Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category



“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”  — Anne Lamott I didn’t set out to unplug this summer. It happened organically, thanks to meandering morning walks that took longer than expected — and work deadlines that came up faster than expected, too. I felt guilty at first […]

One of my favorite things about WordPress is its community of kind, supportive people. And one of those lovely people is Jessica, whose blog I fell in love with instantly because of this post. She is a superb, deeply perceptive writer and a marvelous photographer. I promise that if you take one virtual stroll with […]

I take a lot of crap about my note-taking. Constant scribbling is so central to my persona, in fact, that one colleague recently expressed concern during a meeting when I wasn’t taking notes. “I forgot my pen,” I shrugged. Here’s the thing: I have a terrible memory — so if I don’t write it down […]

After the blogging 101 post I did in January, the question I got most consistently was, “How do I get more people to visit/follow my blog?” Here’s the best advice I can offer: Take a dip in the Community Pool. It’s a great place to meet other bloggers and build a community of followers. It’s […]

Skip this post if you’re a seasoned blogger. But if you’re thinking of starting a blog — like my wise and witty friend Don — here are a few pointers. “How do I start a blog?” “What should I name it?” “How can I get more subscribers?” I always feel sheepish when someone asks such […]

A distant birth


One of my dearest friends turns 95 today. I can’t think of a better way to mark the occasion than through his own beautiful words, which he penned five years ago as he approached his 90th birthday. Alles Gute, mein lieber Doktor Robert.

This is not so much a book review, as it is a plea to the publisher of Les Catacombes – Histoire du Paris souterrain to issue the title in English. But before I say a word about this extraordinary little volume (or why you should buy it and just Google Translate it) I must first […]

April is National Poetry Month.* I was going to leave this fact unacknowledged, because — though it’s heresy to admit it — I don’t like most poetry. Poetry can be sumptuous and evocative. But too many writers use poetry as a literary Cuisinart, as an excuse to dice up thoughts and mix metaphors. Some poets […]

The post from Melody Moves to Bulgaria was the first thing I read this morning as I was lolling in bed like a walrus, my head still hazy and heavy with sleep. “So, here is the truth about why I haven’t been writing on my blog,” she began. The experiences she shared seemed dreamlike, when […]

I’ve unintentionally copied the French and have taken August off. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog … as you can see, I have plenty to say: It’s just that I’ve had other priorities, like my (accidentally) rekindled love of stamp collecting. I’ve also been busy with lots of family visits and a bit […]

Remember about a month ago, when I introduced the undisputed-queen-of-creative-inspiration, Keri Smith? And I listed 10 ways to make yourself miserable as an artist? No? Well, never mind. What matters is that I bought a copy of her book How to Be an Explorer of the World. The reviewer at Brain Pickings summed it up […]

Among HBlog’s notifications today I found this lovely note from WordPress: Although I titled my first post “Why blog?” I honestly don’t remember what compelled me to start HBlog. But I do remember being painfully self-conscious at first, worried that I would offend — or worse, bore — my online audience. My worries were unfounded, […]

Although I’m increasingly disenchanted with social media, occasionally I still get to see one of my friends’ posts. This one caught my eye today: Curious about the source of all this priceless advice, I Googled “How to feel miserable as an artist.” *PING*! Up popped illustrator Keri Smith’s wise and wonderful website. Clearly, she’s done […]

I had the unbelievable good fortune today to attend the fifth annual Sea Change conference at the University of Minnesota. I’ll write (much!) more about this inspiring event when I get permission to share some PowerPoint slides and republish a few photos. In the meantime, the story I can share pertains to one of the […]

Quickly, off the top of your head: What’s the most powerful punctuation mark in the English language? If you chose the exclamation mark, you have a bright future in (bad)vertising. I learned this from my creative director: “If you’ve written something well enough, you don’t need exclamation points.” And also, “They’re the equivalent of shouting.” […]

Although I write this blog only for my own enjoyment, I’ve still occasionally felt “stuck.” It’s during those times I’ve been extra-grateful for my friend Tom (aka, “The Blogfodder”), who has quietly encouraged me to stay curious and keep writing. It was also Tom who encouraged me to enter my first writing contest a few […]

Across the United States today, banks are closed and businesses idled as Americans observe the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., who 50 years ago shared his dream — and hope — for a nation divided by inequality. 3 I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today […]

Yesterday I got the news that a former colleague committed suicide. I didn’t know Larry Oakes very well in my days at the Star Tribune. Mostly, he worked out of the Duluth bureau — but occasionally he’d call the news desk in Minneapolis and ask me to transcribe a story. I remember him as a […]

Today, millions of families will gather in joyful celebration — but many will miss a loved one who is either absent or lost. For everyone out there who is celebrating a bitterwsweet holiday today, I offer the beautiful words of Camille Gage. Merry Christmas. A song to the stars in times of darkness Last Sunday […]

Some people call me the Don Quixote of the Latin Quarter because my head is so far up in the clouds that I can imagine all of us are angels in paradise. George Whitman wrote those words on the chalkboard outside his bookstore on January 1, 2004. George Whitman, who died in Paris a year […]