Random Thoughts and Flat Apple Pie

~ The ‘Let’s Write That Book!’ blog series is starting Sunday, November 17th — not 16th — as this editor realized. And I’m the one heading the series …. sheeh….

 

~ Second wonderful day of retirement and I’m feeling sick and worn out. I wonder if that’s a psychological letdown or a medical paradox? I still feel like I’m on vacation and have to report to duty next Monday. That always made me feel sick…

 

~ Don’t teach your dog to bark at squirrels in the bird feeder if you don’t let them bark 24-7. My husband taught (as a joke) and we’ve been joking at 6 a.m. for the past few months. Now that I can sleep in it’s not so funny.

 

~ We dropped our Dish TV subscription and have been living through Amazon Prime and a pretty decent TV antenna. I have to watch my favorite TV shows through my computer hooked up to the TV now, which I don’t mind, but I’m finding I am caring less and less about all those TV shows that I had  to keep up with when I had DISH. I’d rather listen to music or watch Chinese TV series with English subtitles now. Strange turn.

 

~ The further I get from actually going to Paris, the further I am getting from writing book about going. I am hoping this is a temporary pause due to real life circumstances, but all the research and daydreams and twists in the story just make me tired.

 

~ Writing is making me tired.

 

~ I have to learn to cook all over again. With hubby on night shift and me coming home before he leaves, either he’s cooked and left it for me or I was on my own for dinner. Cans of ravioli aside, I haven’t tried to be Julia Child in quite a while.

 

~ Do you go through ebbs and flows like this too? Does time bring you back where you want to be? 

 

~ Think I’ll go make a Flat Apple Pie. Dessert is good for the soul.

 

My Creative Muse Is At It Again

nikitaliskov

Happy Monday creative muses!

Last week I told you that, for various reasons, I will not be going to Paris next fall to write. Which is just fine.

Just as I accepted that fact,  my creative muse swooped in and brought me an idea a new book (which I’ve  told you about). Her chatter, at first, is confusing and mind blowing. So much information, so many ideas, and with her Irish brogue it’s sometimes hard to understand everything.

But she also brought a new awareness to my aura’s circle. I believe that, of all of things I’ve written, this upcoming book will be the one that really works.

Do you ever feel that way with your latest creation? That of all of the things you have worked on, all the things you’ve made, that this is the one that is going to take you to that next level?

Do you listen to yourself when you hear that?

Now, “the next level” can be different things to different people. It could be the start of a whole new art collection. A whole new style or technique or genre.  It is usually something you’ve been working towards for some time. A contest entry, an art competition, being published. The next level is something every artist strives for.

I finished my blogs about How To Write Your First/Second/Third Book which I will be posting soon. And I am happy to say I am following my own advice.

I have a story line kinda worked out. When I solidify it I will write my synopsis. I think I’ve decided which point of view I’m writing as. And I have a lot of research to do on characters and settings, for that’s the kind of book I now want to write. I am missing one character I know I need but have drawn a blank on who it is. This is common, too. You don’t always have to have all the details, all the Ps and Qs before you start. Your creative muse will sooner or later bring you the piece you need to finish your puzzle.

When you get your idea and really begin to work on it, you can’t help but get excited about it. Excited about the research, excited about its development, excited about how you will start it and how you will finish it. All mediums are the same when it comes to that tingling feeling that “this is IT.” 

So what are you working on/researching this marvelous Monday?

And I’m talking to you silent readers in the background who are  starting something and finally are ready to talk about it….

I AM My Character … and That’s Okay

I had an epiphany earlier this evening. 

I find that if  I let my mind spew then wander, I answer my own questions, find my own direction again. 

The other day I was sooo concerned about writing stories that sounded like me but weren’t me but were me but not really. At first thought, that bothered me. I didn’t want every character to be me. That’s a legitimate concern of most writers.

But, in my case, I see now I wanted these stories to BE me. 

I wanted to be the one who traveled back in time, the one who was taken to another planet to take the place of a dead queen. This common-sense-that-I-don’t-always-have made me realize that, in this case, I might be making a mountain out of the proverbial mole hill. 

The reason for this epiphany was that on my drive home today I started thinking about going to Paris for a week next year, and how I doubt that I will go. There are a number of reasons for this pre-decision, and nothing is set in stone yet, but you kinda know if you’ve got a chance or not.

I was going to write of my adventures, my visits to cafes and libraries and shops and bridges. What a wonderful journal it was going to be.

So does that mean that if I can’t go I can’t go?

Does that mean that just because I can’t walk the streets myself and eat the croissants and touch the gargoyles I can’t walk the streets and eat the croissants and touch the gargoyles anyway?

Since it seems I’ve already traveled through time and space, why can’t I take this trip, too? Maybe cut my hair, make myself a little thinner, but be the same person exploring new worlds?

Maybe when I sit and look at the glass pyramid at the Louvre I can sit and talk with a young funny Parisian, or fall in love for a couple of evenings with a roguish French man or watch Hemingway drink at a back table at Café du Dôme. I can slip a Hermes scarf into my purse and not get caught, or have dinner at Seb’on without having to pay.

Who will know that lead character is me besides you and me and my friends and family?

You see — I can do all that. Without guilt, without explanation. I can be me and not be me. I can research and look at pictures and watch old movies and visit Paris on my own terms. I can get lost without getting lost. Talk to strangers without talking to strangers.

Being myself in my story is actually a win/win situation.

I am starting to think about starting a new book. A book with a little adventure, a little flirting, and a little café au lait.

Don’t let your inability to go somewhere, to attend something, stop you from doing research and doing it through your art. Through your painting, your writing, your sketching. Whatever world you create for yourself. There is always a way through the clouds.

Artists always find a way.

 

Write Em Cowboy

I am starting to work in earnest on my upcoming blog series “So You Want To Write A Book.”  (or some other wonderfully colorful fictitious title).  I think it will be informative and helpful to readers at every stage of their writing.

It will be free, a part of my blog. I may put together a package of worksheets and references and samples and offer that for purchase. Still working on that.

As I put together this series I also did the final read through of my first book. I said final — I HAVE to say final — or I will be nip and tucking this thing for the next 10 years.

This last nip and tuck a few days ago yielded a cut of 243 words. And those were just the same words I used too many times.

You see? We all have positive and negative writing habits that we cannot see. We read and reread and proofread and still miss the bigger picture; a smooth reading ride on the Writing Railroad.

The advice I will share is good for all lengths of writing: novels, novellas, short stories, magazine articles. Memoirs and science fiction. Romance and mystery. It doesn’t matter what you write — you have to proof it with a fine tooth comb.

My comb is always full of hair. Pity.

But that’s what makes the final work worthy. Worthy of publication, of entering into contests, into being a story in a magazine or a column in a newspaper. Clean, entertaining writing.

I am living proof you have to put in the work.

Some may toss off stories like trick-or-treat candy. Maybe they’re that good. If you are that good, I envy you. For it’s not easy to get exactly what you want to say out and down on paper the first time around. The first ten times around.

Practice, practice, practice. Edit and change and stand back and do it again. That’s one of the tips I’m going to share in my blog come Christmas time.

One of my favorite movies is Tombstone. I love Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp. And he has the best line about cleaning up your writing.

“The Cowboys are finished, you understand me?! I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin’ it! So run, you cur… RUN! Tell all the other curs the LAW’S coming! You tell ’em I’M coming… and Hell’s coming with me, you hear?! Hell’s coming with me!

Hehe….bring the brimstone down on your writing. You won’t be sorry.

Just don’t set your computer on fire…..

Decisions … Decisions

This weekend is my annual pilgrimage to Irishfest, a four-day festival of Irish music, American beer, and Irish hearts.

I love to say that my mother was Irish — which she was — although she was of the Heinz 57 variety. I so identify with their culture, their music, and their cosmic presence that it’s really a part of me, no matter what percentage my mother was.

Irish music is either incredibly happy or incredibly sad. The song “Wild Mountain Thyme” makes me cry every time I hear it, making me think of my mother whom I lost 40 years ago. And my favorite Gaelic band Gaelic Storm makes me clap and sing and dance around the place (hence, I don’t play their music at work).

My husband and I have gotten into semi-discussions lately, though, on why would I want to spend my money going to Paris for a week when I’ve talked about going to Ireland half of my life?

Good question.

Us folks in the states don’t get a chance to go across the sea very often, so when we do, we like to make it a “key destination.” And what better place to spend my hard-earned money than the home of my ancestors?

Yet when I think of going to Paris for a week, I get a different emotion running through me. Instead of looking off the Cliffs of Moher and connecting to my heritage and soul, I think about sitting in the park in front of the Eiffel Tower, sipping wine, eating a croissant, and writing about my journey.

Two totally different worlds.

Two totally different emotions.

Or are they?

I’ve had this tugging in my heart to go on my own adventure for a long time, now. Bringing someone to France with me who isn’t into what I want to do would be more of a burden than an escape, as I’d be worrying if they were bored or hungry or brooding.

Touring Ireland is something I’d do with my partner. We’d explore and tour and have a beer together at a local pub. I doubt if he would want to sit in the plaza of the Louvre for three hours while I nosh and write my book.

And who would want to spend time walking across a historic bridge inspecting every gargoyle and plaque or sitting in an old library or sitting at a cafe during the late evening? How boring to those who don’t walk the same path as you do.

At this point I’m not sure if I’ll ever go across the sea to see anything new and historical and exciting.  Technically there should be enough history and excitement right here where I live. If I need the music, I’ll go to Irishfest. If I need a croissant, I’ll go to the bakery.

But still….

Where would you like to visit if you could?

It Has To Be Right

I want everything to be right. Perfect.

I’m not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination. Sagittarians are pretty scattered to begin with, and I take the swirly path a lot further than most.

But I want my blogs on Writing Your First Book to work for both the reader and the writer. For us both to get something out of it. Especially because these days my FB account is flooded with people who have the “free” answer to your writing dreams. And I know I can do better.

Sometimes I wish I had grown up more confident. More self-assured. You know what I mean. I’ve had enough moxy to make it through 66 years of ups and downs, including writing. Yet  I don’t always have the push to “go for it”, because my worksheet is incomplete.

But I’m going to do it this time.

I’ll be retired by January, and that is when my career with change. No more writing (or more like not writing) things I’m not interested in, and lots more of what I do like. I can get a job as a freelance writer or freelance proofreader.

And finish a product to boot.

My consulting friends say there is such a thing as 10,000 hours of experience that counts just as much as a college degree.

I have that.

If they need 10,000 hours of heart, I have that, too.

So it is with blushing regret that I have put my tutoring skills on the back burner until the New Year. By then I will have a whole curriculum of tips and advice that I can share. I will have advice to give away for free and books and information to sell.

A win/win for everyone, I hope.

In the meantime, let’s learn more about unique artists, about getting older, writing mistakes to avoid, and writing successes to boast about.

Boast to me. I can take it.

For I want everything to be right. Perfect.

Chatting With Spirit Guides

I have a few spirit guides I call on now and then for advice.

Usually it’s for writing. Sometimes it’s to talk out ideas about travel or how to gather information or how to process something artsy.

I had a younger male slave dude from ancient Greece for my first novel. For the second and third in the series I’ve been consulting with a rather large, carefree woman from France. I’ve also mused with an Italian Renaissance gentleman when working with erotica, (someone I haven’t seen in quite some time, I confess), a dime novel writer from the ’30s for a shorter novel, and a Chinese philosopher who nudges me to watch Chinese and Japanese movies about ancient warriors with English subtitles to get ideas of other worlds, other cultures.

Sometimes we have great conversations driving home from work or walking around the back yard. When I get stuck on how to approach a certain time period or way of thinking,  they’re there to bounce ideas off of.

Sometimes they’re off helping someone else and tell me they’ll be right there. As if spirit guides aren’t omnipotent.

They are spirits from the past, from past generations, past dynasties, past worlds. Important people and simple people. You would think the airwaves would be jammed with spirit guides filling every possible frequency, trying to communicate with willing human beings. But as I have discovered, this world and other worlds are not jammed at all. You call, they’re there, often with fresh ideas and lots of idle chatter.

Of course, common sense tells us when I’m talking to spirit guides I’m really talking to myself. Making up another personality to converse with. Perhaps that’s where split personalities or multiple personalities come from.

But I’m content to name my “common sense” side with a personality that I can learn from. Someone who “gets” me. Someone to help me through rough transition passages and quirky personalities that are not my own.

Putting a personality to a spirit guide helps me get through the rough patches of my writing life. They tell me things I already know but don’t always know I know. And when they really want me to figure something out they have me do research.

I don’t have anyone to really bounce writing problems off of. Sure, I have friends and family whom I can dump on for personal stuff, but no one that gets how important my work is to me. Writing may seem like a solitary experience, and to most it is. But when I get stuck, when I wonder why someone did what they did, they are there to give me an answer. To make sense of what I’m confused about. And it does help.

Too bad they don’t have an answer for the madness of the world today, too.

 

 

The Way Sagittarians Think about Paris

Last month I wrote a blog called Making Dreams Reality, about a pipe dream I have/had about spending a week in Paris next year at a writer’s workshop. You know that daydream — slightly-older-than-middle-aged woman who is fairly ditzy hops on a plane to Paris, hoping to find inspiration, writing, and croissants while she gazes romantically at the Eiffel Tower or parks her derriere on the Seine River with a glass of wine and a notebook.

It sounds so good. Until you stop to think about it.

The seminar runs about $3250, not including hotel, air fare, taxis, and croissants. Add about another $700 for airfare, $1500-2,000 for hotel, $50 for at least one Paris attraction,  $100 for dinners and $50 for croissants, and you’re talking a boatload of bills.

On the plus side of all that bankruptcy, I was fine with that. Chance of a lifetime and all that.

Then I went to the website of the workshop and got a rundown of the writer workshop schedule. After breakfast at 10:30am-11:00am, there are intros, couple of hours on character development, couple hours of perspective, couple hours of writing, couple hours of working lunches, lots of sharing time, and that’s it. You get to bond with fellow writers and learn from professionals. You get some atmosphere, a lot of help, and solid interacting time.

So I made of list of “is it really worth pursing?” things….

List of positives:

  • Paris. Period.
  • Inspiration begets better writing.
  • Side trip to Versailles
  • Leaving hubby behind
  • Self discovery
  • Croissants

List of negatives:

  • Cost
  • Leaving hubby behind
  • Don’t speak French.
  • Self discovery is a life-long process; no instant fixes
  • French wine doesn’t go with chocolate croissants

Now understand that all of this — all of this — is just preliminary babble, baloney, and bubbles. It’s all in the inkling stage.

But creative people are ingenious people. We always are left of center, out of the box, making things up, wandering and wondering. Our borders are transparent, dotted lines that are always moving.

And it’s within those transparent borders new ideas spring up.

So I started thinking in a different direction. I could go to anywhere I wanted for a writer’s getaway — San Francisco, Cocoa Beach — anywhere. I could go to a BnB, Holiday Inn, to my cabin up north.

But I wanted to go to Paris.

And I wanted to write.

So my mind and body started researching hotels and airfares. I’m in the process of researching local libraries, cafes, and spots along the Seine. I’m looking for views of the Eiffel Tower, le petit cafés, and bookstores.

I could always use advice through the workshop on how to develop a character, determine place and perspective, and all.

But what I need to do, want to do, is write.

Not just an hour here and a half hour there — I need a solid 4-5 hours a day for a few days in a row. I need to develop my outline into a story.. Real chapters, real people.

If the situation were right, I could take along an escort husband companion so I wouldn’t get lost walking around the block; someone who can do something else for four hours a day while we hang out in a local library or next to the river while I write. Someone who can “oohh” and “aahh”, both at my writing and at the Eiffel Tower at night.

And I think I can do it all for not much more than the writing seminar alone.

Do I have the self discipline? The fortitude? The drive to section off my days and nights in Paris? Will I learn enough on my own? Can I do enough prep work, enough research, to really let my writing take a turn for the better?

Can I really say “no” to a second…or even a third.. croissant?

Like I said at the beginning, this is only a pipe dream at the moment. Wishful thinking. Daydreaming.

Stay tuned, followers. The journey has just begun.

 

 

 

 

Making Dreams Reality

What are we if not our dreams?

Are we any less because our dreams did not come true?

It depends on our dreams.

If we dreamed that one day we would be out of a particular situation and finally be happy and free, and never made it out of that dream, that is one type of disappointment. For as the ‘now’ generation says (and I wholeheartedly agree), all we have is NOW. Make that dream happen today or tomorrow, don’t wait until forever gets here.

But if we dream that one day we will buy a Ferrari or travel to some foreign land, and never buy that car or visit that place, that is another sort of dream. That is the dream of merely having fun stepping out and running around, rather than running away. This sort of dream is safer because, even if we don’t get that car or visit that world, we had a great time pretend planning it.

Well, I have a secret.

I have a pretend planning dream.

Well, lots of them, but this one has overwhelmed me for the past six months. A dream that, if I decide to take this gigantic step, will change my life. Kinda.

I want to go to a writing workshop in Paris next year.

Now. I have no money. I am still working. I have bills and a mortgage and a hubby and grandkids to think about. I am one step away from flighty, have to write everything down or I forget it, am 15 pounds overweight, over 65, and a hundred other legit reasons to wonder why I’m even considering it.

Yet I am considering it.

The biggest hurdle has been overcome — sorta. Hubby said go for it. I don’t think he thinks I’m serious. I could take money out of my 401K plan. After all, if I leave it all to my kids all they’ll do is spend it anyway.

So why does a 66-year-old scardy cat woman think Paris is the only place I can write?

I am not sure.

I know Paris is not the stuff of movies. There is no Midnight In Paris car to whisk me away to meet Hemingway or Picasso. There is no Eat Pray Love or Under the Tuscan Sun ending that will change my life, for I’m happily married and in love with my family. There are pickpockets and tourist traps and muggings like in any big city.

Why am I even entertaining going?

Maybe it’s because there are few challenges left in my life besides illness and death. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been afraid to do something all by myself, and figure there’s no time like the present to try it. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a wonderful imagination and believe I’ll overcome my apprehensions and actually enjoy exploring a world where I don’t speak the language (except for the American-sponsored writing workshop).

Am I crazy?

Perhaps I’ve always been a bit crazy. Who else would write novels about time travel and being taken to another part of the galaxy for adventure?

It’s easy to dream these things from the comfort of my livingroom sofa.

It’s quite something else to think that one day I might be dropped off at the airport and board an airplane and travel half way across the world to learn something I already know.

Yet I know nothing.

We all know nothing.

I don’t know if I will be brave enough come open registration season to really go through with it. But I’m having a ball planning and researching and picking out clothes to wear and what souvenirs I will bring back.

We all need to dream something that is just out of our comfort zone. Something just out of reach. It’s exciting and eye-opening and makes you re-examine your own hangups and fears.

And who knows?

Je peux aller à Paris après tout!

 

 

How Do You Know What To Write?

I have to be careful this sounds like a helpful post and not a journal entry.

Do you ever confuse the two?

I have read blogs that read like journals, rambling thoughts, working out problems, hypotheses, assumptions about the world that have no beginning nor end. They are just … for better or worse .. venting.

Then there are those blogs that pose a question, a hypothesis, that seek an answer. What do you think? Have you ever done that? How do you do that? That’s more looking for direction in your own wonderings.

There also are blogs that share unique experiences, connecting to those who wonder if they are the only ones who think this, feel this, experience this. I call these affirmation blogs. They don’t always offer answers, but the assure the reader they are not alone in the things they go through.

The first example is usually the weakest style. You want to share your angst, your amazement, your purging and affirmations. There is nothing more to gain from rambling thoughts than just an acknowledgement that someone has read your thoughts. After all, there is no cosmic space to really allow for an answer or an additional ramble.

The second can be more popular, especially if you have followers who love to write back. As you all can tell, there are more readers than there are commenters, so one can never take feedback from their suppositions (cosmic or real) too seriously. A hundred people may shake their heads “yes I hear what you’re asking but I don’t have an answer for you.” Only one will write that response.

The hardest to write, and the most rewarding for all around feedback and expansion, is the third example. Sharing meaningful experiences that others can identify with. People need little encouragement to share their experiences back, but it has to be the right encouragement. You have to learn how to write in an inviting way so that people feel comfortable writing back.

We balance our reading time between all three types of bloggers/writers. But those who really enjoy writing enjoy writing back. It’s just hard, sometimes, to respond to someone whose prose is wandering aimlessly through the countryside.  It’s easier to pick a subject, a particular thought, a particular experience, and to focus your blog on that one (general) thing.

You will get more feedback, which is really why we all blog, and less nodding and moving along.

I haven’t quite mastered this technique yet, but I’m working on it. I see many of you are, too. You are leaving me space to respond to your thoughts, which encourages me to pass your thoughts along to others.

And really, isn’t working together and moving forward together what blogging is all about?

How Do You Get Others to Read Your Blog?

It’s a question all of us bloggers have. 

We have a point we want to get across. A message. An adventure. We want to share our wisdom, our mistakes, our discoveries. But sharing these “important” milestones in our lives does not always increase our readership. As I’ve said before, the average blog reader only has X amount of hours/minutes/seconds to read what you have to say. 

How do you get them to read YOU instead of/along with others around you?

As you know, I also write a blog at work. At first it was for announcing new publications and nothing else. I took it over three years ago and have been working on it ever since. It was/is a business blog, and I always put that spin on that in my writing. Always tried to keep it sounding a bit formal.

Today I had a talk with my boss, someone who is experienced, articulate, and has his finger on the pulse of the proverbial social media world. And he told me it was time for the company — me — to change the sound of our blog.  That today’s reader wants conversation. Wants to be part of the conversation. Not dictated by it.

Now, it’s funny. I’ve made my personal blog casual and friendly. I have always treated my readers as friends. But I always thought work was supposed to be different. That it was supposed to be slightly conservative and formal, friendly yet polished. It was “the company” giving advice, not the writer.

But the world has changed. Successful companies listen to their customers and followers. They understand they don’t have all the answers, but want to give you what answers they do have. And often what they offer is just what you are looking for. 

So how does this advice help us every day bloggers? How does it help us get more readers, more followers, more friends?

I think the most important thing to remember is that it’s the tone of the conversation that matters, both in person and on the Internet. You still have to have a professional approach to proper grammar, sentence structure, and a beginning, a middle, and an end to your story. You need to make a point.

But you also should be having a conversation with your readers. Make them feel comfortable about what you write. Even if they don’t agree with your point of view, an inclusive conversation makes them want to read to the end.

I am looking forward to being more “casual” at work in my approach to connecting with readers and customers. I want them to know I care, the company cares. There will be no sales tags at the end of each blog; only information that can hopefully make their life easier.

That’s the approach I’ve already taken here. And thought I don’t have a lot of followers, every day brings a surprise, a smile, and a chance to make a new friend. 

How do you approach getting more readers of your blog?

I’m Going For It

I’m going down in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth

~ JON BON JOVI, Blaze of Glory Lyrics @ Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Have you ever gone for it…put all your eggs in one basket…taken a chance for something you want that you’ll probably not get but thought what the he]], why not?

That’s what I’m doing today.

Later this afternoon is my performance review at work. Don’t know how bad it will be, and, really trying to be a glass-half-fill kinda gal, hope it will be positive.

Positive enough that I can push my agenda One More Time.

I’ve worked my way up through the company, from order clerk to coordinator to Internet Data Conversion Analyst Specialist to Digital Writer to Writer. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m coming to the end of the road career wise. With a company that is in the middle of a growth flux (and every hire and fire that goes with it), there still is no social media person/director/expert.

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

~ SAM COOKE, HERB ALPERT, LOU ADLER

I don’t have a college degree, am not a young 30’s hipster on social media, but I do know sales. I do know social media and writing.

And I do know what I want.

So today, if the review goes well, I’m going to submit three pages of ideas and tell them why I’d make such a good social media coordinator.

I suppose I’m in a unique position. I don’t have 30 years of paid employment ahead of me. If I continue on the path I’m currently on, I’ll be retired by December. And that is just fine with me. I’ve put in my dues for over 50 years.

But if there’s a chance — just a chance — that I can finally do what I feel I was born to do — write — then I’m going to take that chance.

Best case scenario — I get the job and love it.

Second best case scenario — I get the job and hate it.

Worst case scenario — I am presumed presumptuous and fired.

Second worst case scenario — I am not fired but relegated to updating the website.

Either way, I’m going for it. I’m nervous, hesitant, full of doubt and insecurity. I also am optimistic, positive, and know what I know.

I’ll let you know either way. But either way, if there’s something within your grasp, don’t fear going for it either.  Grabbing and falling is much better than not grabbing and rotting from not moving.

Have you ever “gone for it”? How did it go?

 

 

Don’t Sweat the Changes, Dog!

A funny thing happened on the way to writing my third book.

I’ve had book One and Two done for like ever — the first one for 15 years, the second for maybe 8. I’m not published; I’ve sent the ideas out to a few publishers and agents during my years, but I was always busy doing other things like working full time and fooling around with my kids and grandkids.

I would whine (I’m a lovely whiner) that I wasn’t published. I hadn’t even sent it to friends to read. The second book was more my favorite than the first. Wouldn’t touch it for the world.

Then I started book three.

And since book three has taken a life of it’s own, I’m going to have to do some changes to book Two now.

Does your life ever work out like that?

Just when you think you know where you’re going something comes along and changes you all around helter skelter?

Why change it all?

Because you have changed.

Something somehow has changed your direction, your thoughts, your interpretations. And it will bug you till the end of your days if you don’t change the things around you (if you can).

Changing your wardrobe to fit your new attitude. Changing the music you listen to. Your job. Getting rid of toxic friends. Life is always a change.

And you must change along with it.

You can’t hold onto the past just because it’s there. It fits like your grandfather’s coat. Big and bulky and totally out of style. Even if you’re a retro kinda person.

I hate change. I love change. Being creative I love and hate everything. But I am smart enough to go along with it when I can see how it can benefit me.

I went to a concert last night to listen to the High Kings for St. Pattie’s Day. They are an Irish tenor kind of group. They sang all these Irish songs that I love. And somewhere between “Finnigan’s Wake” and “Wild Mountain Thyme” I realized my main character in all my books is Irish, and this third book is about him. Not my heroine’s interpretation of him, not the narrator’s interpretation — it’s about him and his Irish roots. Why he is like he is.

And it makes me want to put a musical experience in the book.

Which would change him and his lady and the reader.

And since it’s based on the same experience from the second book but from his point of view, I will now have to rewrite the second book so they “match”.

They say there is no rest for a writer. I’m sure that’s true of a poet, a painter, or a potter. I think that’s a good thing. I want this story to be the right story. Not my version of the right story. But his.

If you have to change, change. Don’t big deal it. Change that shirt, that purse, the color of your hair. Make your painting pink instead of blue if that’s what the cosmos tells you. Don’t sweat the logical stuff.

It’s all you in the end, anyway…..

Changing Styles

“How Do I Start This Story?”

You know I love to write. I love the process of developing worlds and chaos and love and confusion. As if real life is any different.

Well, I’m thinking of writing another book.

Every now and then I try a new style, just to see if I can “do it.” I put those words in quotations  because it’s not easy for me to go from one style to another. From a murder mystery who-done-it to a historic love story. From a modern-day time traveler to a scientist in the future.

I still have a hard time writing 3rd person. I’m much better writing from one person’s point of view, not several.

But I’ve been reading some  literary fiction lately, and thought about giving that a try.

What is literary fiction, you may ask?

So do a lot of others, it seems. There are as many answers as there are stars. But basically genre writing highlights a specific area, is narrative driven, has a predictable formula, and provides entertainment. Literary writing is language driven, there is not any real style formula, and it provides meaning and cultural value.

When I think of genre writing I think of what I’ve written: time travel, other worlds. Genres includes horror, historical fiction, and mystery romance. Stephen King and Harry Potter. When I think of literary fiction I think of Jane Eyre and The Handmaid’s Tale.

I know I know — write what you know. Who you are. All of that.

But don’t you sometimes want to try something different?

If you play tennis, don’t you want to try squash sometime? If you bake nothing but chocolate cakes, doesn’t a complicated strudel call you now and then?

In order to grow, to explore, to be a master at creation, you have to test the water of new worlds. It doesn’t matter if you succeed in those worlds. But you have to immerse yourself sometimes in something new and different.

I am also drawn into the Gothic style of Poe and the Lovecraftian style of H.P. Something deep and flowery and intense and full of obscure words and inferences. I suppose you had to be there to write like that, but why not experiment a little?

I’ll let you know how the experiment goes. If it rocks the roof or just sounds like Claudia on mind enhancing drugs. I can’t totally destroy my style, but I can try and change my shoe size now and then.

I will just have to stuff the toes with kleenex…

 

Where Did My Inspiration Go?

Good evening my good friends!

Went away for a long weekend camping with family. I ran around with both grandsons until I passed out at night. I want to live a hundred years. Two hundred years. I want to run around with every grandchild in my bloodline.

Thinking about all that makes me teary.

So I thought I’d come on back to writing.

But I can’t seem to find my inspiration anywhere. I mean, I’ve looked all over for it. Down in the library, under the kitchen table, behind the nic nacs. Yet I can’t seem to find it.

I hear it whispering late at night, when the lights are off and the summer breeze blows through the windows. I think I hear its laughter around the corner, just a step ahead of my treading gate. I sit on my sofa, looking out the window, at the sun setting behind the trees, and I wonder where my inspiration went.

I know emotions ebb and flow, fly high and dig low, and comes back around sooner or later. But while I’m on the flow, on the low, I wonder if I’ll ever be amazed at my own work again.

Does your inspiration come and go? Do you listen to voices on the wind and wonder if there’s a story there, and nothing comes to mind?

I remember those times that I felt possessed. It wasn’t me writing…it was some gypsy spirit or wood sprite or Shakespeare himself writing through me.

Since I’ve lost my inspiration I might as well be writing a grocery list.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been off playing with children who don’t care about much except play and treats and snuggling and watching fun movies. They don’t know much about ego or the evil in the world. They love out loud, they trust completely, and they are comfortable with everyone in the family tribe.

Part of me wants to be a kid again. To not care about anything on TV but fun movies and cartoons. To go outside and ride a bike and kick a ball around the yard and draw on the driveway with chalk. To be a child and not punch a time clock or put numbers in a computer or think about death.

And then, when I wrote a story or drew a picture, it would be the best in the world. My parents and friends and family would think I was the greatest writer in the world, and would tell their friends who would tell their friends.

From the sound of all of the above, I better find my inspiration soon. I can’t keep running around all day acting like I’m three. I wouldn’t be able to  watch the last season of Game of Thrones. It’s rated R. And no three year old is allowed to watch it.

Tell me….do you lose your inspiration? How do you get it back?

 

The Rocker

William Balfour Ker

 

She sits alone in the rocking chair

At times it seems as no one’s there

She dresses in her Sunday best

And faces the fields out to the west

A soft blue dress and hat of white

A pair of shoes that now are tight

She hums a song that once brought tears

And slips back gently through the years

They danced beneath the tall oak tree

To Goodman and Miller and Peggy Lee

He held her close and sang a song

Of life and death and love gone wrong

They farmed the fields and raised a son

But never finished what they’d begun

He drove away one summer’s morn

Through fields of grass and golden corn

She sat in the chair and began to rock

And kept her eyes upon the clock

The night came fast and next the dawn

The morning dew sparkled upon the lawn

She never knew where he had gone

Or why she couldn’t come along

Her heart was broken that summer night

And never again could mend it right

She sits and rocks for most the day

And hums the song they used to play

She waits for him to come back home

Until that day she rocks alone

 

 ~Claudia Anderson

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid To Live In Your Fantasy World

Let me be clear. I have a good life. I do. I do not want to leave it behind, dump it, change it, or erase it. I am blessed, and I know I’m blessed. And I am thankful.

But I also have a life outside of this plane of existence. It’s a world of my own making. I control the characters, the lies, and the pain. I feel the love, the confusion, and the magic of the world around me.

No, I’m not psycho nor psychic.

I am a writer.

I tend to get lost in good books too, but I am finding I am falling in love with the worlds I create. In my books there’s passion, insecurity, fear, and curiosity. There is no war, no prejudice. There is making love and fun sex but not pornography. It may seem quite vanilla in my worlds, but, to be honest, there is enough crap going on in the world around me that I don’t need to deal with it in my fantasy world.

Are my stories reminiscent of Harlequin novels? You know — girl meets boy, they don’t hit it off at first, they both have a problem to overcome, they are attracted to each other, they fight the problem, they overcome it, then fall in love and get married.

In some form, yes. In most other ways, no. In my stories they lovers don’t always wind up together. Or they do. Or they want to but can’t. Or they can. It doesn’t matter because it’s the journey that counts.

We all have our way of writing. Our own themes. Our own demons. As I’ve said in past blogs, I often wonder how authors like Stephen King or Dean Koontz get into the blackness of the mind and spread it across their books. Do they get off on digging deep and writing scary stuff? Do they become the madness, the psycho, at least for the time they are writing about it?

I believe that if you are passionate about your writing you can’t help but get lost in your stories. Whether they are short stories, novellas, or novels, you can’t help but take a particular point of view. Are you the antagonist? The victim? The virgin? The pompous ass?

Each character you develop helps you get lost in your fantasy world. You want your pompous ass to really be an ass, you want your troubled couple to be passionate about each other. You want poverty or wealth to be real, and your fantasy names to be easy to read.

Sometimes I want to spend more time in my fantasy worlds than I do in my real world. I love my fantasy worlds, my time-travel worlds, and my modern worlds. I work hard to make my worlds believable, along with the people who populate them.

Perhaps that’s why I get so lost in my own creations. I still cry in certain parts, and feel my heart flutter and race in others. I still get pissed off at some people and feel lost when they feel lost.

I hope that you get lost in your writings, too. Don’t hold your story at arm’s length. Get into each chapter, each character. Leave your world behind. Forget the politics, the job, the housework. Find a place both physically and mentally and just let loose.

You won’t always be hot..You might not always “feel” it. But don’t give up. Because when it comes back it will hit you like a lightning bolt. And when it does you better go with it.

Come back to your reality when you have to, but live in your fantasy world as often as you can.

You won’t be sorry.

 

Are You Your Main Character?

Since I am so into writing at the moment, I have a question for all of you writers/thinking about writing/someday maybe writers.

When you write, are you the main character? Do you have any connection to the main character?

They say there’s a part of us in every character we create. If you can think it you are it because it came from you thinking it.

That’s a lot of psycho babble, with a string of truth running through it.

I have to admit that so far I am part my main character. She does things I wouldn’t do, says things I’d love to say, and gets into situations I will never in my lifetime find my way into. She…and sometimes he…is my alter ego.

I get an emotional reaction from in the connection of my characters, both when they’re fighting and loving. So is that being my character?  I don’t often base a character on someone I know, but it has happened. I change the name and the looks and sometimes their philosophy but it’s still someone I know.

I envy writers who can write a main character that is the antithesis of everything they are. Murderers and psychos and nymphs and puritans. I actually find it hard to go against grain with characters. But it’s a challenge I think I’m going to take.

But I’m afraid my bad guy won’t be bad enough, psycho enough, crazy enough. I’m afraid my moral compass will get in the way. I always wondered how Stephen King did it.

Is there a part of you in everything you write?

I’d love to hear your point of view. I really would. I’d love to see where your characters, your inspiration, comes from.

And that goes for you poets. I know a lot of your poetry comes from  personal experience and emotions, but do you ever write a poem from someone else’s point of view? Something totally “not you” yet you know it’s “you”?

I’d love to hear your answers.

 

Bloggers Are A Unique Breed

I think that a lot of the time bloggers spill their secrets to their followers so they can get whatever it is out of their system. You can’t see the facial responses or audio cues through this two dimensional world…no one can really judge you face-to-face, so why not tell your tales of woe?

I know I do a lot of that. I used to be a lot worse when I kept a journal. I’m older and less a drama queen, so the tits and tats I share on my blog won’t rock the Rockies.

I do a lot of counseling to myself every morning on my drive to work.  Every morning I say “starting today…” or “from now on…” Early morning I’m full of piss and vinegar. The world is mine, I can do one of a hundred things that I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t gotten around to doing.

But often by my evening ride all I can think of is writing and laundry and picking out clothes for tomorrow. So my blog seems to be a perfect outlet for my stumbling tumblings.

We bloggers have to be careful, though, about how much we whine and emote through our writing. Readers can take adversity only in small doses. Considering the average attention span of blog readers is three paragraphs,  us bloggers have to use a lot of discretion in what we share, how we share it, and if there is a solution to our problems.

To me there is an energy when someone reads something and says “Yeah! me too!” I’m not really looking for understanding as much as camaraderie. My mess ups are your mess ups. Your misunderstandings are my misunderstandings.

I also think that life is too short to beat yourself up for your mistakes. You are you, after all, and there are quirks to all of us. I manage to laugh at my goof ups…that is, after I feel embarrassed and remorseful. I figure if I chuckle and learn something from my misconceptions, you can identify more with your own similar guffaws.

We all have our reasons for blogging. I follow all sorts of blogs…poets, painters, writers over 60, writers under 60. I learn about living with a chronic illness, being homeless, and life without one’s partner. I watch the steps it takes to create a painting, write a novel, or grow a garden.

But I also know my role in the blogging world is to give my readers a wry smile now and then. When I say I’m a semi-colon queen they know what I mean. When I write how awkward it is to climb up into my husband’s old pickup truck they know what I mean. And when I say I’m obsessed by my grandkids they definitely know what I mean.

So don’t be afraid to share your quirks, your puzzlements, your amazements, and your foibles. Don’t be afraid to whine, wonder, or wish. We are all human. We all have to get things off our chest. You will find what you’re looking for in your followers. A little tea, a little sympathy….

…an the realization that you use too many damn semi-colons…

 

 

What Have You Been Up To?

Well, my friends, happy Monday Evening.

It has been a busy week…highs and lows. I’m sure the same for you. Today’s blog will be one of catching up  (like you are interested in my ups and downs). But really I think you can identify with a few of either direction.

I had my review at work…I am now not a ‘digital’ writer but a writer. Which is so fantastic because for the first time in my 65 years when someone asks me what I do for a living I can say I AM A WRITER!! I mean I can put that title on my BUSINESS CARD (if I had one for work) and stuff! 

My starting a writer’s group is a sleepy time failure. I mean, I don’t feel too bad about it…it has only been three weeks…but somehow I had the airy thought that there were lots of writers out there looking for camaraderie and guidance. But I haven’t heard from one person. Think I airyed the wrong direction. I’m not giving up…Ah  well…try again later.

I am behind in reading my reader…I’ve popped in and out but I’ve been busy working and bribing my way over to see my grandkids. No excuse for skipping over some really good blogs, though. But I see help in the distance….I am going away Up North at the end of the week. No TV,  DVDs only (and that’s only at night), polkas on the radio, half of block to the water, sitting on the deck with a pina colada…and five free days to read blogs and write.

So tell me. Are you writing? Editing? Taking pictures? Making jewelry? Working on a quilt? Any vacation plans?  I’d love to hear how spring is treating you. I love reading your responses and talking back to your talking.

Let’s do this!

Do We “Get” Each Other?

There is a certain responsibility as a blog writer and a blog follower.

You need to write content that is entertaining, whether it be sad, provocative, funny, or informative. But you need to read the blogs you follow, too.

I’ve been lax in that department.

I always manage to read the first few that pop up in my reader, but it takes a few thumbing motions downwards to see what all I have missed. And often it’s alot.

I follow blogs that haven’t had anything written for 6 months or even a year. I always figure they will come back sometime. I follow writers who post every day. I sometimes feel bad I don’t connect with either of them as often as I should.

Which makes me wonder. I wonder if those who have 5,000, 10,000 followers, how many blogs do they follow? Do they read them all? Respond to them all?

I’m a believer that you shouldn’t “follow” someone unless you are really following them. Learning their story, enjoying their painting or photography. Maybe you don’t have to comment on every post you read, but it’s nice to say something nice about what you’re reading.

I get to wonder about those who have thousands and thousands of followers. Especially on places like Twitter. If you’re not online when someone else tweets, what does it matter? Their important words will never be picked up by your reading public. I sometimes try to go into Twitter and pick someone I follow and read all their tweets going back a few weeks. But time is of the essence, and I’d rather read other’s blogs.

Then you circle back and wonder if all the people who follow you really read you. Really look at your images. And do numbers really matter.

I hope you write because you love to write, and have found an outlet for your emotions in the form of a blog or a tweet. You will find those who really click with you commenting over and over again. Those are the people who make me feel special. Liked. Like they really get me.

Get your blogs ‘a blogging and get someone!

What Is Your Title?

Things are swinging around here lately. It seems like I haven’t felt like writing lately, except for my blog.

Me. A writer. Not writing.

I seem to be getting more into the Art thing more than the Writing thing. I’m finding more and more artists that I want to share with you, and finding less and less creativity in the short story department.

Does that mean I’m still a Writer?

Should I change my title to Art Director?

Some people live and die by their title. I can remember working in downtown Chicago in the 80s….people were respected (and paid) by how many windows they  had in their office. Pity the fellow who had a beam going down the middle of the window. It wasn’t nearly as  respected as one who had a whole window.  The CEO at the time had four windows — a corner office.

You can see whose title meant the most in those days.

I’m sure it’s the same today. I don’t work downtown, so titles aren’t as cutthroat as they are in the city. Yet I’ve seen ledgers with Vice President of Marketing, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Director of Marketing, Assistant Director of Marketing — what does that all mean?

Back to my title.

I consider myself a writer. Do I dare consider myself an Art Director?

According to Wikipedia, an art director…… is the charge of a sole art director to supervise and unify the vision. In particular, the art director is in charge of the overall visual appearance (I do that) and how it communicates visually, stimulates moods, contrasts features, and psychologically appeals to a target audience (I do that too!) . The art director makes decisions about visual elements used, what artistic style to use, and when to use motion (I do all that too!).

It’s funny how so many of us are judged by our titles. I was a IDCAS who did writing, yet I didn’t get the acknowledgement of a writer until they called me Digital Writer. I’m sure those chains hang over other artistic branches as well.

I believe we should be any title we want. As long as we don’t lie about things like past jobs or education, what does it matter what you’re called? Of course, I don’t really need a title. I just do what I do and like what I do.

I am the owner of Sunday Evening Art Gallery.  I also choose which artists to showcase, the layout of the site, who to promote. That makes me an Art Director if anything does.

I could also call myself Art Gallery Marketing Manager, Gallery Curator, Museum Director, Art Gallery Administrator, Art Gallery Museum Director…..

It was much simpler when I was just a writer.

 

You’re A Writer, Huh?

Happy Saturday Y’all!

Warmth came to Wisconsin today, teasing us with sunshine and soft breezes. Makes us think Spring is here. But we know better…

So sitting down to write (and I don’t mean commenting on others blogs or chatting of Facebook) it came to me.

Does your mate/friends/family ever ask to see your writing?

I use writing as the subject because people can always peek into your studio to see what you’re painting, or what you’re making with your beads covering half the kitchen table.

Writing is different.

They’d have to turn on your computer, go to your files, click on what you’ve written, and sit and read with the computer on their lap.

That’s too much work for most.

Now I don’t mean do your friends and family support you — I think in one way or another they understand your craft and are happy that you are happy.

But do they ever sit down next to you and ask what you’re writing? Ask to read anything you’ve written in the past the last 20 years?

Writing is a funny business. The minute you write anything more than a paragraph you are an AUTHOR. Yet if you are not published anywhere that AUTHOR title doesn’t feel right. I wonder if I were to publish a bunch of books would my kids bust down the door and grab the computer and see what’s next.

I doubt it.

As I’ve said many times in blogs through the years, I love my hubby to death and back. Same with my boys, my grandkids, my best friends, my cats…I want them to be who they want to be. Financial Manager, Daycare Director — it doesn’t matter.

I’d just like them to want to read my rambling once in a while.

Maybe writing is more a personal things. I don’t know how many people beat the door down to read J.K. Rowlings or Steven King’s next book. Maybe they had to get their prose and poetry to someone who could pass it along to the world.

My family knows I write. Knows I have two sets of novels written, along with dozens of short stories and poems. But they never go further than “hows the writing going, mom?” My husband isn’t literary in that sense, so I can’t expect him to glom over every  chapter.

Maybe that’s okay. These worlds I create of mostly for me anyway. Maybe I’ll take the next step to get published, maybe I won’t. But I will keep the fire burning for no other reason than to keep the synapses firing.

So if you have a friend that writes, ask them about their writing. Ask to read their writing. Sit down and write with them. Don’t keep your distance just because you’re not a writer.

You can also be a learner.

And for you writers, keep on writing. You are an AUTHOR.

A Poem About My/Our Life

When I read this poem this morning it reminded me so much of a short story I wrote that I had to repost it. We all hope our dreams become our reality once we move along. Thanks, Walt, for the beauty of the written word.

Often when I sleep I dream I go to a place I call Night Dream Meadow Where the moon is bright And my heart is light And I listen to the voices of the night I walk through the meadow Following the path Leading me to the Rainbow Bridge Where I’m greeted by the dogs […]

via Night Dream Meadow — Walt’s Writings

Have A Mishmash In Your Head?

A mishmash of thoughts this Monday evening….

It has been five days since I made the vow to dump sensationalized social media. I am happy to report that I haven’t a clue as to what Trump is tweeting nor what Kim Kardashian is saying about her mother/sister/husband. It is refreshing.

I am watching the movie Gladiator. It is an epic production, but all the killing makes me sad. Oh, it’s only a movie, but it’s based on a truth. How many people have died in one war or another? And I’m not just talking about the United States. The Mongol Conquests took 34,641,016+; Spanish Conquest of the Aztec World, 24,300,000+, and back home, World War II, 36,696,798+. (statistics from Wikipedia.) There is no glory in war. When will the world learn this?

I have lost the buzz to write. Is it the weather? Is it that I’m tired when I get home from work? Have I given up? I would say this happens to everyone now and then, but at this moment, I don’t care. And that’s what’s not good. I’ve left my heroine on a parallel planet pregnant with the king’s child, not married, someone trying to kill her, and the edge of the world is crumbling. Why can’t I get going on this? 

I love my cats and like my dog, but I have been a crazy person lately babysitting my brother-in-law’s yappy dog. And over the weekend my son’s dog, too. I am feeling so anti-pet lately…is that because I’m getting old? Tired of dogs and cats sleeping on my bed so I can’t turn over? Tired of their meowing because they’re hungry or bored? I do admit my patience is thinning the older I get. Just trying to keep my cool. .

Do you go through grandparent withdrawal? Do you pace the floor and count the days until you can next get together? My heart hurts for those of you who live far from your grandbabies. Even if they’re in high school or college, they’re still your grandbabes. What wonderful, naughty, childish things you do when you are together! Sit on the floor (and can’t get up), ride a bike (better get a helmet and shin guards), play baseball (can’t catch but, oh well..), eat ice cream cones (one scoop or two?) I’m rested and ready.

Do you like the winter? The gentle sparkle of falling flakes, the laughter of children playing in the snow, fireplaces and hot chocolate, snuggles and cuddles and crisp cold air that brings a hard blush to your face?

I don’t either. Come on Spring!

 

To Thine Own Self Be True

How are you this fine evening?

Are you sitting on the veranda, a soft, warm breeze encouraging you to watch the stars come out? Are you cuddled under a soft, velvety throw, your features softened by firelight, as you read your book? Are you dancing and laughing and making love to minds and bodies and future promises?

I am watching the 2009 version of Hamlet with Mel Gibson. Beautiful eyes aside, he has done the Bard proud. 

Most people ask, “How can you understand Shakespeare? His words are so flowery!”

Oh, would today’s writing have such flowery.

I have found the longer I listen to Shakespeare the more I understand. At first the words are tilted and gilded and wraped around each other with magnificent curliques.

But the more you listen, the richer the text becomes. If the actor, the actress, truly understand exactly what William was saying, they become one with the character. And their oneness transcends all language.

I suppose you could say the same with any good writer, with any good actor. Some leave the words back in the book; Other take the beauty, the harmony, of the written word and transcend both worlds.

The purpose of this evening blog is to encourage those of you who use your words to use your words. Don’t just jot down the first rhetoric that comes to mind. Get into your characters. Feel their pain, their confusion, their undying love. And speak as if you were them.

Take a good read or watch a good video of Shakespeare. Know he is of another time, another world, another language. But learn how he says so much with such curly and sweetly scented words. And then take to heart what you learn and make it part of your writing. Perhaps you are not Mel Gibson speaking Hamlet, but you are a gifted muse speaking your own words.

Who knows — maybe one day they will make a movie out of your words!

 

 

 

Who are you, really?

Thanksgiving is now a memory, the extra pounds an effort.

But I am happy to report that along with an extra pound or two I also regained my enthusiasm for writing.

Do you ever go through those dry periods? Not necessarily that you don’t have anything to write, but that you don’t feel like writing.

Shame.

In search of my creative ways, I have gone back to basics of magic and sky and moon and night and the belief in elves and dragons and alternate realities. Not that I ever left that space — I just feel like embracing it more these days. No one knows if there is anything after this life. Heaven, reincarnation, inner-galactic rebirth — take your choice and go for it.

Get past the barriers of proof and direct experience and karma. Take a chance and believe in something that makes you feel whole. Do unicorns exist? Does it matter? We can’t see sub-atomic particles either, but scientists and the world believe in them. Why can’t we believe in time travel too?

Too often we live under other’s expectations. What we should wear, what we should say, how we should act, what we should believe.

I believe at 64 I am old enough to believe in whatever I want.

So I’ve decided to work on my second set of novels — not the simple time-travel ones, but the ones where the heroine gets transported to another part of the galaxy to help discover what happened to the king’s sister.

I mean — why not?

We can write and paint and dream anything we want. And I’ve decided I’m not going to let any correctional unit tell me different.

Don’t let those around you, from society to your girlfriend to your teacher, tell you what you are. What you should be. Want to be a bard? Be a bard. Want to be a witch? Be a witch. Want to be an abstract artist? Be an abstract artist! You can be a pirate that day jobs as a sales clerk, or detective who works in a warehouse during main hours.

Don’t wait until you’re 64 to decide who you are.

What are you?

 

 

Never Give Up Hope

I have a secret to tell you.

First a disclaimer: if you are a workmate of mine, don’t tell anyone. I don’t want anyone at the company to get the wrong idea.

Most artistic people hone their skills at home, alone, evenings and weekends and days off and vacations. The 9-5 gig that we all adhere to tends to take over any creative urges we have. You know — accountants by day, abstract artists by night.

I am one of those who have, after 47 years of working, finally gotten a glimpse of what it would be like to do what you love.

I may have told you before, but I’m a data conversion specialist by day. Fancy title for working with my company’s database. A good job, a boring job, a busy job. Just like everyone else’s.

No one had written on the company blog for a year, and when there was a post it was every three months or so. Being a writer, I saw an opening and I jumped at it. Since it originated from my department, I asked if I could write a blog now and then. After all, I was a writer.

Although no one at work really knew that.

My boss took a chance on me and let me do a blog now and then. I would pick a theme and talk about it and throw some product in. What started as once a month turned into every two weeks to every week.

I was in heaven.

Then new bosses came in and the blog stopped.

I was so excited to have been able to write a casual, friendly informational blog, as my own blog is also casual, friendly, and informational. I wanted to write more, but I was a data person, after all.

This is where I emphasize don’t give up…if there’s a hole in the wall somewhere, jump through it.

The new boss must have liked my infomercials, for we started the blog again. The door was propped open, and opportunity teased me from the other side. In working with the new bosses, I was given some suggestions for story ideas that I jumped on. I interviewed managers to see what they wanted the world to know about. I scoured catalogs and publications for ideas that were fresh and relevant.

And now I write two blogs a week.

Our company blog isn’t big, isn’t famous, isn’t global. It’s just another niche in the world of social media.

But for two years it has been mine.

I don’t know the future of my writing contributions to the company. For all I know they could hire a media writer tomorrow. But that would be okay too, for I have been able to turn my love of writing into a positive contribution to my employer.

If I hadn’t kept insisting that I was a “writer”, I wouldn’t be where I am today. If I didn’t believe that I had the talent and the voice they needed, I wouldn’t have written more than one blog.

Find a way to get your passion into your day job. Whether you’re a writer, a painter, or a calligrapher, find a way to edge your talent into the working world. Don’t give up.

And if you don’t get to get your toe wet on the creative side of work, you can always write one hell of a story about your co-workers.

Just change their names to protect the innocent..

 

 

I’m Published! (Kinda)

I like to say I’m a writer before anything…except being a wife, grandmother, friend, mother-in-law….you know what I mean.

I finished my final edit on my first novel yesterday.

I should be screaming HUZZAH!!

But all I can say is….are you sure it’s the final edit?

Now, that book has been around for 15+ years. Do you know what you were doing 15 years ago? Ha…me neither. Except writing this book. Which was inspired by a role playing world I was involved in 20+  years ago.

Now, less you think I’ve been dickering with this book and this book only for 15 years, I’ve also written its sequel, plus a brand new novel and its sequel.

Why don’t I send it out to publishers/agents?

I’ve been there done that. And the truth is….who knows…maybe in this world of a thousand new books being published per day it doesn’t exactly float the right person’s boat.

So I’ve decided to self publish. Not the big, pay-up-front deals, but some of the smaller pay-as-you-go gigs. I don’t anticipate selling a lot of books, but the reason I want to see my words in print is because I want to give my novels to friends and family so they can see who I really am.

I’ve been a mother, a wife, a secretary, a bed and breakfast owner, an Internet data conversion specialist, a soccer and baseball mom, a grandmother, a sister, a friend. I’ve raised two kids and five dogs and four cats, lived in 7 houses, and two states. I want those I know and love to see my “other” side before it’s too late.

So what is the purpose of today’s blog?

I am not discouraging those of you who have found agents/publishers and been able to get your books out there. That’s what it’s all about. I am not saying don’t keep submitting. The big publishing houses are the way to go if you can get them to notice you.

But what I am ALSO saying is not to wait 15 years like I did to see your work in some place other than a computer screen. Whether you print it out and photocopy it, or go the professional self-publishing route or the simple self-publishing route, don’t wait until your novel is perfect. It’s never going to be.

You are a writer because you love to write. You know you want others to see your passion — that’s why you wrote the damn book. Show it off! Get it out there! Give some copies away for free then talk about them everywhere! Blogs, Twitter, church — it doesn’t matter. FIND A WAY TO GET YOUR WORDS OUT THERE!

Don’t wait for your descendants to publish your work.

They might just change the main character’s name from Anna to Osama.

 

The Path Not Taken

Today, like any other weekday, was a work day. Filling in spreadsheets with numbers and relationships and variants. I used to do a little writing for my company, but with personnel changes and new directions and new horizons  to be discovered, it’s mostly the data routine.

Yet I wonder.

How many of you work full time? (show of hands)

How many of you like your job? (fewer hands still up)

How many are doing what you want to do? (only one or two still up)

Why is it that so many people in the work force have issues with their jobs? Admit it. Most of us fall between the “I can barely stand this place” to “this is a pretty darn good job.” But do any of us really enjoy what we do day to day, week to week?

Tell the truth. The main purpose of any job is to make money in order to live. To pay our bills. To have a few extra dollars so we can order a pizza or go to the movies once in a while. A means to an end. Sometimes we are lucky and land our dream job in the world, in the field, we love. We get a job doing something we’re good at, something we’ve trained for.

But more often we get stuck in jobs that really don’t fit. We think it’s a side step to where we really want to go, but we get stuck in that sideways direction so long that we don’t recognize the road ahead. The job turns into a routine, our future prospects narrowed by our present occupation. The field we really want happens to be pretty saturated at the moment, so we stay where we are for just a little longer, and when we do apply for something we want they focus on our current experience, not our intent.

Suddenly we have been a secretary or a truck driver or a warehouse worker for most of our lives. Now we’re invested in three or four weeks paid vacation and 401K and co-workers we’ve gotten to know. We didn’t mean for our lives to take this fork in the road — it just happened. And we were so busy making money to feed our kids and pay for our house and to make car payments that there was no time to “take a chance” on that perfect job.

I am lucky to have had steady work in fields that were pretty decent. I’ve owned my own business, been a coordinator/proofreader, secretary, and salesperson. I am now at that point where my vacation and age leave no room for turning around, for the end game is in sight.

But as I sit and put numbers on a spreadsheet and copy and code catalog information and send and track emails and waste away hour after hour in silent calculations, I wonder if things would have been different if I’d gone to college. If I’d worked in an advertising agency instead of a savings and loan association. If I’d started writing professionally at 20 instead of 60.

I’m at the point in my career that I’m working hard to get to the finish line. To retire and really start my  new life. I’ve been preparing for it for over 47 years. And I am so ready.

But I still wonder…

 

 

 

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek! Finale

I wish I could keep this celebration going on forever! I follow a lot of fun, interesting bloggers, each deserving a direct link for you to dance along.

There are thousands and thousands of bloggers out there. You may follow three or three hundred. The purpose of this made-up week is to encourage you to interact with those who write/paint/travel/share with you. If you like what you read, click that little LIKE button. REALLY like what you read? Drop a comment! We/you/they love to hear back from you!

I love reading your blogs Leah, Ann, Ray, Jackie, Jan, Crissouli, Blue Settia, Walt, d Marie, Suzanne, Patrcia, Mary J, Nick, Marion, Patty, Dawn, Annette, Denise, Jeremiah, CJ, Joel, Jan R, Marie, Norm, Alan, Waterdove, Glorialana, Tess, Gwen, Craig, Pirate Patty, Doug, Craig, Austin, Peter, Anne, and all those names I’ve left out. You all rock! Keep it going! I look forward to following more bloggers, and you should too.

BE a part of the creative world. Appreciate your creative friends this week — and every week!

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek! Part 4

One of the easiest kind of blogs to follow — and the most fulfilling — are poetry blogs. I know there are a zillion of them out there…poetry is just one of those techniques that speak straight from the heart. It’s not as easy to master as you would think. But those I follow have mastered their crafts well.

I know you have your favorites — I hope you will share back — but here are just a couple that I have enjoyed through the years.

If you love love poems you must have heard of Maxima. Stefan Maxima has a way of wrapping love around his fingers and pouring it upon the page. His poetry is full of affection, awareness, and sensuality. Find his work at https://hillsofherchastity.wordpress.com/

In The Morning

The morning is bathed in
the scent of roses.
To be silent wounds.
To voice our thoughts,
speak our mind,
is the better way.

I see your face in dew drops
clinging to the edge of yellow petals
I want to sing to you your favorite song,
it is better that way,
but this morning you and I are silent.

A morning:
The sun’s ray stirs the imagination
Your smile leaves a trail to my corner
of happiness where I am
a victim of your charm.

I’m speaking of this morning
with the breeze so gentle and caressing
here on the terrace where you sip
your first cup of coffee.

I love you my only one,
this I know,
and I know that you love me too,
but this morning we are silent.

 

Friendly Fairy Tales (https://friendlyfairytales.com/) makes me want to dance with the faeries in the moonlight. I am very much a unicorn/faerie kind of girl, and Brenda Davis Harsham’s poetry zings straight to my heart. Hers is the kind of blog that I go directly to and read post after post after post, liking them all!

Freckled Lily

Rippled pond,
dew-strung lawn.
Yawning moon
welcomes dawn.

Freckled lily,
dappled light.
Brindled dog
barks away night.

Rising songbirds,
snuggling owls.
High-strung cat
fusses and yowls.

One eye open,
I view the day,
hear caterwauling,
push sleep away.

Tea and oatmeal,
plump blackberries.
I paint with words
and dust of fairies.

Freckled Lily

 

One of my favorite poets is a newcomer to my world. Ivor.Plumber/Poet (https://ivors20.wordpress.com/). Ivor is a relatively newcomer in the WordPress world (I think), at least with this blog. His poetry is the kind that touches your soul. Sometimes it’s sad, often it’s reassuring. Ivor’s way of writing is everyman’s way of writing. Do check him out.

 

Everlasting Smile

My eyes, narrowly cracked.

My cheeks, slightly etched.

I rest here, retracing every mile.

Remembering, your everlasting smile.

My lips, already dry.

My tongue, trying to say goodbye.

I wonder, was it all worthwhile.

Remembering, your loneliest smile.

My throat, lumpy and sore.

My chest, heavy as never before.

I look back, recalling your life-style.

Remembering, your younger smile.

My lungs, empty and tight.

My legs, weak and light.

I relive, your personal exile.

Remembering, your generous smile

My head, spinning from fright.

My heart, deep and out of sight

I sleep alone, crying like a child.

Remembering, your everlasting smile.

https://ivors20.wordpress.com/page/2/

 

I have followed  Catherine Arcolio and Leaf and Twig for the longest time. Her poetry never ceases to amaze me. She calls her style Ekphrastic poetry” which is the verbal representation of visual representation.  Writing in short staccato notes has to be one of the hardest forms of creativity. Matching this form of poetry to amazing images is truly an art. You must check her out. https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/

Humble Abode

unassuming bloom
calling
monarchs home

 

 

 

 

Support your poets. Try writing poetry yourself. Your soul will thank you for it.

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek! Part 3

I love following Dave Whatt because he has a quirky sense of humor that can only be found in the UK. I must admit there are times I don’t quite understand the lingo, which makes his blogs all the more appealing. Dave says he is “… a grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil…” Being not so much a brainiac as a researcher, I had to look up plectrum and learned a new word to boot! (it’s a guitar pic, so to speak). I love to listen to local lingo, and Dave’s posts are full of them. Throw in a British accent, and reading suddenly becomes more fun!

Some overheard and misheard snatches of cafe conversation…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s doubled up simile is – He was as happy as two sandboys…
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
‘No, I think it is plom David…’
‘It was a non-G bear?’
‘Join in a while with a leading heart!’
‘Eye-vade, eye-vade, and ill lucid!’
‘And the sauce easily drips out.’
‘I studied it for ears…’
‘Dometzy-doos!…’
‘Na na na na! In a pig’s eye!’
‘It was wire thinking Tom!’
‘But how grazing is it?’
‘What?… Tremors this day?’
‘We are all juicing out our world again.’
‘A weekend car-wave! Oh my god!…’
‘Whereas everything is boyfriends now!’
‘Me, I love the grey shots!’
‘You need to grow new parts David.’
‘Never say enough is words!’
‘Not even wiggy?…’
‘Sunny nay-gish, that’s only roughly though.’
‘Have a word with Donna Dominoes tomorrow.’
‘She ass me in tens you know!’
‘But I feel as though we aren’t aren’t.’
‘It was two more with that on the flight!’

https://davewhatt.wordpress.com/2017/08/13/some-overheard-and-misheard-snatches-of-cafe-conversation-46/

If you want a bit of the Brit and walk away with a smile on your face, go check out Dave and his blog at https://davewhatt.wordpress.com/.

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek! Part 2

A number of you may know (and follow) my second creative friend. David Kanigan creates his blog Live and Learn with thoughts, quotes, research, and philosophy. I mean he’s amazing. I have no idea how he finds the quotes he does. All are thinkers and feelers. He is light and he is deep. I can see his feelings and thoughts through the pictures and stories he shares.

*   *   *   *   *   *    *    *    *

Lightly Child, Lightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The love a parent feels for a child is strange…

It’s like trying to describe sand between your toes or snowflakes on your tongue to someone who’s lived their whole life in a dark room.

It sends the soul flying.

~ Fredrick Backman, from Beartown: A Novel (Atria Books; Tra edition, April 25, 2017)

Notes:

  • Photo: Kristy G. Photography (via Newthom)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly.

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Ethereal and fun, I look forward to his writings every day. You will too.

Check out David at https://davidkanigan.com/.

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek – 1st Day

Roses are Red

Violets are Green

Writing and Painting

Is More Than A Dream!

 

This is a made-up celebration, of course — but is it?

We all are jealous of other’s creativity. In a sweet, supportive way, of course. As shown on my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog, I am always in awe of what magic comes from creative hands, minds, and souls.

I follow a number of poets, artists, sculptors, and everyday wise men and wise women, and am always in love with their offerings. So I am going to celebrate my friendly creative friends with my own #AppreciateYourCreativeFriends week! Check them out, follow follow follow (if it tickles your fancy), and have a great time doing it!

My Monday recommendation is Carsten Wieland, an amazing watercolor painter who lives in Essen, Germany. His site is full — and I mean full — of fantastic watercolor paintings. Houses, landscapes, weather — every post he shares is yet another glimpse into a very accurate eye and a very open palate.

Check out Carsten Wieland out at Brushpark/Watercolors. https://brushparkwatercolors.wordpress.com/. 

You check in, you may never want to check out!

 

 

Happy Saturday!

It is a beautiful Saturday afternoon outside. I have done half of my chores, and am thinking about the rest of them as I pop into Word Press.

A mistake?

Depends on what I pop in here for.

I’m sure it’s the same with you. You work a full time job, either outside of the house or in. Or full time school. Or full time mother. Dog sitter. Whatever. You do what you have to do to buy groceries, maybe a bottle of wine now and then. Society dictates you not only sparkle at your job, but that your house is immaculate and your clothes tailored, children behaved, and your books read.

Good thing you and I aren’t following the dictates of society. You and I live by the fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants rules.

Finish the big things, like switching the laundry or turning off the stove. Oh…and make sure you have clean plates for dinner and vacuum the cat hair up at least once a week.

But who wants to do that on a beautiful Saturday afternoon?  My interest wanes in anything physical (except if I’m running around with grandkids) long about mid day.

Except for writing.

Funny how we find excuses for everything we don’t like,  but offer no explanation for those we enjoy?

Ack — with a wave of the hand it will be tomorrow. All your chores will be waiting for you — they won’t have gone anywhere.

But think of how great it would be to finish that painting? That poem? That crocheted sweater? Or, in my case, that novel?

I  love when I read that someone has learned something, discovered something. Finished something. They sound so alive! So sparkling!  So awake!

Here’s to you. And all you do. Have fun!

 

How Do You Satisfy Your Creative Cravings?

I am of the belief that writing is as much fun as painting or photography or sculpture or any other Creative Art. Yes, it’s frustrating, time-consuming, methodical, stressful, and more.

It’s also inspirational, spiritual, cosmic, and thrilling.

My problem lately is that I’ve gotten in the driver’s seat of my fourth novel, and although I’ve worked out the story line and am loving writing about my space traveler, I miss writing a short story now and then. I have been perusing various contests and publication opportunities, and I find areas I’d love to try. This one wants a creature story. This one wants supernatural fiction. This one wants pirates and ghosts.

What fun! What adventure!  But what do I write about?

I think I hang out in novel land because the writing is long and real and I can keep the same idea throughout the pages. Short stories require separate thought, separate ideas. Unique ideas. And eventually my love of writing starts slipping on the confusing bed of ideas and plots and endings.

Do you hide in one genre over another? Do you have a desire to paint something totally different yet stay within your safe and more experienced area? Or draw something totally out of your comfort zone?

I have a folder of stories, some finished, some barely started. Few would fit into the guidelines I so fawningly follow. Most of my good pieces are written more on a whim of the moment — an impression on the drive home, an interlude between two or more people at the bus stop. My short stories are based on a bolt of lightning that directly hits me. It’s a lot harder if I’m out searching for that bolt.

I often encourage my blog readers to break through your self-imposed sanctions and to go for it. Reach for the sky — or dig deep into the cavern.

I still believe in that.

But I sometimes think it’s getting harder and harder to dig into that fertile creative ground and come up with something new. Something that will fit within someone else’s parameters.

How do you juggle all your cravings? Do you stick with what works or do you find time to experiment and go off in left field now and then? I’d love to know that there are other seasoned and non-seasoned writers who are as confused and excited as me.

Let’s see now…as the website says…think adventures and hauntings at sea, shipwrecks and buried treasure, treacherous waters, sea spirits, ghostly galleons, giant squid, kraken and sailors gone mad.

I can do that…can’t I?

Grammar Is Your Friend

We all have our pet peeves, don’t we?

In an irritating society there are plenty of irritating habits that make your skin crawl and your patience disappear. People chewing with their mouth open, snorting, sniffing, coughing, talking, squeaking…I can go on and on. It just depends upon your tolerance level.

But there is something lately that grinds me even more than all those body noises.

Bad Grammar.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a writer/proofreader/editor it grinds me a bit more than you.  But I can’t help but wonder what ever happened to teaching correct grammar — spelling and speaking.

With auto-correct and word anticipation on every computer on the planet, you would think the correct words would just appear. But even auto-correct can’t help with the wrong choice of words. Auto-correct can’t help those who guess at the wrong word or the wrong version of a word.

Grammar isn’t rocket science.  It’s common sense. Something that many people lack.

It’s one thing if you type the wrong word. In my haste to get something written, at work and at home, I have picked the wrong form/spelling/tense. Almost always I catch my mistakes in proofreading. But I’ve come across some people — professional people — who consistently misspell, misrepresent, and actually mangle the English language. And often these are higher-ups — vice presidents, executives — people who should know better.

Today a “sponsored” post on my FB account called Grammarly said, “Sick of making grammatical and spelling mistakes? Perfect writing is a click away!” So now there’s another automatic corrector out to help make sense of your nonsense.

I know I sound like an old lady, but at least I am a grammatically correct old lady. They aren’t teaching cursive in schools these days — but have they given up on grammar too? I hear a lot of lazy English these days — hip language, slurred consonants, half words. I suppose most of that is on purpose. Whether that will get the speaker far in today’s working world only time will tell.

But lazy writing will be the death knell.

I know English is one of the most confusing languages around. I mean, how many ways can you spell where? Wear? Ware? But in today’s world that’s not an excuse. When I see a professional letter start out “Goof Morning,” I have issues. It’s one thing to text “you are my breast friend” instead of “you are my best friend,” but not in an letter to the president.

Not everybody is a writing scholar. I know I’m not. But I’ve practiced. I’ve learned. You owe it to yourself to take your time and reread what you write.

After all, not everyone is Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy. Not everyone is cute and furry and can get away with saying, “Well he don’t know talkin’ good like me and you, so his vocabulistics is limited to ‘I’ and ‘am’ and ‘Groot,’ exclusively in that order.”

 

My Hero — My Heroine — My Characters

Every story has a main character or two. A villain, a hero, a heroine. Good guys, bad guys, and gals. Even your short stories have girls and guys in various stages of love, hate, and madness. You have every nuance of their character figured out — their personality, their hair, their habits.

All of our characters are based on people we know: characters in movies, old paramours, cousins, those who have done us harm. Our characters — good and evil — all come from somewhere inside of us.

So tell me — who are your characters based on? How many famous people resemble your purely self-created stars? Sometimes I have exactly someone in mind. Other times, I find a weird resemblance to someone I’ve come across in my life.

My first novel. Heroine — some version of  me. But not visually. Characters based on some weird, maniacal version of me always are the hardest to visualize. The closest match is kinda like Susan Sarandon but 30 pounds heavier. In her mid-40s. The hero — he’s got to have dark hair and dark eyes, and a slight rough beard. Maybe Doctor Connor Rhodes from Chicago Med. Just the right amount of fuzz on the chin. The matriarch — definitely Maggie Smith. And the pompous ass son — Frank Kennedy from Gone With the Wind. Second novel –same main characters. Add a doctor — Michael Douglas with beard and glasses, and a snotty girlfriend — the latest Carol Markus of Star Trek — and you’ve got some attitude.

Second set of novels — heroine — again, some wacky, astral version of myself. This time with shorter red hair in the first novel and spikey purple hair in the second. I did see a pic of Susan Sarandon with both the red hair and glasses, so she’ll do. The hero — more of Derek Jacobi in Gladiator. The king, definitely Aragon from Lord of the Rings. Consul Tresarrio — definitely Jafar from Aladdin, and Consul Corvenius — Ian Holm, Father Vito Cornelius from the Fifth Element.

There you go. Barred my soul, gave away my secrets.

There’s not always an identifiable face in your stories, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either. Gives you something to focus on, if only briefly. The characters then take over, flowering and winding their vines into their own version of reality.

I’d love to hear if any of your characters resemble anyone real or pretend. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or if you write poetry or haikus — I’d just love to hear your interpretation of your people.

Tell me Tell me Tell me! Do you have a Rhett or an Angelina in your world?

 

Let’s Cosplay


Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water. A bluejay in a subway. A…you get it.

For the longest time I’ve heard the word “cosplay” bantered around in various articles and circles.

I always thought cosplay was the name of a band.

Last night I watched a TV show on the SyFy channel called Cosplay Melee. And I finally realized what it was all about. Dress Up. Tech style.

According to iFanboy (https://goo.gl/fAIbSC), “Cosplay is a shortened form of two words – costume and play. It is the practice of portraying a fictional character – at times completely identifying as that character while in costume (and thus acting as if the individual was that character to add to the authenticity of the experience).”

It seems to me I have been surrounded by cosplayers for like ever and never knew they had a title.

My trips through the years to the Renaissance Faire was full of cosplayers…myself included. Although I didn’t quite lose myself in the lady-in-waiting corset way, I did find myself speaking with a British accent while I dined on turkey legs and watched the joust. I have also lost myself at Halloween now and then, everything from a wicked witch (not to be confused with THE wicked witch), a hooker, and a blueberry. I don’t remember if the acting went to my head — after all, what would a blueberry have to share with the world — but I did go all out on the costumes.

I have been in love with SiFi’s Face Off for years. I love the imagination and the talent of the competitors. It’s fascinating. Cosplay Melee is just about the same thing, except they build extensions of themselves in fantasy mode, where Face Off is somebody else’s face.

My feelings of inadequacy seem to dissipate, though, when I realize — isn’t a writer a cosplayer?

Okay, we don’t design costumes and makeup and physically turn into our favorite creature. But we know them just as intimately. We know how they look, how they smell, how they walk. We know what they think, why they hurt, why they’re insane. We know more about our fictional characters than we know (or more likely will admit) to ourselves. They’re in our head more than on the page, and there’s often no reasoning with them.

That means we make up dialects, languages, and points-of-view. We become them. And if that isn’t cosplay, I don’t know what is.

I suppose it isn’t such a bad thing to dress up and act like your favorite fantasy character. People have been doing that at Comic Con forever. Beam me up Scotty and all that. As long as you know that Neytiri exists only in the movie Avatar and Captain Kirk is only a TV hero, you’re alright. Start thinking you can jump off buildings or fisticuffs with bad guys in the alley late at night, and, well, it doesn’t take much to get back to reality.

Still, I think there’s a little cosplay in all of us. Whether we paint, write, sculpt, make jewelry, or play music. The basics are always there. It’s what we do with them that makes cosplay.

But I still thing there’s a band around with a name like that….

 

 

Happy (day after) Poetry Day!!

If you miss the bus, don’t worry — there’s always another behind it — that’s the one I’m usually on

 

By Reason of Insanity

I write to share

I write to dream

I write to entertain

I write to celebrate

I write to release passion

I write to create passion

I write to escape

I write to explore

I write to feel better

I write to feel

I write to clarify my thoughts

I write to understand my thoughts

I write to understand the world

I write to escape the world

I write to find an outlet for my emotions

I write to make sure I have emotions

I write to encourage

I write to invigorate

I write to bring a smile

I write to bring a tear

I write to cover my inadequacies

I write to deal with my inadequacies

I write so that I never forget

I write so that others never forget

I write to be understood

I write to make others understand

I write so that I will understand

I write because

I am a writer

Don’t Let The Day Ruin Your Day

as-long-as-i-dont-write-about-the-government-religion-politics-and-other-institutions-i-am-free-to-print-anything-pierre-beaumarchaisIt is as if I am handling a puffer fish or prickly bush with my bare hands.

The world of politics is truly doing a whirling dervish these last few months. A lot of my friends are afraid, angry, embarrassed, and/or happy with the state of affairs.

This has led to very charged postings lately, both here and on Facebook and Twitter.

I am happy to live in a time and a world where I can express myself freely. That the Feds or the KGB don’t show up at my office or my house to have a “little talk.” But freedom of speech also can lead to heart attacks, headaches, palpatations, high blood pressure, dizzy spells, acid reflex, and a whole lotta other maladies.

And that’s what I fear will happen to all my friends and contacts if they don’t stop raging.

Let me make this perfectly clear — I AM concerned. I AM stressed. I AM worried. Every morning I drive to work and listen to the news I want to smack myself on the forehead and say “What NOW?” But I tend not to talk about it on social media.

I wonder if all this absorption into the ways of the world are preventing my friends from writing their blogs, poems, short stories, recipes, and whatever else. If it’s draining the desire of crocheters so that all they can do is one looonng doublestitch. If all painters want to do is whip paint at a canvas, ala Jackson Pollock.

I’m sure this madness is not limited to the U.S. I bet if I ask my Australian friends (waves to the few I know out there) or my blogger in Spain or the U.K. or in Germany (keeps waving) I’m sure their country is messed up too. Maybe not as obnoxiously, but just as particularly.

I’m not saying don’t get involved. I’m not saying don’t get emotional. We all need to have our voices heard.

What I am saying is we need to have our creative voices heard too. Don’t let the politics of the moment curb your appetite for self expression. Funnel your emotions into something other than — or besides — social media.

Use your passion to create something that will outlast the politics of the day.  Write something marvelous.Paint something inspiring. Play an instrument like an angel. Show the world you are better than the nonsense around you. 

Because you are.

 

 

 

 

Where Have My Bloggers Gone?

admin-ajax-phpMy method of reading/following blogs is of my own design. I don’t read every day, but rather pick an evening and read through as many as I can. Sometimes I click on “Manage” Reader and go through the list of names I’ve followed since I started blogging.

I was kind of sad this evening, for I clicked on a number of names and found a number of people who haven’t written in quite a while.

Where have they gone?

There are millions of bloggers one can follow out there — who knows what prompted me to follow A instead of B. What caught my interest as opposed to those that didn’t. Be honest. You can only read so much, follow so many people. You owe your allegiance, your attention, to the writers you really enjoy.

So what happened to those whose prose I enjoyed? Whose opinions I shared?

I imagine it’s what happens to most of us.

Life.

Our career changes, our family changes — our place in the writing world changes. Maybe we have burned out our point-of-view. Maybe our style has changed. We’ve turned into painters our needlepointers or quilters, our creativity exploding in new directions. Maybe we’ve had babies or found a new job. Maybe we’ve moved or got bored or started a new blog somewhere else. I don’t  think about the ultimate reason people have stopped writing….I like to believe in happily ever after. Like being immortal.

I’m always adding new reads to my list — but I do miss the old reads. I understand the need to move on, but I still like to linger in the shadows of the past.

There are times when I get the urge to just stop blogging, too. Like I’ve said all there is to say. That my readers really don’t get much from my writing. Yadda yadda. We all tell ourselves the same crap when we hit that plateau. But I soon come to my senses and see how much my writing in here helps me out there. Because of my continuous writing — here, there, and everywhere — I have become a better writer, and am now being given a chance to write at my place of employment.

Others continue writing because they’ve found redemption, release,  and rebirth through their words. They share information, research, spiritual thoughts, funny stories, poetry, recipes — whatever makes them happy. And we love them for it.

The world of creativity is a huge place. When you close one door, another opens. To those who have moved on from their blogs, go for it. Make your now the best you can make it. To those who are still looking for their place in the writing world, keep on blogging.

And  hey — drop me a line if you come on back.

 

 

Write What You (Don’t) Know

anne-rice-novelist-quote-i-do-want-to-go-another-way-to-writeUnder the stress of writing for both business and personal, I am experiencing something that I have encouraged others to do for some time.

If you’ve ever read any of my work (and maybe I should just start a new page and SHARE something once in a while), my style is much like my blogs:  easy going, sassy, fun and a test ground for obscure vernacular. I usually stay in the same vein,  the same comfort zone. Middle-aged heroines, slightly evil protagonists, a little mystical, a little macabre.

But now and then I take a stab at writing things that make me uncomfortable — things I don’t do well. Murders, politics, modern day drama. I do this because it’s important to push my comfort zone just to see if I can adapt. To take a step on the other side of the fence.

I find myself doing that at work lately. Emails and FB posts about products are a lot more cut and dry than free form poetry. I can’t use too much humor or any sarcasm, lest the readers get the wrong impression of the company. Which is how it should be.

But writing these straight-laced entries is more of a challenge than I thought. It seems I’m almost too straight-laced. It has been suggested by my work mentor and friend that Facebook is more a social interaction, and that I can promote products while keeping it fun.

Can you be a different writer for different situations?

Have you ever tried to write third person when all your life you’ve been a first person kinda writer? Have you ever tried to write research findings with a straight face while letting loose with sex scenes in your current novel?

It’s not as easy as it appears to be.

We all have a personal slant to our writing. Throw a bunch of papers from different writers on the table and most times people will know who wrote what. That’s good from a reputation standpoint. But what if the group wanted you to throw something strange and different into the mix? Could you?

There are so many different worlds to try out. And in the privacy of your practice room,  nobody has to read your writing but you. Try a story from a different point of view. From someone who grew up in the Old South. Someone who lives in an isolated village in Norway. From someone who has been abused. From someone in the 1800s who had to go to work in the mines at age 9. From a serial killer.

It is good practice to get into other’s heads besides yours. Even if you’ve never been to Norway, a little research goes a long way. Surely you’re not a serial killer, but what about their justifications?  The point of these exercises is not precision — it’s practice.

I’m about due for a wrong-way-turn short story. I’ve written about places I’ve visited or driven past, my characters are half-visions of me, and I feel safe in my middle-age-heroine cocoon.

And writing descriptions about sheep clippers and paint brushes just doesn’t take me far enough away.

 

Balancing the Best of Both Worlds

56179-cat-on-keyboard-typing-gif-hi43I’ve come to crossroads in my life. A strange, positive, yet confusing, conundrum.

I believe I told you I suffer from “be careful what you wish for” syndrome. All my life I’ve been a writer, but never for money. Never for a living. It’s always been mountains of stories, poetry, and rhymes, along with lists, ideas, and doodles.

But lately at work I’ve been doing a lot of writing. And, if things work out, I’ll be doing a lot more. I am enjoying the pace, the pressure, and the chance to see if I have what it takes to be a full-time writer.

One thing I notice, though, is that by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is be creative. I’m pretty well cashed for the night.

And that upsets me.

I have always had a laundry list of things I want to write, to edit, to play with. There is no cork on imagination. But spending 9 hours a day in front of a computer, most of the time bringing life to everyday words, makes for one mentally drained oldie-but-goodie boho chick. By the time I have dinner, do the dishes, and sit down in front of my own laptop, I find myself suffering from brain freeze. It’s like my thoughts are somewhere behind this lovely burled oak door with a leaded glass window that reveals gorgeous vistas, but the door is stuck closed.

This will not do.

I am a writer. A make-up-story kinda gal. I love to write about spirits and middle aged women and time travel and elves and occasional sex. The more creative the better.

But I also have dreamed about writing for a living. Something that, for me, comes easily. Having had grammar and structure and style as my bedfellows for like ever, the prospect of writing full-time is a chance I want to take. Even if I don’t make it, I have to take that chance.

For a long time my husband has been telling me to cut back on computer time. I spend all day in front of that dull light, squinting and studying and reading two computer screens. Then I come home and squint and study and read one laptop screen. I suffer from headaches, and all this extra squint time doesn’t help. So cutting back on the night time does makes sense.

But I still don’t like it.

How do you balance the two worlds? Especially if both of your worlds are places you enjoy being?

It’s not all disastrous — it’s actually a pleasant conundrum. This conflict is forcing me to schedule my time better — writing time is scheduled just like doing the laundry or paying bills.

But I tell you now — it won’t be as much fun.

2017 Starts With a Whisper

As I sit on my sofa this first day of 2017, smooth jazz in the background, dogs sleeping on their doggie beds (along with Tom the cat), I am surprised at the strange swirl of thoughts that have threaded through my brain the past few days.

Many are glad 2016 is over — a lot of stress and bad juju last year. Others are building on the positive bridge they started last year. A lot of different ways to go for this supposedly first-day-of-the-rest-of-my-life.

I’ve spent the last several days reading the blogs I subscribe to through WordPress. I feel bad I can’t read people’s thoughts and emotions the day they are published, but I make it a point to sometimes just sit and read. Not glaze through the posts, but really read them. And I found myself responding to quite a few of them.

Some pledge to write every day. One blogger just popped up after a six month absence. Some write poetry, some write tragedy. Some talk about cats, some talk about painting. It’s an amazing mix of talent, and I enjoy getting to know all of them.

I’ve learned to reply with questions if I don’t understand something, or comment that I can’t find the right words to comment. It’s all encompassing — there are bloggers that pop up every couple of months, and I find myself so excited to read something new. Others write every day, and I find myself looking forward to their next view of life. I even go back into the “manage” part of the Reader and click on names I haven’t seen in a while to see what I’ve missed.

This type of diligence makes me wonder about my own blogging. Why do I do it? Is it to achieve fame? Popularity? Do I write to test out my own verbal prowess? Do I do it to share my view of middle age and beyond?

I think we all go through identity crises … all the time. Rarely do I meet someone who has been whole from the very beginning and knows the cosmic truth of inner peace. We all look for approval. For validation. For the acknowledgement that we do exist. In all worlds. As an office worker, as a mother, as a friend — we all try to make the other person proud. We all want that “best of” medal to show that all our mistakes and missteps didn’t mean a thing, because we ultimately turned out to be the “best.”

We all may or may not have natural talent. Most of us just go through the daily grind of work and bills and driving through the snow, telling ourselves that tomorrow will be better.

Well, here it is, 2017. A new year. Is it better?

I hope I am hearing a “yes” from all of you. The more we learn, the more we grow. And the easier it is to circle back to our own soul for affirmation.

My daily job has…is…changing. I have been tapped to be a social media writer, which means that my rhetoric and vocabulary needs to be top notch. It’s a lot of work — much more than I thought. But it is also a chance to show that all my hours of writing blogs and novels and poetry and short stories has paid off.

Anybody can have big numbers of followers on their blog. I am still scraping off the notion that more is better. What is really important is how many people stop and say something afterwards. How many really get what you’re saying.

Take the time today to go into your Reader and read something you missed before. Take a minute to step into their world.

It will truly help you in your own creative journey.

When I’m 64

th-1I wonder if your working world can make a 90 degree turn when you’re 64?

I have been a working girl all my life. I didn’t go to college, so I had to learn as I went. Back in the late ’70s an executive secretary was a lot different than they are in ’16s. I mean — my first computer was a Wang! Anyone ever heard of that line?

I was one of those executive secretaries in a PR department, and one day my boss asked if I wanted to write press releases. It was for a trade group for savings and loans. A world I never understood. Above my head. Out of my comfort zone. So I had to pass.

Other jobs were in similar fields: public relations or advertising or running my own business. The latter one I had the most success with, as it was designing my own brochures and portfolios and advertising for my B&B. But it was limited. Once described, the description didn’t change.

My current employment journey began as an expediter, then an almost-proofreader that became a coordinator instead, then a slide on over to the Web side, then more data entry. It was an arduous journey, one fraught with monsters and stalkers. But I survived, and the Internet in general and the World Wide Web in particular started growing around me.

Then something strange happened.

I took over the writing of the company blog. I was in a position to throw some words into the space where no one looked. It was not immediately noticed except by a few. Time turned over again and again. Old wood was removed and fresh growing branches took their place. The window into the 21st century was finally thrown wide open and the fresh air was intoxicating.

And the blog was noticed.

Moreover, my writing was noticed.

Here I am, 64 years old, fulfilling my writing fantasies with my personal blog, creating new worlds with my art blog, and editing my novels that should have been submitted to a publisher years ago. Suddenly, 3-4 years away from retirement (technically speaking), I am offered again a job that I was born to do. This time for a company I understand. Whose vision I understand. Whose style and management and philosophy matches the way I write. It’s not writing manifests or research papers or company reports. It’s Facebook posts. It’s subject lines. It’s abbreviated e-mail copy.

But it’s writing.

So after all these years of trying and turning and giving up and starting something new, I have come full circle. Full circle one circle further than I was a few circles ago.

I am proof that windows do open and careers find their way around boulders and down hills and back up again. It’s probably not the career you dreamed of in your ’20s or ’30s. I mean, I imagine a lot of us are nowhere close to where we thought we’d be at this point of our career. Most of us are happy just to have a job.

But it is a job. And close is better than not-at-all.

So when they say don’t quit your day job, don’t. Put up with it, change it if you can, deal with it if you must. If you need to change your job, change your job. But never give up on your own creativity. Find a way to work it into your daily life. During your day job if you can, in your personal job — i.e., life — if you can’t.

You’re never too old to be an optimist…

 

 

Impulse and Inspiration

20161113_164639Impulse and Inspiration. Two different words.  Creative people miss a lot of creative moments because we don’t connect the two.

Creative people — in this case, writers — come across possible story lines all the time. The shopping mall, a city alley, butterflies on a flower, all are possible props for poetry or short stories or even novels. But just because they are possible props doesn’t mean they are probable props.

And that’s where inspiration and impulse comes in.

Impulsive thoughts hit you all the time. It’s like directly channeling spirits and stories and hot spots right when they come through you. It’s following through on an instinct, a desire that hits you out of nowhere. It’s the knowing that this is what you want to paint. To write. To sculpt.

Inspiration is taking that impulse and creating something from it. Fine tuning it.  Letting your mind and heart wrap around it until a truly unique creation emerges.

I drive the back roads to work every day through quiet farm country.  The road makes three 90 degree turns before hitting the main highway. Before making the last left turn, the road points towards a full cornfield with woods behind it. One year there were a few missing rows that acted like a pointer to a dark shadowed spot of the back woods.  I was hit by the impulse to write a story about where that “road” led. I’m so glad I let that view inspire me. Two novels came from that impulse. And the view is no more.

I’ve also written short stories about an abandoned patch of land where a house once stood, and of getting caught in a never-ending maze of 90 degree turns.The inspiration for these stories came from the impulse of a moment: an empty piece of land, driving home through fog and mist. Looking over a different cornfield at a tall building way in the distance (I must have a thing for cornfields), I was hit with the idea of walking through the corn, coming out the other end in a totally different world. I didn’t stand there, daydreaming about what I could write about what was before me — it just hit me.

You can’t always know when inspiration — impulse — will hit. It’s funny how we all sit on the beach watching the water hit the shore, or find a fallen tree in the woods and plop ourselves down on it, or sit and listen to a symphony, hoping to get inspired. We force the inspiration, rather than let it come to us. What we are lacking is the impulse. The lightning strike. The inner knowledge that this is what you were waiting for.

What I’m saying is that when the impulse hits you, act upon it. You see something that stands apart from the rest of the world, note it. Develop it. Sketch it. Plant that seed of creativity and let it grow. Those are the stories you will remember. Those are the stories you will enjoy writing.

Now — I wonder what kind of cornfields lie west of here….

 

 

 

From Chinese Food to Poetry

d76daf8a-bffe-3e49-a6fb-5a9cc47065f5I was sitting in my favorite Chinese restaurant, waiting for pick up, and was struck with this fun idea for a blog about the Chinese language and their people and traveling and visiting foreign villages and…

And then I came home and opened WordPress.

And all this POETRY fell out!!

So my Chinese/Italy/England fantasy will wait. I want to share the beauty of poetry and the worlds they come from.

 

Friendly Fairy Tales ~~ The Elves Must Go  img_0111

 

 

 

img_20160608_00010-1Katzenworld ~~ Purrsday Poetry: The Cat on The Green Bench

 

 

 

Back Yards and Alleys ~~ A Closer Look  20161110_105725_resized

 

 

 

The Feathered Sleep ~~ Water    the_pursuit_-_nudes_swimming

 

 

 

Leaf and Twig ~~ Buche de Noel  dsc038291

Business in Rhyme ~~ Poetic inspiration: Poetry is Art poetry_art1

 

 

 

Maxima ~~ Once We Meet   dscn5602

 

 

 

This is just a thimble of the wonderful writers I follow. WordPress, the Web, is full of poetry bursting at the seams. I didn’t realize I enjoyed listening so much. Please check out the above poets and discover some of your own.

Let the music tickle your ears.

Putting On My Big Girl Pants

db6600a576463299e6df8b2d18f0a78fFirst off, a dreamy thank you for hanging with me during October and visiting the land of dreams and nightmares. My dreams thank you for checking in on them.

But now it’s November and although it’s 63 degrees in Wisconsin, nature is warning us that the kick-back-lazy-summery-buttery days are just about at their end. Thunder and lightning streak the skies this morning — much like the beginning of my first novel.

I am one of those complainers I can’t tolerate. I want to be a published author, but I have 3 novels sitting in my computer gathering dust because 1) I don’t know what genre they really are; 2) are they really any good; 3) there are a zillion published and self-published books out there, what’s one more on time travel/murder/fear of being caught/romance or maybe-romance book?

I don’t feel like I’m a procrastinator — it’s more like I don’t do the things I really need to do to get my work out there. Which, in reality, is a form of procrastination. Plus my confidence has been hiding under a rock somewhere lately. I mean, I have written two  novels in one series, another in a different series, and am in the middle of a follow up for THAT book, so you can’t say I’m not doing the work. Of course, that work has been over 10 years in the making, so that probably says something, too.

What about publicity? What about asking for advice from someone who is trying to get published too? Or who is already published? Why do I hesitate to ask for help? Am I afraid they will say no? And so what?

No doubt that as I get older the window of opportunity closes quicker. I can’t keep up with a full-time job and write too. At least that’s how I feel at the moment.  Which is not true, either. I know there are those of you who have done just that. Juggle family and kids and illnesses and setbacks and divorce and moving and still knock out great poetry and books. They — you — do not let your surroundings become your crutches.

When you are a ditz (I say that lovingly), it’s hard to stay focused all the time. I try. Its not the big responsibilities that throw me off balance — it’s the time inbetween. It’s the time between visiting the kids and driving home or vacuuming all the dog/cat hair so that I can sit down and write that I fall between the cracks. It’s the daydreaming while I’m driving that could one day cause me an accident. Its the noticing I need to sew a button on a shirt for tomorrow that readjusts my free time. The coming up with a plot twist at 1 a.m. when I have to get up at 6 that leaves me drained and sleepy all day and night.

It’s not always that dramatic, of course. It’s the moving from point A to point B in a hurry that causes black and blue marks, or hitting the wrong button and wiping out a whole chapter that sets my psyche afire. I misplace my phone all the time and put things in a safe place only to forget where that safe place is. Even when I have the time to sit and write or research, I find disorganization everywhere. I find myself organizing images or sorting written files or deleting a hundred pointless emails and before I know it two hours have gone by and I’m too tired to write.

It’s about time to put on my big girl pants and hit my secondary world with dogged determination. Make a list with a hundred bullet points if that’s what it takes, and do one organizational thing before one creative thing. That’s how I will move forward. And no one will notice the unicorn slippers that I wear when I put those pants on.

If only I can find that other slipper…

Angels and Witches and Dreams

s-l1000October is for Dreams

 

Ever since I started this month-long series on Dreams and Nightmares, my night life has really been cranked up. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been focusing more on my crazy dreams, wanting to remember them more, or are just fascinated by the worlds that are only accessable through those states.

I want to end the month with more light and fascination.

I really love the bloggings of Austin and his blog The Return of the Modern Philosopher. He is funny and creative and talks to gargoyles, THE devil, and other various characters about life, love, politics, and everything inbetween.

The following blog is from way back in 2013. It is based on a supposed “fever”, but, knowing Austin, it could be just another state of reality. But it does tie in wonderfully into my October is for Dreams segment. Enjoy!

 

Delirious Ramblings Of An Angelic Man In A Cauldron Fever Dream

Posted on November 10, 2013 by Austin

I remember waking up on the porch of The House on the Hill, Modern Philosophers.  I was still in my pajamas with my Magic robe pulled tightly around me.

I was soaked in sweat as I slowly opened my eyes and glanced out upon the falling snow.  Why was I sleeping with my glasses on?  Why was I out on the porch?  Was I shivering from the cold or from my fever?

“Why are you out here, Austin?” came the sweet, soothing, familiar voice to my left.

I glanced over, and the mere act of moving my head sent a violent pain throbbing through my skull.  My tired eyes focused on the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen, Rachel the Archangel.  Her wings were still visible and she held her mighty, flaming sword in her right hand, a sure sign that she sensed a threat.

I told her I didn’t know why I was on the porch.  She strode towards me, her eyes constantly checking to make sure there were no surprises.  After what seemed like an eternity, she finally arrived at where I sat.  Her big, brown eyes looked down at me, she sighed, and then finally smiled.

“You don’t look so good,” Rachel advised as her wings vanished and the flame extinguished on her sword.  “Judging from the sweat pouring off of you and that deranged look in your eyes, I’d say you have a fever.  Let’s get you inside.”

She reached out and offered her hand.  The second I grabbed it, I felt a chill race through me.  My body temperature immediately began to drop as goose bumps popped up over every inch of my 6’3″ frame.

I told Rachel how beautiful she was, and that I knew she would come for me.

“I’ll always come for you, Austin,” she cooed and that was the last thing I remember. The next time I opened my eyes, I was in my bed and saw my three closest Witch friends staring down at me.

“He’s finally awake,” Ti-Diana whispered to Waltzing Matilda and Volcanica Ivy.  All three of them approached the bed with caution.  “How are you feeling?”

My throat was dry and extremely sore, but I managed to ask them where Rachel was.

“The Archangel?” Volcanica Ivy asked as she looked down on me with concern.  “She wasn’t here when we arrived.  Are you expecting her?”

Why had Rachel left?  Did she just bring me up to bed and vanish?  Then I saw it.  Rachel’s sword was leaning up against the wall in the corner of the room.  She had been here.

“Gary the Gargoyle came to fetch us,” Waltzing Matilda explained as if she thought the perplexed look on my face meant I was wondering how the three most powerful Witches in Maine had come to be in my bedroom.  “He told us that you’ve been extremely ill and wandering aimlessly around the house.”

“We’ve come to cure you with Magic,” Ti-Diana assured me as she squeezed my shoulder.  “There’s a cauldron of Feevahbraykor Elixir bubbling down in the sun room.  Once it’s ready, we’ll give you a dose and all will be well.”

“Just rest for now,” Volcanica Ivy suggested.  “You need sleep.” The next time I opened my eyes, I was on the couch in the living room.  I was in my pajamas with my Magic robe wrapped tightly around me.  My fever was gone, and The House on the Hill smelled as if an apothecary had exploded in the next room.

I got up to wander into the sun room and find the source of the smell, but the room was empty.  The only thing I discovered was a dark smudge in the middle of the floor, as if something large, round, and hot had been set there.

I trudged up the stairs, crawled into bed, and settled in under the covers.  I looked over to the corner, expecting to see something there, but there was nothing.  I couldn’t quite remember what I thought would be there, and my mind was too tired to form any further Deep Thoughts on the topic.

I’m pretty sure I fell asleep the second I closed my eyes…

The Significance of Dreams — H.P. Lovecraft

h_p__lovecraft_mosaic_by_koscielny-d7m2fzxOctober is for Dreams

 

Howard Phillips (H.P.) Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction. His major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror — the fact that life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Lovecraft’s writings were influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, and like Poe, was virtually unknown and only published in pulp magazines before he died in poverty. Fortunately for us, he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre.

I like to describe Lovecraft’s works as eloquent, cerebral, and very curly-q-ish. The following clip is the first paragraph from his short story “Beyond the Wall of Sleep.” I know it might be hard to read at first, but take one sentence at a time. Savor it. Let the sentence linger on your tongue, in your senses. And let his reflections about dreams open your own thoughts.

 

Beyond the Wall of Sleep

I have frequently wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong. Whilst the greater number of our nocturnal visions are perhaps no more than faint and fantastic reflections of our waking experiences—Freud to the contrary with his puerile symbolism—there are still a certain remainder whose immundane and ethereal character permits of no ordinary interpretation, and whose vaguely exciting and disquieting effect suggests possible minute glimpses into a sphere of mental existence no less important than physical life, yet separated from that life by an all but impassable barrier. From my experience I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojourning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know; and of which only the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after waking. From those blurred and fragmentary memories we may infer much, yet prove little. We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.

You can find full texts of H.P. Lovecraft’s writings at the following sites:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/ or http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/.

Enjoy!

 

Dreams Give Us Strength

 

landscape-022October is for Dreams

 

The other side of night is day. Despair, hope. That is what the dream world provides. An escape from the horrors or pressures or stress of the day, or perhaps a continuation of the love, good times, and everlasting friendships of the day. Either way, the word “dreams” become part of our every day vocabulary.

I follow a blogger who has become a good friend through the years. Ann Koplow has been writing through the ups and downs of life, including a very recent heart surgery. Her blogs are full of unique pictures that relate to her topic at hand…all written with hope and love and a bit of humor. She shows us all that we should never stop dreaming.

It is her blog of December 28, 2015, that I bring to you this evening. If you like the ring of dreams, please check her blog The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally.

 

Day 1092: Dreams

Here are some of my associations with “Dreams” on this Monday of the week between Christmas and the New Year of 2016:

  • This time of year feels particularly dream-like to me.
  • I think and talk a lot about dreams, at work and elsewhere.
  • One of my favorite books is Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill, about the amazing healing that happens when people share dreams in groups.
  • Even though I’ve been living the dream of blogging daily for (almost) three years, I’ve written only four previous posts with “Dreams” in the title (here, here, here, and here).
  • When I got my first cardiac pacemaker at age ten in 1963, my being alive and well over fifty years later was just a dream.
  • I’ve had several dream jobs — including creating the recruitment video for Berklee College of Music in the 1990s — but nothing more satisfying than my current work as a psychotherapist.
  • When I was 44 years old, I consciously gave up the dream of ever having a child.
  • One month later, I found out I was pregnant with my dreamy son, Aaron.
  • Two nights ago I had a dream when I was falling from a great height to certain death, but because I knew I was dreaming, I wasn’t afraid, at all.
  • If a dream comes true and I get a call-back when I try out for The Voice on February 21, I’m going to sing  Mad World, which has this line:  The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.

Because I was dreaming so much yesterday, I forgot to take many photos. Which of these images seems the most dream-like, to you?

Dreams and Nightmares — Nightmares and Dreams

 

leslieannodell_01October is for Dreams

 

Nightmares and Dreams. Two sides of the same card. Two sides of the same mirror. Two breaths from the same mouth. We cannot have one without the other. For how can you reach for the light if you’ve never been lost in the dark?

My friend  Kat McDonald  (Inner Focus)  is an exceptional writer. Her writing is gritty and vivid and imaginative. I read this story back in 2013, and I remember it like it was yesterday. It stretches longer than my usual blog lengths, but do take the time to read it all. Get lost in her mind and figure out for yourself. Is it a dream? A nightmare? Or both?

Delirium

a new fever has me in its clutches… i can feel her long, bony, icy fingers twist my spine and contort my brain… i need paracetamol… i need a glass of water… i need to sleep…

but sleep won’t come easy…

paracetamol… a glass of water… bed.

i climb into bed… i am shaking… my hands are tingling… am i hungry..? am i over-tired..? i feel exhausted… i feel sick… nausea rushes at me like a jealous mistress… my head feels twice the size it should be… my forehead is hot… my feet are cold… i am shaking… i swallow the pills and wash them down with a long drink of water.

i climb into bed… the pillow feels cool beneath my heavy skull… i close my eyes and then it starts… i must ride this out until it breaks…

micro flashing neon lights spark inside my minds eye, igniting visions… visions… murky, but i look deeper… deeper into the grain and chaos… i see a face… a man’s face… it is Stalin… he is standing outside an old house… a house on a wild beach… a house with a red door… suddenly, he vomits all over himself… then dissolves into a puddle on the ground… i look out to sea… but the sea is not a sea… it is a vast expanse of rippling silken fabric, billowing in the breeze… i look up to the sky… a pterodactyl swoops in low over the water towards me… i duck for cover and close my eyes tight, anticipating being snatched up by the giant predatory bird… nothing… the wind has picked up the pace and snatches my breath… i gasp and open my eyes… i find myself atop one of the steel eagles that grace the lofty Chrysler Building in NYC… i am terrified… the wind is strong… my hair whips my face… i am too scared to look down… but i do… and now my palms are wet, sweating… i cannot hold on, i lose my grip… but wait! i am typing…

i am sat at a desk, in the middle of a forest, and i am typing… typing incoherent words on a sheet of stiff, white paper… The typewriter is old and battered and clunky… a pale blue Olivetti electric typewriter… my curious eyes follow the flex… it is plugged into a giant snail… the sound of my fingers tapping the keys rattles my brain… the words make no sense… the words make me shiver… i open a cupboard… an old farmhouse style larder- just like the one my Aunt Mary had at Fullerton Farm… i open the door and find hundreds of tins of Baked Beans… i close the door… but the door is a mirror now… i stare at my own reflection… i smile to her, but she does not smile back… she is naked… pale, gaunt… two headless horses appear behind me… one black as night, The other white as snow… the white one speaks to me in a language i cannot comprehend… but we start to dance… the floor beneath me turns to silver sand…

the sun is beating down on me… i pull the quilt around me and nestle into the comfort and familiarity of my bed, despite the madness of these visions… visions i have no control over… i cannot make them stop… they come, in a flood… my mind is a fairground… i look at my hands… six fingers on each hand… i cut off the tips of my fingers with a large pair of shears… they are bleeding… i put on a pair of bright yellow rubber gloves and go outside into the night… there are two moons in the sky… both are full and resplendent… the night is cool… i am alone… i look to my left and the buildings start to crumble and fall… an apple falls from the sky and rolls towards me, stopping at my feet… It speaks to me… beckoning me to take bite… i pick up the lilac apple and bite into its soft, juicy flesh… it tastes salty… so i throw it away… it explodes on impact… in the distance, i hear a child’s voice… it is my lover’a son… he appears out of nowhere, wearing a flappy bird t-shirt and red jeans… he is barefoot, as i am… he takes my hand and tells me to follow him… i do…

suddenly, i find myself, alone, inside a computer… i look at my hands… i am made of pixels… i peer through the screen and see a morbidly obese man, sitting on his sofa with a boxful of donuts… he is playing a computer game… he is controlling me and my movements… he is controlling the CGI world i now find myself locked in… i like it here, but i cannot stay… i call out for my lover’a son… but he is gone… he has left me a note… it reads “gone fishing, be home Tuesday!”… i smell coffee… i look down and find myself in a bathtub full of warm, steaming coffee… it stains my skin… my lover appears… he dries my wet skin with a cloud, gently patting it dry… he lovingly combs my wet hair and strokes my face… we kiss… and float out the wind into space… we swim through the stratosphere and look back at Earth… it looks radiant and blue… i take a bite… it tastes like battery acid… the shock cuts my tongue and i spit out blood and a chunk of France… “it never used to taste like this…” says my lover, his eyes filled with tears… he spits a mouthful of India out into the blue stratospheric air… he fades into the night… “soon…” he says, blowing kisses as he dissolves into the ether… i find myself in a deep, Belfast sink… the cold tap is turned on and the sink is filling up with tiny sea horses and goldfish… they sparkle and shimmer and swim around me… but i need to urinate…

i open my eyes, climb out of bed and make my way to the bathroom across the hall… my legs are shaking… i feel weak… perhaps sleep will come soon… i hope for a dreamless sleep… but instead, i find myself in a field full of rabbits… hundreds and thousands of rabbits… rabbits of all different colours… the pink ones are my favourites… odd… i hate the colour pink… but they are the friendliest… i reach up to the sky and reel in the sun… i hold it in my hands… it burns, but only momentarily… my cold hands chill its fire and it turns from burning amber to brittle blue… the sun shatters in my hands… i am left holding fragments of turquoise glass… i throw the shards up into the air… they tinkle and twinkle against the sky, like dying light… The tranquility of their peaceful chimes turns into an ugly chaos as the fragments of harmless light turn into bullets… they rain down all around me… everything has turned to dust… children lie dead around me… women scream… another bomb goes off… the ground shakes, like the thunder of the apocalypse… there is no colour… everything is grey… the course of death… i hear the wail of an electric guitar… someone, somewhere is playing a guitar… it wails, like a wounded animal… i cover my ears and crouch down, holding myself… crying… i open my eyes and see a young deer, chewing a leafy twig, at the foot of my sweating bed…

the pillow is damp… i turn it over and, with trembling hands, i gulp down a glass of cold, clean water… i close my eyes… please let me sleep… a dreamless sleep… please… these rapid fire flashbacks of former trips inside my minds eye and visions of my subconscious’ innermost thoughts and fears, as surreal as they are, are raping my brain… i am exhausted… i want calm… i want to feel well again… i look at the time… three hours have passed… i have been away for three hours…

i take two more pills, and water… and close my eyes…

but wait! my feet are covered in sand…

 

Flash Fiction Dreams

41524-autumn-leaf-heartOctober is for Dreams

 

This flash fiction piece was inspired by my first novel (yet to be published), about a woman who drives through a cornfield, crashes into an old oak tree, and wakes up in small town 1880.

Was it a dream? Or did it really happen? Who is to say?

 

Pretzel Dawn

Her car streaks down the highway in the granite dawn, her heartbeat matching the thrum of the tires. Fluorescent pinpoints from distant skyscrapers become nothing more than blurred starlight as she madly races towards her destiny…a destiny she has waited to fill longer than she can remember.

A sliver of apprehension cuts into her thoughts. A foreboding, like a ghost crossing her path.  Why is it an effort to remember the number of the exit? Why does the city in the distance waver as if seen through crackled glass?

Metropolis turns into suburbia and then into country, yet she cannot slow down. Eventually the Buick veers from the concrete onto the tarmac of some long forgotten road lined with the skeletal remains of fall.  Her window is open, the last breath of night air chilling her, thrilling her.  It’s not far now.  Instinct drives her forward ― instinct and desire.  He is somewhere ahead, pacing on the dew-covered grass beneath the maple archway. Watching. Waiting. She senses the sparkle of his chocolate eyes, his scent of sweat and hay and the muskiness from his turn-of-the-century charm.

The road ahead is shadowed.  She doesn’t remember the giant oak tree on her last drive through this part of the countryside, nor the weathered barn in the distance.  She cannot remember many details of her last visit — but it doesn’t matter.  Her heart pounds faster as crimson streaks highlight the horizon.  She cannot bear to let him slip away again.  Not without a word, without a touch.  He is dark and deep, passion and fury, a flicker of days gone by. He said he would wait for her, and she promised to return.

The car’s acceleration slows, and tears of frustration well in her blue eyes. She is lost.  Too many turns. Too many distractions.  She cannot tell cliffs from moors, fields from meadows.  The dark crimson glow over her shoulder is now a soft magenta ribboned with blue.  She is running out of time. Hills to mountains to boulders along the side of the crushed gravel road, yet this has to be the way. The road twists in a pretzel design, dead-ending at a forest dark and primeval.  She drives to the maple archway at the edge of the wooded glen and stops.

He stands at the hedgerow, a masculine glow in the twinkling dawn. She fumbles and stumbles through the tall brown grass and into his arms.  She has made her way back through time. Her need reaches out to him in the pale light of morning, his response soothing and gentle. His loving words curve and twist around her soul and down into the abyss of her dreams, curving and twirling and tumbling and swirling until they slowly turn into echoes from a conch shell.  Eternity disappears in a starburst of angel wings, only to reappear as the soft drone of the morning alarm.

 Once again, she has returned. Awake. And alone.

 

Roots vs. Vines

newplantThere are books upon books written about men brains vs female brains. How they are wired, how they work. How they process. This is not a blog to debate the validity of such — I am mere more to prove that such assumptions are more or less true.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about creativity. I suggested her boyfriend (a really talented graphic artist) start a website or blog with his art and photography. Show off his work. He joined our conversation, and said he shows his work off on Facebook. To his friends. He said setting up and keeping a site going was too much like work.

I was fine with that. But I had to laugh. Because that’s all I seem to think about. Not just the webpage part — the writing/art/decorating/creative part.

It was like earlier today I called home. Hubby was putting up new pantry and laundry room doors. Very sharp. Very nice. After 15 years of dogs and kids and cats and abuse it is nice to finally start remodeling my house. I started talking about a new wine rack and hanging a new picture I found and maybe a rug under the table and cleaning out the buffet and giving most of the glasses to Good Will and there was nothing but silence on the other end of the phone. I waited for a reaction and could have filed my nails within the time gap.

When we resumed the conversation my hubby said he hadn’t thought of all that. That some of those things weren’t on his top 10 list of things to do. He was back on the door-thing and the sanding-the ceiling-in-the-bedroom thing. The mowing-the-lawn-thing tomorrow. He was nowhere in the creative atmosphere of the decorating-thing or the making-the-dining-room-feel-like-an-Italian-veranda-thing. My mind was twisting and twirling up the wall like a runaway vine while his was forming strong, sturdy roots in the ground.

I don’t know if my creative tendencies are a good thing or a bad thing. Or if they are a “thing” at all. I know we all have a creative streak in us, but some are able to keep it in perspective. Most times I behave myself, but other times I’m off and running without a thought as to time or materials or the end result.

It’s like I finally know what I want and I don’t want to be talked out of it. My Sunday Evening Art blog, my middle-age madness blog, my writing female fantasy fiction time travel novels, all may seem runaway madness to some, but they are life affirming to me. Every time I get creative it’s like reaching up to the sun and getting high on Vitamin D.

I know that that’s just where I am in life right now. Other friends of mine are in the whenever-its-convenient time. Or after-I-take-care-of-other-things time. I’ve been through those phases too. I’ve been responsible all my life. Raising kids, working, making ends meet. I’ve not always had the time to hang with my Creative Muse.

But now I make time. And the pigheaded person in me wonders why everyone else doesn’t make time, too. When my piggy feet touch the ground again, I realize that everybody IS making time in their own way. Not everyone needs a website or needs to get published in order to let their creativity soar. Some do it by just doing it. Period.

But as for me — I am having fun with the pick-out-paint-to-edge-the-new-rug thing and the heroine-travels-through-the-veil-to-another-world thing.

Why not?

 

You Rock!

einstein-1When I started this blog back on April 18, 2011, I must have had 20 blogs already written ahead of time. That’s how excited I was. Before I started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog, I probably had 10 or 11 artists on hold. That, too, shows how excited I was to get started.

Now days I am more of a on-the-spot blog writer, sharing the Goddess’s humor as she calls. Which is all the time. And my Art Blog’s collection is doubling all the time as I find more and more unique artists to showcase.

This is what creativity is all about.

Doing what you love. When you want to. Because you want to.

I don’t have an anniversary to celebrate, or moment in time to highlight today.  All I wanted to do was thank you all for supporting me, reading me, looking at my art. Telling your friends. Or just checking me out yourself.

I can’t believe there are so many branches to Creativity. I’ve talked to quilters, sculptors, painters, publicists, graphic artists, gardeners, writers, poets, photographers, calligraphers — all sorts of artists with all sorts of stories. Everyone has a different story, background, reason for exploring their creative side.

Think of the things you can create! Dragons, spaceships, murderers, gardens, parentless heroes, ghosts, musical prodigies, statues, symbols. You can change history, travel through history, interpret history. As an artist there is nothing you can’t do.

This is why I encourage all of you to “do your thing.” Know your base is strong and expand from there. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the arts. And the more you do it, the better you get at it.

I just wanted to take time to than you all. For your friendship, for your curiosity. And for your encouragement. I hope we hang together for a dozen more years. I hope you continue to enjoy my art and my pretzel-logic mind. You inspire me, and I hope I do the same for you.

Huzzah!

 

Keep Your List Long

listDue to a change of plans, I am home alone for the weekend. The weather is beautiful, the sun warm, the breeze making my windchimes sing.

So far I want to drive to the gas station for flavored coffee, write a couple of chapters on my novel, move the stuff from my tiny closet to a now-spare-bedroom closet, vacuum, dust, make shrimp in red sauce, walk the magic trail behind the university, walk my own magic trail on my property, sew bling on a particular top, change the kitty litter, shorten the sleeves on a new hoodie, watch the rest of Rome, write a poem, find new artists for my SEAG, read my WordPress buddie’s blogs, ride my bike, rearrange the deck, brush out the cat, and edit another novel.

And it’s only mid-morning.

The only thing I’ve managed to do so far is go get flavored coffee.

Am I the only one who plans big and falls short? All the time?

I often wonder if I would have enough time to do it all if I were retired. Doing the job thing from 6 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. (that includes getting ready) five days a week doesn’t leave much time to fool around. You would think I would have an Architectural Digest-sort of house, lovely gardens, published novels, spiffy wardrobe, plus time to excercise/walk/ride with all the free time I have before I go to sleep at night.

We’re never home on the weekends — whose fault is that? Between visiting the kids and camping and my hubby leaving for work at 4 p.m. on Sundays, there’s not much time left for anything except doing the dishes and laundry. And maybe ONE fun, great meal. If we’re around.

I have talked to many retirees who have told me it doesn’t get better.

It gets worse.

How can that be?

They let me in on a secret. The more time they have the more they think they can do.

Of course, sitting on the deck, listening to the wind blow the windchimes, gets equal billing with mowing the lawn. Painting a picture gets just as much private time as washing and putting away laundry. And they still manage to see kids, grandkids, friends, old co-workers. They manage to get a walk in along with stopping by the farmer’s market, build things in their workshop, write poetry, rearrange furniture, watch a movie, repair the lawnmower, and dozens of other things.

Many of them say they don’t have enough time in their day, either.

I’m beginning to think that Einstein knew more than he told us. That time is relative. For one person time flies by; for others, it takes an eternity to tick out an hour.

I tell myself I’d rather have an overly-long list of “to-do”s than a short list of anything. Having too many things to do in one day assures you that there will be things to do tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. That the Reaper can’t possibly come and visit because your list is too long and he’ll just have to come back when that list is done.

Which makes me think of a few more things I’d like to add…

 

Remembering Italktoomuchitis

giphy1Greetings!

Although I think all my past blogs are funny/magical/clever, I don’t often repost them for the fear that thousands of likes rather than an appropriate few will jam the WP system.

Keeping that in mind, I was wandering through the rocky mountains of my memory and thought about this blog from June 2012. It hits the bullseye once again.

 Chit Chattin’ Cathy

doll Chatty CathyI subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true.  It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.

I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.

I don’t remember when I contracted this disease.  It certainly wasn’t in grade school (too ugly), nor high school (too busy trying to get pinned). I worked in downtown Chicago for a PR department, but trust me, it was far from glamorous…or talkative ( I was rather submissive in those days). Found love, got married and had babies. I didn’t think of myself as overly verbal back then. But now I wonder — when did I become so…chatty?

Chatty is a relative word. Those of us old enough can remember the “Chatty Cathy” doll.  Pull her string and she’d say a half dozen things. What a novel idea at the time. For those of you a bit younger, this phenomenon was a highlight in Steve Martin’s tirade in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “It’s like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. I expect you have a little string on your chest, you know, that I pull out and have to snap back. Except I wouldn’t pull it out and snap it back – you would. Gnah..gnah…” Well, I’m beginning to think I’m that doll — and I’m the one pulling the string.

These last few years I think I’ve carried the chatty thing a bit too far. One question and everybody knows what I had for dinner last night, why I think my cousin’s child is out of control, the cramps I had this morning, and how much my dentist charged for root canal. I spill my son’s secrets to his wife, and tell my customers not to buy today for it goes on sale tomorrow. What is wrong with me? Since when have I become this effervescent fount of non-interesting information? I find I want to respond to everything. I have an answer for everything. Whether or not it’s informed. I find I have little patience for opinions other than mine, and need to comment on every and all things that come my way. I try and keep my mouth shut most of the time, but believe me, sometimes it’s a struggle.

I wonder if it’s that old person syndrome. You know ― the older you get, the less you care about what others think.  That seemed like such a cliché when I was younger. All those old fogies saying what they want to, not caring if they offend this person or that.  Most over 70 were a little crotchety and unreasonable, but hey, maybe they just weren’t thinking straight. Pre-Alzheimer’s and such.

As I got older I started to get where they were coming from. Now that I’m teasing the 60 mark, I’m finding those outspoken 70-year-olds weren’t so far off the mark after all.  Having spent a lifetime trying to get my thoughts and opinions across to others, I can see why caution is thrown to the wind and oldies say just what they think. I’ve been questioned and second-guessed more times than you can count; I’ve been unsure of my choices and bothered by the choices of others. I sometimes wonder if I should have turned right instead of left, if I would have made a difference, if I should have said something back then.

And I have gotten to the point where I’m tired of not being listened to.

I’m not saying that my opinion is any better than anyone else’s. We know the world by what we’ve experienced. I have kept my thoughts and opinions respectful and private. But in suppressing the nonsense that runs constantly through my head, I find myself talking and sharing more than when I was 20. It’s like the filter is broken. And I wonder — is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Through this need to reveal more than the neighborhood stripper, I find myself volunteering information that no one is interested in. Well, maybe they are, but in a superficial sort of way. I think we all do that — we listen to others babble their life stories, their grocery store nightmares, their crazy family history or their list of illnesses. We listen because we really do care. Not that we can do anything about their stories, but because we know that sometimes others just need someone to listen.

Often the babble that comes out of other mouths has nothing to do with what’s really going on inside. Maybe the storyteller suffers from insecurities, or illness, or loneliness. Maybe sharing the story of their kid’s accomplishments is a way to assure them that they did a good job as a mother or father. Maybe all they want is to be noticed. To be cared about. To be liked.

Many things fuel our chatter — or lack of. Where we’ve come from is not nearly as important as where we are headed.  If chit chatting about great recipes or the knucklehead in the cubicle down the hall gives us a little clearer sense of self, I’m all for it. We all need to get the chit out of our heads so we can think clearer and feel stronger. And as long as the chat is not destructive, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of babble at the bubbler.

Alas, sometimes I think my only solution is to wire my jaws shut.

Fuzz Brain

thDo you ever have days where you feel…fuzzy?

Not cuddle fuzzy, not peach navel fuzzy, but cotton-candy-in-the-head fuzzy.

I suppose it’s best to count out major contributors, or at least fit them into the symphony’s score. Medication. check. A little, not much. Sleep. A little, not much. Stress. Much, not a little. Sugar. Cut way back. Alcohol. None. Smoking. Never. Other recreants. Not for 40 years. Blood Pressure. Surprisingly normal. Blood Sugar. Low as well. Cholesterol. Working on it.

So all second tier maladies accounted for. First tier…cancer, leukemia, dementia. All being watched.

So why the fuzzies?

I used to think that when I couldn’t quite focus it was because messages and stories were coming through from astral places. Not like direct alien vibrations, but, you know — inspiration from beyond. No matter what your belief system, there’s always someone from the beyond sending you positive vibes –Grandma, Jesus, Shakespeare. You can’t rationalize it — it just is.

So when the fuzzies used to come I had a hard time focusing on anything constructive. Like work. Or responsibilities. It’s like the fuzzies opened a hole to another dimension. One where logic is more like paper chains hung in the trees…pretty, but not practical.

It’s hard to think when your mind is full of cotton candy. You look one direction…it’s niiice. You turn around…it’s niiice. You look up in the sky, it’s…well, you get it. It’s like being high without drugs, religion, or the Patronus Charm.

During these  lost and found fuzzies inspiration is there for the taking. If you have the energy to take it. What I mean by that is that there are no rules in the fuzzies. Every design, every plot, every daydream has merit. Fireflies become faeries. High school teachers become drug dealers. The rosey pink of sunset becomes the daytime sky of an alien world.

I’ m not saying you can create the next Rembrandt masterpiece or write the Great American Novel while fuzzy. But when inspiration eludes you, there can be redemption in the clouds.

For example.

Tonight I was in the funky fuzzies. Spent 2 hours going through the same 6 folders looking for a piece of paper I knew I’d seen in one of them earlier this evening. I mean this is a big duh. How can you not find what you just saw? Fuzzies. After hours of curling one piece of paper after the other, I finally found what I was looking for in the folder with the receipts jammed into it.

So crabby as well as fuzzy, I posted such on Facebook. As I perused the mental states of all my friends, I came across a post about gorgeous blingy gladiator up-the-calf sparkle shoes. And I thought…Sunday Evening Art Blog! How cosmic was that?

Of course, cosmic can always be equated with chance, luck, calculation, physics, or a dozen other flow charts. The point is that even when you are wandering through the Cotton Candy Fuzzies you can get input for your creativity. Just pay attention. Know inspiration can drop in at any time and be ready to take note. Write it down, bookmark it, write it on your arm in eye liner. Just keep the message and come back when the fog has lifted.

The test, of course, is not to bring the Fuzzies into work tomorrow. If I’m not careful my whimsical nothingness will get lost in the stacks of data I’ve yet to enter.

Talk about the bottomless well…

 

Tuesday-Not-Sunday-Evening Art-Gallery-Humor-Blog

They-Wait-in-Silence-4f6276864bf58_hiresI’m sure you’ve seen these posts on Facebook that show a wonderfully huge mansion in the woods/on the water/at the edge of the mountains, and the post says, “If you could live without WiFi and a phone and TV, etc., would you live here?”

Having spent the last five days up Nort’ , I think I can answer a solid “No.”

It wasn’t a mansion; it was a little house we call “The Cabin.” No TV, no Dish/Direct TV, no WiFi, just a DVD/8 Track Player and a radio. For getaway purposes it was ideal. But the times I tried to go online to do some Art Gallering, the signal from my phone was  烂摊子. A mess. So my wildly popular (I love adding my own adjectives) Sunday Evening Art Gallery had to take a Sunday night break.

I also wanted to spend some free time looking for unique artists, following a few leads from friends and followers (I’m always open for suggestions!). Grandkids were out playing, men fishing, cool breeze in the window, quiet except for the sounds of nature, it was a perfect Art Moment.

Yet I could not load any page other than the main one I landed on. No pictures, no links. And I felt like those people who can’t go to the bathroom without their cell phone. I felt helpless. And more than that — pathetic.

During this contemplation time I had a few revelations, too. I think we all get messages from the beyond…all get an idea which direction we should go. But we don’t listen. We — our ego — knows better. So we butt our heads against the wall and keep trying to recast the same pot.

What works for you? What feels right? What feels out-of-sorts? Are you happy with your blog? Are you happy with your craft? Would you sometimes rather do B than A? K rather than E?

I have found a new love affair with Unique Art. There are so many wonderful, unique, unusual artists sharing their work with the world that I’ve never heard of, never seen, never imagined until these past few years. And the thrill I get out of sharing them with you is the same thrill I get when I’ve written something good.

I can feel that same energy when I talk with people who are hooked into some sort of creativity. Their eyes glow, their breath shortens, and their dreams spill out through their words.

I want you to have that glow, too. I want you to sparkle like the fireworks on the 4th of July every time you think of your craft. You will crash and burn and agonize and think and dance and fly. But you will grow and learn and sparkle, too.

I suppose I will wait to introduce a new artist to the Sunday Evening Art Gallery. No need to rush amazement, is there? But because I can’t go long without sharing some kind of art, I will publish a new Gallery.

Don’t go too long without doing your creative thing, too!

Last Cave on the Left

20160628_184654Now that the kids and grandkids have moved out and into their own beautiful house, the hubby and I have decided it’s time to remodel/redecorate. Two different words, two different meanings, two different opinions.

We now have two empty bedrooms upstairs where my boys used to live. Actually one lived upstairs, one downstairs. But I drift. I turned the second upstairs bedroom into a library. It was sweet. Large window that looked out over the yard and towards the woods, oak shelves, books galore, art, kids artwork, pictures in antique frames. Stenciling on the upper wall, closet doors removed and closet tured into a computer nook.

It was awesome.

The library was turned into my grandkids’ room while they lived here. Now the room is available again. Yet hubby says this time, no library. The rooms are going to become bedrooms for our wonderful, energetic, perfect grandkids when they come to visit.  I can still have a library, but it will be downstairs in the far corner bedroom.

I might as well be arranging my library in Siberia.

I took a picture this evening of my messed up downstairs, which is in the process of being rearranged, decluttered, and we-don’t-know-yet. And way in the corner is the library-to-be. The window is actually a window well, the fuse box is behind the closet door, we don’t have a real ceiling (although I’ve been promised that I will get one), and it’s the farthest point in the house from the bathroom. Ever see Last House on the Left?

I suppose in some ways it’s an ideal writing arena. Far away from confusion and noise, a haven for privacy, an off-the-way place to get absorbed in my books and writing. I can fill the room with my shelves, books, art, kids art, a writing table and/or comfy sofa and/or oversized chair, some great indirect lighting, and maybe a faux bearskin rug on the floor.

The problem is that I’m an unconventional writer. Predictable, but unconventional.

Most time I’m sitting on my sofa with my laptop, looking out the window, listening to music, sometimes a boring movie in the background, often in silence, the frig, bathroom, and food pantry within a few steps. From this vantage point I can keep an eye on the dogs (one who dives into the cat food dish for a quick snack, the other who knows how to twirl the corner kitchen cabinet and eat the bread), change the laundry, water the plants, make chocolate milk, and stack my research books on the other end of the sofa along with my phone, TV flipper, and two cats.

You might think that sounds like I’m not a serious writer.

Au contraire.

No one loves writing more than me. No one wants to touch the minds and souls and funny bone of others more than me. And no one wants to succeed more than me.

I think it’s just that my adult-onset A.D.D. doesn’t allow for sitting still for too long a period of time. My job during the day is hard enough, because I work on a computer all day. So at night, multi-tasking is the only way I get anything done.

The truth of the matter is I didn’t use the fancy schmancy library like a library should have been used. Sometimes I’d just go and sit in there, run my fingers along the books, polish the glass and the photos and the little doodads my kids made for me. I’d sit on the floor and go through my high school year books or pictures in albums or coffee table sized books on faeries or dragons. The soft light from the big window turned the room into a slightly peach fuzz, along with my dreams.

But it was never a writer’s room.

I know I will be able to add my magic to the dungeon downstairs — a couple of great lamps, a comfy settee, lots of bookshelves and some new art I’ll have to paint and an old area rug that’s seen better days. I will still sit down there and go through my high school year books and pictures of the B&B I used to own and read the books my kids wrote when they were in 1st grade and the library will come alive again.

But I will still sit on my sofa and do my most favorite thing.

Write.

 

Finding Dorothy’s Shoes

Ruby-slippers-wizard-of-ozI absolutely love when comments on one blog flow into thoughts and inspiration on another. That’s why I love following the writers I do.

In her blog, A Journey Called Life, (https://architar.wordpress.com), my friend Archita wrote a story called “A note from the evening” (https://architar.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/a-note-from-the-evening/). It is a first-person narrative to someone  — a friend, it seems — to that friend’s ego. To that friend’s mind. It has to be to their unconscious mind, for the conscious mind was not listening.

Her short tale explains all the motions and routines the narrator will do for the friend who never stops complaining. For the complaining is nothing new. The friend cannot see past her stubbornness to change her direction in life; the friend who insists the narrator has the banquet and the friend barely the leftovers.

It made me think and then think again. First I wondered if the friend was (figuartively) me…me in other situations. We all have the tendency to whine — life is never the bed of roses we dream of. But I hoped — still hope — that I have found a way out of that tedious state of blaming the world for some of my own bad decisions.

The more I thought, the more I realized that I have friends like that, too. I think we all do. People who just can’t get out of the whirlpool. People who don’t really want to get out of the whirlpool. That it’s easier to complain and point fingers than to do something about the situation.

Many situations are hard. There is no denying this. Life is hard. But life is also good. There is proof of that all around us.

You will continue your story- about children, about how busy you really are, about how you never had any help, about how only death can bring you your peace. Then you will ask me if I watched your favorite show on TV.

I often wonder how people get out of the whirlpools they swim in. It takes determination. It takes work. My dad and father-in-law both gave up smoking after 50 years of two packs a day. That wasn’t a walk through the roses, believe me. My friend is going back to school to get her childhood education degree, and she is in her mid-50s. Another friend has had multiple operations on knees and shoulders and had cancer in his pancreas and still manages to go camping with us a couple times a year.

Who is to decide what is too heavy a burden to bear? Who is to decide what is enough help?

Let me tell you, death looks terrible on poems. Death looks more terrible when it’s just news. Death never gives peace. Life is peace. In living, in grief, in celebrating, in friendships- you find what death lacks- a life.

Archita and I bantered back and forth in the comment section about when it’s time to listen, when it’s time to intervene, when it’s time to walk away.  It’s not easy to know the difference between being a friend, a sounding board, and an enabler. From drinking to being unemployed to being divorced, the path out of the darkness isn’t an easy one to find. But I believe we all have that inner knowledge that lets us know where to draw the line between all of the above.

I suggested she suggest the magic release of Creativity to her friend. I  know so many who have turned to the Arts to save their souls, to release their souls, to find their souls. That’s why I encourage it so much. It doesn’t matter if you crochet or make scrapbooks or write poetry. Your love for artistic freedom makes you better and better. A better artist, a better person, a better friend. Archita found her own soul again through creativity — she only hoped her friend could, too.

But that’s another story.

Do go and read Archita’s blog if you find time. You might find yourself in her shoes. Which, in the end,  just might be Dorothy’s shoes.

Slugs Gather Here

444This evening I should have been editing my novel, tweeted about my latest Art Gallery post, done a little research, read some great blogs, and writtten a poem.

Instead, I spent this evening laying around like a slug, watching TV, washing a dish here or there, watering a wilty plant, and giving my dog an extra cookie or three.

Does this mean I’m not dedicated to my craft?

I know several people who signed up — and finished — the National Novel Writing Month challenge (NaNoWriMo) where they write a novel in one month. Others have done the National Poetry Writers Month (NaPoWriMo) where you write a poem a day for one month. I just saw someone on Twitter say they were digging in and writing 800 words — I don’t know if that was per day or per session. Another friend devotes at least an hour a day painting. Yet another schedules scrapbooking dates with daughters and friends. I know fellow bloggers that find time to sculpt and do wire works and probably take ballet lessons, too.

I am a failure.

Every morning I have the honor and pleasure to drive the back roads to work, my mind allowed to wander and plan all the fun writing and art gallery adventures that will take place once I get home. After packed days doing data on a computer, most of us come home with headaches and carpel tunnel, not inspiration. Add a dog yakking on the floor or a sink full of dishes, and all those dreams come crashing to the ground pretty darn fast.

Maybe I shouldn’t want a writing career so bad. Maybe I shouldn’t obsess about new twists to my blog or new artists for the Gallery or art fairs I’d like to wander through or jewelry I’d love to make or the tree branches I want to paint on three canvases for my bathroom or the beads I want to sew on the new top I got from Good Will.

Maybe I’m not a failure.

Maybe I’ve just got too much want.

Do you feel that way? You should. Are you a member of the 10/5 Sack Club? You know — trying to shove 10 pounds of stuff into a 5 lb. bag?  Are you a lets-change-our-days-to-34-hours-instead-of-24-hours member?

How do you get it all done? Are you ever really satisfied with how much personal time you have?

Damn, it’s frustrating, isn’t it? All the stuff you want to do, all the stuff you plan on doing, dream of doing, and all you can muster is a slug on the rug routine.

I know it all will get done sooner than later. Between the grandkids, the maddening work load, between mowing the lawn and brushing my teeth.

I know my characters will wait — they’ve waited this long, fooling around in a parallel Etruscan time zone or in 1885 Clairmont or at a writer’s gathering on the shores of Lake Michigan. They know their stories are good, their purpose clear. The morals have already been written, the points made. The artists continue their unusual creations until I get them in the Sunday Evening Art Gallery, and the fairs and fests await my arrival.

Until then, there’s nothing wrong with a good ‘ol SlugFest now and then.

 

 

Lost in the Matrix

tumblr_mxpq0pMO941sxqh33o1_400Philosophical Tuesday.

Now…bear with me one minute. Quick techy babble coming.

Am watching “The Matrix”, which in itself is a complicated psycho babble movie, full of innuendoes and intentions and thoughts in the 5th dimension. It is one of those times that I don’t mind everything being over my head.

According to The Matrix for Dummies, Neo learns that the matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to make us feel like we are living a normal life, when in fact it is nothing more than an energy factory for AIs.

Us poor humans. We have to be good for something.

In these movies are blue pills and red pills and humans in pods grown in fields and the dude Morpheus whose words and appearances are marked by thunder and often orchestra crescendos.  There are computer aliens and walking, talking computer viruses and a whole lot more going on.

Here’s the psycho babble part. According to Spark  Notes:

Many precedents exist for the idea that the real world is an illusion, and the Matrix trilogy is riddled with specific references to philosophers who have entertained this idea. Although the films are meant to stand on their own and create their own set of philosophical questions, the Wachowskis pay homage to these precedents through….. Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Socrates’ Visit to the Oracle of Delphi, and the work of Descartes. 

Okay. The point of this blog this evening is:  Who are these guys?

Let’s take a mini philo tour. And I do mean mini.

Baudrillard believes that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is of a simulation of reality. Plato‘s  major philosophical assumption is that the world revealed by our senses is not the real world but only a poor copy of it, and that the real world can only be apprehended intellectually. The Oracle of Delphi is that Socrates truly was the wisest because all others were under the false impression that they knew more than they actually knew, that true wisdom lies in recognizing one’s own ignorance. And Descartes poses the question of how he can know with certainty that the world he experiences is not an illusion, that since he believes in what he sees and feels while dreaming, he cannot trust his senses to tell him that he is not still dreaming. I think, therefore I am (and all that stuff).

They all sound like Morpheusisms to me. Which bring me to the point of this evening’s blog.

What kind of minds think up these things?

Do people with minds like these eat cheeseburgers and swear when they hit their finger with a hammer and throw up when they get the flu and play cards with kids? I mean — what do brilliant minds do for fun?

These kinds of thoughts exist on a plane somewhere between the clouds and the stars and around the corner from the speed of light. These thoughts are so deep that deep sea oil rigs dance on their heads. I am fascinated by the train of these philosophies, yet I don’t really understand them.  Do these philosophers have a day job like you and me? When they’re not discussing the differences between reality and illusion, do they go to baseball games? Eat pizza with anchovies? Sing in the shower?

I’m  sure they were all fun guys with just weird hobbies. Like us writers and painters and all. And in the end, it doesn’t matter if you understand things like this or not. In worlds like yours and mine, it’s much more fun pretending you know something than wandering around, sad because you just don’t “get it.”

Like those horizontally challenged numbers.

 

The Box

Something different this late Thursday evening. A short story — really a flash fiction piece — I wrote a while ago.  I didn’t realize when I wrote it what it really meant. I think I do now.

 

The Box

“Let me out of this box.”

The voice was a squeal, an octave higher than human ears were used to hearing.  A handful of faces looked down at the rosewood box sitting in the middle of the coffee table.  It was no larger than a man’s fist, really.  Simple. Unadorned.  But those around the table knew better.

“Sorry, dear.  But we are safer with you in the box,” said the ancient woman with the silver chignon.

“Yes,” agreed the ebony-skinned man in a shirt and tie.  “Safer.”

“That’s not true,” the box replied.

A few moments passed, then the voice returned. This time it was musical.  Soft and sing-songy. Like a child’s.

“Let me out!  Let me play! We can do it every day!”

“No,” said the old woman.  “Not today.”

“No,” said the old man.  “Not any day.”

“I’ll die in here,” came the retort.

“You cannot die,” said the young girl in pigtails.  “The others said so.”

“You are one of those eternal things,” said the matron.  “And we cannot have your kind in our world.”

“I am inspiration.”

“You are disappointment.”

“I am tranquility.”

“You are chaos.”

“You are trouble,” said the black man.  “I have seen your kind before.”

The three shook their heads.

“We are sorry.”

A moment or two more of silence.  Did the box actually sigh?

“I am light.”

“You are dark.”

“I am hope.”

“You are despair.”

“I am life.”

“You are death.”

“This argument is going nowhere,” said the black man.

“I can make sure you get going somewhere.”

The box was quiet for a bit.  The gold clasp seemed to glow from the energy within.  The box tried again.

“Since you know all what I am, you don’t need to be afraid.”

“Since we know all what you are, we have a right to be afraid.”

They were at a standstill, then.  A dead end.

At least that is what the trio thought.

After a long silence, the voice in the box echoed through the room, through their heads.

“You cannot keep me in here forever, you know.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“And when I am free it will be the beginning, not the end.  You will see.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“It all has to start somewhere, you know.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“Then let me out of the box, and let creativity begin.”

A Friend’s Trip Through Alternate Reality

 

in-our-dreams-dreams-1600x1200Reflections of altered states, altered lives, is what writing — and life — is all about. It’s how I feel when I read, how I feel when I write. And there are times when I wish I could stay in those altered states a bit longer…

Enjoy this post from fellow blogger Tom Rains..

 

We long for altered states in life. Is this a bad thing? Is sobriety, the unaltered state, more virtuous? Is it more rational? Is it more real? Or should we aim to exist in altered states as much as possible? It seems like everything we love in life is similar to a drug-induced experience. Sometimes, […]

via Magic in Mundanity — A Blog for Humans

Saturday Morning Reflections on Creativity

 

15 - 1[3]1112335Lazy Saturday mornings always bring out the philisopher in me. Especially when I listen to Martini Music from the 60s in the background.

Ever take one of those online tests — What is your favorite (fill-in-the-blank)?

Sometimes they’re easy. Favorite Food: Spaghetti. Favorite drink: Milk. (I know..boring…) Other times it’s a little catchy. Favorite Music? Ah…in what category? Favorite Book? Again, I need a genre. Favorite Dessert? Now, you really need to specify…

So it is with picking out an artist’s work for my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog.

Sometimes it’s easy. Judit Czinkné Poór specializes in incredible cookie designs. Craig L. Haupt does whimsical abstract images. Jackson Pollock does…well, does Jackson Pollock things. The biggest problem with these artists are which 6 or 7 (or in the case of the larger Gallery, 12-15) images showcase their artistic range.

I come up with fantastic artists that span several techniques. Selecting which style or gallery to highlight is often an arduous task. Louise Bourgeois not only sculpted giant spiders but was actually best known for her representations of the female form and dreamlike imagery through paintings, prints, and installations. The Universe not only holds the glory of galaxies, but planets, stars, nebulas, gamma ray bursts, and galaxy clusters.  I have had artists that are not only great sculptors but painters and sketchers, too.

How do you decide which side of their diamond to polish?

I have learned that sometimes an artist’s fame is not the same as an artist’s flame. Often what strikes an audience as unique is not necessarily what made them famous. I highlighted Luke Jerram‘s extraordinary microbiology glass works, but if you read his website, he also designed a sculpture based on the Tōhoku Japanese Earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 2011, and solar-powered kinetic chandeliers  that consist of dozens of glass radiometers, which shimmer and flicker as they turn in the sunlight. Who knew?

Artists are such an eclectic lot. Writers, sculptors, painters, graphic designers, all have their favorite form of expression, their main obsession. But I imagine you can be 150% into oil painting and 150% into charcoal sketching and 150% into pen and ink and still find 150% to spend on computer graphics.

It’s all relative.

When I find an artist that I think my followers would enjoy, I research all their work. Often that’s a daunting task, for those who are truly creative, truly gifted, spread out in a hundred different directions at one time. One branch of their creativity is just as amazing as the next.

It’s not much easier when I pick a subject to highlight. In digging around, I often find 35-40 great representations under the headings of things like ice sculptures or paperweights. Each picture is more fascinating than the next. I try to include my favorites and others not in my top 10, just so I can show a fair representation of what the artist/subject is all about.  After all, my favorite color may be blue, but yours may be red. And who am I to confront the difference?

That, to me, is the essence of an art director. Of a museum curator. Exploring the creative mind, the unique palate, and choosing just the right combination of awe and familiarity to showcase. We all do this in our own way — look at the pictures hanging on your walls. The crystal pieces on your mantlepieces. The books on your shelves. The flowers in your garden. The colors you pick for your outfits. The way you arrange your bookshelves.

You have created your own atmosphere with the gifts from the creative world. You are abstract, you are conservative, you are orange-reds and country blue. You are Amish and Renaissance and Science Fiction and Chick Lit. You are poetry in motion, an art critic in your own right.

And that is a beautiful way to spend your life, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

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Flowery Language is Okay — Repetition Is Not

il_570xN.152936819All writers are pillars of perfection. Aren’t we?

We love what we write, we hate what we write. We perfect what we write. We skip over what we don’t like. It’s the nature of the beast, then, to notice certain eccentricities in other writers, yet rarely our own.

When you write, you also read. And when you work with words, you have a habit of finding misspelled or inappropriate words. Or just junky words.

So with our cards out on the table, fellow creative sprites, are there writing faux paxs that you often make? What bothers you the most about other unpolished writers?

My own stumbles are uncomfortable. When in my writing furry, I tend to find colorful language, but more of the descriptive kind, not the direct quote kind. So I tend to use the words like “as if” to explain the unexplainable.

It seemed as if my psychic ability…

It did seem as if I were a victim…

Other times deep and drawn out, as if they were coming up from the bottom of the well…

As if it were yesterday…

As if it were the most natural gesture in the world…

And that was only the first 7 pages.

I honestly didn’t realize I was over-using that phrase until sometime later. Once I caught onto my fav “as ifs”, I ran the find across my document and found that I used that phrase ad nausum. So I cleansed my soul — and my manuscript — of almost all repetitive phrases.

Then came catch number 2. My second favorite overdone phrase. Or rather word.

Like.

One doesn’t think one uses that word nearly as much as they do. But if you use your handy “find” button, you will be amazed at how many times that monochromatic word pops up.

Like something from Lord of the Rings…

As much as I would like to say I have had a life just like everyone else….

I suppose it is like asking why you fell in love…

The likes of which…

It was like trying to tune in a far away radio station…

And that was only by page 5.

The creative flow got in the way of grammar.  In my own defense, the character who utters these words has her own take on the English language. Her vocabulary is a bit more flowery and eccentric than others. So it was easy to take her style to the limit. I needed to sprinkle those words throughout the manuscript, not shovel them in.

I have cleaned everything up, and I love the way the story flows. But the scary thing is that it would have been a repetitive nightmare if I hadn’t caught my mistakes.

That’s why good writers make mistakes — and fix them. It’s good to have someone else read your writing. Or read it out loud. Or run spell check. Or search for words that are easy to repeat.

I used to be naïve enough to think that the first draft is the final draft. But having recently read A Moveable Feast by Hemmingway, seeing his hand-written manuscripts in the middle of the book, and how long it took him to hone each sentence, I can see why you never go with your first.

It’s like love. At first it’s all butterflies and sparklers, and it’s the most alive you will ever feel. As it matures, it mellows, deepens, and refines and redefines iself. And in order to keep it going, you have to polish, hone, and clip out the dead stuff.

And the likes. And the as ifs….