Remembrance

In many faith traditions, remembrance is a sacred act. A devotion to God. Buddhism in particular offers a definition of remembrance that echoes this stage in trauma recovery. The Pali term sati can be translated as both mindfulness and memory. The Satipatthana Sutta teaches that sati enables us to see the true relationship between all things. We must awakenContinue reading “Remembrance”

What I Learned from Writing a Killer

Two weeks ago, Robert J. Ray—easily the best teacher I’ve had in any subject—told me to start writing my killer’s backstory in first person. No way, was my knee-jerk response. Hell no. Last week, Jack Remick told me the same thing. Goddamn it, boys. These two men, lifelong writers and teachers now in their seventies,Continue reading “What I Learned from Writing a Killer”

Responsible Fiction: Toe to Toe with Difference

Writers have to get outside their own skin. But sometimes I get overeager to inhabit differences. And I write about characters I have no chance of understanding. So I just finished revisions on a short story about an Ethiopian immigrant who runs into his past. At the grocery store, he comes across a woman who witnessed anContinue reading “Responsible Fiction: Toe to Toe with Difference”

Unfold into Blossom

If you’re not sure that opening is for you, every life is better for it. And if you don’t think vulnerability is really your thing, guess again. Grief shuts life down. Locks the doors. Pulls the drapes. Shutters the windows. But at some point, you have to go outside again. And inevitably, in your firstContinue reading “Unfold into Blossom”

Generosity and Optimism

MFAs cost a lot of money. Upwards of $30,000. But a cookie at my local bakery? Not so much. Every Tuesday and Friday, in a small corner cafe, writers come from around Seattle to write alongside Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick. For two hours, we talk shop and creative process and life. And thenContinue reading “Generosity and Optimism”

Family Tree

“In such a dissolved society,” novelist Jack Remick said, “Americans are hungry for cohesive units.” In “a nation of outsiders,” we flutter like moths toward anything that resembles family. So true. But how did we get this way? And what can lead us out of it? Thinking over my own life, I see I’ve hadContinue reading “Family Tree”