Why Write? Paying Homage to Northern Lights aka Marry Your Dreams in 2012

Sometimes I miss a certain place, like the aspen draw on the ranch in Wyoming where Thimbleberries grow thick by July, and where snow gathers by October, staying until May.   Sometimes I miss a person, like the young Greek girl Antigone whom I barely knew, but knew well enough to lie on a hill near the Acropolis, beneath the light of a full moon counting the stars as they came out.  Ena Dio Tria Tessera,” she taught me, pointing at the sky. “One Two Three Four,” I echoed back.
Today, I am missing a magazine, and the vision that it brought to the world before publication ceased.  Northern Lights, published by Deborah Clow O’Connor.  "What does it mean to lose Northern Lights?" asked Charles Finn.  "It is like asking what it means to lose a star from its place in the sky." WHY WRITE? asks The Center section of the Summer 1998 issue.  The answers of seven writers were printed, including essays by Jane Hirschfield, Ellen Meloy, and C.L. Rawlins.  But the piece that I saved, that draws my centered attention even now, was by Terry Tempest Williams.   Dearest Deb, Terry begins…

I was dreaming about Moab, Brooke and I walking around the block just before dawn.  I threw a red silk scarf around my shoulders and then I began reciting why I write: I write to make peace with the things I cannot control.  I write to create a red fabric in a world that often appears black and white.  I write to discover.  I write to uncover.  I write to meet my ghosts.  I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining perhaps the world will change.  I write to honor beauty.  I write to correspond with my friends.  I write as a daily act of improvisation.  I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy.  I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams… I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient.  I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love… 
Lunar Eclipse 12/10/11
Terry's entire letter celebrates writing.  Yet how different writing in this digital age feels, how easy to lose hope in the murky skies of this new electronic era.  Yet don't we still write for the same reasons, even though it is a bloody risk?  And don't we still seek the eyes and ears of the ones we love?  Like painters and musicians and sculptors, our art celebrates life.  Deb O'Connor, though no longer publishing a magazine, paints and explores the celestial world as a gifted astrologer and visual artist.  "Who says the Universe doesn't have a sublime sense of humor," she begins her November 24, 2011 column.  "A new and eclipsed moon the same day that Mercury goes backwards?"

It helps to have a sense of humor when we don't know if our writing is moving forward, or slipping backwards.  Sometimes it helps to count to 4 and remember why we write.  Why do you write?  If you're in the mood to share, I would love to know.  Shout it out to the world, if you want.  Declare your intentions as if 2012 will be the year that you marry your dreams.  Then make it so. 

Learn more about astrologer Deb O'Connor's paintings and services.
Contact Page for Complete Copy of Terry's Letter to Deb.
Return to All Things Literary. All Things Natural.
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Cathy said…
Writing tells the stories my lips cannot speak, yet. Writing cries out agains the injustices that feel to far to reach or too violent to stand into. Writing cries out in the night for those who have lost their voices, their hope, their homes. Writing captures the joy of infants alive, lovers in covenant, the old and wrinkled holding hands in love. Writing finds forgiveness that evades and rounds up a circle of love alone in a field of blowing wheat. I write to live, my dream is to live to write.
How beautiful and poignant, Cathy. Thank you so much.
Linda said…
Beautiful as always Page. You are a most remarkable soul. Linda
Donna Thompson said…
“After so many years of working in the corporate world I do need to find my way back to dreams I might have had and have forgotten. Now that I'm retired, I've got the time to explore and discover whats on the horizon for me.”
Carol said…
Dear Page,
I enjoyed your latest piece in your blog. Thank you for continuing to open my eyes to the beauties around me. Your writing is inspiring.
Carol, you always seem to be an inspiration to others in regards to appreciating the beauty around us - not only in your writing, but in your home as well. I hope others will check out your inspired work:

Blog: http://www.straightspouseconnection.com
Web site: http://www.carolgrever.com
Julene said…

I remember Northern Lights very fondly too--was heartbroken when it ended. But it's good to learn what Deb is up to and to see samples of her amazing paintings at her website. Your and TTW's words were utterly inspiring.
Yes, Northern Lights was such a fabulous publication, Julene. I'm glad you went to Deb's website to check out her paintings, astrology work, etc. She's still remarkable, doing wonderful and inspiring work.
Monica Devine said…
I write to uncover and connect to the invisible places inside the heart. The things I burn for are why I write; to untangle the tangles of the mind, pay homage to all things beautiful, to make sense of pettiness, war, awakening, and doubt. I write to empty; to clean house and to welcome the paradoxical nature of all things.
Monica, your sentiments are palpable - especially the "things you burn for." Thank you.
Chris Williams said…
Thank you for sharing, Page. I have long admired Terry Tempest Williams, and thought it a great coup when the state of Wyoming could claim her as a resident writer.
Carol Deering said…
Thanks, Page! It's good to review why we agonize over the selection and placement of words and their attendant punctuation. And to rediscover good writing and the good journals which published it! It was also nice to look
over your webpage.

Lucinda Stein said…
What a coincidence! I recently finished reading Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert by Terry Tempest Williams. I believe she also said she writes to make order out of chaos. Another writer said writing helps her to savor the beauty around her and to experience it more deeply. I can relate to that as nature plays an important part in my writing. I believe we write to express the great mystery of life with all its beauty, joy, sorrow, magnificent order, horrible chaos, and enduring hope. We write because by nature we hold the gift to create. We are endowed with the precious gift to form and fashion our ideas and experiences into words, into new life. Made in our Creator’s image, it’s no wonder we yearn to create.
Page Lambert said…
Lucinda, I love your thought that we hold the gift to create, and to write - or to pursue any of our creative endeavors - is how we release that hold and let our art loose into the world. "To form and fashion" - beautifully put. Thank you, Lucinda.
Deb O'Connor said…
What a beautiful and heartfelt tribute, Page. It brought tears to my eyes. I probably miss the magazine more than anyone can know. But it was clear that the Universe had other plans for me. I intend to answer your query about writing . . . just as soon as I can.
Loretta C. Rogers said…
I write because the voices inside my head won't leave me along. I wouldn't dare say this to a psychristist. Only writers undersand what I talking about.
CS, New Mexico said…
Dear Page,

I met you a few years ago at the Southwest Women Writers' Conference in Santa Fe, NM. You talked to us then aboutcollecting symbols of our creative spirits that could help us express our creative voices. You passed around feathers, rocks, etc. that you had accumulated on your walks in the wild, and you talked about how they 'called to your creative soul.' I returned home inspired, longing to express Nature's truths in my writing.

Now, as I write this response, I have in front of me two red hawk tail feathers, gifts from the hunter that soars above; a blue heron wing feather, a gift from the one who is a 'stick in the mud;' and two white goose feathers, from the gander that died at the edge of the frog pond protecting his mate from the jowls of the predator coyote. Thanks to your literary inspiration, these feathers have become my treasured companions as well as my constant source of introspection and retrospection.

Meanwhile, nestled on the table beneath my vase of feathers are my rocks...River rocks, imprinted with the ancient indentations of hand-hewn tools; Mountain rocks, chunks of obsidian waiting to be polished into war-worthy arrow heads; and sparkling Ocean rocks, plucked from a Pacific shore, boasting clusters of iridescent blood and bones solidified by crystalline salt. These are my treasures--more precious to my mind than any Imperial gems.

I share these thoughts with you because I want you to know that I share your grief. I, too, have lost treasured pets and cherished loved ones--in their prime, before their time. It hurts! Sometimes it hurts so much we cannot speak or write about it for fear of opening a wound so deep there would be no healing. I am still in that place--that space--of darkness. Although I stroke the feathers and caress the rocks, I am left wondering, "WHY?" Then I read your blog: "SOURCING OUR STRENGTH," and your call to be "Awake In The World." You have given us much to think about, i.e. the difference between dreamstorming and brainstorming, and the challenge facing each of as we struggle to get in touch with our emotions.

Thank you, Page, for challenging us to think, reflect, and respond. For me, it is still a daily struggle, but you have given me a vision of hope on the horizon. /cs
Tom Alberti said…
Thank you for saying this, I have written three books, none have been big sellers. I was thinking I would not write another book. Now I am thinking I will write again for myself!!

Tom Alberti
Lori said…
I can share C.S.'s "Sometimes it hurts so much we cannot speak or write about it " he, she is right; sometimes to write or speak about a loss it to rip open a half-healed wound. But sometimes, writing can heal that hurt, although a scar remains behind.

I write to breathe, to shout to an often-uncaring world that I am here, that I have a voice, even if I was silent for so long. I write to touch the hearts of others, or to share my midnight fears in the hope those fears, once shared, will lessen. I write for those who cannot, although the world may not see that writing. I write for love, for loss, for life. I write to connect, to say I am not alone. I write hoping I will reach higher with each word, and achieve what my soul is stretching for.
Lori, what a beautiful declaration. I love that we can be witnesses for one another, that we, as writers, can read these words and feel a common bond, and be inspired by this common bond. Thank you.

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