Discover more from Shelter Writers
I am inspired by every piece of writing I hear in Shelter Workshops. Giving a prompt, writing (usually for just around 10 minutes), and then coming back to a zoom and hearing an array of fresh writing is just magical. I will never get tired of it. It is like seeing a nest of baby birds through a window or catching the first small snowflakes falling from a cold sky. Maybe that sounds melodramatic but it’s true! Here are a few samples of some beautiful writings I have witnessed lately. Thank you JJ, Dave, Sarah and Leon for allowing me to share!
Fluorescent light. The worst light of all.
Casting alien hues, draining even the most vital faces of their humanity.
Sometimes buzzing, boring into brain, adding unsettling sounds to unsettling sights. I care northing for them, with the exception of two:
Two long rectangles clinging to the ceiling at 8:12 am, mingling with window light, illuminating the beige linoleum tiles on the ground.
The patterned hospital gown loosely puddled around me, and a pink baby girl on my chest.
-JJ Heller (JJ’s beautiful music & work can be found here)
What do we have to do in the world but spin? We find our way into this world, somehow we appear. That is amazing! And we flourish with all the other creatures around us, plants and song birds, cranes, who make their own songs, trumpeters, sea anemones, and the buffalo too. We are all here together in a passing of time, spinning through cycles of who we will become. Moments unfolding with a flicker, a flinch, a flurry of movement.
— Leon Aliski
How To Be Rich
Do you even know how luxurious a full piece of bread is? Well let me tell you— it is! Whole slices of toast are for rich people!
At least that’s what my younger sister and I thought.
You know that old saying— something like the cobbler’s kids don’t have shoes? That was us, except with bread. An actual full on piece of bread? That’s for paying customers!
Our parents owned a sandwich shop in the late 80s/early 90s and every Friday Dad brought home an old clear bread bag of just the ends of bread. These dried out crusts were shoved into the freezer, joining other similar bags and became our breakfast. In the mornings my sister and I would paw at the piles of freezer burned crusts looking for raisin bread or at least the all organic tough version white bread— avoiding the weird sprouted grains breads my parents loved to eat and advertise.
Now I’m a grown up and when I butter up my full-size-not-an-end-crust raisin toast I’m stoked. I’m rich!
(Read more of Sarah’s work at her own Substack called 36 penpals -such a great name!)
There’s a point in writing a song where you know where you have to go, but the way isn’t quite clear yet. So you stare from your perch out the window at the leaves rustling in the breeze, and hope they’ll shake loose some cogs in your mind that will somehow fall into place and turn into an idea worth expressing.
You reach for a hundred puzzle pieces and none of them seem to fit, but there’s always one more to try. So on you stumble like a blind man walking over a field of moguls in hopes you’ll feel the satisfaction of the snap of the tape strung across the finish line.
And then, from somewhere, a key is placed in your palm and you try the lock for the thousandth time. The gate swings open, and you cross the threshold into the garden you knew was there all along. The warm scent of satisfaction wafts over you as you’re welcomed in.
You wouldn’t believe how good it feels to finally arrive.
Pictured above: A winter sunset over Beverly Beach seen through a bridge on highway 101. Because it was beautiful and fleeting, as beauty often is. And because if I had put a picture of baby birds or snowflakes I would have lost some street cred with my fellow enneagram 4s. Also I didn’t have any pictures of baby birds or snowflakes. They are hard to capture. Like beauty.