Rocks & Roots

Donna Salli

Writing What Scares You: On Blue Shoes and Birthday Cakes

I sometimes wonder. Whatever possessed me to want to write? From where I am now in life, the answer is apparent—when I started, it was with a blend of aptitude and naiveté. Writing is work, hard work, mentally and physically, and if you look to publish, it can take years to make little progress. I’ve thought, at times, I’ll just stop—just stop writing. I never have, though, because what I feel at my desk—that high of creative flow—outweighs the rest. But writing comes with other costs, too. It’s dangerous. You find yourself writing what scares you.

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...

Rock-faced root cellar

Donna Salli - Seated - Color

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