Tag Archives: The Porches


I spent a blissed-out couple of days at the Porches this past weekend, participating in Valley Haggard‘s writing retreat. As I confessed to our small group on the first day, I have been fastidiously avoiding a story that’s been poke-poke-poking me for the last three months. Because it is a story I lack the competence to write.

Or perhaps another way to describe it is as “the story that I’ve told myself a story about.” Although I am sure of the title, and of the last scene, I do not have the broad general or the small specific knowledge to portray one of its protagonists: an evangelical man.

I’m not a man. I’m not evangelical. My tongue mangles the word evangelical when I speak it aloud.

But! Here is the prompt from Valley that shifted my willingness to try to write the story. Admit to yourself you don’t think you can write the story. Then mutter to yourself: “If I WERE going to write this story, however, this is what I would say.”

Perhaps as you’ve already guessed, when I pretend I’m not really writing the story, just writing about what I would write, IF I were writing, which I am NOT, ohnonotmedon’tthinkI’mwritingI’mnotstoplooking! … then … a whole bunch of stuff pours out.

English: Maple sap being transformed to maple ...

English: Maple sap being transformed to maple syrup at a sugar shack in Pakenham, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a messy pour, and my knowledge gaps are like sticky pools of syrup. But I’ve set little “find out more” notes adrift in these pools, and now when I need a break from the writing, I hop on Wikipedia and start to clean them up.


Sharing others’ good words and mojo

Brendan Constantine, thank you: this blog post  says it better than I could have, and echoes my heroine Priscilla Long’s advice: a large part of creativity is production, finished pieces. Can’t make a pie if we spend all our time perfecting the crust. Fling some berries-n-sugar together, spoon ’em in that misshapen piece of dough, cook that baby in the oven and then see if it’s any good.

The Porches

The Porches (Photo credit: orange cracker)

I’m writing at the Porches in Norwood, VA this week: a tornado alit here last week, folding a metal roof back like so much origami paper and felling a 26,000 pound tree on the local (historic structure) church. The retreat house itself: untouched. The California-based writer in residence during the tornado: went back to her third floor room when she saw the 50-foot-high maple trees in the front yard  bending to kiss the earth. Those of us who can imagine three stories off the ground is a good place to be in wind like that: creative to the max.

Whatever the tornado of your life is right now: get back to your room and do your creative thing. That mojo will keep you safe-n-sane.