"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

#2 Physical Distancing Prompt: Membrane and Tomas Transtromer

"Tomas Transtromer seemed to have unusual access to this membrane between this world and some other world that, as Paul Eluard said, is also in this one. Trastromer, in his poetry, keeps slipping into that space." - Teju Cole

From the Snowmelt of '66

Rushing rushing water's rumbling old hypothesis.
The river's flooding the car-graveyard, glittering
behind the masks.
I grab hold of the bridge railing.
The bridge: a large iron bird sailing past death.

by Tomas Transtromer from Bright Scythe (2015)

For today's prompt: Consider a membrane that separates two worlds in your own experience and explore that duality - maybe the window through which you now watch the world during self-quarantine?

Bonus: After writing about this membrane or duality in your experience, play with modeling after the poem above, using even the same punctuation and lineation if possible, to create a new syntax for your writing.

Be brave and share your writing in the comment section! You can read my response to this prompt there, too : )

Monday, March 30, 2020

#1 Physical Distancing Prompt: "Sitting together in the dark"

“There’s a beautiful Inuit word “qarrtsiluni.” It means, “sitting together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.” I’m happy to have that be my new bio.” – Teju Cole

If you want to listen to the interview, here it is OnBeing with  Krista Tippett.

Here's a writing prompt if you want: What word would you choose for your bio today? Can you find a word in another language? Look it up in a dictionary, a synonym finder, and research its etymology as well. What have you discovered? Share your explorations in the comments to my blog!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Dear Creatives,

“You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.” – F Scott Fitzgerald

Tangled Roots Writing offers all my workshops, editing, and coaching services online! My mission is to create and support arts and literary community - this mission is what created my business back in 2008, those golden olden days before pandemics when we could hold and hug each other. Now we reach out with our hearts instead of our hands. As I write here, I realize our hands will be reaching out via the page and language and we have something to say that matters. Join me in writing what you have to say.

“There’s a beautiful Inuit word “qarrtsiluni.” It means, “sitting together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.” I’m happy to have that be my new bio.” – Teju Cole

Here's a writing prompt if you want: What word would you choose for your bio today? Look it up in a dictionary, a synonym finder, and research its etymology as well. What have you discovered? Share it in the comments.

Take a look at the new online schedule via Zoom for my workshops. I have a new 6 week Monday night series beginning in April. I am also offering a blogging workshop to be announced soon. 

Please email or call me to connect, to share how you are doing, to chat about literature and creative process. Let me know how I can help you make today a creative and productive process to reaching your writing goals!

Happy writing,



Friday, March 20, 2020

We all matter: Teju Cole and Margaret Mead

“There’s a beautiful Inuit word “qarrtsiluni.” It means, “sitting together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.” I’m happy to have that be my new bio." - Teju Cole

I am beginning to realize we are living in a new world. The changes are beyond us right now, today, what we can recognize. I am recognizing  though a deep need for quiet, for contemplation, for listening. I am embracing Teju Cole's insight that we all need a great deal of help. That we are all sitting together in the dark. Later in his interview, he says that the dark is the unknown, and in this way, it is also hope. I wanted to return to Solnit's book Hope in the Dark after I heard him say that, to find intersections with this idea of hope versus optimism, which he was not proposing.

Cole continues, "One thing I do know for sure is that we all need a great deal of help. And a lot of the help that we need is in language, is in the language that has been boiled down to a quintessence so that it’s potent and effective. I continue to find a lot of that language in religious and spiritual traditions, as well as in literature and poetry — in Homer — without centering it on statements of belief, but centering it on experiences of insight or consolation.

Yeah, I think we all carry our secret debts with us, the things that we owe and we can’t quite pay back." - Teju Cole

Margaret Mead has said that a new civilization can be measured by the signs of caring for others, that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.
"A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts," Mead said.

I ask myself, What are my secret debts, the things I owe, that I can't quite pay back? What is it that matters right now for me, us? People matter, all of us matter, all 100% of us. Our connections with each other, our compassion for each other.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Wisdom I took away from the Business of Art Symposium in Nevada City

Last Saturday I participated in the Business of Art Symposium in Nevada City, hosted by Nevada County Arts Council. You can find the scoop in their calendar for county-wide arts events and opportunities.

Saturday's keynote speaker, Peter Blachley, Founder, Morrison Hotel Gallery, addressed a crowded auditorium at the Sierra Expeditionary Elementary School. He inspired the crowd of creatives with the possibilities of strategic business planning for an artist career. His advice included
  • make sure that your work keeps you close to the creatives in whatever field you are working in
  • choose to create in a place geographically that offers you room to grow
The business of art often involves this triangle of relationship: a need, a creative solution, and a sponsor. How do you connect these three elements in your business? And if you make these connections, ask yourself:  
  • What would I create if...
I began brainstorming my dream of creating a writers retreat this spring at the Lost Trail Lodge during the two keynote talks, and now I hope to move forward with collaborating on this retreat with some key creatives.

Eliza Tudor led a packed room through the "boring" anatomy of a grant application. She is a brilliant presenter, offering the crowd specific and tangible tools for finding, applying for, and winning grant funding for their projects.

I jumped on board the The Maker Movement at a panel with Liam Ellerby and Kara Asilanis, co- founders, The Curious Forge, Karyn Stanley, Executive Director, The Truckee Roundhouse, and Joe Taylor, artist, educator and Lead Volunteer at The Roundhouse. These collaborations offer opportunities for different ways to make and to network with creatives. A list of new vocabulary for me: Slack, Adobe "Capture" function, nation of Makers on Facebook, Instructables DIY website, Evil Mad Genius, CNC Router, CNC Plasma, Lasercutter, and 3d Printer.

Taking a break to soak up some sunshine, I met my new workshop buddy, artist in residence Ruth Chase. She is linking her three year project Belonging | HOME with a new program for organizations wishing to explore issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, and this will manifest as a convening May 8th, 2020. This project curates a sensitive conversation on what it means to be "at home." Her commitment to OF/BY/FOR ALL is helping deepen community impact, advance goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion, provide professional development, and develop new, community-centered ways of working. Being part of OF/BY/FOR ALL’s change network is the beginning of a journey for us all.

Our lunchtime keynote, SUMMONING PERSONAL AND COLLECTIVE CREATIVE EXCELLENCE, featured the beautiful video interviews by photographer Norman Seeff and art supporter Charles Hannah. I can't wait to see more of these unique videos and photographs of performers, musicians and bands. Norman Seeff spoke to us to help us identify that moment in your creative life where you made a paradigm-shifting choice or decision that changed your path in life.

Did you know Nevada County Arts Council serves as a hub for information on the arts in Nevada County, and the go-to place for ways to get involved in the arts in our county?

Nevada County Arts Council, by resolution of Nevada County Board of supervisors, is State-Local Partner with California Arts Council. A 501c3 not-for-profit organization, it facilitates collaborative efforts that promote and sustain the visual, literary and performing arts of Nevada County to advance the cultural, social and economic life of our community.