The good story

“Good story” means something worth telling that the world wants to hear. Finding this is your lonely task.*
Robert McKee

Do we also recognise that we already have within us everything we need for our own becoming?**

The unique life does not come to us
whether we are rich or poor.
Each must explore towards its discovery:

writers of unique characters underpin their creativity with research^.

Journeying both outwards and inwards,
Paying attention, asking questions,
Gathering riches, trading wonders,
imagining, curating,
Offering a gift to someone, somewhere.

Our deep joy meeting someone’s great need.

*From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: Why a Love of Good Stories Is Not Enough;
**From Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of an Unnamed Future;
^From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: The Secret of One of a Kind Characters.

What’s in and what’s out?

Strategic ignorance is not being close-minded. … Selective ignorance is not avoidance of learning. … It’s knowing what to avoid.*
Ben Hardy

Generally my feeling is towards less: less shopping, less eating, less drinking, less wasting, less playing by the rules and recipes. All of that I want in favour of more thinking on the feet, more improvising, more surprises, more laughs.**
Brian Eno

Choose your way well,
Be unmovable,
Pulled neither to the left or to the right.

There will be many things that are less
but are dressed as more,
Promising but disappointing.

Being a writer is a act of self-authorisation.
No matter who you are.
Only you can authorise yourself.
You do that by writing well, by constant discovery.^

More vitally,
This is true for being human.
We choose our way
And we live well:
Imaginatively, creatively.

Sometimes we lose our way
And we live badly.
Then it is time to be kind and to forgive.
To begin again,
Even to be born again,
And, having discovered more,
Carry kindness and forgiveness with us.

*From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
**From Brian Eno’s A Year With Swollen Appendices;
^From Verlyn Klinkeborg’s Several short sentences about writing.

May we?

There are many difficult riches trapped in the shadow side. Jung said the shadow held 90 per cent gold.*
John O’Donohue

With vision above and reality at the base, creativity resides between the two.**
Kelvy Bird

I found myself exploring two themes this morning.

One: the need to do the creative bit in the middle, between reality and imagination.

Two: the need to get on with people by engaging the “gratitude tense“:

Don’t fight with people, study them.^

I wondered whether these themes might come together in some way?

Perhaps we imagine a different reality but we have to somehow give it form.

Unexpected others may be the best way into this creativity.

May we listen gratefully for as long as we are able.

*From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
**From Kelly Bird’s Generative Scribing;
^A slightly altered phrase from Austin Kleon’s advice for Thanksgiving “Don’t fight with your family., study them: A gratitude zine.

What’s in your backyard?

Lisa Germany wanted to put on a photography exhibition. The result was “In My Backyard.”

The work of ten local photographers of Nuuk, Greenland, the only limitation was an extension of the backyard to 300 metres from their homes, vertically as well as horizontally.*

What if you were to engage in something similar?

What would you want me to see from your “backyard.”

Never one to miss a metaphor when it offers itself: what about the things from your life that you have come to appreciate over the years, though perhaps hadn’t at first?

How would you represent these?

A story, a picture, a doodle, a sculpture, a planting?

Ben Hardy offers five steps for making the shift from something missing in our lives – a gap – to something important – a gain:

  1. Shift past meanings from Gap to Gain
  2. Think of 1-3 Negative Pat Experiences
  3. List all the benefits of these
  4. Have a conversation between pas and future self
  5. Change the past self’s identity narrative.*

*The project also encouraged Nuuk locals to participate with their own pictures.
**From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent.

Today is tomorrow’s past

My past is working for me, not
Against me,
Not to me.
My constant companion,
I welcome some of what it shares
and regret others,
And yet it is
my teacher, guide, encourager
To live today well,
And where I don’t,
It will be there for me tomorrow,
My helper and loyal friend.


I know I am not the person I need to be,
Nor the person I could be –
there is still possibility, thankfully;
If I am willing to learn,
If I humble myself
before my teachers,
And again, tomorrow.


Writing well and reading well mean paying attention
to all the subtleties embodied in a sentence
In its exact form and no other.*

Verlyn Klinkenborg

Notice everything about your life.

Say it all to yourself and hear everything..

The pain as well as the joy,
The trauma as well as the triumphs:

Trauma in a variety of forms, is part of each of our lives. It includes any negative experience or incident that shapes who you are and how you operate in the world**

We may believe that to live our desirable life
there must be no shadow, no darkness.
Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts suggest that we not only carry a gift within us,
But also a woundedness.^

We are not only our gift,
We are not only our woundedness:

Works of art are born from the conflict of life. … Life is about the ultimate questions of finding love and self-worth, or bringing serenity to inner chaos, of the titanic social inequities everywhere around us, of time running out.^^

So we pay attention to all these subtleties
embodied in our lives,
Somehow creating from this unlikely mix
our lives-in-all-their-fullness.

*From Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several Short Sentences About Writing;
**From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
^From Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts’ The Hero’s Journey;
^^From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: The World According to Writers

May you be old, may you be young

If a woman holds on to this gift of being old while she is young and young while she is old, she will always know what comes next.*
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Pursue clarity … . In the pursuit of clarity, style reveals itself. Your clarity will differ from anyone else’s without your intention to make it differ.**
Verlyn Klinkenborg

When I was younger, I used to say that I was born old.

I was trying to live wisely and have enough discipline as a young man not to mess up (too often).

Now I’m old, my hope is to have enough vitality. Enough joy, too:

Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.^

May the discipline continue. To stay curious, explore some things deeply, keep talking with and learning from amazing people of all ages, try out some new things.

*From Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves;
**From Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several short sentences about writing:
^From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus: For an Occasion of Celebration.

The future isn’t easy

Hopefully, your future self will be far wiser and have a far wider range of experiences than your current self. Your future self will have greater opportunities, deeper relationships, and a better self-view. Hopefully your future self will have greater agency and choice that your current self, with more knowledge, skills and connections.*
Ben Hardy

All holiness is about learning to hear the voice of your own soul. It is always there and the more deeply you learn to listen, the greater the surprises and discoveries that will unfold. To enter into the gentleness of your own soul changes the tone and quality of your life. … The soul dwells where beauty lives.**
Seth Godin

Holiness as set-apartness.


So we listen deeply to our soul.

Imagining a future self beyond the current.

We may have a problem, though.

Remembering the present self.

Too old, wrong background, failure … .

It’s time to forget:

It’s an attempt to open our minds to possibilities other than the ones we remember, and the ones we already know we like.  Something has to be done to get us free of our memories and choices.^

So we enter unfamiliar spaces.

We name our values.

Haven’t done that before.

We uncover our talents.

Where did those come from?

We get out of our heads and into our bodies.

Noticing the energies.

This is hard.

Futures aren’t easy.

Unless you download more of the same.

*From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^John Cage, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting.