Italy - 2001
An Introduction to Soul Food
It recently occurred to me that someone landing on this page from a search engine or from a link somewhere might wonder what The Soul Food Cafe is all about, and who was behind it. I'm Heather Blakey, a secondary school teacher of writing, living in Melbourne, Australia. This network is designed to be a resource for people interested in the craft of writing who need their confidence boosted or are looking for a safe, non judgmental environment in which to write.
In April 1999, I made my début into the world wide web when my daughter Helen helped me design The House of the Muse as a part of her university degree. The House of the Muse is a site dedicated to the Muse and to the gods and goddesses of Greek Mythology. Built on the notion that 'myths, poetic power, and a store of ancient verse' release the writer, the mansion of the Muse was designed to help the struggling writer to fuel the creative torch.
The Daily Writing Network was born because of my vision of running a cyber cafe for writers, of creating a nurturing environment which promotes writing as a therapeutic tool. It is my dream to dispel the myth that you need to be gifted to write well. I am looking to combat commercial publishing houses and provide alternative means of publication for people who have been burned by publishers, driven by market forces. I want to demonstrate the therapeutic value of writing and to show that when we come to the page each day our sense of well being is enhanced. I am eager to demonstrate the diverse range of options for the individual to self publish.
To make maximum use of the Daily Writing Network all you need to have done is to have made a commitment to writing on a daily basis. Once you have done this it is just a matter of becoming a 'regular customer' at the Soul Food Cafe. While you are here you can stop and read about the creative source and become familiar with Greek Mythology.
Years of experience have taught me that most people learn differently and need a wide variety of triggers to help them face the blank page. I encourage my students to use a range of activities which help stimulate their thought processes and enables them to draw memories and information from deep within the collective unconscious.. These pages are quite literally full of things to get you started and to sustain you for a long time. Each day I make it my practice to offer new and fresh ideas. I feature writing and act as a kind of traffic officer, directing traffic to other rich and valuable sites that stimulate further writing.
As I have learned and listened and seen what can be done with information technology, it has become obvious to me that my English students will benefit from all of this and now their class work is here on-line. They are learning to communicate with me through e-mail, use forums to publish their writing and are building sites of their own to display their work. They are using this cafe on a regular basis. Likewise, primary school students who I have worked with over the past two years are sharing and contributing alongside adults from all over the world.
Most days I send out an e-mail as a kind of wake up reminder call to folks who want to make writing their practice and I let them know when I have uploaded new material. As a long time journaller it was an obvious step for me to maintain an online journal to record my life as a writer. In doing this I am living out my faith in the power of words. This journal not only records my life as a writer but helps me to balance my day time work and what I regard as my art. It enables me to draws comparisons between my life and that of my great grandfather, George Chale Watson, who left a rich journal for me to plunder. It is helping me to see who I am, to live my dream and to weave a golden banner that celebrates my ancestry.
The fantasy cafe The Soul Food Cafe , with it's many rooms is where I can do my inner work and write. The Cafe enables me to be a host and offer hospitality and soul food that will nourish the muse. The Soul Food Cafe is a small tribute to all those cafe proprietors around the world who create an atmosphere conducive to free flowing writing. My writing group always enjoy going to the Black Cat in Brunswick Street but I know there are many other such places, each providing a rich place for the imagination to roam freely.
So welcome to my world! If you join me on a daily basis you will come to see that my interests, values and the law I live by are all reflected on these pages. This network is my gift to you. There are no economic units to be found here. You do not need a cookie to access and benefit from my thirty years of experience teaching writing. You will not be judged or have your creativity squashed by tiresome criticism. All you need is a love of the written word and a creative spirit.
Take freely, but remember to contribute your own verse and to always acknowledge your source. Pass on my gift to others.