When I was a child my parents would remind us, "Don't forget to talk to strangers." How could we be helped if we got lost, or were hurt? And how else could we be citizens of the world? Our millions of intricate moves may be as direct and simple as making songs and learning from strangers. ~ Kim Stafford
A good friend tuned me in to a slim book book by poet Kim Stafford. The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft spoke to me on many levels. There were a million passages to quote and use and copy in my work with women and storytelling. It is a useful book that promotes at its core--listening for words and stories and life. There were many chapters and ideas that took my writer's breath away. I feel certain I will return to it.
The punchline is that it is a library book, and I cannot write in (or for that matter keep) a library book. Do you? Written in 2003, it is largely unavailable except on Amazon. I am certain to place an order for this book so that I can remind myself how to be a good listener of the muse that brings us story.
The various essays include writing exercises, stories about the writer's life (including a magical moment where Dick Cheney is the poet's muse), advice about how to listen and find story in everything, and a chapter on where to write. (We devote a lot of conversation about ideal locations and conditions for writing in my writer's group.) He addresses fiction, non fiction and everything in between. It felt like the most random, yet eloquent and useful how to write book that I have ever come across.
You'll need to order this one on Amazon as well unless you are lucky enough to have it at your local library.
If you want to begin your writing practice in this new year--I recommend starting here.