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Author Archive: "Kim Stafford"

Four Elements of a Daily Writing Page in William Stafford’s Practice

This year we celebrate the centennial of William Stafford's birth — in Hutchinson, Kansas, 1914. He started in the Midwest but published 59 of his 60 books in Oregon (not to mention the dozen published since his passing in 1993). When people would ask him, "Bill, when is your next book coming out?" he would often answer, "Which one?"

How did he do that? Well, the answer is very simple and lavishly inviting: he wrote something every day for 40 years, and his books were made from about one day's writing out of eight that he found worthy.

In this little remembrance of him, I want to consider what those daily writing pages contained, and how they worked for him — and how something like his approach might work for any of us who chose to give such daily writing practice a chance.

His pages, which are now housed in the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark College, exhibit a varying daily mixture of four prevailing elements:

1. Each page includes the date of the writing. Is that even worth mentioning? Well, it turns out to be strangely ...

100 Tricks

What is your quest with certain books you have read? What is the trick to find your way, by the light of this book, crumb by crumb, word by word, story by story, in the general direction of your destiny?

I remember in the 1970s when the old man, Walter Powell, had a little bookstore on a side street in rainy Portland, and I used to go there as much for a conversation as for a book. I hadn't published much then, and bookstores were like zoos of curious creatures: writers, shamans, seekers, eccentric possessors of some elusive kind of excellent luck. I was a person, but I wanted also to be a book. And books were thick in the very air of that small space, leering at me from shelf upon shelf , nudging me as I worked the aisles, elbowing into my thoughts, and whispering in my ear, "Hey, you! What's your story?"

One time at the register, as I counted out my quarters for some lovely old novel, I said to Mr. Powell, "I saw that giant book of color studies by Josef Albers — $400. Really?"

"It ...

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