one of the first books taking one place on earth (a tell in Israel) and relating a fictionalized history of that place and surrounding area since the very beginning.  Going through the history of pagans, Jews, Christians, Muslims, the book relates the beginnings of the centuries-old problems still affecting that area, and the world.


3.  Writing From Life: Telling your Soul’s Story – great prompts and writing information to assist you to dig deep into your life and its motivations.


4.  Soul Collage – Great information and examples on how to do collage to enhance the processing about who you really are and why.


5.  The Doomsday Book – science fiction whereby historians in 2055 go to the 14th century to observe, unfortunately arriving in the midst of an influenza outbreak which complicates their project.  

I can’t just list five – here’s another I have to include:

6.  God’s Whisper, Creation’s Thunder – dealing with the connection between findings of the new physics and the insights of the great mystics.

1. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – poetry

2. Zen in the Art of Writing – essays on writing

3. Aunt Dimity, Vampire Hunter – a cozy mystery

4. The Fire Rose – a fantasy, retelling the story Beauty and the Beast, set in early 20th century San Francisco

5. The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns – the title says it all!

– She Wolf


The place where I like to write is where I am right now.  A comfortable computer chair with head and lumbar support combined with a card table situated by a window looking out over my backyard.  From this spot I can meditate, read, or write at the table with my purple gel-pen.  Frequently I lean back, gaze out the window, watch the birds, butterflies, bugs and bunnies, while clouds of all configurations coast by. I delight in the deciduous and evergreen trees of all hues of green, and revel in whatever flowers are blooming, from the huge wild rose bush with cascading white-flowered canes to the erect purple iris – I observe it all, and mull.


Mulling is the process whereby I throw various ideas and thoughts in, allowing them all to slowly simmer at their own pace as they recombine into new permutations and possibilities.  It is my brain’s slow-cooking process whereby ingredients swirl around in the stew pot, colliding, passing by, softening and recombining, each adding flavor to the other, to concoct a great stew or soup.  And sometimes an unexpected ingredient I forgot I even added enhances the end result. 


I sit, surrounded by bookcases of books, art supplies, pictures of my loved ones, even a reproduction of a clay Sumerian tablet from about 2500 BC I purchased on one of my many visits to the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.  I often wonder what people might think if they rummage through the collapsed remains of my house in Arkansas years from now and unearthed what would appear to be a Sumerian artifact.  One of the unexpected ingredients surrounding me.


The place where I like to write is also the place where I like to meditate, read, mull, watch nature without the exposure to ticks and chiggers, plan gardens, listen to music; in other words, the place where I relax in ways necessary for my life.  I realize, though, that I might sometimes need to inject a little more fire and play into my mulling to prevent the tendency to drift off with the clouds.  




1. The Creative License – a book about creative everyday journalling

2. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior – novel with a spiritual twist

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time- written from an autistic boy’s perspective

4. Himalaya – armchair travel

5. Beyond Baked Beans Green – veggie cookery

Small Graces- simple beauty of everyday life

Brian Froud’s World of Faery – luscious artwork – over 30 years of his magical mystical beings

The Book of Weird – a quirky encyclopedia of mythical creatures & their descriptions

Green Man myths – an anthology of wood sprites/beings/stories

The Golems of Gotham – “A book Job might have written if he had a wry sense of humor” – “magical realism that delves into Holocaust memories”

The Practice of Poetry(Robin Skelton, once my teacher, a guru, wizard, and  poet-this book is always in use for the classes I still teach)

Possession (the novel of research and librarians, greed and determination)

Benang (  Perhaps the  most imaginative historical novel I have ever read, the story of the aboriginal people in Australia)

Chaos (James Gleick makes the history, science and art of chaos theory understandable for those of us who, perhaps we were girls missed out on  physics courses in our education)

Narrow Road to the Interior (Hamil translation of Basho reminding me of a world that once was so very gentle)

And and extra for an old woman’s vanity:  Flight Patterns, my own book of poems by me!

The Stand by Stephen King: I read this once a year, at least. King’s best book, raising all kinds of questions about Good and Evil, the nature of society, the best and worst of humanity – the characters are so beautifully drawn, I feel as if I know each one personally now. The underlying theme – what do you believe? What do you hold sacred? Would you take a stand? Powerful stuff.

Nigella Express: My favourite cook book at the moment. I love the succulent way Nigella writes about food. Even her recipes-in-a-hurry dally over the sheer pleasure of cooking and eating. My son in law, the Filipino chef bought it for me as a spur of the moment gift, so it is doubly treasured.

Roget’s Thesaurus: A very old, battered Penguin paperback edition.

The Prester Quest by Nicholas Jubber: I’m reading this now. It’s the hilarious account of Jubber’s quest to walk in the footsteps of a medieval priest charged with finding the mysterious (and non existent) Kingdom of Prester John, somewhere in Africa.

Ghosts of Vesuvius: Charles Pellegrino’s rivetting comparison of the destruction of the twin towers and other major disasters, such as the sinking of the Titanic and the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. I found it incredibly moving; when Pellgrino and his fellow workers returned to Pompeii after sifting through Ground Zero to study the damage and compare it to Vesuvius (the effects were the same, so investigators were hoping to save lives in future events of this type, including volcanic eruptions) their attitude had changed dramatically. Pompeii was no longer a historical event but an intensely human one. For the first time, these pragmatic scientists `contaminated’ a site by leaving memorials for the long dead – such as a doll, from `the childen of New York to the Children of Pompeii’ (because one of the bodies found at Pompeii is a small girl child clutching a doll.) A most beautifully written book – I highly reccomend it.

Okay… here are 5 books off my shelves…

1) The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

2)  Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error

3) The Blithedale Romance

4) Desert Solitaire

5) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Here’s a fun discussion prompt that allows us to know each other better.

As quickly as possible, list five books from your bookshelves making sure they are not all from the same genre. For example, it could be a novel, autobiography, about science, on spirituality, a cookbook, a book, a memoir, poetry, art, how to, business, self help — make sense? 

You can give a brief one sentence description of what the book is about. However, don’t give us any information on why you chose these books or the name of the author (not needed). Just list the 5 book titles and what the book is about and then post them to Blue Stocking Society. That’s it 😉

The second part is where the fun comes in.  We comment on each other’s list of 5 book titles, sharing our perception of what each title tells us about the person we are writing about. When commenting on the book titles, it’s best to write what first comes to your mind instead of trying to figure what you think or know about the person.

I’ll start it off with five (5) book titles from my bookshelves. I look forward to everyone jumping in and posting their 5 book titles and then all of us commenting on each other’s titles.

Here goes:

1) Einstein’s Dreams, a novel (simple, lyrical, and literal details to locate Einstein precisely in a place and time–working on his bizarre, unheard-of theory of relativity)
2) A Trail Through Leaves, The Journal as a Path to Place (a treasure-box of ways to write, draw, and be alive to the world.
3) 7 Deadly Sins of Chocolate (a cookbook with chocolate recipes designed to represent the 7 deadly sins)
4) Brave Hearts, Rebel Spirits (stories of modern-day prophets of positive change inspiring the world
5) Through the Eyes of the Gods: An Aerial Vision of Africa (aerial photography showing us the remarkable part of the world from a whole new angle)

— genece hamby, contemporary artist & poet

Let wayward fingers
prize words out of the ether
minus thought
drift on the edge
across the final bar
that fences the horizon
only the white flag
signals trust
I hoist the blank page
and hope
there are words, and wordlings
far beyond my minding

Writing Rituals – or generally odd things I’ve gotten away with using
the excuse, “Because I’m a writer…”

–One of the oddest writing spaces I’ve ever used was an abandoned,
quite weathered tiny mobile home, which had no electricity, no
furniture, no bathroom – and it was parked in a national forest (behind
a friend’s log cabin). Me, a yellow legal pad, and a couple of pens – I
had everything I needed to write for a whole weekend. My only company
was a few long-dead wasps on the floor. It was quiet, peaceful, and I
filled several pages easily…

–Probably the oddest writing utensil I ever used was a dandelion. I
was at an outdoor concert, got inspired, but had no pen or paper. So I
tore up a paper drink cup, picked a dandelion, and smeared a poem. It
was a rather short poem.

–I don’t know how odd it is, but it seems appropriate for a writer: no
matter what room I’ve used as an office, I’ve always hung a bright 9 X
12 inch orange sign with 4-inch glow-in-the-dark letters that spell,

–When I was writing my novel about my experiences in a religious cult,
I used to listen to Gregorian chants to get in the ethereal mood.

–For warm-ups, I try to remember these inspirational words from Ray

“You throw up at the typewriter all morning and clean up all afternoon.”
And “He who has fun creates!”

—an aside – When John Steinbeck was writing East of Eden, he kept a
companion book which was published as Journal of a Novel. He would warm
up for the day by talking about the story, how it was going, his hopes
for it, by drafting a “letter” to his editor each day…Often, the last
line of the letter read, “And I hope you like it…” I try to keep that
same warmth, friendliness, and respect for my readers in mind when I
start writing…


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April 2008
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