Rocks & Roots

Donna Salli

Twice Full of Words: On Writing and Sisters

My grandparents had apple orchards, right next to their houses. As my grandfathers grew older and stopped mowing the hayfields, apple trees popped up everywhere. I like to think it’s a metaphor for my family. Quite a few of us on my mother’s side are writers, and I see no surprise in it. One of my mom’s grandfathers was a writer in Finland, the original tree. Growing up, I would hold in my hand the one book of his that we owned, and I’d burn with certainty:  this, this shaping of words, was my purpose.

Sometimes, a Chicken: On the Path to Magic

I’m drawn to white animals. Over breakfast last Tuesday, I found myself thinking about the white creatures that have been part of my life. My heart warms when I think of them, a mix of love and gratitude. Some have been pets. I chose them—two white cats, and two white...

Wednesday, Again: On Art, a Hurricane, and Stepping on Toes

The poet Emily Dickinson wrote, “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” I’ll whisper that line to myself. It’s an affirmation of my desire to live lightly, to not impose myself on any person or creature. I just want to be quiet, to write my quiet books and practice my art. When...

Let’s Say: On Writing, Epiphanies, and Broken Waters

I sat down at my desk this morning. 5:00 a.m. I’d fed the dog and made coffee. It was time to write. I sat . . . then I checked Facebook. I read the news online. Two hours later, I left the desk and took a shower. There’s something about the shower. Standing there, I...

In-Laws, Outlaws, and Iowans: On What Calls Our Names

When I began working on my novel, “A Notion of Pelicans,” I was a newlywed, my husband’s roots being in Iowa. I’d had little sense of Iowa before marrying Bruce, apart from what could be seen from I-80, which I'd driven periodically when I lived out West. I wouldn’t...

A Bit Blue: Family Stories as Inspiration

It’s June, again, month of weddings, of so much hope and joy. My own wedding anniversary is in June, a day my husband and I observe quietly, more and more amazed as the years add up. But June is also a bit blue for me. It’s the month my mother’s father died. I was...

Rock-faced root cellar

Donna Salli - Seated - Color

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