Tunes for a Monday Morning
Myths & shibboleths

It begins with noticing

It begins with noticing

From Moments of Being by Dani Shapiro:

"As I write, a hard rain is pelting against yesterday’s snow, and patches of dark green, wet stone, fallen twigs are visible just beneath fields of translucent ice. A world, submerged, slowly reveals itself. It reminds me of what it is to make a book -- or, perhaps, what it is to live a life.

"A world -- submerged -- reveals itself.

Moss and Leaf

"It begins with noticing. Something buried rustles and stirs. If we’re quiet and attentive enough, we may notice the stirring. What is this? Perhaps we poke at it. Or maybe we turn our backs. Run away. We ignore it. Or we don’t notice at all. We stick our fingers in our ears and hum a merry little tune. If we don’t notice, the noise might grow a bit louder, but maybe the contents of that submerged world -- that beast -- will turn over and go back to sleep. At least for a little while.

Frost rimmed leaves

"The thing about the writing life -- or any creative, contemplative, solitary life, really -- is that merry little tunes don’t work. Not in the long run. Not even in the short run. What we ignore, we ignore at our own peril. What we embrace with courage, perseverance, humility, and clarity, becomes our instrument of illumination. This is why I often say that when I’m not writing, I’m not well. What I mean by this is that my mind and my heart begin to become unknowable to me, because the way I come to know myself is through following the line of words until the ice melts, until the field once again becomes visible. Countless times, over the course of these thirty years of writing, I have looked back at a piece of my own work and realized: so that’s what I was thinking. That’s what I was feeling. I had no idea."

Wild daffodils

From Red: Passion & Patience in the Desert by Terry Tempest Williams:

"I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget….

"I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love."

Woven Textures

Snowdrops in the woods

Pico Iyer:

''I write -- though perhaps it sounds pretentious to say so -- to make a clearing in the wilderness, to find out what I care about and what exactly to make of it.''

Green World

John Green:

"I believe there is hope for us all, even amid the suffering -- and maybe even inside the suffering. And that’s why I write fiction, probably. It’s my attempt to keep that fragile strand of radical hope, to build a fire in the darkness."

Trailside Bloom

Octavia E. Butler:

''Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.''

Hound, noticing everything

Words: The Dani Shapiro passage above is from "On the Submerged World," published on her blog Moments of Being (February 16, 2016). The passage by Terry Tempest William is from her gorgeous essay, "A Letter to Deb Clow," which I recommend reading in full. You'll find it in Red: Passion & Patience in the Desert (Vintage, 2002). The shorter quotes above, and tucked into the picture captions, are from a wide variety of essays and interviews. All rights to the text above reserved by the respective authors.

Pictures: Moments in a Devon winter, on the cusp of spring.


Being There

Walking there is not enough,
the tramp of feet,
stirring of grass,
a narrow footprint in the mud.

Sitting there is not enough,
by stream side, on wooden bridge,
water running swiftly by,
leaves in its cool hands.

Lying there is not enough,
while the sky moves busily
at its work, making faces,
marking spaces.

Being there is not enough,
though it is a start.

©2018 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

beautiful post tightening the heart strings

So many authors quoted...beautiful. And thanks to Jane Yolen for her Being There poem! Such wonderful things to think about to start my day...or continue.

Thank you so much for the voices and reason that I needed so fiercely to hear this flustery, blustery February morning! Mokihana

Just the thing

In the muddle of my confinement
There is no other, no voice
Other than mine

Without translator
The voice remains


I tap a vein
Pick at the strand
Turn the thing

And write.

To carry this "idea of noticing things" one step further, I would say it intensifies; and our senses are heightened when we're waiting for something to happen, when time seems endless for the writer who is desperate to find inspiration and unearth even snippets of an idea. Everything around us becomes magnified. The landscape becomes a mirror of details not only reflecting what is natural for the climate and species, but also a reflection defining it human counterpart. Currently, I am in a state of suspension and looking for the impetus to start something and hopefully finish it.

Everyday, I appreciate seeing the crows in my garden, the mist lifting off the distant mountains and how the bark splits on certain trees in their skeletal form -- but now I have been compelled to look closer, make comparisons and relate them to myself. Morning authors more than light and shadow, the crisp wind and colder temperatures. It allows me to breathe in the significance of routine things and common species that dominate the season and its terrain. The familiar reveals its hidden secrets and perhaps, those secrets or insights which have been latent within myself.

The Authorship Of Morning

The air is cold, its sky
a silver rink with crows
skating on the wind

while others tramp
along the garden
searching for things to eat
or interweave a nest.

The flock torn
having descended earlier
from a common tree

while a different species
flies from my ribs
carrying the hunger
of an artist.

One bird feeds
on the memory of an idea
ending in a poem --

another scavenges the void
for snippets of an idea
to begin a poem --

and I stand watching
a woman's shadow stretch
between the stress-fractured limbs
of an elm, the idea

of a writer
in suspension, tangled
in the maze of her own
possibilities -- waiting

like Winter's patient
for something
to knit and bloom.

Dear Terri:

As always, you give so much insight and wonderful things to ruminate. I absolutely love these photos and the points of view expressed in today's blog. I know about those "moments of being", how they define the day and the soul which leads to the shape and context of one's writing. Thank you so much for these essays and narrative sources of inspiration.

Take care

Hi Mokihanna

Without translator
The voice remains


I tap a vein
Pick at the strand
Turn the thing

And write.

I can personally relate to this happening. The voice or the idea of theme or experience doesn't happen until something is noticed and touched, studied and absorbed. And often, it is the tiny thing, the vein in one's own palm or that of a leaf, a strand of hair from scalp or a tree root. Something that prompts us to perceive, not just look, and celebrate its presence through the expression of a poem or story. In its simplicity, this beautiful poem has much depth.

Thank you,

Hi Jane

This poem is beautifully voiced; and I love the way you show how just common motion, sitting, lying or walking is not enough. One can easily go through the journey of each action without taking notice or observing what is meant to be observed. But

if we are there, really there and breathe in, smell, see and taste that

"narrow footprint in the mud/leaves in the cool hands of water/ and sky marking spaces"

we begin to become what of the significance, the ordinary but extraordinary miracle that happens each day of each season. We step forward but still it is not totally enough.

Lovely, just lovely!

I love this one, Jane. I really do.

"Turn the thing/ Over" Well said. Thank you.

Lovely poem, Wendy. I appreciate the mapping of bird and morning to self. A creative process to be sure. I've been quiet here for sometime, too busy with family life to read every comment and poem, but still deeply appreciative of your continued presence and participation. <3

Thank you, just thank you, Wendy.


Edith I am awed, thanks.


Yes--that is JUST how it is.


Yes,Wendy, waiting for things to "knit and bloom". That's where I spend a lot of my writing time--not so much writing,but waiting for the stitches, waiting for the blossom, waiting for the right words.



Thank YOU, Wendy. Your perceptions are also so tender and thoughtful!

It is, Edith. Sometimes it's just that first motion that is the most potent. Thank you for your comment!

Um, hmm. This morning it was just the thing, Jane.

I am always surprised, but not when I find your poetry here to further the field turned up at Myth and Moor. Is it the timing? Probably. Is it the love for the tender of the field? More than not. For whatever reason your poem to start the thread of daily writes adds so much to my life. "Being there is not enough, though it is a start." Yes!

Thank you Jane.

Heavy burden, Mokihana. Wears on the shoulders. But will keep on carrying you on, if I may. If I can.


Hi Edith

It's so good hearing from you -- and I deeply appreciate your lovely commentary on my work and thoughts. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and contemplate them. That means alot to me as a writer.

Wishing you all the best,

Hi Jane,

I'm with you in the waiting -- it seems , at times, endless but inspiration and the idea does come at its own will and pace. Wish I could control that but in my writing process, the muse comes at random and I just have to wait. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, I deeply appreciate them and can relate.

Take care,
my best always

Waiting for the inspiration is rather like the unfocused birder's stare, nerves alert, waiting for any movement to vibrate the web of awareness.

I like so much that you remind me to look up and see those faces in the sky. thank you for such a beautiful poem. Moe Phillips

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