Sunday, February 28, 2010

Looking Forward to Spring -

Medicine Woman, Etching 16x20" © Ruth Zachary

Tomorrow, March 1, is the date I usually set for pruning the fruit trees and raspberries growing in the back yard. I wrote this poem in 2007. Both the image and the poem offer thoughts of healing and hope.

Late Winter Gardening

Spring arrived later this year than last.

Aging makes one grateful for another spring,

and even perhaps that it is postponed.

I too am late in beginning my springtime chores;

trimming raspberries, shaping the flowering crab;

pruning the fruit-bearing apple tree branches.

Culling my own errant branches which have

over-reached my strength to support them,

or that have tangled so dense, they refuse

to let in the light, are tasks for my inner garden.

To preserve those limbs that will bear the best fruit

in a shortened season is my challenge now.

Efficient use of limited energy, water, nutrients;

balancing sunlight, shade, with joy of creative work;

I seek to live as if this were heaven on earth, that

my spirit may grace the path where it has passed.

Paring down to the essence is a new approach

to gardening, a kind of xeriscaping of the soul.

For Those Who Write-
Spring is often a good subject to reflect upon when writing. Remember to notice specific details that occur daily, those which herald the return of the growing season, and hopefully stir inner growth as well. Let the changing landscape become a metaphor for your personal changes.

Images and Writing are the ©Copyright of Ruth Zachary

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


All Adults Must Be Accompanied by a Child. Etching. 18x24. © by Ruth Zachary.


I participate in two writer’s groups, meeting monthly, and have for more than four years.

One is focused solely on poetry. The other has members who write a variety of work, including essays, human interest stories, poetry, short story fiction, novels, and even more.

We have had people who were at different levels. Those who use the groups to an advantage are serious about writing, the writing exercise, or what ever the planned activity is for the next month. Most people have written some wonderful pieces over the years.

My opinion is that peer feedback from other writers really helps one to see what needs improving. Feedback is not criticism. It is given in “I respond in this way…” or “did you mean this, or something else” by a particular phrase? I ask for feedback when ever there is time for it.


Share guidelines for non-threatening peer feedback, and discourage mean spirited criticism.

The group is not a forum for competition, and most people come to improve their own writing and encourage the writing of others in the group.

Our poetry group has wonderful exercises which stimulate us to try new things, offered by Mary Lauck. Above all, I believe just showing up at the next meeting makes me write when I might otherwise procrastinate.

I have been part of different writing groups since the early 90s. Sometimes I couldn’t find one to join and that felt like a deprivation. I have started writing groups, which came and went.

It is sad when they break apart, sometimes because people move away. My advice is if you can find a group, join it. Even if you feel your writing is better than some other people’s in the group, believe that they will improve soon. I think any group is better than no group, although I have heard opinions counter to this.

I think there if one tries to exert some influence with gentleness, even one person can usually urge the group toward healthy growth.

Appreciate the accomplishments of others and show it with enthusiasm.

Share helpful information, books and articles with others. Encourage writing opportunities.

Try not to share issues which are too personal. Some people just can’t take it, and the group needs to stay focused on writing, not to be a support group. If you are writing about something close to the bone, treat the issue as fiction. Individuals may offer support, however, when friendships develop separately from the group. Never write unkindly about another person in the group.

Try to stay on track. Personal exchanges offer understanding and background, but too much of it can cut back on time for focusing on the writing. It helps to determine how much writing will be shared, and to make sure there is time. If there is too much work, have each person bring the excess to the next meeting. If the group is too large, break into sub groups or cut back on how much is brought to be read.

Only once have I been in a group where one person dominated every discussion. That group asked the person to leave, but I think that is unusual.

Overall, all my experiences in Writing Groups have resulted in learning and improving my skills.

All Images and Writing are the exclusive property of Ruth Zachary©2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Magic of Daily Writing

Spring Magic, Study for Collage, In Progress, by Ruth Zachary.

Writing as a Daily Practice

The Greeley Poetry Club is fortunate to have Mary Lauck, an English teacher, who provides the writing exercises every month. The December lesson suggested writing small selections every day, whether as a journal entry or a poem. I have followed such practice at other times in my life, and it took about one week to realize the positive effect it had on my writing, after starting it up again.

The lesson for January was to try to take up different writers of poetry, and to read until we found a line that stimulated an idea we would like to explore. The metaphor was that our chosen author would drop a thread for us to follow, and for us to go where it led us. This seemed like a relevant extension of a daily practice. Never have we as a whole group written so many inspiring poems!

Part of this kind of practice taps into the unconscious, or takes us to the intuitive level in our writing, especially if written by hand in cursive script. It works. It can even release some people from writers block.

Recommended Books

I took up three different books I have used before. These books all offer daily suggestions for writing topics. I recommend them! They are:

Simple Abundance, a Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron.

A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves.

These books also discuss a variety of issues artists or writers encounter on their own Creative Path, and offer solutions to problems that occur. All three books are extremely useful in discarding negative internal messages in our heads which condition us in ways that make us less productive than we might be without them.

I believe the process of daily writing functions to recondition a writer’s thinking both in removing negative messages, but also in opening easy access to one’s own natural creative power.

A third possibility is also that magic is afoot. Gratitude changes everything. The things we focus upon are what we manifest in our lives. This extends beyond the act of writing, and the process of creating objects. Amazing coincidences have repeatedly shown up in other areas of life, things I have hoped for, within days or hours of visualizing them. Wouldn’t it be irrational to discount something so amazing? I think it might even be ungrateful.

But if you want to be more “rational”, try Positive Visualization and record the results. And if you want only practical ideas for career building, I have found they abound on the Internet, and much of this information is free. I am happy to learn from these options as well, but why not avail yourself of ALL the Universe has to offer?

I Think I’m Back on Line Again!

It has been a while since I posted my blogs regularly. As I mentioned in September, I have had problems with my eyesight. I belong to two writing groups and two art groups. I fell back a little on the meetings, because driving at night was too difficult. But now I am getting back into the swing of normal living, and attending the writing groups is part of that.

And I am happy to say, in the months I was less functional, I never stopped creating, either my writing or my visual art, because those forms of expression are what I live for.

All writing and images are the exclusive Copyright © of Ruth Zachary.