The writing life and the ocean--they have a lot in common.

Next weekend I'm giving workshops at Summer in Words on the Oregon Coast. It's got me thinking about waves. About ebb and flow. One of those I like. The other, not so much.

Last weekend I went to my son's college graduation. It was everything I hoped, sharing this heightened time with family and with friends become family; seeing my son in the world he made for himself; even helping pack and clean the dorm room and drive carloads for his friends--all packed into three days. It was exhilarating. A high point was senior Todd Anderson's talk about times that become fat with noticing. In life and death situations, it seems, our brains record every single detail in case some obscure, tiny point is what we'll need to grasp in order to survive. Time gets so thick and rich with details, it seems to slow down. I'd just been thinking about this brain research for my workshop on "Paring it Down to the Truth," so it struck home to hear it again in this context. Where should our writing be thick and rich with detail? And how does that relate to what we notice at times of change?

And then there's the plod plod plod of everyday life. When I came back home after the glorious weekend, I couldn't do a thing. All that rich intensity ebbed back into the ocean, leaving me on sand still damp and sparkling with what had been.

Now I'm thinking about waves, hoping the image will teach me to welcome the thick times and the sparse with equal grace.

As in writing, so in the writing life. Those times when inspiration surges in over my ankles, my knees, my thighs--when it threatens to knock me over!--I want it like that every day. But each wave ebbs back to reach into the depths and gather up the next wave. I'm telling myself to wait here long enough for the words to gather and wash over me again, briny and cold and invigorating.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It is true that words seem to wash over me like waves sometimes, while other times it seems like I'm sitting on the sand, waiting for the tide to come in.


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