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.

 

 

Proofreed Everything!

I got soooo ticked off the other day.

I want to finish proofing/editing my first book so I can:

  • make it into an e-book
  • try a publisher
  • sell it through my website
  • throw it in the garbage

So I’m going through it ONE LAST TIME, and I keep coming across all these  ; ‘s  and and and overusing first names in conversation.

And THIS is one reason why you shouldn’t be the only editor of your publication.

I will cover this in my series “How To Write That Book”, but being as ticked off as I am I need to share this life lesson NOW.

You can be as meticulous as you can be; you can read and reread and spell check and go through each sentence 10,000 times and you will still miss something that an outsider would see.

This has happened to me throughout my writing career. That’s why I don’t hit “send” or “publish” right away.

You never know what will pop up.

Most of us cannot afford an editor to look over our book/magazine article/term paper. If you CAN spend a few bucks on any part of your writing, this is where to spend it.

If you just can’t, and still want/need/should look professional, have someone else read your paper for grammar, punctuation, and repetitiveness. They don’t have to get into the “flow” of the story (although that helps, too).

But an outside eye can catch things your mind cannot.

To prove my point, this came through on my Facebook feed yesterday:

Now. What did you just read?

Maybe you read it right the first time. Most likely you did not.

Neither will your readers.

If you edit your own pages, no matter what they are, either read them out loud, take note of punctuation, sentence structure, think of how people speak. We write faster than we think — we also read faster than we think.

Hope you got a chuckle out of my post.

Thank goodness it was proofread first.

Keeping On Point When You Blog

Even though I’m not much of a writer on the day-job side of my life, I do try and keep up with advice, thoughts, and suggestions from professionals across the board.

Today I received a newsletter from Hubspot, a great newsletter geared towards the marketing/blogging worlds. They published an article called 13 Blogging Mistakes Most Beginners Make.

Now I’m not new at blogging — heck — I’ve been doing it for years. Ha.

But the article made me really think about how I have been writing blogs, how they have changed through the years, and wishing I knew then what I knew now. So I thought I’d share their basic suggestions.

The main article had 13 faux paux’s for beginners, although us “seasoned veterans” could use a look too:

  1. Create blog posts that serve your larger company goals.
  2. Write like you talk.
  3. Show your personality; don’t tell it.
  4. Make your point again and again.
  5. Start with a very specific working title.
  6. Use a specific post type, create an outline, and use headers.
  7. Use data and research to back up the claims you make in your posts.
  8. When drawing from others’ ideas, cite them.
  9. Take 30 minutes to edit your post.
  10. At a certain point, just publish it.
  11. Blog consistently with the help of an editorial calendar.
  12. Focus on the long-term benefits of organic traffic.
  13. Add a subscription CTA to your blog and set up an email newsletter.

Now, granted, these tips are for those writing blogs for their companies. But the tips are golden for us social bloggers as well.

The one that grabbed my attention the most was:

  1. Use a specific post type, create an outline, and use headers.

Mistake: Your writing is a brain dump.

Sometimes when I get a great idea I’m excited about, it’s really tempting to just sit down and let it flow out of me. But what I get is usually a sub-par blog post.

Why? The stream-of-consciousness style of writing isn’t really a good style for blog posts. Most people are going to scan your blog posts, not read them, so it needs to be organized really well for that to happen.

I look back on my beginning blogs and that point is soooo me. Thinking I have something of value to share, but doing nothing more than “let it flow” until the blog was more of a sharing of the moment’s emotions than helping someone else through their journey.

That is all good and well if you are writing for a philosophy class, but if you want your readers to really get something out of your writing, you need to narrow it down to something specific.

We all want people to read our blogs, to get something out of them. Otherwise they will just check you off the inquiry list and move onto the next person. 

I’m not saying you need to write an instruction manual. But even poets need to reread, rewrite, and reconsider — have they put what they wanted to get across down succinctly enough? Are people really getting where you’re coming from? Art, poetry, and sometimes even plain writing is always in one’s point of view.  That’s okay.

But when you are blogging emotions, you need to have an outcome. A finishing point. A reason for the emote in the first place. Using your blog as a brain dump, as Hubspot says, isn’t really a good style for blog posts. Most people are going to scan your blog posts, not read them, so it needs to be organized really well for them to take their time and digest what you’re saying. Organized so it clicks with the reader and they come back to see what else you have to say.

If you want a little writer’s boost (and who doesn’t?). check out Hubspot or other professional marketing or writing newsletters. If you glean ONE point from an article, you’ve learned something.

And who doesn’t want to keep on learning?

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?

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…..

Let’s Fly Together!

Sometimes, when I get in that groove, that unusual, special groove that you can’t always find, I feel like I’m flying. I know it won’t last long, and that it will come again, but it definitely is a change of heart, a change of dimension.

I get going … for me it’s writing … and all I want to do is keep going. Writing.

And I find I want everyone else to keep going too.

So here I am with my Monday Morning Pep Talk. MMPT. How goofy. But it’s how I feel.

Are you stuck in your writing? Wondering what to write? To paint? Poetry stuck in your throat?

Come and share those hesitations with me. If I can, I’ll work with you and give you ideas from the faerie gypsy goddess’s point of view.

Just what you need. I know.

But I know how good it feels to break through those barriers. I’m breaking through them all the time.

This isn’t a class, this isn’t an advice column. It’s not a solution nor is it me trying to be you. It’s me trying to help you FIND you. To nudge you into getting started again.

Ask me a question, throw some ideas my way — let me know what you do and where you want to go. Vent, wonder, share, throw some of your solutions out there too. I follow a lot of creative people, so I’m sure if you’re stuck, they may have been stuck, too, and have a solution.

Share your ups and downs, and let’s go down this path together. There’s so much in the world waiting to be created!

 

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.

 

June is for Writing

I am so glad to see that others who write have their unconscious hangups! Thank you all who answered my query.

I used to be a “like” person…as in “her thoughts were like oatmeal..” I got over that only to adopt “as if”, like “It was as if he had lived before.” Good lord. I had to find and replace just to find all the repeated lame phrases I wrote.

Same with semi-colons. I dread finding other hangups.

Wonder if you’re in the same boat? Make a list of common mistakes and see if you made any of them. It’s hard, I know. Too many adjectives? Too much movement? Too many repetitions of the same word? Too many !’s and ; and …?

That’s what’s great about  writing. You get an idea…it doesn’t even have to be a full idea. It can be someone who struck you as unusual, a spot on your walking or driving route, a dream you had…anything can spark a story. I jut watched an old Twilight Zone the other night and enjoyed the storyline so much I might give a short story a try based on it.

Don’t worry if you’re stealing someone else’s idea, a TV show or book premise, or poem. You are not stealing anything unless you rewrite it word for word. Idea for idea. But let outside influences influence you. Try a poem based on characters in a play or movie. Try a short story about what happens AFTER the TV show is over.

Your mind is unique — and so are you. Your life’s stories, ups and downs, and encounters are all you need to get that pen writing (or computer keys clicking).

I want to encourage all of you who want to write to write. If you don’t want someone to read it, write in a journal. If you want input, ask someone. Easy to say, harder to do. But if you’ve got that writing bug inside of you (makes me think of the Mummy and all those beetles inside that guy), let it come out. Don’t be afraid to try. You can only get better with practice.

You see…I’m still practicing. And using Crissouli’s downfall…ellipses…

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.

 

Make Sure You Want to Hop That Fence

This is one of those posts where the title could go either way:

Don’t give up on your dreams

or

Be careful what you dream for

Those of you who have followed me through the years know I’m a 65 year-old granny of three, an Internet Data Specialist (fancy title for data entry), lover of chocolate and spaghetti, and a writer.

Writer is always last on my day job resume. Until now.

Yesterday my job title was changed to reflect the writing I’ve been doing for my company blog and other media.

I am now a Digital Writer.

I’m not telling you this to get your congratulations — I’m telling you this so that once you get to your greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence place you are prepared for what’s there.

All my life I’ve been a writer. I do not have a college degree — perhaps the one regret I have in life. But no matter. I’ve been a secretary most of my life, moving to a coordinator 15 years ago which included proofreading. Right up my alley.

I’ve worked my way up the proverbial ladder, although the rungs are narrow and so far apart I need another ladder just to move up one. We had a company blog that just sat there, some nebulous person posting every three months or so.

Because I am a blabbermouth on this blog, it was a natural to start blabbering for the company. The form has changed, but I now blog for the company two times a week.

After yesterday’s meeting, I found out I’m going to be doing a lot more writing than blogs and an occasional Facebook post.

And I’m nervous.

It’s one thing to toot your horn when no one is listening; it’s something else to put your money where your mouth is. Now all of a sudden I’m going to have to perform. Diversify. Research. Take a few online courses.

Am I up to it? After all, I can retire in 9 months.

I am going to give it the best I can give. I’m going to work my a$$ off to keep up, twist around, speak up. I am going to do the thing I’ve always wanted to do and do it the best I’ve ever done. I’m going to make this position a POSITION.

The purpose of today’s sermon is to reaffirm to you not to give up your dreams. And make your dreams reasonable. I mean, you can dream you are the first artist to walk the moon, but, you know…

But if you dream to have a better job, lose weight, get out and see the world one city at a time, don’t give up. Work towards it. Finagle your way around it.

I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if I hadn’t bugged my boss to take over the blog. It went to once a month to twice a week, and I fear more often in the future.

I might have been a 65-year-old pain in the a$$, but I did listen to Kenny Rogers:

You got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealing’s done.

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.

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?

 

 

I’m Thankful For YOU

I have a story or two to tell you, but it will have to wait until Sunday or Monday. Gotta have turkey with the grandbabies — twice — and  I can’t miss the love.

So for now, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving — give thanks for who you know, how you got where you are, and the lessons you learned along the way. Be thankful that you are able to dream and imagine and create. Give thanks for those who have passed — be thankful that they came into your life and gave you so much of themselves.  Give thanks for sunrises and sunsets and Tchaikovsky and Monet and Harry Potter.

Eat some turkey, have extra gravy (it’s only one day!), and know that I’m thankful for all of you. For your writing, for your art, for your stopping by and saying hi.  Somehow I feel we’re all friends in here.

And that’s something to be thankful for.

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 Getting Published Part 2

The wonderfully exciting and exhausting adventure of printing my own book goes on.

As many of you know, I’m planning on publishing 4 of my novels. I want to give them to my family and friends so they can see what my writing is all about. I’d also sell them through Amazon and WordPress and any which way if someone was interested in the time-travel thread.

But I have started the process three times and have stopped dead in my tracks every time.

I am thinking of going through CreativeSpace. It’s a division of Amazon, and you can publish your book with no  bells and whistles for a very reasonable per-book price.

But then the bells and whistles start going off.

Pick a size –6×9 is most popular. Well, of course, I knew my page count would increase. No biggie. But then I flash through the pages and wonder — should I cut some copy? Are there any mistakes hidden between the pages? Now this is a book that’s been around in one form or another for over 15 years. I think by now if there were any typos I’d have found them. But the thought of putting those words down permanently in a book forever and ever just gives me the heebee geebees. Like I need to proofread it one more time. Well, if I want to get this and another book done by Christmas, that ain’t happening.

Then you have to pick a cover. Sounds easy. But suddenly I have to figure out what kind of impression I want my book to first have to readers. Like WordPress, I can’t afford a custom design, so I go through the free templates a dozen times. Dark blue in a circle? Field of wheat? Flowers?

And what if it’s a series (which it is)? Do  both covers look alike? If it’s a set of two, how will anyone tell them apart? It’s not like there’s a choice of shades of same here.

Should I go with the name Claudia Anderson? C.A. Anderson? A pseudonym? If I go with a pseudonym, how will my friends and family know it’s me? Who is Dream Regret, anyway?

Then there’s getting my book out there. Do it with Amazon and they will list my book. Great. But for an extra fee they will send out notices to libraries, book stores, etc. Is my book that interesting that a library in Montana will want it?

So although I’ve made the decision to publish my book, now that I have to put my foot in the water I’m afraid of an alligator biting it off.

In a day and age such as we live in now, that should be the least of my problems.

Let me know how your publishing dreams went — or are going.

Retirement Comes For Us All

A good friend of mine retired today, with a little pomp and circumstance and an overly-sweet retirement cake.

Cal is my work friend. He was the director of our Science catalogs, I was his coordinator for 11 years, meaning I put his product numbers into Filemaker, proofread his catalog pages,  and generally helped keep his p’s and q’s in order.

Somewhere between the p and the q we started talking about writing. Not many people at work know I have a blog, nor do they know about all the writing I’ve done. But somehow Cal and I found a common ground outside of work and started talking about writing, then shared our stories and writings.

As you all know, it’s hard to find someone who shares your passion. Whether it’s fishing or golf or writing, not everybody is in tune to what you’re tuned into. So to find another writer within the vanilla cubicle confines of my daily abode was a gem in the making.

Like any company, mine is in flux. Growing, expanding, taking new directions. The old guard is leaving and a younger, fresher version is moving in. What worked 5, 10 years ago doesn’t work today. So the prospect of retirement is sweeter for many of us over the age of 60.

We are not getting squeezed out as much as slowing down. I am as bright, as creative, as I was 20 years ago. But I must admit that at 64 my processing computer isn’t quite as fast as it used to be. So by the time I retire I will be so glad to let corporate America pass me by.

You don’t always think about retirement — hell, until recently for me it was something that was far, far away. But since I can’t fight time, I might as well embrace it.

That’s what my friend Cal will be doing. I’m sure he’s had plenty of ups and downs in his life. But finally things are coming together and the doors have opened to his “next” career. Maybe it will be writing. Maybe he will travel and become a professional traveler.

Maybe he will just enjoy the next 30 years of his life.

In the end, that’s what we all hope will happen to us. Isn’t it? A chance to spend another quarter of our life waking up when we want to.  A chance to spoil grand kids, work in your garden, paint paintings, meet friends for lunch. Eating breakfast at noon and lunch at 5. Finally doing whatever it is you’ve always wanted to do.

Cal, I wish you open roads, low scoring golf games, and a writing career that rivals J.K. Rowlings. There’s no doubt your stories will rival those of Asimov. After all — you are the Science Guy —

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 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/.

Give It A Rest!

Does this ever happen to you?

You work hard on finishing your project. The afghan you are crocheting (a couple of my friends are into this). Your last piece of art for the craft show. (In my case) finally finished my/your novel. You’ve worked hard on your projects. Creativity may flow, but it does need a bit of focus and control to be useful.

Now comes the hard part. That last thing you need to do before you can truly show off your work of art.

But you don’t want to go anywhere near it.

For someone who loves writing, I’m actually pretty tired of it. Perhaps it’s because I’ve read the story a thousand times. I know the ending before I even start. There is no magic in it — no surprise, I’ve pumped my heart and soul into this piece and now it’s just old news.

Oh, there are surely other projects that could use my attention. A poem here or there, a couple of short story ideas. The third novel in my set. It all sounds so inspiring. Yet all my creative energy has been zapped.

I know I’m always encouraging my friends and reading public to keep pushing to make your dreams come true. And I do so believe that. You cannot improve if you are not doing. But I suppose with all the pushing there has to be some give. Some yang to your yin. If one goes full speed ahead without slowing down that same one will get burned out in no time flat. And you know what burn feels like.

So here is my Monday Evening Advice. Like you need it.

Work hard on your passion. Work hard on your project. When you finish, let it rest. Let it breathe. Give both you and it space. If you are finished with it you are finished. Let it be. If not, give it a second go around. Or a third round.

I find that after I walk away from my written words for a bit they feel new upon my return. I can see my repetitions, my overly-active adjective gland, my dangling participles — everything. I then can approach the same old story with a fresh perspective.

I myself am letting my novel rest. In the meantime  I’m having a wonderful time watching Japanese movies with English subtitles.

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….

 

 

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.

Music Makes Magic

1451272484709104_animateI am not what most consider a music junkie, affectionado, expert, or addict.

I really do enjoy music, though.

I have a soft spot in my heart for banging old tyme rock and roll now and then. Give me Metallica, AC/DC, Motley Crue — any of those wild hair bands. Turn it up and shake the rafters…turn up the stereo and dance in front of the speakers.

I also am a whitebread, Midwestern suburban girl. My growing up years were safe and boring. The few licks of trouble I got into were pale in comparison with others I know. And have heard of. So my imagination has to take over for my lack of experience.

I know a lot of people LIVED the 60s and 70s — hung out, burned out, wilded out their youth, gaining experience and insight I will never be privy to. The high highs and low lows of “those days” are things movies are made of. Maybe that’s a good thing in some ways.

When I’m driving home, windows open, blasting “Sandman” from Metallica, I see dark rooms with strobe lights in the corner, scents of patchouli and garlic and illegal leaves swirling above me, heads banging to the beat, air guitars and beer bottle microphones, some band (I don’t know if its THE band) on a stage somewhere, salty with sweat and concentration, letting their souls mix with the beat of the music, crashing and burning and relighting again with the rhythm of the pounding music.

I don’t see needles and junkies and fights and blood. I don’t see people throwing up on themselves and the depths of depression that are liberated with the music. I don’t see black eyes and lost dreams and sliced wrists and empty bottles of Jack or Fleschman’s.

The same is true when I listen to classical music. The upbeat symphonies like Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake or Strauss’s Emperor’s Waltz, I blast at full-speed-ahead. I see picnics in the fields with women in long dresses and men in frocks and crystal wine glasses sparkling in the sunlight. I see gowns and tuxedos waltzing across an enormous ballroom dance floor, the dresses swishing with the rhythm of the music, their beadery reflecting the glint of chandeliers and candlelight.

I don’t see alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty. I don’t see filthy living conditions, barbaric medical treatments, consumption, or life before penicillin and electricity.

I’ve never been to either world. But I wonder. Does this one-way mirrored vision make me a weak writer? Someone who can’t write about those things because I haven’t experienced these things? Or does it make me a great writer, because I can dive into my own imagination and make the world surrounding the music whatever I want?

When I hear  a ballad or a rock jam I don’t think about serial killers or drug dealers. I think of my youth — the life I lived, the life I never lived. I can identify with the 60s and 70s and beyond because I made it through them. When I hear a waltz or symphony I think of days gone by, a simpler life, of history and time travel and a time when a night out was a buggy ride to town.

And that’s where the stories come from.

Let music inspire your creativity. Let it take you places you’ve been — and places you’ve never been.

Just don’t throw your back out doing the air guitar thing….

 

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…

 

 

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…

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.

 

October is for Dreams

200I admit it. I love Fall.

Not just because I am at the end of my hot flash phase. But the smells, the sights, the feel of warm afternoons and cool evenings, gorgeous sunsets, cuddling under blankets, and since I love the night time, earlier sunset times so I have more snuggle writing time.

Lately my world feels like its drifting in and out of the dream world. My dreams, others dreams, the magic and absurdity of our subconscious as it dances at the edge of twilight, gives me the sensation when I wake that I just had the most incredible adventure.

If I could only remember it.

So throughout the month of October, I’m going to hang around the dream world, bringing you poetry from other dreamers, pictures, stories, tales and myths. That way you can pull your blanket up a little closer to your face and hide when you must, play along if you want.

Four years ago today I wrote a blog about dreams. How perfect to start the month off getting lost in the shadows. Hope you enjoy.

To Dream or Not To Dream…That Is The Question

One of the yin-yangs of hormone fluctuation is sleep, or lack of it. Between hot flashes and finding a comfortable position, my REM’s make rare visits, leaving my consciousness floating in the bubbles of semi-sleep through the world of dreams. Now, many people say they don’t dream; others leave a notepad on their nightstand so they can record the ching chang jumble that comes out in the middle of the night. I believe we all dream, but length, depth and retaining capacity is what makes everyone’s claim different.

Scientists and talk show hosts tell us our lives are influenced by anything and everything, and our dreams are one way of dealing with all of it. Dreams, and  their alter ego, nightmares, can result from everything from eating pizza before bed to an argument earlier in the day. Dreams can be triggered by stress, anticipation, having too much time on your hands or, more likely, not enough.  Scary movies, sappy movies, long distance phone calls — everything can leave a chip in your mind that can explode into a myriad of dreamy scenarios.

The great thing about this flight through those shadowed clouds, though, is the variety of experiences it presents. I doubt my conscious mind could make up half the things my subconscious does. And if it could, would it be as fun?  In my dreams I interact with bosses from 20 years ago and talk to family members who are no longer with me. I wander the halls of my grade school, look out on Lake Michigan from a high-rise balcony, and walk through castles of long ago.  I have driven off cliffs and been chased by  unseen dragony/monster things. I have stood in a shadowy alley talking to Edward Norton and had coffee with Kiefer Sutherland. I have run from building to building to building, either looking for something or trying to get somewhere, and have jumped and bounced and flown my way across the landscape.

Where in Jove’s name do we get these ideas from? 

Being a writer, I often bring some of the unearthliness of my subconscious and put it into forms that entertain me and others. Without analyzing every laugh and tear, I try to bring these esoteric beings into my writing. The more nonsensical, the better. Other people transform their dreams into paintings, gardens, photography, and card making. So why not writing?

Of course, the down side of dreams is that they don’t always give you a direct answer to your cosmic questions.  It is fairly obvious that when I dream of my son as a toddler rather than a college kid, I am searching for the olden days connection we had when I was omnipotent and he was subservient.  When I am wandering through corridors and cross loading docks and down long hallways filled with shops and warehouses and theaters I am lost in more ways than I care to admit. But instead of interpreting these dreams as portents of bad things to come, I would rather see them as insights to the possibilities that lie ahead. We have the ability to choose which meanings we take to heart and which  we toss out. We can choose to see rain in the clouds or we can just see clouds. 

The best course is always to choose a little of both. Don’t ignore the clouds that are thunderheads, and don’t step out of a plane to bounce on their springy tops.  But let those clouds be dragons or snakes or ships. Notice the thread of reality that runs through the middle, then make what you will of the rest. Don’t worry what others think your dreams mean, or if you can’t remember their endings. The old adage that it’s the journey that counts, not the destination, makes as much sense to your unconscious state of mind as your conscious one. Take that journey and run with it.

As for me, I’m looking forward to tonight. I told Kiefer I’d meet him at the coffee shop sometime around eleven.  Maybe I’ll even ride my dragon there.

 

 

 

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?

 

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…

 

Practicing this exercise will make you more confident in your creative work

If you have a few spare minutes, come read Maja’s post…get your confidence back and keep it running. We are all artists!

Business in Rhyme

creativity confidence

Most of the confidence we develop throughout the years stem from our past experiences – predominantly on how other people perceived us and our work. Not gaining enough recognition, pile of rejection letters and even just a random bad comment can blow away all our creative self-esteem – that many people stop creating all together. Paying too much attention on other people opinions can instill  fear that  paralyzes not only our creative outlets but practically our complete approach to life. That kind of attitude leads to isolation, avoidance of trying new things and not sharing our accomplishments with the world.

The good news is that we have control of our feelings towards what creatively we can offer to the world.

When you get to the root of this problem, it’s all about belief and what we chose to believe. You can chose to believe that:

  • you are creative person,
  • your…

View original post 841 more words

Side Trip — Craig L Haupt

aNow and then I like to take little side trips into the lives of some of the artists I highlight both here and in my Art Gallery.

Although according to his website (http://clhaupt.comCraig Haupt has a degree in Art Education, it’s his love of creative doodles that’s led to a career of whimsical images.

Why I am taking time to share his creativity is simple. On his WordPress blog ( https://craiglhaupt.com/) I have watched him turn this:

 

.
13-sorry-doodle

 

Into this:

 

16-sorry

 

I love the creative process. Whether it’s writing, painting, sketching, stenciling, it all starts small and obtuse and grows into something wonderful and unique.

Craig’s delightful explanation  “From childhood to present, I have been surrounded by my doodles and countless stick figures that have never left me,” rings true for all of us. There is always some thing, some thought, some feeling, that follows us around all the time. Something we just can’t forget about. Something we can’t let go.

I find a touch of doodle in a depth of color in Craig’s sketches and drawings. To take a scrambled beginning and turn it into something esthetic is no easy feat. It’s not often an artist shows you all their steps, so I thought it fun to share both ends of the spectrum.

You can also see more of Craig’s work at my Sunday Evening Art Gallery http://wp.me/p5LGaO-pZ.

I hope you enjoyed this little “Side Trip”! See you soon!

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

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

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….

 

 

 

The Process/World is Flawed…Not Me

Angry-faceThere is this big misconception of non-creative people that creative people have it easy.

That just because we haven’t majored in Accounting or Nuclear Physics (or even if we have, for those of you peeps out there), that all we have to do is sit and write or draw or curl some yarn around a little metal doodad and “art” appears.

There is also this big misconception of creative people that if it’s too easy it’s not Art. Well, fortunately for me, I’m contributing to that second misconception.

I have this wonderfully creative novel I’m editing with the dreamy, non-connected hopes of someday getting published, and/or printing it out for family and friends. I’ve added quotations at the beginning of each chapter which creatively explain what’s going to happen next. (Sorry for all the self-generated affirmations…it’s getting me through this…)

Well, imagine my reaction when, after REALLY REALLY editing the hell out of the first 13 chapters, I find NO quotes and little red stars with comments interjected on the page?

I have been editing the wrong copy all this time.

I even marked this one “EDIT THIS ONE” in the title of the file which sits on my desktop. I do have older versions, but they’re clearly marked with dates so I DON’T DO SOMETHING STUPID LIKE THIS.

I knew I had quotes for every chapter; I just couldn’t find the right copy. Later, rather than sooner, I did find this obscure file that said “Updated Chapters.” Like I would have known what that meant. So, throwing a little temper tantrum, I shut everything off with the intention of working it “later”.

But isn’t that stupid?

Isn’t that a waste of valuable creative time?

I have to believe that everyone goes through these things, or else I will start to believe that I am senile, demented, forgetful, and/or sloppy.

But back to what set off this little tirade.

I hate being stupid. I hate doing things twice. I hate forgetting. And I hate cleaning up my own messes.

I try and be organized; I try to slow down. I try not to jam 10 lbs. into a 5 lb. bag anymore. I try and stop and smell the lilacs and get some sun on my face and play with my grandkids.

So what this has to be, then, is not paying attention. That’s the same reason that people get hit by cars or text themselves off the road or burn themselves on the hot stove.

I know — these are small potatoes. That everything can be fixed. But it’s not just that. It’s rewriting and not clearly marking the differences or downloading images you’ve already downloaded or transposing numbers in a deadline. It’s the little things that eventually mess up the big things.

I am thinking my integrity is so fragile and my ego so bumpy and my fear of becoming senile so great that any little screw up is like looking through a magnifying glass. I don’t know if it’s getting older or never having confidence from grade school on that has made me judge every little thing I do.

The sad truth is, I know I’m not as flighty as I make myself out to be. In this case, I can compare documents, take the first half of one and set it atop the second half of the second. And the world will never know.

It’s the process that’s flawed, not me. And I’m going to stick to that.

For now.

 

So You Want to Get Published?

 

So you want to get published?

This blog is for you.

So you want to see your work in print?

This blog is for you.

So you’re about to quit?

This blog is for you.

I myself am done getting pumped up and deflated about the publishing thing. Done.

Now that I’ve said that, let’s clarify things.

First, don’t ever GIVE UP give up. Keep fine tuning, keep submitting, keep searching for that niche I know you can find.

In the meantime….

I’ve got a computer full of poetry, short stories, novels, medium-length novellas — writing that has filled my life for the last 20 years. And, ignorant and self-serving as it sounds, I think it’s all pretty good.

Life has turned around again and again for me; sometimes good, sometimes lousy. But for better or worse, my life is also turned around, up and down, by writing.  And even if that illusive butterfly of love (thanks, Bob Lind) continues to escape me, I’m going to see my name in print one way or another.

I’ve decided to proofread the hell out of everything I’ve got, print it out, and put it all in binders/journals to give to my family and friends. I can’t afford to get it published, even for my own vanity. The market is so crowded outside my door I’m lucky if I can stick my toe in the writing pool.

My family and friends know I write. Some catch this blog, others catch a birthday ditty or two I tend to create. None really ask to read my stuff — most likely the reasons are simple. Some don’t like to read on a computer. Some don’t have time. Some are afraid to ask. Some probably wouldn’t like my style anyway.

Well, I’ve decided I want those I love to know me through my writing. I have access to Word, Photoshop, and some neat looking fonts. I can create a masterpiece just like scrapbookers do. I can buy neat binders and print novels back-to-back on good paper and hand them out as Christmas presents or whatever.

I want people to read my writing. I want them to have fun and laugh when I laugh and cry when I cry. And if I wait to get “published” I might be dead before I get a contract.

So this blog is to encourage all my poet friends and writing friends and blogging friends. Don’t give up the dream. You are all great writers, and no doubt have a well you can continue to drink from. I have followed your poetry, your short stories. And they are good. So are your blogs.

But if the reality of the world is that you just can’t get your writing out  to the billion or so readers around, get it out to those who care about you. Make a book, write in a journal, paint your poetry on your walls. Make a book of your blogs. Make a book of your sketches and artwork. Get YOU out there. Find a way to share your writing without any fiscal reward…wthout any reward except the good feeling of having shared yourself.

If your friends and family put your binders on a shelf, that’s okay too. Maybe their kids will clean off their shelves one day and read your masterpieces, and get them published for you. If nothing else, maybe their kids will read your masterpieces and smile.

For a writer, that’s payment enough.

 

Does Your Main Character Look Familiar?

JESSFBDSC02464I blush to admit, the first time I really heard and understood the word “epiphany” was in the 1991 movie Hook:

Smee:
I’ve just had an apostrophe.

Captain Hook:
I think you mean an epiphany.

Smee:
No… lightning has just struck my brain.

Captain Hook:
Well, that must hurt.

According to Meriam dictionary,  an epiphany is a “moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.” My epiphany was kinda like that.

Let me ask you first. For those of you who write — in any form — do you have a face or person in mind for your main characters? I often need (or want) a general idea in the flesh of what my peeps look like. Not exact, of course, but a basic form from which I can expand.  Through the years I’ve used characteristics of Clark Gable (Gone With the Wind), Derek Jacobi (Hamlet), Jafar (Aladdin), Maggie Smith (Hook), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones). I’ve changed hairstyles, eyes, and personalities. I don’t use faces whose personalities I can’t stand, or whose character I can’t stand.

This blockage can almost be a writer’s block in terms of the ebb and flow of the story. It’s not the do all/be all, but let’s just say it helps. And I’m sad when I just can’t picture my hero/heroine.

So to my epiphany.

I’ve got this novel I’ve GOT TO FINISH EDITING, and all this time I cannot find a real face to match the heroine of my time travel space odyssey. So on my drive home from work I asked my Spirit Guide(s) to give me an idea of face to go with my astral traveller. And who popped into my head but my best friend.

Now, that may seem stupid. It may seem that my friend was the basis for the character all along. If so, it was oblivious to me. But once I put two and two together, I kind of freaked. After all, she is my soulie mate. My bud. My creative and laughing counterpart.

And I’m not sure she will be thrilled.

Oh, I know, book characters are louder and brighter and meaner and crazier than real life. They need to be in order to keep one’s attention. But sometimes the parallels become distorted between the two, and the model is afraid that’s how one really sees them. One of my blogger friends based a character on her mother, and her mother loved it. Other writers have barely veiled the horrors from their childhood or failed marriages or teachers they had in school and don’t care who knows it.

My book’s heroine is a great personality, just like my friend. But she is way kookier, more impulsive, and more off base than most people I know. She is bigger than life. Her gestures, her vocabulary, are just a part of her over-exaggerated personality.

And I love her.

But is it my friend? Does it matter that my heroine is bits and pieces of a number of people I’ve known in my life?

I suppose if I made my characters pedophiles or torturers it might offend the model they’re based on (if they ever read the story). But seeing as I can’t really write agony and horror and desperation, I don’t think anyone will be offended if my characters of kids or widows or bank tellers look a little familiar.

I believe every character we create is based on someone we’ve met on our journey though life. Whether it’s in a book somewhere, a movie, or in our actual lives. And I believe this fertile base is ours for the taking.

I still feel bad that I only now realize I’ve tapped into my friend’s physique and charisma to create a brand new person. I wonder if I should tell her. Or let her read the book and figure it out for herself.

Either way, look around you. Inspiration is closer than you think.

And, after all, I doubt if a former sales director will see himself as the crazy, stressed out, flipped out  salesman that gets into poison violet candy…

Trying To Keep Up

thanks_for_reading_cat_2This is ridiculous.

Yesterday I purposefully started going through the roll of bloggers I follow, determined to read at least the last thing they blogged.

Like all of you, I have other responsibilities in my life that get in the way of reading and writing all the time. When I come into WordPress, it’s either to blog or reblog, and read about the last 5-10 blogs in my Reader.  I would follow more bloggers, but I feel it’s a disservice to sign up to follow someone you’re never going to have time to read.

And I have come to the realization that it is the group you keep in contact with that makes your writing worth while, anyhow.

My statistics say I have 943 followers.Or 445, depending on the statistics. In truth, I bet less than half of them read my writings on a regular basis. Which is sad but truthful. How could they? If they follow 30, 50, 70 bloggers, AND if they also have a life, there is no way they can give all the bloggers their full attention. Unless you are a wiz at multitasking or a speed reader, you just can’t read them all. Especially if some people blog more than once a day.

The same is time for Twitter. I suppose I follow 90 or so, and that many may follow me. Do you ever come back a few days later and the little button pops up and says “more tweets” and you click on it and the tweets scroll past you like a roulette wheel?  How can you follow  40 or 4,000 Twitter accounts and read every tweet? Do you think that your followers read your Tweets several times a day?

The importance of social media is an illusion.

Yes, getting your name out there is important, It can be a well-developed strategy for getting readers and writers. In some cases, high numbers may mean your word is getting out to the masses. Like the prophets, thousands of people are taking your words to heart.

More often, though,  numbers are just that. Numbers. Eenie, meenie, miney and moes clicked on your name like chits on a voting card.

Back to going through the blogs I follow.

Some blogs show a sea serpent with the words “No Recent Posts.” I can only hope they have gone off on other writing paths, other ways of self expression. Then there are bloggers who haven’t written in a while, but come back just often enough that the sea serpent doesn’t get them. Next are writers who write once a week or so. it’s easier to follow their journies because they let one message sink in before they start another. Finally are the daily bloggers, ones who have learned the way of images and poetry and short whispers that can be digested in one sweep.

I feel I owe those I follow my attention and my emotions. I would take on more birds and butterflies, but common sense tells me I can never grow if I’m busy doing nothing but following.

The purpose of today’s blog is perfectly clear. I say this all the time. Quality is so much more important than quantity. You can major in philosophy for 20 years and still not understand it if you don’t go out into the world and create your own reality. Don’t be fooled by the numbers. Movie stars and singers and top book writers have thousands of readers following their every breath, their every Tweet. Are they better off having all those followers if their messages don’t resonate in people’s souls?

I’m not saying don’t expand your reading base.  I have often read someone’s comment and gone off to find their blog and read their posts. Sometimes I follow them, sometimes I comment, the least I can do is like. There is so much to learn in the social media of today.

But don’t be fooled by the numbers. I wouldn’t trade the heart-felt comments on my work for all the thousands of glances I catch. Those who like or comment or just come and read and silently disappear mean more than any amount of checkmarks on the wall. If someone likes my stuff, they’ll repost or tell a friend. That’s what I do with the blogs I like. The same is true for Twitter. I should be tweeting 30 times a day, but I only retweet comments that mean something to others like me. Other artists, writers, purveyors of The Arts and the Unknown.

There are a million great blogs out there — a million great writers. A million great photos. A million great emoters. Find the ones that make you feel good and stay with them. But don’t stretch yourself thin. Make the most of your reading time.

Many a truth comes through a whisper as well as a shout.

Holding On While Sleepy

6009A strange combination of emotions has struck the Goddess’s circle this evening.

I’m sure you all go through the ups and downs of life, the reality of which thickens or thins, depending upon your mood.

My kids and their kids have moved out, finding their own slice of paradise, finally free of bubbling-over grannies and know-it-all grandpas. We love our kids, and I know they love us. But it was time for the baby birds to fly, leaving behind a mix of sadness and relief. I can now go back to being the granny who makes root beer floats with her grandkids at 10 o’clock at night and dances in the summer rain and splashes in all the puddles and gets her grandkids full of mud. I know mom and dad’s expectations, and can now go back and dance around them whenever we get with the grandbabies.

I am sad my 5-year-old grandson isn’t here to play Unicorns and Dragons with me; he isn’t here to read Pete the Cat to or to watch the Lego Movie for the 30th time. Part of my youth has moved out with him.

But I’m also relieved that I can come home from a hard day at work and chill and write and watch TV and watch scary movies or bloody movies. That I don’t have to get up at 2 a.m. with grandbaby #2 or figure a way to entertain him for more than a few hours.

There is a reason 63-year-olds aren’t first-time parents.

But back to the strange combinations.

Like pickles and ice cream, wants and needs are often at odds in my little world. I suffer from insomnia, and it sometimes affects my day job. Having said that, now that the kids are gone I can go to bed (even though I can’t sleep) at an early hour and practice the routines that everyone has insisted bring on sleep.

We’ll see about that.

For the kids’ moving out is just at the wee-beginnings of Spring, fostering a yearning for something new and fresh in my life. The birds and their melodies, the frogs in the ponds, the breeze through the pine trees, all are promising me the beginnings of yet another wonderful year. A year full of confusion, joy, laughter….and writing.

Of course.

With all the promises the Spring Cleaning Lady offers, I need to do some Spring Cleaning of my own. To stop being a slug when it comes to moving forward to the higher aspirations of things like getting published. Or increasing my readership.

Do you feel the turn of the tide when the seasons change?

The onset of autumn, or winter, both with their silent and sparkling worlds; summer, hot and sticky and full of jazzy clothes and music; burrowing in or digging out.

I need to listen to my Muse. She’s bugging me to leave the two novels I cherish behind and get into something fresh and new. And she is right. I love the things I have written, but they are of a different tint, and the Spring seems to nudge me towards something fresh and exciting. I am thinking about new worlds, alternate worlds, mystery and fantasy in this world.

Which leads me back to the insomnia.

This is where the paths cross — crisscross — back and forth. The excitement of writing something new, of research and experimentation and new characters, are at direct odds with my erratic sleeping schedule.

I am a firm believer that YOU CAN’T WRITE ANYTHING FRESH IF YOU ARE STALE.

If you struggle during the day to stay awake, your faux burst of energy at night won’t take you far. If your moods swing like a tire swing, you won’t be able to stay on task very long. If you are pushing yourself to the limit, you won’t have much left in you for romance or adventure.

And your characters will suffer.

Writing can be methodical. Writing can be spontaneous. Writing can come crawling in the front door or spring out on the patio. Inspiration, too, ebbs and flows. Just like our bodies.

Learn to work with the swings of your own psyche. Don’t push it when you know you can’t. Feel the glow when you can. Find time to dance in the inspiration of your own words. But get enough rest first.

For there’s nothing worse than your character falling down…and they can’t get up.

 

Do You Cthulhu?

Most writers love reading as much as writing.

Most writers have less and less time to read if they want to more and more write.

But it is in reading that I see what fascinates people. What motivates people. What creativity hides inside of people.

Do you know what a Cthulhu is?

I really didn’t. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t know. There’s a lot of words in the world I don’t know. But I broke down last week and ordered the hardcover version of H.P. Lovecraft’s Greatest Hits. I’d always heard about his being one of the pioneers of horror and bizarre fantasy, but I figured it was time to find out for myself.

Now, for you readers, fantasy lovers, science fiction aficionados, you already know this word. But for those of us who never got around to reading many of the classics, this is a new word for us. For me.

There is a true style of richness in the writing of the beginning of the century — one that flows from the lips and mind onto the pages like melted chocolate. There is a decadence in their words that are lost to today’s publishers. Not that I harbor any negativity for modern literature — on the contrary, ~I~ am a modern writer. Language has changed; cadence, allusion, all fell under a different tree back in the early 1900s.

And that is why I read. To experience the same emotions written in the language of the time.

I don’t consider myself well read, although I have danced through quite a number of books in my lifetime. Novels, biographies, poetry, and short stories, from non-rhyming stanzas to staccato sentences to flowery where-is-this-going prose, I have enjoyed quite a bit of history through the eyes of other writers.

And that is why reading is so linked to writing.

When reading the flowing words of H.P. Lovecraft or Edgar Allan Poe, it as if I have time traveled to other worlds, other minds. I am a fantasy/historical/ancient worlds kind of reader, so their prose is right up my alley. I also loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy long before it became a set of movies, and found entertainment in the depth of books such as Shogun by James Mitchell and Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. They all create a world with their words, a world you can get lost in.

We all have our style — we all have our authors styles as well. Those who seem to be able to articulate better than we can. Someone who can describe a world, a situation, in one or two sentences (something I am eternally working on). How much description is too much? Too little? How do we make someone care about what’s going on? How far do we have to go to bring the reader into our world? Should I cut this sentence? This paragraph? This chapter?

There are as many styles as there are days of the week. Or month. Even though we tend to pick our own genres of writers, there are many styles to choose from. To explore. To listen to.

That is why those of us who write write. That is why those of you who tinker with writing tinker. It’s like learning to play the piano. The beginning is full of mistakes and run-on sentences and confused plots. But the more you practice, the better you get. And the better you feel.

According to Wikipedia,Cthulhu is a cosmic entity created by writer H.P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ published in 1928. Considered a Great Old One …. Lovecraft depicts Cthulhu as a gigantic entity worshiped by cultists. Cthulhu’s anatomy is described as part octopus, part man, and part dragon.”

Think of what you could write around that!

So write write write. And when time allows (even when it doesn’t), read read read.

H.P. Lovecraft and his fellow writers will thank you for it.

 

Writer’s Block

thWriter’s Block.

Is it real? Or is it all in the imagination?

Some people say they never get it. They’re never stuck for something to write. Others have it hit them all the time. They mistake the block for not having enough determination or desire.

I find that Writer’s Block is merely a drop in the bucket to the larger malady, Creative Block.

Know that this hits all creative arts, from writing to painting to making a quilt to sketching scenery. It IS real, and it DOES matter when you are zapped with it. It’s not a shade of pretend or indifference. It’s a real emotion. Writer’s Block is not only the feeling of not having anything to write about. It’s the feeling you don’t want to write, period. It’s lack of desire, the inability to finish, or too much preliminary writing/research to do before you get to the “good stuff.” It’s working on the same old story and not being able to pull it all together.

A fellow blogger (https://victoriakgallagher.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/writers-block-sucks/) puts it this way:

There are ideas whirling around my mind but the perceived inadequacy has been very overpowering. It’s won out and I really don’t want it to. Perhaps writing this is a ‘good enough’ start and more writing ideas will come eventually. Writers block is not a fun place to be in, but knowing that there are others who have the same scenario, in a roundabout way, helps, especially if they have ideas on how to break free from it.

This is how we all feel from time to time. Sometimes the answer, as Victoria says, it to write a short blog. To write something, whether or not it’s of publishable quality.

But sometimes the inadequacy, the not-wanting-to, lies in a well-hidden secret woods in your body, and only comes out during certain combinations of hormones (male AND female) and full moons and stress and a weird look from somebody you don’t know. Who knows what kicks in the self doubt. But something does, and before you know it you’re rolling down the hill like a snowball, collecting debris and sticks and mud to fling at ourselves along the way.

This is not a reflection of how we feel about our craft.

If you are a true artist, your craft comes from your heart. Loud and strong. All the time. You love to paint. You love to play the guitar. You love to write. Nothing you (or anyone else) say can change the feeling of magic that fills you once you’re in your groove.

But being a true artist doesn’t mean you’re living the high all the time. There are websites upon websites about famous creative people who had bouts with depression, alcoholism, and other numbing illnesses. Some survived, some didn’t. The internet is also full of websites about how to work through creative blocks. Any one of their tips could be the one for you.

I think of Creative Block block not so much a wall as a chain link fence. You can see through it, you can see the future of your craft, but you just can’t get past that fence.

Your love of your craft hasn’t changed — just your ability to move past the fence. If you just listen to your heart, get past the junk that comes at you from all directions (especially yourself), and hold onto that love, you’ll get back in the groove soon. Leave your own work behind and explore others…the masters of painting, sculpting, designing. Let their work inspire you. You can’t compete with them, for you are NOT them…you are you. And how wonderfully unique that is.

If you love your craft, your heart and soul will find a way to bring you round back to where you left off.

And with infinity being what it is, you’ve got a gloriously long journey ahead of you.