creative writing

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NaNoWriMo 2013…I DID IT!!!

Published November 25, 2013 by Susan Woodward



I completed 50,000 words in one month!  I have a CRAPload of revising and editing to do, but I have The Red Brick Road on a file!    Right now, I am too overwhelmed with having written that much, so I am just going to make this brief by only sharing the fact that I MET MY CHALLENGE!!

Season of Light: Illumination

Published November 25, 2011 by Susan Woodward

  We are now entering my favorite time of the year… the season of light.  While there is light all year round, and candles are just as cheap an alternative to electric light in July, there’s something magical about preparing for the return of the natural light.   I always get a very cozy feeling as I prepare to set up my tree filled with white lights.  It’s hard to try to figure out why that same feeling just doesn’t come about during the other eleven months of the year.  Maybe it’s the heat of summer.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that the sun doesn’t go down till about nine in August. But there is certainly something about the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas that makes me long for quiet evenings filled with candles and a lighted tree.

I could always just leave the tree up… I have been known to delay taking it down till March before.  I just love that soft glow.

I am so not a fan of harsh light.  It’s unflattering, unromantic, and unsympathetic to the aging process.

I guess, though, what I am most looking forward to this Season of Light is illumination.  I want the internal light bulb to go on and show me how best to proceed through this labyrinth.   I have a very strong sense that I am at some sort of crossroad.  The past two years have been filled with so many changes, and those changes have been preparing me for something.  And it’s that “something” that I still can’t identify.

At this point, I am soon to be relieved of the last major material item in my life… my house.   And that is very freeing in a way.  In a country that defines us by our material possessions, I am letting go of the one thing that most people in America seem to want.  Property.  Their name on a deed somewhere that says this plot of the Earth is “Mine”.   But I really don’t care about that anymore.  I did.  I wanted to plant forever roots as badly as anyone else who ever wanted the American Dream… that illusion of success.  All it did was tie me down in a financial pit that was difficult to climb out of.  In pulling up those roots, I gave myself permission to be free.

But free to do what?  Now that’s the question of the hour.  What is it I want?  To write, yes… and I can do that anywhere.  To teach?  Well… I do love being in the classroom, I will say that.  But it is becoming more and more of a burden than the joy I used to feel.   It’s harder when class sizes are growing and trying to keep up with paperwork that is threatening to overwhelm me, and state demands that seem downright unfair to both teachers and students.   I am teaching writing when what I truly want to do is write myself… and that realization does weigh on me.  I teach students about The Hero’s Journey, and all the while I still wonder where my own journey will take me.  Those snippets of time that I carve out for myself when not grading papers or going to meetings seem to just fly by when I am in the middle of some other world… one of my creation.  I love delving into the internal world of my imagination because I am so often surprised by what I find there.

Still…. what am I really free to do?

That’s where I want my illumination.  I want to bring my internal world into the light.  But like any expectant mother longing for the birth of her child, there is a lot of fear involved in the birthing process.   While a mother worries about the health of her child, a writer (at least this writer) worries about how his work will be received in this world.

It’s true that I will not know if anyone reads these words or not unless there is some feedback… and it’s true that I am okay with that.  But my novel is another story.  I want it to live.  I want it to grow.  I want it to be loved and appreciated just like any other mother wants for her child.

And so I look to the light for guidance.   With my warm cozy candles and white tree lights, I will continue to write the story of Francis and allow the light to lead me along on her path.  And via her path, I hope to find my own way.  That is what I am waiting for this holiday season… this time of preparing for the return of the light.  I am anticipating its warmth and will allow it to wash over my spirit, illuminating my true path, whatever it is and wherever it will take me.   I have freed myself of most material goods that have weighed me down, and I am open to what life has to offer.

Student Writing: Sharing in the Journey of the Hero

Published November 2, 2011 by Susan Woodward

You know, it really warms my heart when my students get into a class assignment.  I’ve just spent the past hour “chatting” with many of my students on our Hero’s Journey website, and it’s been great.  And reading their posts on the 60 Day Sojourn has made me feel as if I am connecting with them in some way beyond just teaching them how to construct a variety of sentence structures or how to analyze a work of literature.  This project is connecting to them as individuals on a journey.

We are the heroes of our own life stories; how those stories ultimately play out will be based on our reactions to life’s challenges and the decisions we make.   Using references to mythology, literature, television, and film, we illustrate how the Hero’s Journey permeates not only our culture, but all cultures across time and geographic location. From there, we will explore how the pattern is part of the human condition and how it can be used as a tool to examine our own lives.

After referencing the connections to the stories of humanity (myths, etc), they will listen to  guided visualizations that will allow them to examine their own journeys through life. From there they will respond to introspection questions that make the project personal for them.

I sincerely hope that all my students will be open to sharing their journeys with the rest of us.   In examining ancient and recent literature as well as exploring our own life patterns, it will help us to see that we are all connected through our stories. We all have goals, trials to face, dragons to slay, and our Ultimate Boon awaits us for a job well done!

The culmination of the long term project will be to write their own heroic tales and have them read by, not only others in the class, but by other members of our site.  The work of Joseph Campbell is my passion, and I hope to see it live on through the work of my own students.   Each year, we publish an anthology of the top-voted stories (the students do the voting, not me)… and I look forward to what they will come up with this year!!

I’d like to invite anyone who happens to wander across this page to check out my students’ work!  (Just don’t spam my page, please… that really detracts from what the students are doing and I don’t appreciate that).  You can find us at

These are our previous anthologies that the students have produced.   They are published authors, complete with an ISBN number, whose stories are available to the world online through Amazon, Lulu, and Barnes and Noble!  I am very proud of their work!  And I am already so looking forward to what this year’s students will write!  Based on their replies so far, we are in for a treat!


by The Immortal Keepers

by the Tenders of the Embers

by Song of the Phoenix

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