The Habit Membership has been showered in glory recently as members have put their work into the world and created opportunities for other writers. If you’ll indulge me, I want to brag on a few of them.
Rows and Rows of Green
Just yesterday, April Pickle published a piece on the Rabbit Room blog called “Rows and Rows of Green.” She first wrote it for the pre-Hutchmoot writing seminar I led in October. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s a great example of the magic that can happen when a writer leans into a memory. The memoirist has to hold loosely to what she always thought a memory meant and be open to the possibility that it means more than she knew. In “Rows and Rows of Green,” April revisits a painting she made in nursery school. While her classmates painted animals and flowers, little April painted rows and rows of green. She had always taken this as evidence that she was a bad (not to mention unambitious) artist. But as she wrote, she discovered that her rows and rows of green might have pointed to something else. That’s all I’ll say. You should go read it.
One of the most gratifying things about The Habit Membership is the generosity of spirit with which writers spur one another on to keep writing and to put their work out into the world. Habitués Alicia Pollard and Reagan Dregge have just launched a collaborative website they call Winter Pages. They invited colleagues from The Habit to contribute essays, stories, poems, and visual art on the themes of rest, stillness, and abiding with God in the winter season. From Advent through the beginning of Lent (Nov 25 – Feb 17), they’ll be publishing a new piece of their colleagues’ work every few days. They kicked things off last week with a poem by Tyler Rogness, “To My Maple Tree, Upon the First Snowfall of the Year.”
I love these wintry reflections from the introductory essay by Reagan Dregge, who, as a resident of the Minnesota prairie, knows a thing or two about winter:
A person can only hibernate so long before becoming restless. Bitter cold makes for a sparse landscape, but it also carves out a cavernous ache for color, which comes back with a rush every spring. On the prairie that rush usually comes in May; your hopes are bound to be dashed if you wish for it any earlier.
I have learned to love winter, to lean into its embrace. Jonathan Rogers often reminds us that creativity is a river, not a reservoir, and in my mind the storehouses of the snow are an endless trove of delight. Are any two snowflakes alike? Any two shades of gray? What color is the sky today? Ash or iron, fog or smoke, slate, gunmetal, charcoal, ghost, granite, silver, dapple, tin, falcon, cygnet, mouse, dolphin? What about the varying shades of Eeyore, Gandalf, or Peter Pan’s shadow? The wealth of nuance never abates and never ceases to amaze me.
With the planet’s tilt comes darkness. Our days’ brevity batters us like a record stuck on the word death. Color and life have shriveled away, buried deep underground. Mourning howls through the bare trees, sheets of rain penetrate to the very bone. Grief, sorrow, and lament are good and right in this season, but they are only half of the whole, which is the fullness of joy. We do not live in a witch’s realm where it is “always winter and never Christmas.” Fullness has begun. Even now.
When the Rabbit Room’s Hutchmoot went back from an online event to an in-person event this year, a group of volunteers organized an online conference they called Fieldmoot, for all the people who weren’t able to attend in-person Hutchmoot and felt the loss of the online version. Habitués Kori Morgan, Sandra Hughes, Frank Ewert, Alicia Pollard, and Emily Johnson all played key roles in Fieldmoot. The recordings of the proceedings are all available at Fieldmoot.com.
Call It Good: A Night of Poems and Stories
One principle that comes up often in The Habit Membership is that if you want local creative community, you may have to be the one who starts it. That isn’t always easy. Thankfully, another core principle of The Habit Membership is that writers can give each other a little more courage. At the Habit Writers’ Retreat this past summer, Pam Kiper told about an event called “Poetry, Prose, and Pie” that she puts on in her small town in Tennessee. A couple of times a year she creates a space for writers to read their work to an audience, and she feeds them pie. Dana Ryan was inspired to create a similar event at her church in Southern California, but she had her doubts about whether she could make it fly. The long and short is that she put it to her colleagues in The Habit Membership, and they gave her a little more courage and helped her think through some of the details. She put on an evening of poetry reading she called “Call It Good: A Night of Poems and Stories.” It was a roaring success.
I offer Dana’s story as an encouragement to any of you who are thinking about trying to put together some kind of creative community where you live.
The Daughter of Arden Trilogy
Finally, I want to mention Loren Warnemuende and her new book Exile—Book 1 of the Daughter of Arden trilogy. Loren was one of the first people to join The Habit Membership in 2018 (it wasn’t even called The Habit Membership at the time). She had been working on a novel off-and-on for twenty years or so. Since 2018, she has shared excerpts on the Habit forums, found critique partners, commiserated with other writers, been encouraged, given encouragement…and her languishing novel became a trilogy of novels, the first of which has just been published by Bandersnatch Books. So congratulations to Loren Warnemuende. She has brought glory to The Habit Membership.
Really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the good things that are happening in The Habit Membership. There’s a place for you in this vibrant community of writers. Find out more about The Habit Membership here.