Secrets & Stories

It’s the summer season, and seemingly every publication is touting its Summer Reading Guide. Oprah’s O magazine, Poets & Writers (with a cover photo of Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses!). Even the Oregonian has devoted pages and pages to their must-read recommendations.

But I just can’t do it. I’m not feeling lofty or ambitious. The days are long, the sun is shining and my attention span is shorter than my daily horoscope. As much as I really do intend to read Junot Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, I’m just not there yet.

Instead, I am obsessed with quick, voyeuristic fixes like these:

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure
This beefy collection of six-word memoirs, compiled by Smith magazine, offers a blend of the pithy, sad and inspirational. Dubbed as “America’s haiku," these ultra-short autobiographies are addictive little gems.

Started small, grew, peaked, shrunk, vanished.
- George Saunders

Danced in fields of infinite possibilities.
-Deepak Chopra

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives
PostSecret began in 2004 as an art installation project by Frank Warren. It's catapulted into a community art project with numerous book compilations, a thriving website, and its own Wikipedia entry.

The concept is simple but profound: People anonymously decorate postcards and share secrets they have never revealed. More than 200,000 secrets have been collected, ranging from admissions of infidelity and criminal activity to confessions of desires, dreams and embarrassing habits. The artful mini-canvas of a postcard, combined with raw truth, is a compelling — and, at times, heartbreaking — combination.

"I think we all have secrets," Rick Warren said in an interview that appeared on Geek Gestalt, "and I like to imagine us keeping them in a box. Each day we face a choice to bury (them) down deep inside it, or find the box, bring it out in the light, open it up, and share the secrets with the light."


Find Your Place

The book is out!

Find Your Place, a book of poetry and prose from Seashore Family Literacy, has hit bookshelves everywhere — or rather, a couple of libraries, bookstores, and kitchen counters across the central Oregon Coast. But it could be everywhere — and it could be yours!

The 64-page book reflects the work and spirit of the Young Writers Group, a collection of students age 14 to 21 who enjoy writing practice with a supportive vibe. Students and adult volunteers meet every Thursday evening to write together in a place where it is safe to reveal the darker (and occasionally, lighter) side of life.

I’ve been a volunteer with the Young Writers Group for nearly four years. And, I’m grateful to feel I have found my place. I like to say that “poetry saved my life,” and it’s true. But it’s this endearing group of misfits and upstarts that expanded my heart.

Do you want to feed your mind, encourage young authors and celebrate the power of the writing process? Find Your Place is available for just $10. (And all proceeds go to the writing programs at Seashore Family Literacy, a nonprofit organization).


Blah, blah, blog

The road from resistance to revelry is a long and winding route.

I’ve resisted this blog, and before that I resisted my website. It’s not that I am against technology. Rather, I shy from self-promotion. I think it’s in bad taste to toot your own horn. I like a soft piano, in a dim room. I’m not crazy about parades.

But I understand the need for presence, for promotion. Ironically, much of my work is in publicity and promotion. I promote companies and ideas. I shout from the rooftops, and write loud and clear to give voice to small business, big business, to the haves and have-nots. And yet, and yet, when it comes to promoting — or even revealing — my own efforts and achievements, I am uncomfortable offering more than a restrained hooray among a few friends.

The irony, again, is that each week I urge teens in the Young Writers Group to take pride in their work. “Own it,” I tell them. “Read it loud and proud!”

And so, I am taking my own medicine. Despite my initial resistance, I have come to this: A blog doesn’t have to be all about me. For now, it can be quiet place to share a few notes.

And so, let’s go. Not with the thunder of the self-absorbed, but in the same careful way a single line, when spoken softly, carries great weight.

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