How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice ~ Pat Schneider


“When I begin to write, I open myself and wait. And when I turn toward an inner spiritual awareness, I open myself and wait.”

With that insight, Pat Schneider invites readers to contemplate their lives through spiritual observation and exploratory writing. In seventeen concise thematic chapters that include meditations on topics such as fear, prayer, forgiveness, social justice, and death, How the Light Gets In gracefully guides readers through the philosophical and spiritual questions that face everyone in the course of meeting life’s challenges.

Praised as a “fuse lighter” by author Julia Cameron and “the wisest teacher of writing I know” by the celebrated writing guru Peter Elbow, Pat Schneider has lived a life of writing and teaching, passion and compassion.

With How the Light Gets In, she delves beyond the typical “how-to’s” of writing to offer an extended rumination on two inner paths, and how they can run as one. Schneider’s book is distinct from the many others in the popular spirituality and creative writing genre by virtue of its approach, using one’s lived experience–including the experience of writing–as a springboard for expressing the often ineffable events that define everyday life. Her belief that writing about one’s own life leads to greater consciousness, satisfaction, and wisdom energizes the book and carries the reader elegantly through difficult topics.

As Schneider writes, “All of us live in relation to mystery, and becoming conscious of that relationship can be a beginning point for a spiritual practice–whether we experience mystery in nature, in ecstatic love, in the eyes of our children, our friends, the animals we love, or in more strange experiences of intuition, synchronicity, or prescience.”

Pub Date Apr 4 2013

Poet and author of nine books, including Writing Alone and With Others, Oxford University Press, 2003, and Another River: New and Selected Poems, Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2005.

Schneider is internationally known as a writer and teacher of writing. She has published widely in magazines (The Sun, MS Magazine, etc.) and literary journals (Sonora, Minnesota Review, North Carolina Quarterly, New York Quarterly, etc.). Her poems have been anthologized and featured on Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry and fourteen times featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. Fourteen of her plays have been published and/or produced. A libretto for lyric soprano recorded by Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was performed in Carnegie Hall.

Schneider’s books include a memoir, Wake Up Laughing, five books of poems and two books on writing. Writing Alone & With Others (Oxford University Press, 2003) comes out of more than twenty-five years of leading writing workshops in the U.S. and Ireland. She is an adjunct professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and has taught writing at the University of Massachusetts, Smith College and Limavadi College (Northern Ireland) as well as in independent workshops in many sites nationally and internationally. Her pioneering work in using creative writing as a means of empowering low-income populations is the subject of an international award-winning documentary by Florentine Films/Hott Productions: Tell Me Something I Can’t Forget. The film has been featured on national public television. Her forthcoming book is How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice. http://www.patschneider.com.

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