Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Naomi's nuggets of wisdom

This is more for me than for you, but here are my notes from Naomi Shihab Nye's reading, panel discussion, class visit, etc.

Put your character on the witness stand. Ask them - what is this story about?
Let the characters be who they are.
Revision is a wild, chaotic time. She revises by hand.
Don't be afraid of flash and burn. It's okay to be ruthless for the sake of the story.
To the question: must we always write what we know?
We all know more than we think we know.
Write what you know, but also write towards what you want to know. (William Stafford)
Don't expect perfection. Go easy on yourself.
Be kinder to yourself - Jack Kerouac (big Kerouac fan, as well as Townes Van Zandt and Tom Waits)
Be more restful in your work. It should be fun!
To the question: what do you do about writer's block?
I pull one of my favorite books off the shelf to get heartened.
Pay attention to the small details. We should give ourselves continuous small treats.
Images can transport us.
You are never too old to keep a notebook. She always keeps one with her.
William Stafford's process: horizontal writing (on the couch), morning writer. Grounded himself in the date, then wrote notes or prose fragments from the last 24 hours, and lastly, "aphorisms" or flamboyant statements that ask big questions. Then he played with all of it.
You don't have to wait for something big to happen. Lots of small things are happening around you all the time.
The purpose of poetry is to recognize the details of people's lives, so we can see our shared-ness.
Celebrate poetry month! Write to people who wouldn't expect to hear from you. Readers and writers are very tied together.
Develop a regular writing practice. You get more with a regular practice.
Found revelation in reading plays
Try new things - write on construction paper.
Hit up the nobodies, they might become somebodies.
Old country travel tradition - always carry a plant, always stay rooted

Get ready for more of this as I am heading to Minneapolis tomorrow for the AWP conference! More amazing writers laying on their wise words....... I'll be the one furiously taking notes!