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February 2021

Being Out With Lanterns: Part Two

Emily DickinsonYou have once again proven how insanely interesting you are, Writerly Women! In case any of you missed it, yesterday I shared a marvelous picture of our Gloria reading a book entitled, well, How To Read a Book with a look of what Lily described as "disbelief" on her face. Aside from the kudos about the wonderful pink hue of her hair, your responses to the quickie challenge to write down the first thing that came into your minds were exactly what I expected. (If they hadn't been, this series would have needed some serious revamping from the gitgo ...) Here's what you've shared so far:

Jennifer G. – “How to Read a Book” was not written well.”

Pam – “Seriously? You wrote a book on how to read a book? And got it published? What the heck?!”

Lily – Disbelief Lily's rough week

Colleen - “Obviously I got it all wrong up to now!”

Natasha – “I need a metaphor about apples for her cheeks because they are gorgeous.”

Cathy – “It’s me! Every time I try to read a book (watch a movie, read a blog post, check my watch!) I get a great writing idea of my own and completely lose track of where I’m at in the story. That’s my look of saying, ‘Not again! Will I never get to finish a book in peace??’” (Cathy's shortest comment on record.)

Emii – “I THOUGHT I knew. Maybe I don’t know.”

Darlo – “You must what? I can’t believe I’m reading a book on how to read a book!” (By the way, welcome to the group, Darlo! It's good to hear from you.) 

Not a single person said anything close to, "I need to get that book." None of us can believe that anybody even got a thing like that published (especially those of us who have worked our butts off to even get an agent to take a look at our work!). Down to a woman, it was all, "Who needs this? I want to try pink hair!" Gloria

All of that leads me to another insanely interesting woman: Emily Dickinson. You know, Emily, right? Somewhat reclusive poet who left us, posthumously, some of the most meaningful poetry in the English language? Who among us can't recall "Hope is a thing with feathers that perches on the soul," or "I dwell in possibility," or my favorite, "So public, like a frog." She is one of us.

And when I came across this line from one of her letters, I knew that I knew that I knew she is still among us:

I go out with lanterns in search of myself.

You and I don't read books about how to read books. We don't search the internet to find what we must write about. We don't let YouTube videos and TikTok clips and Instagram posts tell us what we need to strive for.

And we don't let anyone tell us who we are.

Like Emily, we go out -- and in -- with a light in front of us -- searching, ever searching for the truth about us.

Another insta-challenge for you.

Think of an image -- if you don't already have one -- that says in its visual flash what it looks like when you are in search of yourself. Emily went out with lanterns. Henry David Thoreau went into the woods to live deliberately. (He literally did that, but the metaphor is still there) James Michner wrote of finding a mansion within that you can inhabit with dignity all your life. Poet William Butler Yeats referred to this as entering the abyss of yourself, which, he said, requires more courage than going onto a battlefield. Herman Hesse found the road toward himself. With THoreau

It's interesting that all but one of those quotable people are men. Let's be the women who hold the metaphors for self-searching, shall we?

        * Write down that image

        * Share it with us. No explanation required.

        * Come back Monday and get the next challenge. Bring your lanterns.


Nancy Rue   

P.S. This is me with Henry David in 2018. I, too, went to Walden Pond.

Being Out With Lanterns: Part One

Gloria FebHello, fellow Writerly Women. Today we're starting a new series here on the Doorways Blog, a number of linked posts inspired by two Insanely Interesting Women. Gloria. And Emily Dickinson.

We're going to go about this a little differently than usual, because we are nothing here if not creative, am I right? 

We'll begin with our Gloria, whose photo gives rise to all KINDS of creative thoughts. What actually is going on in this scene? That's a real question.

 What I would LOVE for us all to do is take a moment -- and not much more than that -- to write down the first thing that comes into our heads when we look at this picture. Whether that's what you think is running through Gloria's mind or a title you'd give the photograph or a word that says it all -- there are no rules. Just write it down.

Then share it in a comment.

We are all wordsmiths here so I'm not going to tell you to limit your comment in any way. I think I'd have a mutiny on my hands, led by Cathy! Just know that all I'm suggesting is a word, possibly a few, maybe a string of them in a sentence.  This is a quickie challenge.

It IS going to take us somewhere. I'll post Part Two tomorrow. The title of this series will be made clear then.

Meanwhile, thanks, Gloria, for letting me post this provocative snapshot. You rock!


Nancy Rue


Treatment Plan #9: Be a Geek!

Lily's rough weekHey, Writerly Women,

I love that Lily gave me permission to use this amazing photo! Doesn't she just say without words what we're all dealing with right now? Feel free to email me a photo of yourself expressing your own frustrations and funkiness and fun. Jpeg attached to an email is the best way to share.

We writerly artists are, at our best, an authentic group, and to me that means taking the risk to do what I learned a few years ago from gifted editor Kathleen Kerr (Harvest House). I invited her to teach at the Writing Through the Ages conference for children's and youth authors, and when she arrived at Glen Eyrie, she threw her arms around me and squealed, "I am so geeked out about this!" Kathleen Kerr

   I admit that until then I'd always thought of "geeks" in connection with computers - guys (okay, and gals) rattling off obscure facts about megabytes and broadband width that left my eyes glazed over. When in technological need, I had no problem calling on the so-named Squad, but I sure didn't want to be a member.

Enter Kathleen with her marvelous enthusiasm and knowledge and deep focus on finding the best writers in the business for kids in a challenging market. She spread all of that and more over the four days we all played together, always being true to the geek she is. 

After that, I wanted to be one too -- a geek, that is. But it isn't as easy as it seems. To be a true geek, several things are necessary:

    * You have to stop caring about what other people think of you. 

    * You have to cease only doing what's expected of you.

    * You have to own your geek-self and live it.

One of the trends when I was in college in the 1970's were the Jesus Freaks, people who completely turned themselves over to living as our Lord did on earth. Some of what they adopted were the trappings -- beards (just the guys!), robes, sandals, crosses on leather cords, Volkswagen vans painted with all manner of Christian symbolism. But the genuine among them were immersed in the life, the way, the truth.  We called them freaks, and they willingly owned that. 

I'm not suggesting we revive that lifestyle as it was then. I am saying that, like Kathleen, we would do well to at least internally geek out for God, so that we can also embrace our OTHER geeky-selves.

For instance:

    * Our Pam is an unabashed geek for all things fairy. She sees evidence of fairies in nature, looks for it, in fact.  Dragon emergence 7According to her, this is a dragon emerging, and I have to say I do see it. Pam is active in Realm Makers and misses no opportunity to don fairy garb and eat with her hands. I have experienced the latter with her, and I have to say it puts dining in a whole different light. 

 * Kate B. has no problem with expressing her great geek self in the way she dresses. 

Kate at GlenAnd that is reflected in the imaginative creativity of her writing.

We don't have to be Lady Gaga to be geeks, though I do love me some Gaga (her performance at the Inauguration was absolutely stellar) 

  • * Colleen can geek out with the best of them when it comes to kids.
  • * Andrea is a complete geek about science and the existence of sea monsters.
  • * Abigail, Caylene, Gloria Chelsea and Kelly get together on the regular and go up into the stratosphere of geekiness about their fantasy novels. I've witnessed it myself, and it is inspiring to behold.

And that's the thing, that inspiring part. Just in case you're thinking that this is all a little silly and self-serving, we do stir up enthusiasm in other people about their own passions when we are unashamedly committed to our own. I am continually energized by my deeply geeky ten year old granddaughter who immerses herself in all things Anime.   Am I going to put on a wig and paint freckles on my face and act like a character out of My Hero Academia? Mae animeUh, no, but when she leaves here every week, I want to fully embrace what fascinates me.

Maybe we should all do the same.

I confess, though, that this isn't a pattern with me. Yet. I blame that on so many years writing within the parameters of the CBA -- of working within the confines of public school teaching -- of putting my energy into mentoring writers without unduly influencing them in ways that would interfere with their authenticity. None of that is "bad." It has made me a responsible, successful person.

It just hasn't always made me a free one. A whole one. A completely expressive one. But I'm also experiencing a certain hitch in my writing that I haven't in the past, and I'm coming to realize that perhaps I'm not enough of a geek these days. I actually was one about tween girls and doing research and going after bullying and encouraging authenticity. It could be time to go deeper into geekdom and revive the creativity and imagination in my soul.

Wanna do this with me? Want to uncover what geeks you out and makes you want to do the things, write the stuff, push the limits, explore fresh territory?

I do.

So, the Treatment Plan I'm giving myself which you may want to try.

    * Brainstorm all the things that make you want to get up in the morning. (It doesn't have to be at the crack of dawn!)

    * Then brainstorm the stuff that makes you forget to say "should" and beat yourself up and eat an entire package of Oreos

    * Then add the items you want to tell your besties about, maybe in your brand of a squeal

    * Tell us. That's the first step in ceasing to worry about what anybody else thinks. 

My brainstorm lists revealed that I am a total Anglophile. That I count the days until the newest issue of Bella Grace magazine comes out. That I'm passionate about the ethical principles of yoga and how they parallel the teachings of our Lord. That I want to learn about my roots, maybe even doing one of those DNA tests and reconnecting with a cousin (I'd better do it soon; he's in his 80's ...) who studied our family genealogy some years ago.

Interesting ... I now know exactly what to do with the last section of my novel.  


So, my insanely interesting writerly women -- geek out!!!


Nancy Rue