Adding & Subtracting

Abacus_MorgueFileFreeA bit of wisdom (Lao Tzu’s, not mine) on this fine Monday morning:


“‘To attain knowledge, add things every day.

To attain wisdom, subtract things every day,’ it said,

capsulizing teachings of Lao Tzu.

‘Profit comes from what is there,

usefulness from what is not there.'”

from “The Art of Adding By Taking Away,” by Matthew E. May, NYT, Jan. 19, 2013


(Thanks to Anastasia Ashman for sharing this article with me!)

#38Write I EAT FEAR Launches Today! 17 Writers in 9 Countries!

#38Write—my global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of culture, craft, or the writing life, and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and #38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag (#38Write) and a group Pinterest board. Lots and lots of good work getting done.

Eat Fear_MorgueFileFreeToday—January 19—#38Write | I EAT FEAR launches with 17 writers in 9 countries:

  • Malta
  • Japan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Australia
  • U.K.
  • Belgium
  • France
  • U.S.
  • Turkey

Pretty good mix of voices, cultures, and storytelling, isn’t it? If you want to follow along, check out the #38Write | I EAT FEAR Pinterest board, where writers are pinning images and documenting their creative process.

Check back soon to read some pieces that grow out of this workshop.

And go on! Eat a little fear today yourself.


Gumbo Put Me Into Writerhead

Here’s the tweet that put me into writerhead today:

Heard! Gumbo is a philosophy says @Wyntonmarsalis over @poppyt pot of gumbo for @CBSSunday @paigekk (via @garnerla)

How brilliantly inspirational is that?

“Gumbo is a philosophy.”

If I had time (and oh, I wish I had time), I’d run with that line.

But for today, I’ll have to be satisfied that I got into writerhead, even if it wasn’t followed by writing.


January’s #38Write Group Pinterest Board Is Starting to Blossom

Nadia Comeneci! The fearless one! This photo was posted on the group Pinterest board for I EAT FEAR (January’s #38Write workshop). The Pinterest page is starting to blossom. Check it out!

To find out more about how I use Pinterest in this writing workshop, click here. And there’s still time to register for the workshop. Just pop over to the CLASSES page.

Source: via Anita on Pinterest

“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid.

Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear

is to trample it beneath your feet.”

~ Nadia Comaneci

#38Write: January 2013’s Writing Workshop Is Open for Registration

#38Write—my global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft, culture, or the writing life, and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and #38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag and a group Pinterest board.

Whoop! Whoop! January’s #38Write writing workshop is open for registration!



Why fear?

Eat Fear_MorgueFileFreeBecause (a) fear is a common denominator among cultures, and (b) I (and a number of veteran #38Write writers) have been grappling with a few fears. (Read more about mine here.)


Saturday, January 19, 2013


$38 (U.S.)

How to register?

Easy peasy. Click over to the CLASSES pages.


#38Write is a writing adventure workshop designed specifically for place-passionate, culturally curious writers that will get you out of your house—no matter where you live—and into your environs.

In June, I launched the first #38Write online writing adventure with #38Write | Description.

In July, I continued with #38Write | Structure, which went forth with 16 writers in 9 countries. One of the assignments for that workshop was to define culture without using a dictionary, thesaurus, or other reference tool. It sparked some pretty spectacular definitions (read them here) and a lively conversation on Twitter.

In September’s #38Write, writers wrote about square peg, round hole situations. Read a few examples here.

#38Write has been growing ever since.


  • Each writing adventure is 38 hours long. It’s a manageable amount of time that fits into anyone’s busy schedule. (Good gracious, no, you will not be writing or adventuring for 38 hours straight. I’m ambitious for you, but not crazy. You will need approximately 2-4 hours to work during the 38-hour period…give or take an hour.)


  • Each writing adventure will focus on one particular aspect of culture, craft, or the writing life. You will not be writing an entire essay or short story (but you might accidentally do so). Some adventures will focus on a skill, like writing kick-butt descriptions; others might get you to look at what inspires you or how you move from idea to writing; all will encourage you to engage with and explore the culture in which you’re living.


  • During each 38-hour period, you’ll be able to connect with me and #38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag. (How cool is that?!)



  • You will get feedback from me. (For more info about me, click here.)


  • You have the option to participate in peer critiques.


  • Terrific for folks writing fiction, essays, memoir, or poetry.


  • Beginners and experienced writers are welcome and encouraged to join. There are some of each (and everything in between) in every workshop.


  • It’s affordable. A single #38Write writing adventure costs only $38 (U.S.).


Growing and developing my global niche is a big part of who I am. My own global niche starts at home. I’m from the U.S. My husband is from Ireland. Our daughter is from Vietnam. And we began as a family while living in Shanghai, China. While living, writing, and teaching writing in the U.S. and Shanghai, I learned (and/or relearned) a number of things:

    1. Each of us has a heck of a lot to learn from folks in other countries (and not usually the things we think we need to learn).
    2. Story is an international conversation that can help us better understand one another.
    3. By helping writers from all over the world to improve their craft, I can play a wee role in facilitating this global conversation.
    4. Writing is recursive. You must practice. (And if I do say so myself, I’m pretty darn good at getting writers to practice.)


#38Write adventures are designed for all place-passionate writers, including expats and repats, globetrotters, armchair travelers, nomads, cultural spelunkers, deeply rooted souls, mapmakers and mapbreakers, wanderers and wayfarers, voyagers, and all writers interested in exploring and writing about their environs.

So, yup, if you’re asking, #38Write is probably for you.

To learn more and sign up for #38Write | I EAT FEAR, visit CLASSES.


6 Great Reasons You Should Build a Global Writing Community

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few weeks ago, I did a videochat over at the most-marvelous GlobalNiche about global writing communities and #38Write (my monthly online series of writing workshops for place-passionate, cultural spelunkers around the world). It was a terrific conversation (click thru to watch here).

Since then, a few writers have asked, Why do I need a global writing community?

Ask and you shall receive:

1.  Because our world is changing & changing fast. As technology and globalization draw us closer together, it’s more important than ever for writers (and all humans, really) to:

  • become culturally literate
  • learn to communicate with folks who are different than us (speak different languages, practice different religions, follow the laws of different political systems, etc.)
  • work/write on the fly—we’re more mobile; we get around faster, farther, and more often; we need to have writers/artists/creators in our lives who get this
  • use social media tools to enhance the writing process, share work, boost creativity, offer feedback, engage in discussion, etc.

2.  Publishing is changing (shocking revelation, I know). Opportunities to share work with a global audience are popping up everywhere. You’ll need a global writing community to stay relevant and informed.

3.  If you’ve ever belonged to ANY writing community—local, global, live and in person, virtual via the Internet, etc.—you know that belonging to such a community is not just about getting feedback on your work. It’s about connecting with a group of people who share your passion for words, stories, place, communication, adventure, culture, etc. It’s about giving and getting support for the delightful yet arduous life of a writer.

4.  Belonging to a global writing community is exciting. It’s exciting to give and get feedback from someone in the Middle East. From someone in Australia. From someone in Turkey or Egypt or China. It broadens your world, enhances your perspective, and makes you step back and consider things in new ways.

5.  To those who say it’s impossible to create trust and intimacy in a virtual, global writing workshop/community, I say phooey. Yep, it takes time and commitment, but all good relationships do, don’t they? Social media tools—Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube—are perfect for worldwide community engagement; their true potential has yet to be tapped. (I’m a’tapping…)

6.  Finally—and perhaps most importantly—building a virtual, global writing community is about cracking open…your mind…your heart…even that dark place deep inside where we hoard judgment and fear. (Don’t forget, I EAT FEAR!)

Cheers! Hope to see you in a #38Write workshop soon!


I Eat Fear

As I incorporate big changes into my writing/speaking/creating/teaching/cultural-spelunking/global-niche life and prepare to take some delightfully serious risks, I’ve been doing a good bit of thinking about change and fear and going for dreams and building and deconstructing and all that good stuff. I knew that by eliminating Writerhead Wednesday from my weekly blog lineup, I’d lose some followers here, but yeesh, I wasn’t ready for the flurry of unsubscribes that would result. Yesterday, as the unsubscribe notices littered my mailbox, I got scared. Super-duper cowering-in-a-corner-behind-a-curtain scared. Scared that I was making a mistake by ending (at least here on the blog) Writerhead Wednesday. Scared that I couldn’t/wouldn’t achieve my vision. Scared of failure. Scared of, well, all kinds of ridiculous crap.

Scared Dog_MorgueFileFree

I got so scared, in fact, that I almost…almost…did a knee-jerk turnaround by reinstating the structured blog post lineup. I almost…almost…got on all the social media channels and yelled, “Wait, wait, don’t go! I’ll bring Writerhead Wednesday back!”

But then, I was reminded of the great wisdom imparted by Neil Gaiman:

…I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.

And it’s this.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

~Neil Gaiman

So I got centered, remembered why I’m doing this, mustered my mojo, and came up with yet another new anthem for 2013:


Eat Fear_MorgueFileFree

Happy Thursday, folks! See you tomorrow.


Writerhead Wednesday: Changes Comin’ Round

For the last year and a half or so, I’ve started most Wednesdays with this:

“Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.”

file000255302390As we move into 2013, that’s going to change. While I’ll still feature cool authors’ writerheads from time to time AND I’ll still (always & forever) be writing and speaking about writerhead, Writerhead Wednesday is no longer going to be a weekly feature.

I know, I know. I’m going to miss it every week, too. But I’m feeling the need for less structure on this blog and more freestyle. After a year and a half of Mojo Monday, Writerhead Wednesday, and #38Write Fridays, I’m moving away from such a regimented schedule. I’ve got lots to share about writerhead, #38Write, global writing communities, books, inspirational stuff, and more. I’m creating the space and place for me to talk with you about whatever is bubbling. And there’s so much a’bubbling.

[Please note that I am looking for a new home for a Writerhead column. If you are an editor (or if you know an editor) of an online literary journal, I’d love to talk with you about offering Writerhead as a dynamic feature. Please get in touch.]

See you soon!

2013: From Gaaaaaahhhh! to Gaga

Welby ? India ? Tin Treasures ? Friction Bump n Go ? Spaceship ? Commander Ship ? BowWelcome to 2013, writers, creators, storytellers, artists, and visionaries around the world!

We’re about 10 12 hours into the New Year. I woke not having a clue if I would blog this morning. Sure, in the past, I’ve always had something astoundingly brilliant and profound to share with you at the new year. Like in 2011, I shared my three non-resolutionary words. And in 2010, I visited and wrote about the Longhua Temple in Shanghai.

But this morning, feeling uninspired, I poked around the Internet for inspiration.

Maybe I’ll make a list of things I learned in 2012, like the Communicatrix, I thought. She’s cool. Always cool. Hip. Always hip. Bald. Not always bald, but bald by choice in 2012.

Or…maybe I’ll create a kickass Pinterest page for my vision for 2013 like my brilliant friend, colleague, and sister global-nicher Tara Agacayak, I thought.

Or…maybe I’ll create a gorgeous, expressive image that represents all I do and believe in like the oh-so-talented Catherine Bayar in Turkey (check this out).

Or maybe…

Or maybe…

Rackham_fairy_ring_WikimediaThen I popped over to Now Write! where I read Dinty Moore’s post called “Writing and Creativity as a Peculiar Crossroads” (read it here). It’s lovely and it sang to me. This idea of the “smidgen of enlightenment” and the ongoing search for it…in writing and life.

It sang to me because for months—for all of 2012, really—I knew I was at a major crossroads—though often I’ve felt this crossroads is more like a fairy ring in Ireland which is lovely & magical, but from which there is no exit…see photo to right. (You can hear Christy Moore sing about a fairy ring here.)

It’s not any kind of unusual crossroads. Millions and trillions and gazillions of you are probably right there with me, trying like hell to solve the mystery of how to be a mom, writer, cultural spelunker, world citizen, and teacher at the same friggin’ time.

Sometimes I find that smidgen of enlightenment, and other times, I just want to yell,


Suggestions for the title are received with thanks

So I’m officially dubbing 2013 as my year to do less “Gaaaaaahhhhhhhhh”ing and to better synthesize all that I love, believe in, and am passionate about—as a writer, a mumma, a cultural spelunker, a global-nicher, a teacher, and a human. Like Lady Gaga. Because no matter how you feel about her less-than-usual appearance and approach to things, she’s pretty damn good at synthesis.


Cheers, my friends! Here’s to a creative, synthesized 2013! See you here at Writerhead and #38Write!