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.

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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…

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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.

Let’s Open Another Door

Well, it’s March 3rd and I’m done.

Any of you who live in the northern half of the U.S. — or any country, for that matter — know what I mean when I say I’m done. Done with the snow, the cloudy days, the slush, the slop, the depression, the driving-like-a-little-old-lady kind of days. I’ve had my snow for Christmas; my grandson has made his annual snowman, I’ve spent a weekend at the ski lodge, and scraped and cleaned the snow off my car more than I care to tell you.

It’s supposed to be 64 degrees next Tuesday, and that’s not soon enough for me. I know it’s a false spring and all that, but go ahead — fool me — I don’t mind.

About this time every year I get tired of writing, too. Tired of sloshing around emails and sites, tired of editing, tired of being witty, nifty, and wise. Since I like to think of ALL of us as multi-artistic, I’m ready to clean out closets and get ready for my move to BoHoChicland.

I’ve got bags of beads to sew on sweaters and tops; I’ve got wire and string to restring my broken bracelets; I’ve got crystals to make more bracelets; I’ve got appointments with Good Will and other second hand places to help me restructure my wardrobe. Clothes never used to make me feel better, but these days, I’m open to discovery. I’m tired of looking like my great-grandmother (like I know what she dressed like..)

Besides the clothing overhaul, I’ve also got books I need to finish reading, hair to color, skirts to shorten. I need to open up the windows and get some fresh air in my stale house.

So let’s get going.

They say when God closes one door He opens another. He’s been really generous with me, because he’s opened about 15 doors. How generous.

So if you get writer’s block, go open another door. Remember — you are an ARTIST — category optional. Don’t worry — your main obsession will always be with you. But sometimes you just need a change.

Like the weather.

And who knows — maybe a closet full of beads will fall out on your head.

Writing On The Tube

thTonight I’m packing to go on our annual ski weekend up north. We have been going on this retreat for years. Each time is a blast, each time is good food, good sleep, good laze.

I’m not a skiier, but I’m really into laze. You know — have breakfast, let the cleaners clean, lay around, nap, talk, drink, eat, lay around, nap, go to the ski hill, watch the skiers, come back, lay around, eat, sleep.

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Of course, I will be taking my computer with me. I also need a good book to read. I’ve been slogging through the last “Game of Thrones” book…love it, but I need something new and spicy and faster reading to accompany me on the king-sized sofa. A lot of my books are temporarily packed away. So I started picking through the leftovers.

I can’t reach half the books because they are either stacked two deep or too high up or bags are stacked in the way. Lots of DragonLance books. Dozens of Tom Clancy’s. Who bought all these books? Lots of SciFi. Some philosophy books — I enjoy those, but hot chocolate and amaretto isn’t a good partner with esoteric ideas. Shogun. Angels and Demons. Gone With the Wind. Big books. I don’t think I can concentrate that long. I know I have some Stephen King around here — probably packed out of reach somewhere. Those are big books, too.

After digging and thinking and wondering what I should read, I start to think — man, I’ve got a lotta great books here!

They say in order to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. I so agree with that. I’ve read a lot through the years…maybe not what everyone else was reading, but I kept busy.

Then I started to write.

I don’t know about all you writers out there, but I barely have enough time to write, less time to read. Before I fall asleep — okay. In the car — maybe. But every other free time I find I’m pulling out the computer. A blog here, a synopsis there, tightening up this story, writing an outline for a new novel, final touches on a query letter — when do I make time time for James Clavell and Margaret Mitchell?

All of this cha-cha-cha in my head makes getting away for four days stressful instead of relaxful. What I really should do is leave all the books and computers at home, and concentrate on walking around in the snow and playing games with friends and cooking and napping.

Yet I am a writer. A writer with a little attention deficit. A writer who can’t stay still for long, who starts one thing and moves to the next and to the next and sooner or later comes back to the first thing. I can’t imagine this person sitting still, gazing out the window, chatting softly with friends and family, sipping wine, gnoshing a bit of cheese, and lounging for 4 days. My restless leg would be bouncing so hard I’d knock myself out.

So I do need to bring my computer. I do need to write — or at least pretend to write. After all, isn’t vacation supposed to be doing what you want (and what you don’t want) when you want?

I just wonder if I can type while I’m swirling out of control down the snow hill in a tube…

Oops — There’s that “;” Again….

th (5)As I get older (there’s that cliche again), I find myself developing more and more ticks. You know — odd behaviors that can often drive one mad. I try and be cognizant of these oddities, for many can be eliminated by just paying attention.

I have restless leg syndrome, so I drive myself crazy by constantly swishing one leg back and forth once I get in bed. I also have some A.D.D., so I often call myself the fidget queen.

Oddities aside, I also find myself victim to writing glitches too — ticks that can only be caught by conscientiously rereading what I’ve written.  These errors shine a glaring light when I read others’ pieces, but I often don’t catch my own fingers in the grammatical pie until too late.

Check yourself to see if you have any of these unconscious writing ticks:

  •  Semi-colon king or queen.  Every time someone speaks, and adds something to their sentence, I find the need to semi-colon it. The forever pause, it seems. I reread a story the other day and deleted or changed more than half of my dramatic pauses.
  • Added words.  Like that (She remembered that she once went to school there…) or and then (She washed her face, and then walked to the kitchen, and then took a cup out of the cabinet). Almost like a stutter.
  • Fragmented sentences. I am the queen of these. It IS my writing style, and I know professional writers caution against it, so I try and make more of my fragments into full sentences. Which is hard. Because that is the way I write. Like this.
  • Keep your dialogue consistent.  My murder mystery was a test for me: I wanted to see if I could write a story from 4 different points of view, along with a narrator. As the story went on, I found the 4 different dialogues blending a bit into each other. Keep your characters separate. Make a list of their quirks and writing styles right off the bat, and uphold those standards throughout the book. Wear a hat or draw a moustache on yourself if it helps keep you in character.
  • Pay attention to words. Like my funny, good friend Carrie Rubin (http://carrierubin.com/) said on Twitter: “Oops. Found a “pooped” instead of “popped” in my manuscript. Big, big difference there.” I replied that I once wrote “breasts” instead of “beasts”. You can imagine. Read outloud if you must. But double check.

I know you all know all of this. know all of this. But yet my fingers and brain always move faster than my abilities. When you’re excited about what you’re writing, it will happen to you, too.

Just think of what would happen if you didn’t spell p.u.t.t. or p.u.c.k. quite right…

+3 Plus +2 Places to Submit

Blind LuckAs I finish editing my 53,000+ word murder mystery (am still trying to figure out the category), I am all pumped to get it published.

The “P” word is a writer’s holy grail. We kid ourselves, saying, “Aw, it’s just some stuff I wrote for myself,” when in reality we say “Man! This would be an awesome piece to get published!” There are as many ways to get P’d as there are stars in the galaxy. Those stars I will pluck another day.

But what if you have a “little something” you’d like to either get published or enter into a contest? Again, there are zillions of ways you can go about doing this.

Today I am offering three places that send you publishers, contests, and writing ideas. I subscribe to all three, and have been satisfied with all of them (even if I have only sent something in now and then).

 

Angela Hoywritersweekly@writersweekly.com   More like a newsletter, Angela offers publications and publishers, along with helpful writing tips.

Freedom With Writing   jacob@freedomwithwriting.com  Another newsletter offering writing tips, contests, publishers and publications.

Creative Writers Opportunities List  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/CRWROPPS-B/info  I know this is a “group”, but this is a great site. This group posts calls for submissions and contest information for writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. You receive all your notices by email. (I actually dropped this site once because I couldn’t keep up with all their offerings.) I’m back, and its a great place to see who’s accepting what.

 

Publishing is a horse of a different color, one that others more eloquently cover. But no matter where you decide to send your “baby”, know that there are scam artists out there just waiting for your money.

There are plenty of other sites/newsletters, etc., that let you know what’s going on in the publishing/contest world. Two of my favorites:  SFWA (Science Fiction Writers Association) has a pages full of articles on cons, schemes, and crooked publishers.  http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/.    Also check out Predators and Editors http://pred-ed.com/ also has pages of tips, not only on how to get published, but publishers to beware of.

 

Getting published is a writer’s dream, but don’t let it rule your emotions. Keep writing, keep working on your portfolio. You will be amazed how good it feels to go back and reread something you wrote some time ago. There is always some place you can try and share your writings with. Just take your time in finding the right one for you.

Some writers don’t want to hand out their publisher’s name, which is alright. But if you are one of those who don’t mind sharing how you got your book/poem/research paper out there, feel free to share that with us!  And if you self-published, did you have a good experience

I always think I’m fading from the writing world, until the Muse comes knocking, or I reread some of my earlier creations. Then I am ON the bandwagon again! And I love it!

I know you do too! So don’t stop. Just take your time.

 

Where/How Do You Write?

catwritingIt’s Friday Night, and I have a question for the writers in the group.

I mean all writers:  fun writers, journal writers, heavy-duty novel writers, joke writers, grocery list writers. Even those of you who are just thinking about writing.

I am beginning to think that what my mind thinks is a writing atmosphere and what my body thinks is writing atmosphere are two different things.

I love writing…I wish I had hours and hours to devote to the whole creative thing. For now, my alone time is limited. So here I am, Friday night, editing one of my short novels. But I’m also surrounded by take-home Chinese, glass of ice water, two TV flippers, incense burning, phone, flash drive and computer next to me, cat above my head, and and some 3 star horor flick in the background.

How serious can this be?

I would like to know how you get your writing done. Do you have a routine? A place? An atmosphere? Does it change with the waxing and waning moon? How long do you sit and write? Do you work on the same piece during your alloted creative time? Do you write at work?

Maybe its my A.D.D., maybe its just my personality. It’s like I can’t be happy unless I’m multitasking. Unless it’s a serious movie that my son says I have to pay attention to, I’m writing while I’m listening to TV or music and doing laundry and stopping to yell at my dogs for pulling the stuffing out of some toy and spreading it around the living room.

Oh, I have been known to sit and write straight for hours…especially during the intense scenes of my work. But to look at this atmosphere, to watch me through the window from the outside, it all looks so…disorganized. Scattered. Inefficient.

But I swear I love writing, even if it’s a short story, a blog, a poem, or an article. So what if there’s a scary movie on in the background? Stimuli for future stories. Get up for a dish of ice cream? Why not? Creativity loves sugar!  Side tracked by research way deep sideways on the Web? Stories abound where you least expect them.

That’s my story…and I’m sticking to it.

But please…let me know what your writing life is like. Let me know if I’m the odd one, or if you are out in left field nearby. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you get your writing done. As long as we continue on the journey, our methods work.

And don’t they say it’s not the destination, but the journey, that counts?

 

 

 

Ice Dreams

6You would think these dark, long months of cold and shadows would encourage those of us who can’t sit still a chance to not sit still for a shorter period of time.

Fat chance.

Being a mover and talker and creator is a lot different in your 60s than in your 30s.

When you’re in your 20s or 30s or 40s, being active is foremost in your plans for success, money, kids, or whatever your life choice is. You have more energy, ideas, and whereforeall to get it done. A higher chance that your peers will listen and understand you, your ideas snowballing to the benefit of both employer and circle of friends.

By the time you’re in your late 50s/early 60s, those body and mind parts that worked so fast start squeaking just a little. The mind slows down just a little. Your coordination teeters just a little. To you, these changes are barely perceptible. So you can’t remember where you left your phone. So you drive past your exit on the highway. So you forget an ingredient in your dinner surprise. These things are no big deal to us, for we are too busy thinking about the next thing and the next thing.

Younger sprites think of the next thing and the next thing, too, but they just do it better. They have a better grasp on things like technology, job security, and time management, and somehow they seem to get everything done in time, in a fairly organized and sensible manner.

Not me.

Since my biological clock turned upside down the past few years, I’ve wanted to stay up longer and sleep in longer. Lately my Muse has been pulling me in a hundred different directions, either ignoring or ignorant that my mind, as creative as it is, doesn’t move as fast as it used to. I need to have a bit of organization in my crookedy life.

Getting the computer out after dinner and doing some “creative” work has become my version of organization. Yet circumstances are such that, for the next few months, I will have company every evening, and the things on the telly or the music in the background won’t be as much my choice as my kids.

I am noticing a slight change in the atmosphere lately, though, especially since they are starting to look for houses. The grandkids are not as dependent on me as they were when they first came to live with us.

Which is how it’s supposed to be.

They are networking as a family more and more now that they see change on the horizon.

Which is like it should be.

You would think there would be a shift in my atmosphere lately, too. But I’m afraid all I’m going to want to be contemplating is how to be a vegetable the evenings my husband is working (which is 5 nights a week).

Oh, I know, everyone says I will have to make myself go out and do something, make myself write and edit and find artists for the Gallery. I will have oh-so-much-more time to clean and putz around the house, reorganize, redecorate, rethink the old habits of Claudia.

And I will.

I just need to tell my body that.

The one good thing about this lackadaisical attitude is that I DO jot down creative ideas when the mood strikes. I have a lot of things on my plate — a lot of “maybes” and “heys!” and “ooohhh…that would be soooo cool!”s on my platter of plenty. And I know that once my housing situation shifts, once the sun lasts longer, so will I. We all will have gained a better understanding of each others lives and hopes and dreams, and encourage each other to get our individual Mojos going again.

Eating and writing and sleeping on the sofa by myself again will be so nice.

 

Thanks for the Blogging

Thanks

Thanksgiving.  That time of year when we eat too much, watch too much football, and sleep away the day. It also is the day we give thanks for friends and family and our life, such as it is.

This Thanksgiving I want to put an extra thank-you out there. A thanks to the wonderfully fun, entertaining, and sometimes poignant blogs and bloggers that I follow.

I know there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there; millions reading, billions thinking about the whole process. Like you, I don’t have a lot of time to read — I, too, have a bizillion other creative paths to walk down. (Think of how tired we all are!)

But I’d like to thank the following bloggers for keeping my dream alive. I know there are some that I have missed, some who have taken a break from blogging, and many that I should be following, but in my heart I love you all.

Check them out, and, if they tickle your fancy, give them a follow!

 

The Return of the Modern PhilosopherVery funny blog about aliens, vampires, gargoyles, and love and life in Maine.    https://moviewriternyu.wordpress.com/

Everyone Has a Story.  Strong stories about divorce, recovery, and discovering life again.  http://everyonehasastory.me/

Maxima.  Love poems that cannot help but stoke the flames in your heart.  https://hillsofherchastity.wordpress.com/

Not Quite Old.  Funny, uplifting blog about finding the balance between growing old gracefully and staying as young as possible.  https://notquiteold.wordpress.com/

Live & Learn.  Uplifting blog dances across all topics, with perfect pictures to match.   http://davidkanigan.com/

Leaf and Twig.  Gorgeous images accompanied with the perfect haiku.       https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/

Catwoods Porch Party.  Art, cats, nature, animals, weather, and whatever.    catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com

Dawn Whitehand.   A wonderful Australian artist, making unique mixed media sculptures from clay, found objects and textured materials which are based on organic natural forms.   dawnwhitehand.wordpress.com. (She also has a kickin’ blog of poetry and images at apoemandadrawingaday.wordpress.com.)

gwenniesworld.  Marvelous photography with an eye for nature.  gwenniesworld.wordpress.com

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally.  Combines personal memories, physical hardships, and a plethora of images reflecting her everyday life.  annkoplow.wordpress.com

ImaginePublicity.  Motivation and marketing savvy.  imaginepublicity.com

The Beauty Along the Road.  Discovering Beauty in the small details of our lives through scenery photography and heartfelt words. beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com

Glorialana’s Blog.  An uplifting, sensitive blog that also slices gently into your heart and soul. glorialana.com

Breezy Books.  Encouraging advice and personal stories for those who love to write.  breezybooksblog.wordpress.com

Victoria K. Gallagher.  Flash-Fiction with a cup of Re-Ali-Tea, as she so aptly puts it.  victoriakgallagher.wordpress.com

Carol Balawyder.  Writing about justice, mid-life dating, grief, inspiring blogs, and  awesome writing workshops.     carolbalawyder.com

Andra Watkins.  Best selling author and traveler who explores family and life relationships.   andrawatkins.com

The Write Transition.   A medical thriller author, physician, public health advocate, and writer who believes every experience is worthwhile, even if our paths deviate from where we started.   carrierubin.com

Jillian Maas Backman.  Best selling author and motivational speaker, a creative muse who ties intuition to success on all levels.   www.jillianmaasbackman.com

Cats at the BarFunny adventures of a boatload of cats.   catsatthebar.org

Figments of a DuTchess.  Creative thinker and a successful participant in Weekly Photo Challenges.  drieskewrites.wordpress.com

Booksphotographsandartwork’s Blog.  Great eye for photography, with a book review now and then.  booksphotographsandartwork.wordpress.com

gwenniesgarden.  Some of the most unique and gorgeous flowers and garden photography I’ve seen.   gwenniesgarden.wordpress.com

Friendly Fairy Tales.  Fairy tales and poetry celebrating magic and nature for kids of all ages. http://www.friendlyfairytales.com

hugmamma’s MIND, BODY and SOUL.  A mother’s love for her daughter and her life is reflected in her heart-warming tales.  www.hugmamma.com

Please Pass the Recipe.  Original and traditional recipes and the stories that go with them.  www.pleasepasstherecipe.com

A Journey Called Life…  Everything from poetry to fantastic images to stories about life.  www.architar.wordpress.com

The Procrastiwriter.  A motivator (and procrastinator) who shows how to be a successful writer around a full-time life.  www.theprocrastiwriter.com

And last, but not least, Sunday Evening Art Gallery.  An online art gallery featuring unique, fantastic art and artists.  www.sundayeveningartgallery.com

HAPPY TURKEY DAY!

Common Sense Spammie Rules

spam2Happy Week Before Thanksgiving!

It’s that time again: time for Black Friday Sales, pumpkin pies, four days of blessed vacation (for some of us), and spammies nestling into your blogs.  I have yet again fended off dozens of false praises/questions/comments from who-knows-who. So I thought in the season of turkey and/or football, I’d repeat a blog from Jan. 4, 2014….

Comments 101

Good morning fellow bloggers, potential bloggers, friends, and curious ones!

I had a totally different blog in mind, but I feel this topic needs to be readdressed, with tips for those of you who are just starting out.

Everyone who writes a blog does so because they love to write. Some have pictures they want to share. Some share therapy. Some thoughts. Most everyone writes from experience, sharing what they’ve learned with others who want to learn.

Bloggers also enjoy the responses and interactions with those who have read their writing. This is where friends are made, ideas are shared, where we feel good about what we do.

Then there are the spammies.

Spammies usually attack e-mails. But blogs are also open season to those with nothing else to do than create chaos. I addressed this topic a month or two ago, and wound up deciding to moderate all comments before they get published. Things quieted down, and all was well.  But the spammies are back, and I want to share with you what is a real comment for your hard work and what is nonsense.

Here is a real comment from a real follower:

Very nice! I hear you on the “creaks from my joints and the squeals from my muscles.” I definitely want to work on those this year, too. Happy New Year, Claudia! I wish great things for you in 2014! Maddie Cochere breezybooksblog.wordpress.com.

And another:

Some how I missed the yellow brick road last time :-)  I loved your story!  Thank you for repeating… Deb Hathaway debhathaway.com

And even shorties:

Great story!   ittymac  ittymac.wordpress.com

Subscribers and nonsubscribers alike usually refer to something specific in your blog. There are times when you do get “I really like this!” or “Great post!”, but usually those are from followers you already know. (I know I sometimes use less than 5 words).

But a spammie is always from someone you don’t know, usually has no image or legit link, and often talk about things that either have nothing to do with your post or use the generic praise for you to keep doing what you’re doing.  In the last two days I received 20 such “responses.” That doesn’t include the 93 comments in my SPAM folder.

Your writing is certainly extremely persuasive and that is probably the reason why I am making an effort in order to opine. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. Secondly, even though I can easily notice the jumps in reason you make, I am not really sure of extcaly how you seem to unite the ideas which produce the actual final result. For now I will, no doubt subscribe to your position but trust in the foreseeable future you connect your facts better.   Tata

Another:

Thanks for the comment and shanrig this story. Somehow when this stuff is going on, I tend to attribute also and to myself. Like I’m a faulty adult or something. But having done workplace advocacy for a long time and so to I’ve come to realize just how often this nonsense is taking place, not to mention that many people think that simply ignoring a co-worker they don’t like is so acceptable… Roman

Those are just a few. You can see right away they have nothing to do with your post. I’ve seen tons of others where some nebulous person says, “Your blog is very helpful. I am grateful you are writing these things.”  They are generic and aimless. They usually pick older blogs where no one goes anymore. I’ve seen conversations go on between two different people about a totally different subject right in my comment section.

I don’t know how they get in there or what they want in there. I don’t know if they are just messing around or if they’re pulling information from my blog or just trying to get me to respond so they can continue to fool around. I mean, how do I know they’re not using MY past posts to share secret or illegal information? I’m not behind-the-scenes savvy when it comes to Internet privacy — or piracy. But I don’t appreciate invasion of my personal space by people who are playing in my back yard without my knowing what they’re doing (or talking about).

I’m not saying you should moderate all your comments. Strangers stop by all the time and comment and go on their merry way. You don’t have to have a liege of followers who hang onto your every post. But if you keep an eye on how many people comment on your posts (I think everyone does to one degree or another), be aware that not every comment is a true comment about you. Most of these spammies just sit in your e-mail notifications as someone who commented on your writing. They don’t have viruses or attachments, but yet when you click on their name to see who they are, who knows what that does?

I know anyone can type anything anywhere, and anyone can type your email address into anything. My husband was a victim of the recent Target scandal, and all he did was buy a Christmas present. So all this blog is about is keep your eyes open. If it’s too incredible, it’s not. If you’ve received a ton of comments on your blogs and you usually get a half dozen, sniff around. Something’s up.

But don’t worry — Big Granny is here looking out for you — and reading your stuff — so keep on reading and keep on commenting.

Fakey Spammies Always Get What’s Coming To Them….

Pardon My French

a5398fcb9f0275c8ba5a7abb4dfcc63e

Bon jour!

Dear me — I’m transforming — again. I have been bitten by the Paris bug.

 I have wandered down many a reincarnation in my short 62-year life. As I have said in other blogs, I went through a Renaissance period in my 30s; shields and maiden dresses and unicorn tapestries. There was a cool working-downtown-Chicago phase when I was really young; I was never cool nor chic enough to keep up with the bubbles downtown, but it was fun pretending while it lasted.

Now I’m on the French train.

I am thinking of changing my writing name to either Claudette or Colette or Jacqui; my short term/long term memory is shot, so I can’t really learn French, but I know enough to eat (who doesn’t know Coq au vin or baguettes or Éclairs?) I have watched Midnight in Paris a hundred times, ordered Hemmingway’s Moveable Feast, and Colette’s Gigi; and signed up for a couple of French  accounts (Haven in Paris on Twitter, Tongue in Cheek in email).

My BoHo Chic wardrobe-in-progress will fit splendidly on my pretend-jaunts through the French countryside, along with the pretend-designer purses I pick up at Good Will for my jaunts into Paris Proper. I have glanced at what basics a French Madame needs (flats, cars, cardigan, boots). Well, still working on that.

What is it twith this L’influence française?

It must be my never-ending desire to role play. To know who I am and who I can pretend to be. Who cares? I never did much dress up as a kid; my body was never conducive to mini skirts or leggings or stilettos. But my imagination has always played the boundaries. And the older I get, the more I can’t help but push.

This newly found love of Paris in the rain and wine tasting at La Cloche des Halles and spending the day at Versailles are all pipe dreams I’ll never really live. Kids, grandkids, work, car repairs, second mortgages, school loans, all take a toll on my very small pocket-book.

But then again, I probably will never wander through the lavender fields in England or the Moors in Scotland or the castles in Germany. But through adult-style role playing, I can write and draw and cook and pretend any time I want.

We all grow up too fast. Watching my 5-year-old grandson pretend to be Ironman or a farmer, he finds all the pleasure without the consciousness of pain and labor and broken dreams. They are happy in their own world, happy that you’re in it, too. That’s the state of mind I want to get back to.

People are so cynical these days. Creativity Creates Chaos. If you don’t look and act your age and status, you’re an easy target for rdicule and repremands.

Well, I say — lighten up.

Am I going to raise children through adverse poverty like in Les Miserables? Am I going to drive around aimlessly in the pouring rain singing La Vie En Rose? Am I going to spend an entire paycheck on some overpriced French perfume?

I think not.

Maybe I love getting lost in someone/someplace else because I have an idea for a story about two people who meet at a French bistro one evening and, for one night, find their soulmate. Or maybe I want to write a poem about the remarkable River Seine. Or maybe I want to sketch an op art picture of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.

I once wrote a story about a girl who ate lunch at an outdoor cafe, and drifted off to an encounter with a guitarrista in Mexico. I wrote another about a time out of time, a touch of midieval. One of my novels takes place in a displaced Eturia (Rome). I dove into each of those worlds with both feet. I researched ancient Roman cultures, Mexican hideaways, and King Arthur’s realm. And I think it helped make my worlds real.

I want to play with my characters. Feel what they feel. Live in their world. I want to tell their story. And if I get lost in a little pot au feu or astralology or Romans in space, so what?

Use your imagination to be whomever you want to be. You know where your core is — you’ll never get lost. You can come home to your warm bed and IPad and cable TV any time you want.

But in the meantime…(clears throat…)

 

Quand il me prend dans ses bras    

Il me parle tout bas

Je vois la vie en rose…..

 

How to Color Your Words

mapI love the curve, the sparkle, of the English language. Especially when used properly.

They say French is a colorful language, as is Spanish. If one uses their words wisely, all languages have beautiful ebbs and flows to them.

Today I was working on an arts and crafts catalog, and came along the glazes section. There were layers of descriptions, of ways to describe the colors. The first layer was the simplest of words: blue, gray, red, pink, purple. Even though we have different opinions on exactly what kind of blue we want, the color swatches were indeed blue and red and gray. Sometimes simplicity works.

Then there’s the second level. Words that are associated with things rather than what it is. Caramel, raspberry, grape, carrot, cinnamon. Who doesn’t know what colors those represent?

The third level was a little more imaginative. Sour Apple, Orkid, Tuscan Red, Pink-a-boo, Wine About It, Cara Bein Blue. You get the gist from title of what the color is. A colorful play on words, to be sure.

Then come the descriptions that stretch your imagination. Snapdragon. Hawaiian Sand. Granada. Sunset Jewel. Strawberry Fields. Yellow Universe. Snow Fire. You kind of know what those colors should be, but you need to check the swatches to be sure. These words leave a lot to the imagination. When I looked up Snapdragon, it was pink and yellow on cream. When I looked up Hawaiian Sand it was black and white and blue. Once my comprehension made sense of it all, the names of the colors shimmered on their own wavelength.

How do you know when to expand your vocabulary, and when to keep it simple?

One trick is to read your sentence(s) out loud. Some words are made to be read in the quiet recesses of your mind. Others are made to read aloud, savoring the alliteration or the rhyming or the pure creativity of the sentence. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring or George Martin’s A Feast of Crows may sound great being spoken by British actors, but would sound funny with a flat, Midwestern accent.

Know your audience. Too many flowery words may make them roll their eyes and pick up a magazine. Not enough description will do the same thing.

Another trick I learned was from the same arts and crafts catalog. Combining two words, one to evoke an impression, the second the color, is a clever way to leave an impression on the mind. Smokey Merlot, River Rock, Burnt Jade, Weathered Copper, Rustic Mustard, Roasted Eggplant — the combinations are endless. Look at the scene you’re writing, and pull something from the atmosphere and add it to your color.

Read other novels, short stories, and poetry. You will be surprised what phrases and words will call you. When they do, write them down. I have a notebook full of descriptions and words that I thought were lovely, colorful, dramatic, descriptive. I might never use them, but I could get the feel of them.

Use the thesaurus. Sparingly. There is nothing wrong with finding other words for your more mundane ones, but readers can tell if you just picked one off the page or if you thought about it. Make sure the “new” word you use flows along with the rest of them.

And don’t be afraid to make up your own words. I know that’s against most writing rules, but if you have a character that fits the description, use it. If it all flows like the bubbling stream, no one will care. For example, I have a quirky, pretzelly, smart heroine who is an astralologer. A combination of an astronomer and astrologer. Looks weird, but once you get to know her it fits her like a glove.

Colors are everywhere. Learn to describe them, or better yet, let them describe themselves.

 

Use Your Words

 

th (1)What comes to mind when someone describes something as “Mediterranean”? Or  “savory”? When someone is described as a “godfather”, do visions of Marlon Brando come to mind? Or your Uncle Hal?

Descriptive words are as varied as the world is wide.

Having given credit to a very general cliché, let’s think about the concept.   We are conditioned to react to words based on our own experiences. Images flash into our minds before we even can think about them. That is why your choice of words in your writing is so important.

For example, at NLP Language Patters for Advertising  http://blog.nlp-techniques.com/2012/07/mmmmm-write-persuasive-advertising-food/, the author writes: “The menu psychology research found the use of these five descriptor categories in the labels, food descriptions (or both) help increase sales dramatically…Visual (handcrafted, slow-cooked, fork tender); Gustatory (crispy, creamy, spicy, melt-in-your-mouth); Health & Diet Words (low calorie, all natural, organic); Memories/Nostalgia (Ye Olde, Homestyle, Made from Scratch); Geographic (Cajun, Sicilian Style, Southwestern); and Brand Names (Jack Daniels Sauce, Oreo Cookie Ice Cream).

“They also say to avoid what are now considered menu description cliches: zesty, sumptuous, mouth-watering, indulgent, unforgettable, world-famous, smothered, hearty, flavorful, pan-fried, special, and using apostrophes (“”).”

So even when you think you are using creative words you might not be using the right creative words. Describing food is no different than describing thoughts, motions, locations, and ideas. From blogs to novels, descriptive words are the bridge between the mundane and the magical. And as writers we have to be able to dance on that bridge.

I used to be the queen of descriptive words. Every look, every thought, was punctuated with adjectives, as if the reader couldn’t figure out for themselves if the hero was aggressive or merely forward. These were good times, for in them I developed the art of language, and each over-used description eventually was either changed or deleted.

But how do you spice up your writing so others will get your meaning yet interpret things for themselves?

I have a hard time describing my blog as “spectacular” or my art finds as “fantastic” because the words are so generic and over used. But I still want to grab the reader’s attention. I want to tickle a nerve that’s been hidden for quite a while so the reader comes back for more. So in my quest to sell myself and my wares I need to find words that describe me and my craft and hone in on those words. Make them mine.

Developing a writing style of your own is important.  Read others’ writings. The Classics. Descriptive passages from Lord of the Rings or Farewell to Arms might be miles apart in style, but both are endless rivers of creativity. Take a look at free verse or rhymed or sestina  poetry and see how each word is stretched to its full extent.

Then find your own style and stick to it. Now, Stick To It is different than Never Change It. If you have a fancy for words, by all means use them. Then re-read your work and see if you needed all those words to describe your point. If you are a writer of few words, make those count. There are some words that can replace a paragraph. Learn them.

Words are music. They sing, they explain. They carress. They express. And they all are yours for the taking.

Use your words.

 

Why I Write

man writing a contract

I write to tell my story

I write to share your story

I write to entertain

I write to be entertained

I write to escape this reality

I write to capture this reality

I write to make you smile

I write when I cannot smile

I write to make you feel

I write when I don’t want to feel

I write to hold onto the passion

I write to release the passion

I write to calm my thoughts

I write to excite my thoughts

I write to understand the world

I write to escape the world

I write because of overactive emotions

I write to make sure I have emotions

I write to hide my insecurity

I write to reveal your insecurity

I write so that I never forget

I write so that you can forget

I write to be understood

I write so that I will understand

I write because I am a writer

I am a writer

Because I write

Who Am I Tonight?

Alright Readers, Writers, Painters, Sculptors, and all other Creative Musi —tumblr_n768syHP341tp9r4eo1_500

I have been on the writing rollercoaster for quite some time now, enjoying the ride when I can get it, thinking about it when I can’t. It feels good to admit that I have focus, a purpose, and a plan (at least this week).

Before I settled on my current plan, I entertained another idea. A book, a novel, that would have taken a lot of research and smart thought and emotes in worlds I don’t often delve into.

I was going to write a book about dementia from the patient/subject point of view.

Being a mixed genre writer, I was going to throw in some faerie stuff in the prologue, and have that be in the patient’s thoughts throughout the book. The ending I was going to leave up to the readers. It wasn’t going to be campy; it was going to be merely a different take on the situation.

It’s a great idea. A great story. But then I started to think. I don’t know anyone with dementia. I don’t have it (yet), don’t have family with it, or friends, or acquaintances. The thought itself terrifies me, so that would have been my point of view.

After a lot of thinking and rearranging and NOT being able to rearrange my life, I decided to go in a different direction, working with something that I’m already familiar with, something I think will be a hit.

But one of my fears was that those who did have loved ones going through this tragedy would be offended that I “took it too lightly.” I mean, mixing faeries and memory loss and loss of bodily functions — what was I thinking?

So what I wanted to know was, have you ever written/painted/created something out of your comfort zone? Did you finish it? Did you do anything with it? Did you get any reaction because of it?

Maybe you’re pretty clean-cut but wanted to write a sex or demon novel. Maybe you wanted to paint a nude of someone. Or sculpt a piece that, in one way or another, was offensive. Did you do it?

Society is strapped with bungee cords that hold us back from doing anything too off-kilter. I admit I often am a victim of it myself. I often wondered if I took a Stephen King turn at a short story if my family would think I’m psycho. Or if I wrote 600 Shades of Grey if my grandson would coil back in horror.

There is a little of us in everything we create. Even when we step out of our comfort zone there is still a thread that holds us to our sanity. To our safety. I know there have been plenty of artists who have pushed the boundaries of sanity, decorum, and sacred truths to make their art known.

I admit I’m not that adamant about testing the waters of propriety. I know there are plenty of sexy novels out there written by 60 year old little ladies, sculptures of nudes by conservative bankers, and all that. Somehow they either create a persona — a pen name/life — that takes the brunt of the criticism, or are so confident in who they are that they really don’t care.

I haven’t totally trashed the dementia idea, but because of the structure of my life at the moment I can’t give it the time, research, angst, and especially the respect, it deserves.

I’d really like to hear if you were tempted by another “you” — and if you ever followed that Muse.

And don’t worry — I won’t give away your secret —

— you will.

Staying On Task

erI could live like this.

Forever.

Up at the cabin: wake up at 5:30 when hubby goes fishing; turn over and go back to sleep; wake up at 7, let the dog out, go out to the livingroom, open doors and windows and let cool air whip through the house, fall back asleep on the sofa till 9; take shower; read; grab a donut; go to library and do research for an hour; come back, have lunch; take a nap; write; go for a walk to lake; eat dinner; write; watch movies; sleep. Repeat. And Repeat.

Then the discombobulation starts. Go to bed. Try to sleep. Since I napped off and on all day, writing plots and ideas now come to the forefront. Get up. Write blog. Write Foreward to new book. Go to sleep at 1 a.m., something I’m trying desperately to change back home.

I came up to escape — to get away, to rest, to write. I’m under constant pressure back in homeyland to learn more, move faster, drive more carefully, clean more thoroughly — all that wonderful stuff that all of us do. So when we travel four hours to my father-in-law-now-my-son-and-our cabin, I do my best to unwind. To unplug.

Somehow, though, unplugging turns into disconnect in a heartbeat.

In my defense I could say my body sees an opportunity to catch up on its sleep/rest, and will be damned if anything gets in the way. That’s why half the time I’m pleasantly lethargic up here. The boys always go fishing; good for them. I hit the second hand stores; good for me. But all my plans for writing often get sidetracked by reading (I’m on the 4th Game of Thrones book now), baking, napping, and listening to the windchimes on the front deck.

Is this the world of the writer? Those who pound out best seller after best seller? Good, hard work followed by a nap in the breeze? If so, I’m pretty much a lackey in that department, too. Cool summer/autumn breezes and birds singing and no traffic and a lake in the distance aren’t always the inspiration for a murder mystery or a science fiction invasion.

I feel like a loser. 16 good hours of writing in 2 days boiled down to 2 hours of research, one hour of writing, one hour working on a friend’s website, and 12 hours of screwing around. The peace and quiet is so overwhelming it overtakes my good intentions.

I think it’s more I’m not as diciplined as I used to be. At home I squeeze writing inbetween playing with my grandson, watching TV, doing laundry and dishes, and yelling at the dogs. And it seems like I get more done.

I’ve screwed off enough for two days. I will go up and delete the word “forever” and replace it with “after retirement.” Until then I need to keep the mind sharp, the words flowing, and the blog pics amazing.

I’ll do that right after my nap.

Going One Way Or Another

tumblr_n768syHP341tp9r4eo1_500

According to my online personality profile, Sagittarius is the traveler of the zodiac and considers every day an opportunity for another adventure. This a cheerful, spontaneous, and idealistic individual with an exceptional sense of humor.

Well, I don’t have the money to be a big traveller, but I do try and get away now and then. This coming up weekend is one of those times. Boys are going fishing for 4 days (coming home by dinnertime); a chance to make my days totally up to me. So I have turned the have-to-go-up-north trip for 4 days into a writer’s retreat.

And I can’t wait.

And I know that somehow or another it will get screwed up.

I have made a list of things I’d “like” to get done — “like” the key word, as to leave room for walking and sitting on the deck and nodding off and going to town to hit the homemade chocolate shop.

But Fate and me have a rocky relationship. I imagine it’s going to be more like me setting out my laptop, my notes, opening the window to let the breeze blow through, glass of soda and a few treats at hands-length, and me spending half my time in the bathroom.

My husband says he can’t take me anywhere. And this is not a new thing: I’ve gotten upset stomachs or headaches or whatever almost every time we’ve gone out — for the last 35 years.

I don’t know if it’s my psyche that goes up and over the top, imagining such a good time that it gets sick ahead of time; or my stomach cramping in anticipation; or something innocent I ate the day before decides to do the polka in my intestines. But every time I get ready to have a GOOD time, I spend half my time aching in the bathroom or on the bed.

This time it’s a freakin’ 4-day weekend! No movie stars or famous writers stopping by, no fancy dinner, no wine or alcohol of any kind. I don’t want to mess up, because I have this big novel idea that I want to dig into for a few hours every day. Why is it that every time I go up north I get horrible sinus headaches or crappy stomach problems?

I know — it’s probably psychosomatic. I suggest, therefore I am. I don’t think about it and I still am. These burbles have caused many headaches through my married life; I’m surprised my husband doesn’t have a first aid kit filled with Imodium, aspirin, sinus pills, doggie bags, and crackers. He’s had enough experience in this genre.

So with a Sagittarian outlook, I’m going to be a cheerful, spontaneous, and idealistic individual, and pack my laptop, notebooks, soda, snacks, Imodium, aspirin, and sinus pills, and hope for the best. You can’t keep a good writer down — not when they’ve got the calling.

And, after all, I have written notes in the bathroom before…

Bombardment Central

October-18-2011-20-12-49-DoubleFacePalmEven when I am well-intentioned, I tend to screw up. I don’t know if it’s that I don’t think things through, or I don’t know how things work so I don’t know what the outcome will really be — it could be a thousand things. But I always wind up having egg on my face.

I had waited a long time to relaunch my Sunday Evening Art Gallery. I’d added images, found the right theme, cropped the images so they were all pretty much the same size — it was going to be a GO. And it was.

But I didn’t realize that every time I re-posted a blog, or actually posted it for the first time, it would hit the airwaves like a newborn child. Every new blog blew away the one previous, acting like it was the only flash in the pan.

It overtook my Humoring the Goddess Sunday Evening gig with new artist John Lemke; readers didn’t know whether to read A or B or Z. My zealousness almost caused me readers.

I suppose I could blame it on adult-onset A.D.D. I know I’ve been antsy all my life, but only in the last few years have I found a name for it. Not being able to sit still has caused me all kinds of problems, the least of which was almost my job. Now that I’m older it causes me loss of sleep, anxiety, restless leg syndrome — the whole gamut.

It also tends to put my cart waaayyyy before the horse. I have so many projects, so many ideas, so many things in my head that I sometimes think I have hail pounding me on the head. I tell myself to slow down 10 times a day. But most of the time it’s too late.

So to you that were bombarded with Sunday Evening Galleries, forgive me. I more want you to enjoy John and his work, then move along to the next collection, and the next. I put 4-5 images in my HtG blog, then three times as many on the Sunday Evening site. That was the whole purpose behind the SEAG. I’m catching on…it just will take a while.

I hope you will visit both sites more often, and if you have any suggestions for slowing down my pretzelly condition, I’ll take those too.

name1

Friday Night Cheesy Whine

tim+allenBEFORE WHINE

This Friday post is mostly for writers, although you of any and all skills can identify.

Yesterday was a pretty crummy day. You know crummies — nothing in particular, but a dozen things coming and going that make you say “I quit for the day.”

I was driving home from work; a lovely stretch of countryside between my work town and home town. Four great  90 degree turns, each one hosting a different view; cornstalks five feet taller than me (which isn’t saying much), no one on the road. It was a slow, steady rain. I was taking it rather slow and steady, too.

A few things happened on this familiar trek; someone driving on the wrong side of the road, a few animals dashing from one side of the road to the other; weird things. The pavement glistened softly, reminding me of my double-rollover last November. People driving on the road who usually never take this route.

You know how a creative mind wanders. Suddenly I had this great idea for a story.  A first-person narrative about driving and getting stuck driving the same four turns and all that sci fi eerie stuff. I embellished it and worked on it all the way home.

The sad thing is, I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to write it. And I don’t think it’s ever as good as when it’s fresh in the mind.

Last night was family, tonight shopping, tomorrow family party — there’s a Sunday Art blog I want/need to get done by Sunday, things I ABSOLUTELY have to get done around the house — when is there time for writing? I don’t often write short stories any more, so when this idea hit me it was like a breath of fresh air. Yet now the air is stale, and before you know it I’ll forget the punchline. I’m already forgetting peaks that once made me excited — it’s like overthinking something. Your original idea is not always what you wind up doing.

I hear you saying, “Just Make Time!” But sometimes that’s just not possible. I’ve been fighting/working with sleep issues lately, so I can’t just go in my bedroom at 9 and write. And if I have to make a choice, prime time with my grandbaby supersedes writing a great story.

I’m sure these things happen with painters and graphic designers and everyone who enjoys being creative.  Maybe I have my priorities upside down. Maybe I need to find that time-travel hourglass thingy Hermione used in one of the Harry Potter movies (so she could take two classes at the same time).

Maybe I should just give upyadda yadda blah blah yadda blablah……

AFTER WHINE

Sat down Friday evening after dinner with the family, the boys played video games (even grandbaby), pregnant mom just relaxed, I pulled out my computer, and finished my story.

SOOOOOO

The moral of the story is: write out your whine, get it out of your system, then shut up and write/paint/draw.

As my hero  Jason Nesbith from Galaxy Quest says — Never Give up — Never surrender!

Computer Hoarder or Zen Master?

animated-gifs-computers-48 (1)Considering how haphazardly I live, organization is not a word that frequently passes my lips. I just have too much information, and not enough room/time/energy to organize it all. But then last week my Irish Muse stopped by, and I’ve been working on Big O 101. Most things around me are falling more-or-less in place.

One place I haven’t had much of a problem, though, is my laptop.

I used to fill notebooks with thoughts, ideas, research, menus for the week. The old-old ones were more like journals, full of angst and awakenings, blah blah blah. Necessary but over. The new ones, though, are a different animal. They are full of things I don’t recognize. Names. Lots of numbers that don’t mean a thing.  Notebooks became jotting books. Need a piece of paper to write down that stupid email address? Write it in the middle of a notebook. Need to add something to the grocery list but don’t have a piece of paper handy? Write it in the middle of the notebook.

I now prefer to document my writing, research, images, and ideas on my laptop.

I must admit I have kept things in much better order than the days of pen and paper. I keep/download too many things on my desktop, but they all eventually find a folder home of their own. I have folders for Stories, Chapters, Essays – Finished, and Stories, Chapters, Essays – Unfinished. I have a Humoring the Goddess folder with dozens of sub-folders.  I have one called Recipes, one called Resumes, and one called Research (which, btw, has the largest, oddest assortment of information I’ve ever seen). Novels have their own folder; inside those are sub-folders of character backgrounds, copy I’ve cut and couldn’t part with, earlier versions from cavemen days, maps of ancient landscapes that may or may not be relevant – all kinds of weird stuff.

I have folders with images: with my downloading prowess I’ve no doubt got three copies of every photo I’ve ever downloaded from my phone. I’ve got family photos, photos I’ve used in blogs, photos I think are cool, photos that are inspiration for other projects, and photos that are…just photos.

I’ve got a very busy Sunday Evening Art Gallery folder, with one subbie for “dones” and another subbie with “futures.” I’ve got folders with names of novels I’ve never finished, folders of novels I’ve finished, and books I’ve downloaded and have yet to read. I’ve got cute little folders such as Girl Things, Books-Music-Words, and Family Cards and Art, and boring ones like Taxes and Passwords.

The cool thing about keeping all those folders and documents around is once I open them,  it’s like time-traveling through the galaxy. Where did I get these things? Why were they important to me at the time? What did I want to do with these things?

Through the years I have carried these folders and documents and images with me, from computer to computer, from flash drive to flash drive. This is the most organized I have been, organizing the most useless information. But then again, that’s not really true. If I look closely, there is a growth pattern here. Much like the journals I kept in my 40s, there is a growth curve here somewhere. There is an emotional maturity I’ve slowly achieved, even though my future horizons are as open as ever.

I do like the fact that this is one area of my life that I’ve been able to categorize. I mean, I do detailed work at work, I keep a clean house, my DVDs are alphabetized (so I don’t have to go through piles every time I’m looking for a movie), and I’ve even attempted to clean out my kitchen cabinets.

But there’s something satisfying about opening a pretzel logic database and actually being able to find something. There’s something fun about thumbing through my Research folder and perusing auras, Rite of Pan, Medieval words, wormholes, and clichés.

What a weirdo! And what a galaxy to explore!

Tell me about YOUR computer. Are you organized? Do you have more ideas than gigabites? Or are you a catcher-catch-can kinda laptopper?

A Man-Type Blog

th (1)You would think that with the amount of writing I’ve been doing the second half of my life, my family – i.e., my mate/husband/soulie – would get excited when I write something new. I mean, I write all kinds of things: mysteries, comedies, poetry, blogs, biographies, novels – let’s just say most everything except dissertations and financial reports. But noooo…whenever I talk about my latest gig, my soulie smiles and nods and looks at me like a deer in the headlights. Like he’s already changed the channel. Not in a mean way – more in an “I know you so nothing you write surprises me” way. So for all those (mostly) men out there that don’t quite get it, here is a manly blog any man can understand.

Saturday Night Cattle Fever

The weather cracked with electricity outside. Thunder rumbled and echoed like a 9-pin no-tap game. The Super Hero hadn’t seen a storm tumble in like that since the white walkers arrived on Game of Thrones. And he didn’t like it.

The Super Hero adjusted his mask and cape. He needed to gather his herd of USDA Prime steers and head back to the corral before the rain came. His partner, the back-up quarterback, nodded to the Hero. No mindless, idle chatter needed. “Home,” was all he said, his Pall Mall filtered extra-light dangling from his lips.

The heat rolling in before the storm was unbearable. Our Hero hadn’t felt this hot since Anna Nichole Smith’s spread in 1992. But that was nothing to the hockey freeze that might follow if didn’t get his Grade A’s to shelter. Keeping his Eye of the Tiger on the approaching weather melee, the Super Hero shouted, “Omaha! Omaha! Set! Hut!” and the cattle drive began.

Onward the cattle plodded, their steps falling in line like the Michigan State University Trojan Marching Band. The wind picked up, the sky darkened. All the Super Hero could think about was pizza and beer and darts. If he could only get back to his Man Cave.

Would his cattle make it? Would he make it?

The back-up quarter back threw his GPS in a spiral pass to the Super Hero, who caught it with one hand. Hero nodded. No need to ask for directions here, mister. He’d find his own way. Thoughts of dinner crossed the Hero’s mind as he barely missed a turkey with a 10” beard. Fortunately, the Tom was faster, and the Hero’s permit wasn’t until Fall.

The Super Hero and his cattle finally reached the hill’s summit, the wind howling and the trees dancing. But this was no time for a parking lot party. Not with the storm beer barreling in on polka wheels. He could clearly see his 6 bedroom, 3 bath, bi-level ranch with wrap around cedar deck, hot tub, 30 x 30 pole barn, and exposed lower level complete with built-in bar, 55” flat screen, and leather-cushioned pool table waiting for him.

The prime cuts seemed to know they were home, too, as they poured through the stainless steel gates over to the Scott’s fertilized grass fields. The rain exploded above their heads, soaking both the Hero and his back-up, bringing nourishment to the countryside and fresh water to the hydroponics in the greenhouse beyond.

The Super Hero parked his orange SRT Viper GTS into the furthest stall of his four-car climate-controlled garage, and closed the door behind him. He took his Tony Lama’s off at the back door, did the Discount Double Check to find his keys, hung them on the  on the John Deere key rack, and entered his Home Sweet Home.

The cattle had been saved. Life was good.

And so would be the Rib Eye Angus with drawn garlic butter and the Blue Moon with the slice of orange. The only thing better would be a baseball double-headed on TV tonight, and a shot of bourbon. Both could be arranged.

 

P.S. He didn’t get it.

READ THESE (gimmicky) GUIDELINES NOW!!

dos-donts-celebrities1The world is full of gimmicks — full of one-liners and sensational promises for everything from growing hair to making money while staying at home.  Just do this. Pay a fee for that. Follow these 5 rules and 10 guidelines and you’ll be smarter, prettier, richer, and so on.

Well, I want to cash in on that rigmarole, too. Every blogger wants to be popular. Well read. Recommended. Vital to the survival of the planet. Admit it — we don’t care about statistics, yet every time we get a new follower we do the Snoopy Dance.

So in that same (silly) vein, here are tried-and-true rules for you to follow if you want to be a popular, magnetic, P’s and Q’s type of over-the-top blogger.

DO…

*  Write about kittens/cats and puppies/dogs. No one can resist the cuteness of baby animals. Even if they poop in your lap or chew your new pair of shoes, there’s something cute about the whole thing.

*  Pictures. People love pictures. Nature’s a good one: flowers, trees, paths. Can’t beat Mother Nature for a Stress Buster. Makes ya just wanna go out and do the Irish jig, doesn’t it?

*  Use pictures of food. Even if your recipe/story/antidote doesn’t have anything to do with the pic, who can resist an image of ooey gooey caramel or creamy, cheesy lasagna or a bead-sweating glass of whatever? Makes my mouth water just to think about it.

*  Quotes. People love stories that start or end with quotes. Surely Mel Brooks or Clint Eastwood carry the same charisma as Dali Lama or William Shakespeare. Try a “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue” kinda lead in. You’ll knock ’em dead.

*  Lists. People can’t resist lists. The top 5 to 10 of anything is enough to hold their attention. Now, no one says these lists have to make sense — no one pays much attention to the rules once they leave your blog anyway. But they certainly are eye-catchers!

* Talk to make-believe characters. People love being entertained. I know of a blogger who talks to cheeseburgers and gargoyles. Why not you? And, who knows? They may be more informative and entertaining the evening news.

 

Don’t…

*  Go overly long on the length of your blog. I know you want to unburden your soul, explore the possibilities, make new friends, share recipes, etc., etc., etc. But  you and I know that the attention span of most readers is less than that of a gnat. At 600 words you’ve still got an audience. By 800 people are starting to open a second window on their computer. 900 to 1000 words people are throwing a load of laundry in between sentences. Anything on it’s way up to 2000 words might well be voted “Novel of the Year.”

*  Steal — borrow. The Internet is full of ideas. Borrow what you like and make it yours. If you DO borrow directly from someone, give them the credit they’re due. Readers don’t necessarily care if your words sound familiar — they just don’t want to get sued for reading them.

*  Talk about the same thing over and over. If you are sharing pain, share it. If you are sharing music, or thoughts on television shows, share it. Then talk about something else. Show your progress. Your research. Your over-vivid imagination. People love getting lost. Let them get lost in your mind.

*  Give up writing the best blog you can. Make sure every sentence counts. You want to reach as many readers as you can with your message, no matter what that message is. Good bloggers are followed, not by the quantity they pump out, but by the quality. A story that makes you think, makes you feel, makes you chuckle, will stay with the reader a lot longer than one that flashes in the night.

And — (wait for it…) Who needs hot flashes in the night anyway?

Welcome to my 5th Dimension

greatestgifeverWell, I think I’m over my vacation. And I’ve gotten the Art Gallery stuff out of my system (at least until Sunday).  I’m following a few blogs that do “Wordless Wednesdays,” and I’m really enjoying their pictures. And I think — maybe I can add that to my blog, too.

In the next second I think — what’s wrong with me? What’s with this “over-achiever” thing I seem to be going through?

It’s worse than puberty. Or maybe just LIKE puberty. When you blossom into a young lady (or young man), your thoughts are obsessed with sex. Wanting it, thinking about it, dreaming about it.  Fifty years later, your obsession turns from what used to be to what can be. (And trust me — it’s not sexually oriented). Lost between a tedious job and dreams of retirement, your psyche reaches out to do MORE. Whatever MORE may be to you.

I suppose that’s where “too much of a good thing” comes from.

Like too much chocolate or too much lasagna (can there really be too much of either?), too much variety in a blog is not only confusing to the reader but to you as well. Most bloggers have a theme, a direction, a reason for sharing their thoughts. And those who identify with those themes/directions/reasons follow and share and (hopefully) get something positive out of it.

But when you go this way one day and that way the next and over there the next, there tends to be a bit of confusion on the direction part. I could have started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery as its own separate blog, but I found that I wanted to share these discoveries with YOU, my friends. Knowing how eccentric a middle-aged woman (say…62-ish) can be, you can maybe connect my looking for older age direction with odd, unique art.

Thin though that line may be, I’ve worked hard to keep it strong. Introducing another dimension to this already multi-dimensional blog might be the bonie that made the doggie fat. Too much of a good thing leads to a predicable end.

Getting fat and lazy. And that’s already a struggle.

So my friends-who-have-wordless-Wednesdays — go for it. I love trying NOT to say anything to your unique pictures. And I love the added dimension it gives your blog.

As for me — I’m already bouncing around in the 5th dimension. And there’s no no place out there for being wordless.

Point Me Towards the Kingdom

wavinggifThere is an eerie sense of calm around the Goddess’s home realm these last few days leading up to my vacation at the world’s most expensive playground: Disneyworld. It’s that ethereal world one slips into right before something BIG is about to happen: a wedding, Christmas, or, in my case, vacation.

It’s like I have all the time in the world to do laundry, shop for food for my house sitter, change the kitty litter — you know what I mean. Seeing as I have a mere 35 hours, 42 minutes, and 56 seconds (minus 8 hours for work and 45 minutes travel time) before I’m up in the air heading to sun and sweat  and overpriced everything, I’d better get back into my reality pronto.

Since I won’t be able to hang with you all for a week or so, I thought I’d leave you all with some funny stories about — food.

Who doesn’t like food?

So this week, when you’re bored or hungry (or both), come and check out the following oldies but goodies:

Bread and Butter Badlands  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-CK   bread

A decadent descent into pushing away or towards the table, depending on your end goal.

 

Incredible Edibles  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-MKdog-cooking

What better business to start than opening a Culinary School of Leftovers?

 

When Is A Cherry Not A Cherry  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-AT  cherry

Not so much about food as it is about my sophomoric sense of humor with words.

 

Until then, just keep in mind — I’ll be singing “It’s a Small World After All” for the next three months after this trip…

Passion on Hold?

To thine own self be true.Friday

~~William Shakespeare

 

That is no truer than this evening.

I have the weekend to myself. Hubby and boys are hunting, grandbaby up with the other grandparents. Lots of time to do my favorite thing in the whole world.

Write.

I have a lunch date tomorrow; washing the kitchen floor and doing some laundry are on the list as well. The rest of the time is mine, mine, mine.

It’s Friday night and I’ve already made my goulash for dinner (some sort of meat and some sort of noodle and some sort of sauce…catchers-catch-can, so they say). I brought out my laptop, threw some towels in the dryer, fed the dogs, let the dogs out, watched the finale of one TV show, caught up on two more TV shows, am looking out the window at the soft rain falling, and still haven’t written a word.

Do I sabotage myself all the time?

In my own defense — I did write a fantastic blog for this coming Sunday, and did some research on a wonderfully creative art and artist that I will keep for another day. So I have been moving forward, albeit in a crookedy sort of way.

I could blame my very busy, very mind-numbing day. I get home, I am tired, my dreams dancing and fading away into the sunset.  But the “why” doesn’t matter.

I believe that when you have the passion, the seed, the soul of creativity, it will never leave you. It is your source of joy, of your angst and your celebration. The mere thought of getting to do what you love lightens your day, and keeps you up at night. No matter what you love to do, you can’t wait to get back to it. Any side track, any sideways slip, any attack from kids and grandkids and friends in need/indeed are only temporary.

Love will find a way, they say.

Don’t worry if you get distracted. If your heart is in your Art, you will never wander far. Your breaks won’t last long, and your creations will be bigger and better and more fun than you ever imagined.

I’m turning the TV off right now….well, right after I finish watching my pre-recorded Bones.

(whispers…Ooohhh!! ! It’s a double Bones!)

 

 

Whooo Are You? Who Who..Who Who?

confusing body painting 2I was going to write about my life feeling like a tornado. But the thought made me dizzy, so I changed directions, and am going to talk about  —  I don’t know what to talk about.

More often than not my life is like that. I feel like I’m going frontwards, backwards, up the center of that tornado, and not making much headway. So I had a long talk with myself on the drive home from work today, and have decided that I’ve got to quit fighting with the world and to just be myself.

Now, I tell myself that every other day. I’m sure you do, too. And yet you go back to work, to your family, hiding the same thoughts, acting like a semi-obedient kid, counting the days until vacation, until Saturday, until retirement.

In my little one-on-one today, my good girl/bad girl really struggled to find a happy balance. Now, I am a happy person. I love my family, my paint-in-the-butt pets, my house and my habits. I’m not what you’d considered repressed — more like befuddled.

I never thought about retiring. I am too young to retire. Retirement is for old people. I know I wrote a blog about that some time ago, and the truth is that not much has changed. And that’s the problem. I haven’t noticed the clock moving backwards any, so all I have is the NOW and tomorrow’s NOW and so on and so forth. I told myself that it’s about time to stop wasting the NOWs wanting things that just aren’t going to change. There will always be worlds that fit like a glove, and others that fit like size 6 spandex. And not being “there” is alright all on its own.

My Goddess self said Knock It Off.

And so I have.

I really am going to (try) stop whining and get to gettin’ on. I have novels to finish, novels to edit, boho clothes to buy, and star roads to wander down. I suppose this wanderlust looks a bit like dementia, but since it’s purposeful, on-purpose wandering, I’m not too worried.

Have you gotten to the place in your life where enough is enough? I’m not saying I’m going to tell my boss off or spend lots of money on foofy things or start ordering from Amazon and Zulilly, but I am tired of feeling the victim of the world all the time. The bullying stopped by the time I was in high school. It started again about 10 years ago, but it stopped last November. So there’s no reason why I can’t live my life the way I want to. Who knows what that will be? I’d like to get to the point where I don’t feel guilty sleeping in on the weekends or having ice cream for breakfast. I want to write instead of do dishes and work on my blog instead of researching pin numbers.

It’s so much easier said than done, isn’t it? I know we all have different learning curves. Some curves have been much more brutal than mine, some easier. But we’re all striving to find out who we are.

No — we’re all striving to BE who we are. And it can’t be that hard.

I think if we were honest, we’d all be some jagged, bejeweled, bewitched, unpredictable conglomeration of blood and bone and pinky guts that is full of love and hope and magic.

I can be that. How about you?

 

How Do I Write “It”?

dogFellow writers, readers, stencilers, painters, sketch artists, graphic artists, scrapbookers, sculpturers, jewelers, poets, screenplayists, and all other creative muses! Lend me your ear/ideas/thoughts/minds.

I have been writing since I wrote my first love story with Paul McCartney. I’ve written several novels through the years (sounds so impressive, although I’ve never been published).  Be that as it may, at this tender age of middle- pre-old age, I’m having a moral testing, so to speak.

My first novel had no sex and no real violence. The sequel had a little more sex, and just a wee bit of violence. The third one had a bit of creatively written sex, and off-camera violence. I’m not prudish — it’s just that the stories didn’t need gratuitous S&V.

Now I am working on another story. Girl goes into “another world” that’s not what it seems (of course). I’m thinking of having one of the heroine’s new friends murdered.  Her murder is important to the direction of the story.  I also want her to be murdered right after she has a baby.

Now (again) — I am not a murderer. I am the person who picks up the worms in the driveway after the rain. I love puppies and unicorns. And the thought of popping someone off unnerves me. I don’t want/need to be graphic — I don’t need to describe it in detail, if at all. But I want my character to be well loved for the few chapters she’s around.

Why is it so hard for me to murder someone? And how do I get passed this?

Do I name her after an old boss who I can cheerfully say I hated? Should I give her such a weird name that no one can feel sorry for her?

Pretend characters are just that. Pretend. A character. Made up. Make believe.

Then why do I feel like I’m murdering a friend?

Any advice you can share will be most appreciated. In the meantime, I’ve got to start sharpening my knife/hatchet/sword.

Who knows when I will pretend to need it.

Poetic Expression

magic bookThere is something about getting older that brings out the bouquet of life around me/us. I don’t mean the I’m-gonna-die-sooner-than-later syndrome (that we all go through no matter what our age), but a sense of looking around and taking more and more in.

Okay — part of the “take it all in” thing is that I’m moving a little slower than I was 30 years ago, so there’s more time to look around. More time to gauge my steps so that I don’t trip over something. Or step on something. Or twist my back avoiding something.

But it’s more than that.

I’ve always enjoyed poetry — I’ve written a number myself now and then. Lately I’ve been finding myself wanting a way to express a moment in time without typing a thousand words. I’ve had no formal poetry education; my expertise in writing has come mostly through trial and error and writing since I was 10 and being a proofreader for 15 years.

I find that sometimes a hundred words say more than five hundred. That, depending upon the word and its placement, thoughts and emotions can be inferred instead of spoken. Now, that’s no surprise to those who have mastered the art of poetic license, but it’s a surprise to me.

My friend Jane has been a poet all her life.  She loves creating effects with as few words as possible. And she is so wonderfully good at it. There are others whose blogs I follow, too:  Dawn Whitehand at https://apoemandadrawingaday.wordpress.com/, Catherine Arcolio and https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/. I have my favorites, you have yours. Sometimes you find someone who writes just what you feel. Other times you are left wondering. And that’s a good thing, too. But that’s the beauty of poetry.

Life flies by so fast. Maybe too fast to read a three-page poem. But there’s plenty of time to read a short word or two about the world.

Try writing one yourself. You will be surprised how melodious it feels.

Wanderlusters Sign Up Here

CAM00498Do you ever feel you have a somewhat confusing relationship with your life? As I get older I find my emotional state doesn’t last long enough to hang a hat on, so I often can’t tell what I’m feeling.

I have to admit that I am having a ball with the Sunday Evening Art Gallery part of the blog. Every time I turn around I find one sort or another of Art and Creativity that makes me go, “Woah! What is this?”

I’m also blown away by good writing: insightful blogs, humorous blogs, books, poetry. I often want to cut and paste all the great stuff I’ve come across for future reference. But if I kept everything I found, I’d have to link three or four computers together for research.

There are so many branches of the Creative Tree of Life I’d like to climb. Don’t you feel that way sometimes? Maybe its rooted in in my monochrome job. Computer play I like. Computer data entry, I do not. But it pays the bills and the co-workers are fun and it makes my day. So I do the best I can.

Needless to say, most of my spare minutes (break time, lunch time, bathroom time) is devoted to playing in my mind. I look at the bracelet I’m wearing at work that day, something I bought at one of those over-priced jewelry parties, and say, “Man...I can make this!” I read about friends’ blogs on photography, cats, cooking, and I think, “Wow!  I can do this!” I read a great novel, something fast and fun and romantic, and I think, “Man…I can write this!”

And of course there’s always been the traveling thing. I’ve got friends who write traveling RVs blogs and others who pursue quaint castles and villas.  I want to visit all the out-of-the-way places. I want to visit the museums in Italy and the moors of Scotland and the ranches in Texas. I’d love to go to a Broadway play and go to the Cherry  Blossom Festival in Japan and drink hot chocolate at a Swiss chalet.

There’s always so much I want to do. So many worlds to explore, so many things to try. But because of time and money and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, there’s so many things I’ll not be able to do.

I have managed to keep my fingers in the pies of creativity through the years. I’ve painted iron gates and stone walls and pots overflowing with ivy on the wall;  I’ve painted faux bricks around my dining room, and I’ve planted some awesome herb gardens. But my taste in activities has changed as I’ve gotten older. Maybe I’ve just worn out the old ideas — or maybe I’ve just run out of walls.

It could just be Spring Fever knocking at my door. Warm evenings and pink skies can do that to one. But sometimes I feel like a kid standing outside of Disneyworld. I want to ride everything at once. And I feel I’m running out of time.

Do you get struck with wanderlust like this? I know you have to pick and choose — everything from life to love to TV shows. We can turn this way, that way. But in the end we have to choose one over another. And when the choices are all so sweet, so enchanting, so revealing, it’s hard.

Let me know if you’ve had to choose, or if you’re still choosing your creative path. Are you are managing to do more than less, or if you are a one-thrill-at-a-time creator. Have you been tempted? Do you do a little of lots or lots of just a little?

Let’s all wander together, shall we?