Category Archives: Writer

Different kinds of writing

Someone could get to thinking that I have fallen out of the writing habit, given that it’s been a while between posts.

Not the case. Every day I do some kind of writing: content for websites at work, documents for organizations I volunteer with, or simple journaling for myself. Those words end up in the world, but not in this place.

One of my favourite daily writing practices involves Twitter. Every day (or most days anyway) I craft a very short story through the hashtag #vss365. That is, a Twitter-length story based on a prompt word, 365 days a year. Here a few of my favourites.

What kind of writing have you been doing lately?

Beltane: Turn and return

A bright fire to you all. We turn and return.

Where I live the pouring rain of dreary spring lingers still. I hope that where you are the sun of coming summer is shining.

Poetry month: Found poem

“Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems . . . A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.”


With the guidance of JC Sulzenko, I crafted a found poem. (Find it at the end of this post.)

Here is the process:

  • Find a source text. It could be a table of contents, or a series of titles, or a restaurant menu.
  • Either erase words you don’t want to include in your poem, or highlight words that attract you.
  • Create a poem with the chosen words.
  • The words should appear in the same order as the source material. (Perhaps with some allowances for changes in grammar or punctuation.)
  • Credit your source(s)!

Here is the source that JC provided for us. It is a list of best-selling book titles.

I Will Find You
A Death at the Party
The Movement Miracle
It starts with Us
8 Rules of Love
Women Talking
Run Towards the Danger
Worthy Opponents
Old Babes in the Wood
The Myth of Normal
The Book of Rain
Love, Pamela
Hello Beautiful
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse
Birnam Wood,
12 Rules of Life
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Murder at Haven’s Rock
Song of the Sparrow
Kunstlers in Paradise
When the Body Says No
Pure Colour
Someone Else’s Shoes
Young Forever
The Story of Us
Rez Rules
The Light We Carry
Eight Strings
Scattered Minds

And here is the poem I found there.


At the party
worthy opponents, rain love.
The fox rules paradise,

Try it. It’s fun. What poem can you find in the list of titles?

When you start to think, stop.

“My gauge each day, in all things, is simply this: Is what I’m choosing (to think, do or say) moving me closer to my Creator or farther away? For this question, I am immensely thankful. It saves me an awful lot of backtracking, worry lines, frustration, angst and apologizing. Today and every day, I give thanks for my ability to exercise power of choice—even when I’ve chosen wrong.”


Years ago I attended a writing workshop led by Richard Wagamese. His process, he told us, was to go for long walks in the hills and tell himself a story out loud as he climbed. When he returned home, he’d write it all down, letting the words pour unto the page. He’d write, he said, until he “started to think.”

When thoughts began to run through his head—”Is that the right word?” or “Should I take that part out?” or “This is the worst thing ever”—it was time to stop.

The words weren’t coming from Source anymore.

At the workshop he invited participants to give him a topic—any topic—so that he could tell us a story. Several times he received his subject, reflected only for a second or two, and then began to speak.

In a miraculous way, he opened himself up to become a channel for story. He surrendered to it. Story unfolded through him, complete and beautiful from beginning to end.

I think of this often, when my hands hover over laptop keys, uncertain. Or when those questions or comments start to circulate. “Does this word belong?” or “Is that part too long?” or “Am I wasting my time with this?”

I’m no Richard Wagamese, but I try to recreate what he showed to me that day, not only in writing, but in day-to-day life. For stories or for difficult decisions, I try to open, to surrender, and to allow the unfolding.

When I manage it, even a little, I’m surprised by how complete and beautiful it all turns out, from beginning to end.

And when I start to think, I stop.

Cover of Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations by Richard Wagamese

In sauna

“I noticed that she used this phrase again and again: in sauna rather than in the sauna. She’s not talking about a building, a little pine shed with burning coals in the corner; she’s talking about a state of being.”

—Katherine May, speaking of a Finnish friend in Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Yesterday I took a day. A whole day.

I went for a short walk, but other than that I did nothing but lie on my couch, read a book, and watch the Toronto Blue Jays and Tim Hortons Brier curling.

I don’t have a pine shed with burning coals or a cedar-lined sanctuary, but I spent the day in sauna, in the way of Katherine May’s friend.

That is something I almost never do. I’m always doing something.

It was glorious.

Today I feel restored, and that is the power of rest and retreat.

Photo by Max Rahubovskiy on

3 trees and a snowy walk

Some days I feel like this: snapped off with jagged edges exposed.

Trunk of a tree left behind after a derecho snapped off the top. Jagged splinters jut out of the top.
Tree snapped by a derecho in Ottawa, May 2022

Some days I feel like this: uprooted and toppled.

Evergreen tree lying on its side, roots exposed.
Evergreen tree blown over, probably by the same derecho.

But most days I feel like this: strong, straight, and reaching for the sky. I have a broken branch or two, but that’s okay. The morning sun shines on me and the skies are blue.

Morning sun reflects of a healthy evergreen tree shot against a blue sky. One broken branch hangs near the top.

What kind of tree are you today?