KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

In Praise of Moodling

Poem by Snail Light

“Trust the Process,” I tell people all the time, quoting my friend and mentor, George Ella Lyon.  Trust the Process, I copied out and put up by my computer when I began to seriously give myself to writing.  Did I know what it meant?  No – not any more than I knew what it meant to be a mother when I gave birth to my first child more than thirty years ago.


Oh, I had inklings (“inklings” – the perfect word, a scribble of knowledge, a sense of what’s needed – ink – but no clear idea of what to do with it!), but I had to be taught by the day-to-day doing and failing and despairing and going on.  Writing has taught me how to write and keeps on showing me the way.


Though I had people like George Ella and Brenda Ueland, in her book If You Want to Write, to point me in useful directions, I often resisted what I most needed to hear.  Like this, from Ueland’s book:


“So you see the imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.  These people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as ‘I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.’ But they have no slow, big ideas.  And the fewer consoling, noble, shining, free, jovial, magnanimous ideas that come, the more nervously and desperately they rush and run from office to office and up and downstairs, thinking by action at last to make life have some warmth and meaning.”  [p.32]


Years of being told to “quit that daydreaming” had nearly knocked the moodle impulse out of me.  But on days when I can recapture it, when I can slow myself down, I find that those “slow big ideas” are still there, clothed in images as water clothes itself in towering clouds on summer afternoons.


Some of you will resist this mightily (as I did), and your poetry will be as good as it always has been.  That’s about it.  You will get a good idea for a poem or follow an impulse that works itself out quickly in line and with images or sound, and you will be happy with it, and it can probably even get published, and that is that.  “Why moodle?” you’ll ask.  “It seems a waste of time, and I’m not getting any younger.”


Let the poem belong only to you for a while.  Or, better yet, put it away after you have drafted it – even if only for a week—and then take it up again.  Meanwhile, let it stay on your mind.  Jot things on the back of old envelopes – notes to the poem, reworkings of lines, a new image or detail.  Bring these to the poem as you’d give a gift to a newborn.  Try them on the poem.


Talking and busyness fill our days for the most part.  If, by chance or design, you find some time to simply be with your writing, please do not allow guilt or untimely interruptions to draw you away.  Trust what flows into the work from beneath.  Then go to work with inspired joy and abandon shaping it!


The Power of Story

It’s a hot Friday afternoon in summer, after five o’clock, and already cars and people have moved away from downtown Lexington. I’m walking uphill toward the Carnegie Center with one of the many writers I’ve worked with during my time at the center.

We blink as our eyeballs adjust to the light, bright after the hour we’ve spent in the StoryCorps recording booth, an Airstream trailer parked next to the old courthouse.

This interview, as much as any other event of the past months, seems a clear dividing moment, marking my Carnegie Center life from the new one I’m going to live, the one I don’t yet know much about.

I have a long history with this particular writer, a Vietnam veteran who first walked into the Carnegie Center in 1993. He wrote his manuscripts on legal pads and never used punctuation; I was a former copyediting instructor who had recently learned how to lay out books using desktop-publishing software. I read literary novels; he preferred westerns. He had done time in reform schools and finished fifth grade; I had a wide-eyed optimism for life, a belief in the opportunities provided by education.

We are twelve days apart in age.

Over the years he’s learned to use a computer, tried voice-activated software, started more books, devised a plan to employ the unemployable, written dozens of letters to celebrities and politicians, found a home.

I’ve learned to set aside the assumptions I make about people I pass on the street and to be delighted by the surprises in what they have to teach.

We celebrate all these moments in the StoryCorps trailer. In the panel-lined quiet, seated across from one another at a café table, speaking softly into the microphone, we start with our prepared questions, but soon find ourselves moving from interview to conversation, agreeing on the power of the written word to bring human beings together, to show us how similar we are, even in the midst of our differences.

Sealed away in the dim quiet, with late afternoon traffic moving past us just a few feet away, we affirm the value of sharing stories.



On Setting One’s Intention

Readers of our anthology When the Bough Breaks know that one of KaBooM’s shared habits at our weekly writer’s meetings is individual goal setting.  As honestly as possible, each of us takes a turn to look back and summarize what we’ve accomplished in the previous week.  Then we take a few moments to review the week ahead, reflecting on the writing tasks to which we’ve committed and the ones that remain as-yet-unrealized dreams.  Finally, we articulate—speaking out loud to each other—how much of that task or goal we think we can, or should, accomplish in the week ahead.

The wisdom of this attention to our intentions becomes immediately obvious when you consider that “everyone knows the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  Extend that aphorism and it becomes clear that no matter how bright one’s beginning, to accomplish the journey the traveller still make take each one of those thousand steps.    For some of us, each step requires a new commitment, and our KaBooM goal-setting time serves that purpose well.

This need to continually re-set my purpose is reinforced when I practice yoga with my wonderful teachers at the local Y.   There, we begin our classes with a mindful setting of our intention for that day’s practice on our mats by making our commitment physical.  We hold our hands in prayer position and place our thumbs on our foreheads, because that’s where intention starts.  We lower our hands to our hearts, because that’s where an intention begins to live, breathe, and have being.

From Sacred Source Yoga: http://sacredsourceyoga.wordpress.com/photo-gallery/ariele-meditating-in-nytimes/

Finally, our hands come back to our foreheads to “set” that intention.  When I set my goals at KaBooM meetings, I do my best to articulate goals that will live in my heart and prompt steadfast effort so that I have something of substance to report the next time we gather.

When I set my intentions for my writing work, I am taking seriously the dreams of my heart and the yearnings of my creative self.  At the root of the word “intend” is “tendre” which means, in part, to stretch.  There are times when the goals I set for myself feel too difficult, too great a stretch.  Yet by continually setting and re-setting my intention to make that stretch, the creative power available to me is a constant, wondrous surprise.