I’d like to thank author and teacher Jamie Cat Callan for being our guest blogger and instructor for April. We’re looking over the contest entries and will choose a winner by the end of this month.
It strikes me as I read over Jamie’s posts and think back to the days when I studied with her at Fairfield University how important those first classes were. Those were fragile, special times when a budding writer and editor could easily have been crushed. Some of us were sharing our work publicly for the first time, but Jamie made it safe. She had a way of listening not only to what we writers of varied backgrounds and talents were saying, but what we wanted to say and often had trouble expressing. By listening with the heart, she would compliment us whenever we came up with something, anything, decent, then gently steer us out into deeper waters. Those were nurturing times and essential for writers who are starting out or starting over, with second or third or fourth careers.
Those times also were preparatory for tougher days, when competition would become stiff and sharp-edged, with no time to dwell on the writing over a cup of tea. The tea gets put aside and grows cold quickly as the many responsibilities of writing as a vocation or an avocation clamor to be met. Now it’s coffee on the go, because tea isn’t strong enough anymore, and coffee seems more portable.
That’s why it’s refreshing to rediscover the tools Jamie shared with us and the right-brain-ness of her technique. She found a way to encourage the outlandish while directing it toward something workable. She could take the threads of thought from our often tangled writing and show how they could be woven into an eclectically lovely tapestry. Then she taught us to see connections in the seeming randomness. It’s a wonderfully ethereal way to think that is easily suffocated in a puzzle piece culture where things seem like they always have to fit.
With wit and wisdom, Jamie’s ability to cultivate right-brain-ness became the essence of The Writer’s Toolkit. If you didn’t get a chance to check it out during the contest, take a look at the next time you’re in Borders. You’ll find within its quirkiness a way to approach writing that allows the work form but still lets it fly.
“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue, an everlasting vision of the ever-changing view.” Carole King, from the album Tapestry.