Archives for posts with tag: writing

This morning, I knew that when I left the house, I would be stopping at the coffee shop before work. I knew I would attempt to write something on my blog, and I knew that there was a book that I wanted to share before so much time went by, that the thought fell away. 

At this particular coffee shop, there is a waterfall in the background, trees, and large cement structures that hold bright pink and white flowers and other textured shrubbery. Usually, if I stop for coffee, it’s in and out, then off to work. It feels like my little piece of Zen–the soothing sound of the water swooshing out, bees buzzing here and there, and the canopy of trees that makes me feel like I’m in a tree house–these beauties get my day going in a peaceful direction.

This morning, as I sat at the table, before I opened my iPad, I stretched to the left to help alleviate some muscle stiffness and what did I spy, but a heart shape on one of the red bricks. This brought a great smile to my being; and it felt like that feeling you get when you feel like the Universe is speaking to you–as though the Universe is smiling or tickling your funny bone. Here I was sharing a heart yesterday, a heart that I had taken a photo of a long while ago; and here, this morning, another heart appears in the present moment. Such a wonderful feeling.

The book that I’d like to share that is written for young readers and the young at heart is The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan. I was lucky enough to come across this when my mother-in-law came across it in one of her book catalogs. She passed it along to me and said how much she loved it. I happily accepted it and put it on a nearby shelf to be read when I felt in the mood. It’s a very short story that can easily be read in a short sitting. I chose to read half in July and was drawn to finish it recently. I was taken with its beauty, with the love on those pages. It’s a special book to be read and shared. For anyone that loves dog’s, children, poetry–they will especially appreciate this book.  

Advertisements

So far the one-word, five minute writing prompts are working for me. Sometimes I don’t have a lot to write in my notebook with this one word, but always it brings me somewhere-eventually; sometimes, I write past the five minute mark. I’ve always appreciated Julia Cameron’s insistence on writing “morning pages.” I can’t say that I’ve been diligent in following through, but I do realize their place and importance in keeping the writing hand and creative mind moving. I like to think of these one word daily prompts as an alternative. It’s a bite size that fits perfectly and is a nice way to get the day started if you need a gentle nudge. 

Magnetic poetry words have also been helpful and I keep keep them tucked away in case I’m in need of further nudging. 

I settled on using Google Docs to record my daily prompts. It’s great that I can login from anywhere and also use the App across my devices. Then I don’t have to worry about collecting yet another paper journal! And there’s consistency in knowing where to go and not trying to remember which journal had what. 

Before I know it, five minutes, turned to, ten; once it reached my journal blog, an hour has passed…a quick, enjoyable hour that really does feel like five minutes. 

Smudged: Today’s word is from the writing prompt book I mentioned in a previous post. Below is the direction that my fingers tapped it out.


She erased the drawing but in her haste, she left a giant smudge on the page. The more she looked at it, she thought she heard a faint voice coming from the page, from the smudge itself. She put her ear down toward the smudge; the voice was clearly talking to her.

“Why did it take you so long?”

She brought her head back up to see if the smudge had taken shape. She heard it. Or was she mad? Had she been sitting with her pencils and erasers far too long?

She decided to respond to the smudge but instead of talking aloud, she started to write words at the bottom of her drawing, and then she began drawing ferociously; she didn’t think about it any longer, she was becoming at one with the drawing before her.

As the drawing began to take shape, the smudge had become a beautiful table outside a cafe somewhere far away along cobblestoned streets, a day filled with sun and people zigging and zagging through the market admiring the handcrafted goods.

The artist sat with her sketchbook at the table, recording the happenings, soaking in the sights, happy to be alive.

From time to time, I search the internet for writing prompts to help light a spark. I was browsing Amazon and came across this one. I read the few reviews and decided that for $2.99, why not. It provides three writing prompts for each day for the whole year. There’s a Five-minute prompt that consists of one word, a Midday prompt, and a dinner prompt. You can also view the prompts by genre if you have an idea of the direction you want to go. I’ve done the prompts for the first day and have peeked around at the other prompts.

I like how the Kindle book is laid out. Simple and clean. Just reading the prompts gets the juices going. I hope to continue on and get back to a daily writing schedule just to keep the sparks from completely burning out.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to respond to the prompts in a paper journal or a Word document or some other application. I love paper, but sometimes, it’s easier to keep organized using technology. Evernote is another option that I considered.

“I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure.”
–Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I listened to the audio version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. It’s always a treat when a book is read by the author and it works, which is not always the case–as odd as that sounds.

Not only did I feel inspired by her book, I soaked up her anecdotes, and felt so excited to keep listening and learning about her experiences and synchronistic associations in navigating her writing life.

This was a gem of a book, by someone that seems humbled by her experiences. And she is funny! She had me smiling my way through her book. I enjoyed it so much that I began listening to it again about two weeks after my first listen and will probably read bits and pieces on the page for a different layer of appreciation.


I seem to have a slight addiction to page-a-day calendars, calendars in general, and of being surrounded by beauty–beauty in the way that this eye beholds it, anyway.

And so, I found myself on Amazon, searching for yet another calendar, even though I had already purchased two at a discount. I am happy with both, but I needed something more. I needed something visually beautiful to greet me every morning at my work space. I decided to go with the flowers again. A flower a day that could be in the form of a bouquet, a single close up, or flowering plants in their natural element.

While I was at it, I came across a wall calendar of glass art (I needed another to compliment the one I already have). I recognized this stunning art. The name looked familiar: CHIHULY. And then I was taken back to our visit to Las Vegas this past October and being inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino to look at the autumn botanical garden display. When we walked into the lobby, we were greeted with the beautiful creation of Chihuly’s glass art. The interaction of the vibrant colors, shapes, and light was magnificent.

Amazon kindly brought to my attention that I might like to also purchase the Chihuly 2016 weekly planner. I usually pass on these temptations, then I thought about how nice it would be to see a different work of his art up close every week, and I also thought maybe I can use the weekly calendar to write a little something each day, a mini journal of my thoughts to highlight the day. It would force me to get to the page and re-develop a routine, keep the fire going–and it’s been great. I’ve only had the calendar a few days, but every morning that I see the calendar, I’m drawn into the pages by the pure beauty of its cover; somehow, it makes me want to reach for my pen and such an un-intimidating amount of space for each day; there are no excuses.

I love it and am happy with all of my new calendars; although, I do admit, that I may buy just one more page-a-day calendar to satisfy my funny bone.

**

Both photos snapped using my iPhone.

 

http://www.chihuly.com/learn

**

A trip to the library during my lunch break always revitalizes me. I feel lucky that I work close enough that I can take a brisk walk there and back, whether it’s to browse the shelves, pick up books I have on hold, sit in a chair and read, write in my journal, or post to my journal blog.

Yesterday I had books to pick up. I finished my lunch at my desk, that way I’d have that out of the way, so that I could focus on the books. Lately it’s been difficult for me not to read, whether it’s the words on the page or the audio streaming through my ears. I’m being creative and trying to be efficient in my class reading, which gives me more time with other books and Mr. Kindle.

Sometimes I will pull one of my old journals off the shelf and continue trying to speed read what is worth keeping, reading my words, being surprised at how, at times, my thoughts seem to come out so clear and in a way that I couldn’t duplicate in the present moment; and that makes me thankful that I, at least, wrote them down then, allowing me to reconnect with aspects of my changing self. In some cases, there are only a few sparks, so I rip those pages out and toss the whole journal in the garbage bin. Some of those pages, I recognize as having posted to another distant blog, one that no longer exists, and this makes me think that this journal blog could also one day cease to exist.

There used to be a time that I wrote my thoughts, then typed them into a document, then pasted them into my blog; now, though, I skip the document part and go straight to the blog, sometimes I pen the words physically first, but often it goes straight to the journal blog, so that one day it could all disappear.  I have mixed feelings about this. In some ways, I rationalize that it would be ok if I weren’t able to go back, to see what I was up to, but then it saddens me that I would essentially be erased.

But just like the beautiful Tibetan sand mandalas that are painstakingly created and then brushed away, so these words must someday be released in whatever way that occurs.

This truly was a morning page; I planned to talk about my visit to the library and was taken somewhere else.

**

The books I checked out and am excited about:

The Cat who came for Christmas – Cleveland Amory
My mother-in-law was reading this one during Christmas and it just now became available from the library. She had come across it when she was doing some clutter cleaning of her own. The first page really drew me in and made me want to know more.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work – Mason Currey
I learned about this one through a book newsletter,  I believe, maybe one of the independent bookseller lists and recommendations. From browsing the introduction and the book, this is a collection of small splashes about many creatives, from writers to authors to composers and others in between, about their routines.

 

A few weeks back I learned of a book talk coming up from a local bookseller’s email newsletter. I’ve been itching to go to one, but haven’t found one close enough or that fits my schedule. I hadn’t heard of Adina Sara before; after reading more about her work in the email that I received, I knew I had to go and learn more about her new book. She had written a memoir many years back; and a short book about her days in the law office: 100 Words Per Minute, which I found used on Amazon and purchased because I felt I could relate to the administrative perspective.

Blind Shady Bend is her first novel.

The book reading was intimate. It was a small crowd with many folks that knew her and some folks that were new to her work.

I always find it fascinating to listen to people talk about their writing process, how the characters came to life, the birth of the story idea, the nurturing of the elements that go into creating fiction; the process of allowing the fiction to mold itself and change before our eyes, aiding us along the way, nudging us out of the way to allow the stories and characters to speak for themselves.

Adina Sara, shared with the group that the main character came to her in a writer’s workshop–a writing prompt from 12 year ago. When asked if she wrote everyday, she said that she did not, pointing out that it took her so long to complete the book because she hadn’t written everyday.

Someone asked her about the process. She responded that she missed the process and the characters. When she would open up a file on her computer to work on, she said that she would choose by deciding who she wanted to be with that day. There was one character in particular, Pete, that she was going to take out of the book completely, but as she told the group, he became a pivotal character and indeed he did.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading Blind Shady Bend. I say that because I’ve been having trouble finding a book that I can settle into. At 357 pages, it’s a somewhat quick read; it has a flow to it, the writing is nice, and there are words of wisdom scattered here and there within the pages.

Blind Shady Bend is the story of Hannah. She inherits her brother’s rundown property located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. As she begins meeting the people that live near her brother’s property, interesting things begin to unfold, and Hannah must decide if she will stay or go

 

http://adinasara.com/

 


It’s all too easy to accept that we’re not good enough. If we tell ourselves that enough, it will become true.

Believe.

Believe that you can do anything. Know that there is a beautiful spring inside of you that flows in the direction of the current. You just have to listen, to surrender and allow it to go where it needs to go.

Trust in that.

I feel like I’m on a roulette wheel with my thoughts and writing. The ball spins and spins, like my mind, creating possibilities, memories, recalling memories, creating new memories, recording observations, but with this wheel, the numbers become placeholders for words and thoughts; each one an entry point into a place of exploration. Only, these many spinning possibilities keep spinning; the wheel becomes stuck with possibilities.

This morning, as the wheel turned, a book was my entry point. Just reading a couple of pages was enough for that slight shift, just enough to awaken a sort of luck to awaken my writing muscles a little bit further, flexing them in a way that sent a message that you will write these two words down and make a sketch and you will come back to this later and you will post this to your blog journal.

Entry point. Those two little words led me to a roulette wheel and what I was actually reading had nothing to do with anything, but something in that particular moment in time clicked.

And now many hours later, as I enjoy my lunch break, taking spoonfuls of delicious food, then returning to my notebook to continue with the morning spark, I am on that wheel; my entry point is right there–right here; always there.

Writing is good for the soul.

Writing and posting to my blog journal is good for my soul.

Even when something ails me, I need to push through it. Pushing through can only bring my body’s equilibrium back to a place of balance. These things I know, yet countless times, the words stay in a certain limbo, like the bouncing ball that can’t find its place, slips into the slot and out again, finally settling on a random place on the wheel.

And is it really so random?

Wasn’t it supposed to happen at this exact time and place? Or perhaps it had enough time commingling, jetting this way and that–when, the moment you look away, there it appears: A sense of order, of opening and closing–a pulse of life that cannot be contained, a sense of spinning, that spins and spins and spins until it can spin no more and must find a place to land, but only when the self disappears into the background.

And then before your eyes, it slips into the lucky number, the words fall into place, the entry point of many open up and you walk right in, tentative at first, then you reach the end; and you know the wheel will be there, always there when you’re ready, only you won’t know when you’re ready, but something deep inside of you that is outside of yourself will know and you will be there to answer.

This is a short piece that I wrote in a short story writing class I took a couple of years ago. I remember that this was the assignment where the teacher, inspired by one of my favorite cooking shows: Chopped, provided us with four mystery baskets to choose from. Each had a writing ingredient. I can’t remember the exact four or so ingredients that were in the basket I chose. I do remember a mood, possibly set in October, but that’s about it. The other elements came from an experience and I tried to convey that feeling.

Yesterday this quote spoke to me; I’m going to place it where I can see it every day:

“Inspiration exists, but it must find you working.”
–Pablo Picasso

An October Visit

Amanda washed off her hands and placed the carved pumpkin in a brown sack and headed out to visit her Aunt Rose and Aunt Vivian at Bluestone Retirement Community. As she pulled out of the driveway, she looked into the sky: clouds hung like heavy gray sheets, hugging the dry mountain peaks.

She rolled the window down, prepared to be alone with her thoughts. “I hope Aunt Rose is feeling better today,” Amanda thought out loud. The highway wasn’t crowded this Sunday afternoon. She let her thoughts drift into the breeze, into fields of dry grass that appeared stiff and stuck in place. She could feel the pierce of time looming low. She exited off the highway, took a few more turns, and pulled to the back parking lot of the Bluestone.

When she walked inside, the light was dim as though it had been washed out. Oldsters pushed their walkers around, some wheeled themselves in wheelchairs, while others had assistance; some sat in the lounge area watching the television with a mix of alert and vacant faces. Nurses walked briskly past the slow moving oldsters. Finally, Amanda pulled herself away when she didn’t see her aunts and went into the facility’s ice cream parlor where she thought they might be. It wasn’t very crowded. There were a few circular tables with seniors seated around eating their chosen desserts.

Amanda walked over to where she saw her aunts and noticed that Aunt Rose was eating while Aunt Vivian was not and wore a scowl on her face. Amanda felt a chill when she realized this would be a difficult visit.

“Hello dear,” said Aunt Rose. “Sit down.”

“Hello Aunt Rose. Hello Aunt Vivian.” Setting the sack down on one of the empty chairs, Amanda pulled the pumpkin out and set it on the table. “Look what I brought you!”

Aunt Vivian turned her head and glared at the smiling pumpkin. “Hmmpf,” she said.

“Oh, Viv, don’t be such a grump,” said Aunt Rose. “Thank you, dear. It’s lovely. You’ll have to forgive your Aunt Vivian. She’s having a day.” Aunt Rose took the last bite of her ice cream and dabbed her mouth.

“I thought it would add some cheer to your room. I hope you like it. It reminds me of when we used to carve pumpkins at your house.”

“There have been many adjustments since we’ve come to live here, dear—and well, it’s not the same as living in your own home and taking care of yourself.”

“I can only imagine how difficult it must be, Aunt Rose.”

“Well, dear, I think the adjustment has been especially hard on your Aunt Vivian—“

“It’s not home,” cut in Aunt Vivian with a slight snarl. “I miss my things. My home. My furniture. My independence. Bah!” Aunt Vivian waved her hand as if to wave away the ice cream parlor and to wave away Amanda and everyone there. She sat in her wheelchair with an unmoving pride on her face, stubbornness etched into her eyes. It seemed she wore the permanent mark of a struggle.

Amanda looked into Aunt Rose’s eyes and was comforted by the kind twinkle looking back into hers. She looked to Aunt Vivian and was only met with a cold icy feeling looking back. “I’m sorry that you feel so bad, Aunt Vivian. It must be difficult.” Amanda shuffled in her chair uncomfortably, trying to remain positive.

“It is, Amanda dear. I’m sorry to be so cold to you. It’s not you. Being old, losing your eyesight and hearing. These things are never easy to accept on top of losing your home—or rather not having the ability to stay in your home.”

“There, there, Viv, see I know you’ve got it in you to turn your scowl to a softer shade,” said Aunt Rose.

“I can’t control my moods, Rose. I’m not able to keep as upbeat as you. I don’t know why. I’m happy with the life I’ve lived. It’s just that when—“

“Aunt Vivian, remember when we all used to carve pumpkins…you always made the best one, with intricate details around the hexagonal eyes. It was as if your pumpkins would come to life and start speaking.”

Aunt Vivian’s eyes began to soften even more; she unfolded her hands and reached for the pumpkin that Amanda brought. Amanda pushed it over closer to her. “Yes, I do remember…my, my, it seems like so long ago. This is a nice pumpkin you’ve carved. Hearts for eyes and a four-leaf clover for the nose, how clever; and the mouth, why, it reminds me of a silly hill Billy with a missing tooth. Ha!”

“Vivian, my goodness gracious, what has gotten into you.” Amanda and Aunt Rose look at each other and then they all start laughing. “Amanda, dear, would you like a scoop of ice cream, and since you’re so spunky all of a sudden, Vivian, maybe you’d like a scoop too?”

Amanda let out a quiet sigh of relief at Aunt Vivian’s change of mood. She had come to expect these ups and downs from Aunt Vivian. The two sisters began chit chatting, while Amanda’s thoughts were on the other topic she wanted to bring up, but had not. She didn’t want to spoil the mood. Maybe next time she would feel up to it.

“Dear…dear?, Amanda, dear…”