May 6, 2013

Guest Blogger: Kathy Dunn


A friend and fellow writer sent me the following quote:


“I was starting to wonder if I was ready to be a writer, not someone who won prizes, got published and was given the time and space to work, but someone who wrote as a course of life. Maybe writing wouldn’t have any rewards. Maybe the salvation I would gain through work would only be emotional and intellectual. Wouldn’t that be enough, to be a waitress who found an hour or two hidden in every day to write?”

— Ann Pratchett: Truth and Beauty

I love the idea of writing “as a course of life.” It pretty much explains how I come to have reams and reams of writing, with only an occasional thought to publishing. I mean, seeing my work in print is tremendously gratifying. And I learn about the writing – and myself – from every stage of that process.

Above and beyond that, writing, for me, is a form of circulation – like blood, like air, like love.


Writing offers new ways of seeing and understanding the world. New images and unexpected insights often hide, like ruffed grouse in the bushes, only to explode in a startlement of feathers when I wander near.  Suddenly I see things in new ways – and my world has expanded.

Writing Invites the Bigger Questions

What’s important? Often enough I don’t know, until I sit and invite an image or a story or a question to appear.

I can make up a character: say, a young woman with tangled, brown hair. I can sit her on a weathered, wooden bench. And through her window, I can glimpse an ancient sycamore tree. All these details make her a specific – and therefore a believable – character.

Still, if there is to be a story, I must also understand – or more likely discover – who she is: who or what does she love? What does she long for?  What secrets does she hold, and where does she stumble?

In other words, I need to explore what matters to her.

What Matters?

What might matter in a life?  A Bigger Question has arrived. Characters, even fictional characters, ask this of us – because our characters cannot go down paths we do not explore, ourselves.

Whether I’m writing an article, a journal, a rant, or a post card, the question presents itself: what matters?

And if I don’t know what matters to me, or what might matter deep in my bones – well …writing invites me to explore that.

Writing Transforms

Who is it that said, “To ask a question is to begin to know the answer”…? Ask what matters, and the ruffed grouse of an answer just might appear.

And in providing new answers, new possibilities … writing transforms.  The characters, the writer, the reader: all undergo a shift in perspective or understanding at some deeper level.

And What About You …?

Every person is unique, and everyone plays with writing in different ways and for different purposes. How about you…? 


 Guest Blogger: Kathy Dunn

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