Make do like Mary Oliver

This is Mary Oliver


You might know her poetry

It goes like this:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

She won the hearts of readers – and awards, lots of awards. The Pulitzer Prize. The National Book Award. Awards for lifetime achievement.

Such success wasn’t preordained

In fact, her achievements are jaw-on-the-floor astonishing given that she grew up in an abusive home… dropped out of college… accepted poverty.

That last point sounded odd, right? Here’s what Oliver said:

“When I was very young, I decided to try and write as well as I could. So I made a great list of all the things I would never have. Because I thought poets never made any money. A house. A good car. I couldn’t go out and buy fancy clothes or go to good restaurants. Still, I had the necessities.”

Where did she get the necessities?

The same place she escaped to as a child…

The same place she had her true education…

The same place that inspired her writing…

The woods


Oliver foraged for food. She went fishing and clamming. And she walked. She walked in the woods with a notebook, reporting on the world.

So, what do you need to be a writer?

The world.

A notebook.

Your imagination.

And the occasional clam.

Go forage.






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