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From a “research” hike earlier this month. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

Writing a book is like making a pie: it’s a lot of work to make one, but it gets gobbled up quickly, and then people want more. So, that’s a good thing, really, that people want more, but book writin’ takes a while. And I’m working on more. 🙂

Right now I have several “pies” in progess. In a workshop a few years ago, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Kansas Poet Laureate at the time, said that she never feels “blocked” because she has several projects going at once. If she gets stuck, she said, she just moves on to something else.

And I took that message to heart. These days I’m working on several books, some more intently than others. I’m working on a book of essays about how a sense of place informs our creativity, our sense of self, and connects to us in a spiritual way. Another book will be on  facts and places in Kansas. I’m also sketching out ideas for a memoir about small-town life. And, because poems emerge from time to time, I’m throwing in a book of poetry as a future goal as well. Maybe all of these books will come to life, maybe only one or two, but I’m finding that Caryn’s process very useful in my own writing practice.

Speaking of poetry, here’s a poem that I wrote last month.


Here we are –
the troubled, the triumphant,
the disabled, the distraught.
We are the brave faces,
the anxious, the warriors,
the worried. We once
were great – and now –
we don’t know what we are.
In our uneven faces,
our defensive eyes,
our tense shoulders,
our stories lie.
And we are here
on this green earth
gathered, at a picnic table
on a June evening
so fine that even
mosquitoes have
left us alone. Some days we eat
scrambled eggs for breakfast,
we answer the phone,
and we stand alone in the
grocery store unable to
make a decision about
peanut butter. Because life
is just that hard sometimes.
On those days, tears burn
the inside of our eyelids.
We are not as fine as we once
were, age has seen
to that, but we are also so
much more. Sometimes we
catch a glimpse of the unseen
world and we see through this
earthly illusion with god-like
clarity, knowing that
everything is perfect,
and exactly
as it should be.
Then we blink, and we forget.
And here we are again –
the troubled,
the triumphant,
the disabled,
the distraught.

~by Cheryl Unruh

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  1. See, I probably knew this about you but it is good to be reminded. I sometimes ask myself why I start a new project when I have 2 or 3 perfectly good projects already in progress. It relieves me to remember that other writers do this too. Keeps us from getting stuck in the ruts. I like that. Love the poem, too. “…we stand alone in the grocery store unable to make a decision about peanut butter…” I can relate.

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