What Change Looks Like


It has been an unusually busy fall, enough to keep me from my twice-monthly posting. But I suspect your inbox has been as full of political email these past months as mine, which has made logging in even more overwhelming than usual.

May this message offer you a brief respite from all of that, bringing you literary news and perhaps a twinkle of inspiration.

Since we were last in touch, I’m delighted to share that Thread has:

More important to me than the numbers is what I’m seeing in the variety of submissions. I was determined to publish a diversity of voices across gender, age, perspective and geography. Contributors to Thread, Stitch and the live readings write from as nearby as Chicago to as far away as Switzerland and Spain and their experiences were formed in the United States, Great Britain, South Africa and Hawaii.

I’ve been teaching “Writing for Personal Discovery” workshops in my home since January and thrilled that the work of six students – John Hahm, Ellen Hainen, Marie Davidson, Nina Kavin, Brad Rosen, Michael Rabiger – made it into Thread, Stitch or a live lit reading this year. While it isn’t everyone’s goal to write for publication, I am committed to publishing emerging writers who are seeking just that.

Next winter and spring, I’ll be trying something different by offering shorter-length workshops  – one day and four-week sessions – for busy people who would like to give this personal narrative thing a try. I’m also teaching a morning workshop on Friday, December 16th titled “So That Your Values Live On: Writing Your Ethical Will” at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue. Check the Workshops page of my website for more about my winter and spring workshop schedule.

Finally, I promised to keep you updated on my inhale year. I’ll provide you with a complete report in my next post, but until then, let me say that the experiment in not writing has had some very surprising writerly results.

I leave you with a quote I found in a wonderful book I’m reading called The Artist’s Torah by David Ebenbach. He reminds us that creation is the result of destruction. Change is hard. Scary. Our tendency is to keep what we know, because even our current scary is a known one. But he reminds us that,

As artists we are asked to the truth we see, without and within. It asks us to be willing to grow – to destroy what we’ve been so that we can be something new.

What better example of this than in autumn’s own natural art exhibit?

Could next year be your year to start – or return to, writing?  Private coaching can make this happen. Gift certificates make a very thoughtful – and unique – holiday gift.


One True Sentence


Photo by Ellen Blum Barish

“But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.”

— Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Last week, a writer friend and a rare day off gifted me with an opportunity to visit Hemingway’s childhood home in Oak Park, Illinois. What a treat!

I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until my friend, Annette Gendler, became the writer-in-residence there that I knew Hemingway’s House was less than 15 miles from my home. I’m hoping to prevent Chicago literary lovers from this terrible shame. Thank you again, Annette.

Hemingway was born and raised in this house. You can step into the bedroom where his mother delivered him. The home is in mint condition, brimming with actual or reproduced furniture, art and everyday kitchen and bathroom items from the late 1800s. Daily tours can be arranged. Writers-in-residence work in the studio/office in the third floor attic (off limits to tours) but Annette provided me with a glimpse. It is the quintessential writer’s garret.

Soaking up that Hemingway energy and talking shop with Annette, an essayist, memoirist and writing instructor, prompted me to revisit some of Ernest’s essays. I love the quote above from this incredibly prolific writer. His soul was clearly troubled, his life ending tragically by his own hand. But the quote suggests that he understood something about the ups and downs of writing.

Just one true sentence, he advised. “Write the truest sentence that you know.”

One more thing that’s true:

When you can, give yourself the gift of a day off.


Live Literary Events

Calendar these!

I’ll be telling my own stories, or hosting the stories of other writers at these locations through September.

Thursday, June 18th at 7 pm

Stories from the House of Truth at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston, IL.

Thursday, August 6th at 8 p

Story Club North in Chicago, IL.

Thursday, October 8 at 7 pm

Curt’s Cafe South in Evanston, IL. The Fall Reading Series.