In 2013, I received an opportunity to teach a Creative Writing class at the high school where I also taught English. As a new elective without an established curriculum, I had the freedom to teach it however I wanted. I adopted a two-part philosophy. First, writers must be readers, and I structured classes with time to read for pleasure with an eye toward author’s craft. Next, writers must write—every day. I gave the students daily prompts that they could use or not for their writing. The point was sustained practice.

In the beginning, I felt like a hypocrite, and so the second part of my own philosophy forced me to write—almost every day. I kept a journal and notes in my phone, bits of dialogue and scenes. As I wrote alongside my students, I often stuck to a theme of my son Drew, our new normal with schizophrenia, and our quest for help. Little by little over the next few years, I realized my story might help someone else. Finding help had been hard, especially when my son didn’t see a need for help. Maybe I would write a memoir. I quested ahead with my writing practice. My structure was episodic. My ideas were fragmented. Some of it was pretty good. Some of it was horrific. I didn’t know how to make it all publishable.

For my fiftieth birthday, I gifted myself time for grad school and started a new quest for my MFA. Who knew I could study Creative Writing? As my program winds down, I’m questing toward my degree and the latest draft of my memoir Help in the Time of Schizophrenia. When I submit this work on April 26th, two of my professors and a third contracted reader will read it and provide a final round of feedback. I’m super thankful for the extra perspective.

And soon, I’ll be on a new quest. To be determined.


Carrie Williams Clifford

My goal out-distances the utmost star, 
Yet is encompassed in my inmost Soul; 
I am my goal—my quest, to know myself. 
To chart and compass this unfathomed sea, 
Myself must plumb the boundless universe. 
My Soul contains all thought, all mystery, 
All wisdom of the Great Infinite Mind: 
This is to discover, I must voyage far, 
At last to find it in my pulsing heart. 

39 thoughts on “Quest!

  1. So motivating and inspiring, Crystal! We can either hide or shine from life’s experiences and struggles. You’ve obviously decided to shine more light into this world. Thank you!


  2. I found that writing my memoir helped me sort out my own thoughts and emotions first. Only afterward did I realize that, perhaps, it published eventually, it might help someone else. After all, reading other memoirs with stories similar to mine shed insight into an unstable past. Writing was a catharsis. I did publish in several parts on a WordPress blog ( and there it sits.

    Blessings in your quest to present and publish yours!


  3. Reading this, one can truly see how things fall into place even when we don’t know the final destination when we start the quest! Xx


  4. Splendid, Crystal! Forever questing, forever growing. That’s the ultimate in living, no?

    Someday, when you explain what you made of the years you were given…”So glad you asked! How long do you have?” How often will you interrupt the narrative with, “Yeah, this part’s really cool?”

    Oh, congratulations on making good use of “Q” for the second year running. We have this beast of a language, and, doggone it, you know just how to tame it. In fact, it’s another quest for your memoir….


    1. Thank you, Keith! You sent me on a quest to remember last year’s Q post. Aww, about the Queen of the Quarantine—my dearly departed Rain, who still reigns supreme. ‘Doggone it’ is right. That part was really cool.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my gosh I’ve always wanted to take a creative writing class and be pressured (in a good way) to share my writing in a way to get feedback… I feel like I would’ve really enjoyed taking your class bc of the alloted reading time (I have a dream that employers will start to implement reading breaks in the day lol) and mandatory writing time! Great ideas!!!! 🙂


    1. Maybe you can suggest the reading time at work. 🤔 I would think employers would especially go for self-improvement types of books.

      As for a writing class, you might be surprised at what you can find online. On Instagram today, I saw a free online class for this coming Thursday evening by Cameron_Dezen_Hammon.

      Liked by 1 person

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