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Trusting the Practice
Writing across genres with Cameron Walker
“I often write about the same things over and over in different ways … putting them in different buckets.” —Cameron Walker
Preview: Episode 95 Cameron Walker on trust, telling the truth and writing across genres
“My word for the year was trust” says Cameron Walker, a journalist, essayist, fiction writer and sometimes poet. In this episode of Emerging Form, we talk about writing across genres and the different “goggles” she wears as she wonders about her topic. We also explore how she has developed trust in her own writing practice, how to tell stories in simple ways without compromising complex truths, and how gratefulness has become an essential part of her process.
Cameron Walker is a writer based in California. Her journalism, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Hakai, The Missouri Review, and The Last Word on Nothing. She’s won awards for her writing from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the American Institute of Physics, and Terrain.org. She is the author of National Monuments of the U.S.A., a book for kids beautifully illustrated by Chris Turnham. Her essay collection, Points of Light, is coming out this fall from Hidden River Press.
What We’re Reading and Listening to:
Advice from a clown? This phenomenal list of guiding principles from Avener the Eccentric says it all … about performance, creative practice, being alive. Thanks to our previous guest, Phyllis Cole-Dai (Episode 91 on creative practice and social justice), for passing it along!
My daughter and I spent five days watching films in Telluride over the Labor Day weekend (hence this newsletter coming out a day late!) Of the thirteen films I saw, I loved many of them. So hard to rank them when they are so different in genre and scope, but my favorite was Daddio, a very intimate film which takes place entirely in a cab. Think My Dinner with Andre, but with a very sultry and smart Dakota Johnson and a provocative and crassly wise Sean Penn. Releasing in theaters this month, it’s really just a conversation—but oh what a conversation in which both characters become increasingly vulnerable and valuable to each other because of their differences. Writer and director Christy Hall was there, as was Johnson and two other female producers, and she talked about how the film is a tribute to the disappearing art of conversation and how we connect with people who don’t share our ideas, backgrounds and values. My daughter and I had the great luck to sit in the front row—great for watching the interview, but not so great for watching the movie—and Vivian had the chance to see four strong, young women pursuing their passion and making a difference. Such a gift we give each other when we dare to shine …
I just returned from a nice visit with my father, and while I was there, he told me about his first time seeing the Southern Cross constellation. I wrote it down for him, and we published it at Last Word On Nothing. It’s called “A Glimmer of Good in a Time of War” and I don’t think you have to be his daughter to enjoy it.
I love everything Ann Finkbeiner writes, but this wonderful little essay, “The Boundary Conditions Being What They Are,” she recently published at Last Word On Nothing is extra special. It’s about writing and aging and navigating your way through life. She writes that “I don’t know how to live in what remains of the past and simultaneously figure out how the present is different. I think this is a liminal state, neither land nor water but some kind of uncertain swamp in between.”
I recently came upon this delightful piece by Martin J. Smith published in 5280 Magazine. The title is “Choosing to Spend Life’s Final Act in Colorado’s High Mountains” and the essay has got poetry and birds and friendship. “It occurs to me at that moment how blessed I am, to have arrived at a time and place in life where a well-read friend feels free to stop by unannounced, just to recommend a poem.”
So easily the thin rind
pulls away from the Clementine
to reveal what is soft,
what is sweet.
It matters, I think,
the way we offer
ourselves to each other.
I think of how it falls open,
the peel of the ripe clementine.
I think of how sometimes,
when I ask how you are,
you, too, fall open
and give me everything.
What a gift
when I don’t need to pry.
What a gift, the bright scent
how the tang of it
lingers in the air.
I long to open
for you this way, too.
Trust begins here.
—Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
A Note About Paid Subscriptions:
First, we want to thank ALL our subscribers! We are so grateful you join us in this conversation about what it is to engage with yourself, the world and others in a creative way. And a BIG thank you to our paid subscribers. You make this podcast possible. Starting this month, only our paid subscribers will receive our bonus episodes as a thank you for their financial support.
This week, Cameron shares the pathway to storytelling, plus thoughts on how kindness, good listening skills and taking time to do nothing are powerful tools for a writing practice. If you are not yet a paid subscriber, you can go now to our website, EmergingForm.substack.com, or by clicking the button below. Thank you!
(share your answers with us here on Substack or in our FB group)
What creative practice do you not excel at (yet) and yet enjoy exploring?
If you were given a year and all the resources you needed to work and live, what kind of project or writing would you do?
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