The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

A wonderful way to live; a terrible way to make a living

Must be brief!


I’m on a writing retreat with these author friends (and others) and I should be thinking about my fiction, NOT about Ethiopia Reads, NOT about my blog, NOT about all the other things that tug at authors including how am I going to pay the rent THIS month?

I often try to remind myself–when I get too whiny–that artists have never had an easy time of it in this world.  There’s a reason for the term starving artist.  Many artists these days are starved for time as much as money.

Yes, the chance to tell our stories–through black marks on a screen or white page, through painting, through sculpture, through the flex of muscles and the tighening of sinews as the body leaps or crouches or delivers a punch line–is precious and important.  My cowboy ancestors knew that one way to keep cold and chill and lonliness at arm’s length was to tell a story or pull out a guitar.

The arts are a wonderful way to live.

They’re just a terrible way (in most cases, for most people) to make a living.

I’m thankful this Monday morning for community…my author friends who gather with me every year to write together, talk about writing, talk about the brave new worlds of publishing, talk about what it’s like to make space for writing in often tough, usually busy lives…

…and the Vermont College MFA community–all the students and fellow faculty members and administrators and artists who keep it going and keep it strong.

This life in community is the sprinkly part of the cupcake, the thank-God-I-have-a-sleeping-bag in the howling wind brushing up against the side of the mountain where one happens to be barely stapled to a ledge.

In a world where many of our friends are virtual and rats nibble and lurk, well, YAY for retreat.

YAY for people to hold pinkies with.

YAY for families by choice and by default and by tenderness.

Onward we go.

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