Writers gather to hone craft

Published 7:49 am Wednesday, August 4, 2010

“A writer’s job is to make the ordinary come alive, to awaken ourselves to the specialness of simply being.”

— Natalie Goldberg

I don’t know how many years we have gathered at the library on Wednesday at roughly 7 p.m. to write, with thanks to Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” that got us started way back when, and had our first go at it in the Senior Center.

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Over the years we’ve also spent time at an old historic cabin on the edge of town where we are able to stay past 9 p.m. and have an occasional glass of wine and an occasional mosquito. We still get together often at the library.

Another source we utilize is “Old Friend from Far Away — The Practice of Writing Memoirs,” also authored by Natalie Goldberg. Tim of our writing group, who teaches English in Adams, uses “Old Friend from Far Away” that he provides for his class. Last year Tim invited Betty Benner and me to join them and share a few pieces of our work, and Tim’s, and then we listened to their work. It was a joyful occasion, especially listening to the students reading their work. Something we missed out on and many schools still do.

In Sunday’s Star-Tribune opinion there were write-ups on gubernatorial candidates and the one that struck my eye was: “The sensible center has the best focus,” campaign assertion of Tom Horner, Independence Party candidate for governor. His emphasis was “How to lead from the middle.”

In regard to K-12 education Horner says, “Minnesota needs high school graduates who are prepared to succeed in whatever life brings next” and that is not happening enough. “Sometimes students aren’t learning, sometimes because they aren’t challenged and sometimes because they are lost altogether during their high school years.”

He says, “We need to put teachers — not their unions, but the instructors themselves — in charge of our schools. And that won’t happen unless a governor leads from the center. Democrats won’t buck education unions, and Republicans won’t challenge their antigovernment constituencies,” he tells us.

He says we trust the judgment of trained professionals. “Trust teachers to figure out how best to engage students, how to spend education dollars and how to hold both themselves and students accountable.”

Horner closes by saying only a centrist governor has the policy freedom to promote the ideas that are best for Minnesota. “And only an Independence Party governor can build the broad coalitions —with the help of a cabinet of experts selected because they are the best, not because a political debt needs to be paid —that can get the job done.”

Of course, who would ever consider the sensible center to have the best focus?

Another monthly event occurs the second Friday at the Brick House where writers share their poetry at 7 p.m., facilitated by Michael Cotter and other storytellers, poets and writers. I think there may be food served before 7 p.m. but you might want to call the Brick House to confirm that. All ages attend. It’s fun. One young woman plays her guitar.

As for Mello, she is limping again. Casey confessed that he was throwing a tennis ball for Mello to chase when she slid into a door or something below the door. We haven’t made a cast yet.

I hope everybody in town got to see the 14 pelicans that landed in the Mill Pond last week. I assumed they were swans when they first landed and probably would have maintained that thought had it not been correctly mentioned by a couple local acquaintances. I kept my swan thoughts to myself.

There’s still coot, enjoying life there and some fishermen. Joe can be found casting from the shore out in weedy access. He has a small black rubber mouse that he sends out on his precise casts to alert whatever kind of fish might be lurking beneath the crop of late summer weeds. Joe then reels in his line hoping to free one of the fish not tangled in the weed to latch onto the rubber mouse. Joe has caught some big ones there and no doubt will continue to catch more. John M. also stopped by on his bike and the two of them exchanged fishing thoughts while I kept my eye on the pelicans that were hanging together at the other end of the Millpond. I finally got to see them up close before darkness caught them.