Risk a day

Kory and Kelsey Wells perform poetry and old-time music.

One excuse I haven't been blogging: Kelsey and I do our best rock star imitation at a recent poetry/old time music performance. Tens of thousands of chanting fans not pictured.

So, when I last posted in late April, I really wasn’t planning to take off from blogging for the entire extended summer! But here we are in September, and I find myself with plenty of ideas to share with you. First, though, I’ve realized I should cross-link to some of my posts on the Risk a Day blog, where I did NOT take a summer vacation. Here are several which relate to writing and/or living a creative life:

  • A Daily Audacious Goal: Can I Do It? Can You?
    Twice in recent months, I’ve heard people mention a commitment to daily goals which struck me as totally audacious. First, my mentor Bill Brown mentioned that he and his friend Jeff Hardin were writing and exchanging a new poem EVERY DAY. That’s my emphasis, not Bill’s. Every day? How in the world? I thought. Read more
  • Five Things I Learned from Pursuing My Daily Audacious Goal
    On January 4th I set the daily audacious goal of writing or editing a poem 5 days a week until today, February 4th. Meeting my goal would mean I’d have 23 new or revised poems by today. The actual count as of today: 16. You – or I – could look on that as a failure, but I’ve decided it was a resounding success. Read more
  • The Grace of Gradual Change
    I think we all know that any REAL risk will push our comfort zones, but I’ve realized in the past few weeks that some zones are more uncomfortable than others. Read more
  • I Risk Feeling Like a Loser – a Nobody!
    In early June, NPR aired an engaging tribute to Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky, who had died just a few days before.  One part of the story, which was by writer and book critic Alan Cheuse, almost took my breath away. Voznesensky, Cheuse said, filled sports stadiums with tens of thousands of fans. That in itself is amazing, but there was something else: All those fans chanted Voznesensky’s poems with him. Read more
  • 18th Century Rules for 21st Century Mentoring
    Having my first book published has marked a real threshold in my creative writing life. Not only is it a thrilling accomplishment in itself, but it’s also opened up a lot more opportunities for me to teach and mentor.  (In fact, I’m now officially a mentor in The Writer’s Loft low-residency program at Middle Tennessee State University.) I’ve been incredibly blessed to have some wonderful mentors who I’m now attempting to model. But I also decided it was important to establish some rules for myself as a mentor. Read more

I hope one or more of these articles may speak to where you are with your creative life right now. And I must say, if you’ve never tried it before, do consider a daily audacious goal. I’m doing it again this month, I found it so helpful earlier this year!


Great chance lies precisely in the unlikeness of men...and crayons, I would add.

One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Buber in The Way of Man, in which he says, “Mankind’s great chance lies precisely in the unlikeness of men, in the unlikeness of their qualities and inclinations.”

A few weeks ago as I was leading a poetry class, I forgot Buber’s words when I unexpectedly found myself feeling very unlike the small group of students who faced me. I wondered if I was sharing poems – both my own and others’ – that they could connect with at all. Since I was the teacher, I didn’t have any choice but to press on. Read what I learned in my article The Power of Admitting Where You’re From on the Risk A Day blog.

This article is also a tribute to the poem and writing prompt “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon.


This photo of me reading at Southern Festival of Books is a hint about my new dream. Read about it on RiskADay.com (click photo to follow link).

I’ve been doing such a good job of keeping this blog updated that I’m now writing for another one! (Yes, you are supposed to read a little sarcasm into that announcement.)

Somehow, Laura Biering over at Risk a Day talked me into being a contributing writer. I did not have time for it, but I said yes anyway. Thank goodness she didn’t have some ocean front property to sell me, too.

My day is the 4th of each month. This being the 4th, I wanted to make a good impression, so I’ve actually posted my first entry, The Power of Admitting Your Dreams, on time.

All kidding aside, Laura is a certified coach to individuals, couple, groups and more. She’s also writing a book about “women  in the arts and entertainment industry who have found – and are using – their true voices.”  A mutual friend introduced us, and I’m honored to be one of the women interviewed in her forthcoming book.  Laura recently decided that it really does take a village to keep up with a daily blog, so she’s asked women in her book as well as other friends to each contribute just once a month. Now, how hard can that be?

I hope you’ll check it out. In today’s blog, I write about a friend’s risk in admitting her dream (with her permission, of course), and I confess a new dream of my own. If you have your own story to share – through a comment, email or conversation – I’d love to hear it, as I’m sure I’ll be looking for inspiration for the 4th of next month soon!

From The Power of Admitting Your Dreams

Less than six weeks ago, a good friend and I had a conversation about one of her deepest aspirations. She’s been on the staff at her church for many years, but she confessed to me for the first time that she’s listening for a call from God to be an ordained minister.

I understood this was big.  Like me, she’s a daughter of the South and the modern feminist movement, a woman molded as much by the hospitality and charm of Southern Living as the ideals of Ms. magazine.  Continue reading