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Field Notes From Mary Sojourner

by Mary Sojourner Sep 30, 2009
In this new series we look at field notes from well-known writers, then ask how their writing and creative process takes shape. We begin with novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and NPR commentator Mary Sojourner.
Field Notes:

and so it begins. I drop off a sack of clothes at the Animal Shelter second-hand store. The worker closes the door. A moonstone lies in the crack between the door and driveway. I head back to my car. There is a word in my bones, then another and another.


I walk to the door, crouch and pick up the glowing lozenge. It is a glass pebble. Perhaps a woman poured a bag of them into a glass container. She threaded the stems of three perfect iris through the pebbles. When she poured in water, the pebbles shone bluepinkyellow. Iridescent bubbles gathered on the iris stems. She heard a tap on the back door.

to be continued

This is how it works.

On Writing and the creative process:

I’ve taught writing for seventeen years. I teach in the same way I write. There is an open space. There are impulses and longings. The way opens ahead of us. The writing takes hold of us and makes itself. Much breaks up.

Making. Nothing exotic. Making stories, making art, making bread, making shelves, making the broken whole, making the filled empty and the empty full, making love—all making is making love. A new student waits till the end of the writing class I teach to ask his question: “How do you write a novel? How do you know what to do?” A veteran student grins. She knows what I’ll say. We have just finished writing about houses and mountains and the razor’s edge.

“You write a novel the same way you just wrote. You put the tip of the pen on the paper, or your hands on the keys and you start. Every day, every other day, once a month, you keep going.”

The new student tucks his notebook in his pack and laughs. “I was afraid you’d say that.”

[This was an excerpt from a recent article at The Source Weekly.]

Community Connection

For more of Mary Sojourner’s writing, please visit her blog, Wordsmithing.

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