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

Keeping the Faith and Doing the Work

Sometimes writing is just work. It requires stamina as much as creativity—especially in revision, with a draft full of problems to address, holes to fill, questions to resolve. The only way forward is to put one foot in front of the other, page after page, through the manuscript.

In the phase I’m currently working through, I measure progress with a growing stack of pages face down and finished. After that, some larger issues about the structure of the work need to be addressed. I don’t have answers for the concerns that await, which is hardly comfortable. But I try not to think too far ahead right now, just do the work in front of me.

2014-04-22 KaBooM Writing Table

I try not to look too far to either side as well, because there lurks the nasty question of what else I could be doing with my time. This work I do doesn’t appear to be making the world any better. It’s in service to something others cannot see, at least for now. And there are times when I have a hard time seeing it myself. I consider myself blessed to have friends who help me keep the faith, who know the life-giving value of good writing and the worth of pursuing and sharing it.

It’s an act of trust as much as an act of will to write. The words, the lines, the chapters require genuine toil to be well-formed. In the effort required to bring them to light there is the hope that they serve a worthwhile project, but not a guarantee. Does my vision of the completed project merit this effort? I hope so; I think so; but it remains to be seen. I continue not because I’m sure of the outcome, but because for me participating in this process is necessary to be fully alive.

It’s the process I trust. The impulse to write, to create, is life-affirming. The drive comes from some place I cannot understand, but the wisdom and vitality in that pressing energy is something I must answer to. And because the creative process has led me to places of astonishing beauty, I know that following it yields more than anything I alone might do.

Working to serve that creative energy is not so different from the actions we take in other aspects of our lives. We are rarely able to see the whole picture. We do the best we can to meet the needs of the day, to choose well, to live generously, in hope that our actions are in service to something that matters. We set the priorities and live the values that give shape to our days, our lives. We hope our choices allow us to live as a full and worthy vessel, its form growing clearer as our lives unfold.

Courage is what we need, whether to work hard at our art or to live out our lives, when we can’t know for sure the result. May we encourage one another.

At It Again

They say pets resemble their owners. I imagine him as merely meditating.

I don’t know what it is, but I can’t get my brain wrapped around writing again this month. I think I wore myself out writing 3 books in less than a year. (Last one comes out mid week next week –Imagining the World into Existence.) I told myself when I had a down week I was going to get back to my novel, abandoned a couple of years ago to:
a) Write the aforementioned 3;
b. Get PenHouse Retreat Center going, and the really dreaded
c.) Research and rethink the book.
It’s not a. or b. that have stymied me. It’s that research and rethinking. I found when I stopped I was reconsidering the use of the first person point of view. Wound up reading a few books that used point of view in ways that made me think third person was the way to go, including Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry. Brilliant book! But then a teaching gig came along at Berea and so I did that for a term—and didn’t write a thing other than comments on papers. And then there were the workshops I offered, the publicity for the new book. My publishers like it; I do it, but…
Well, there’s the being a writer part and there’s the selling the books and making a living part. I think I like the being a writer part best. Somewhere along the way I seem to have lost that woman, though. Like Gloria Steinem said: “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” Amen, sister. Afghan women will risk death to write poetry. (Fabulous article, by the way. Read it here. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/magazine/why-afghan-women-risk-death-to-write-poetry.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all)
I am just making my own small, but certainly public statement here. It’s time. I’ve taken 2 years off from this novel and now I need to either finish it or bury it. So as of now—now being the moment I post this– I am pulling the novel off the shelf and beginning to read it again. Just making notes on a legal pad to start. Here’s what I’d like you to do. Pinch me. Poke me. Hug me. Ask me how it’s going. Thanks. I’ll gladly do the same for your.

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!