Archives for posts with tag: writing

A few weeks back I went with only one bag, ready to fill it with orphan library books. It was that time of year again when the library takes stock, unloading its shelves of books that will find happy, new homes. I’ve perused Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project in the past, but didn’t immediately jump to action.

When I saw a beat up copy of the book staring out at me, I thought now seems the right time to dive in, figure out some more simple pleasure that I can add to my list and find new perspective in the familiar. There was a “Damage Noted” sticker on this one: “ragged, readable.” I taped up the front and back cover to reinforce it to get more use out of it before it starts to fall apart. I found some other books; I could’ve taken more bags, but I made a deal with myself that one bag was enough. I did also end up carrying a few books under my arms.

I’ve been dipping in and out of books. At one point I was going to pick up, in book form, where I left off in the audio version. I didn’t recognize anything, then I realized it was the wrong book and felt better. I sometimes worry that I’ll start losing track and cross plots and characters amongst the books I’m juggling. I’m usually pretty good about keeping it all separate. It’s challenging though, in the sense that I yearn to get back to one book, then another pulls me in, and that other one over there is saying, ‘read me, read me.’ All these books are vying for my attention.

Sometimes I know right away if a book and are will get a long really well; other times, I need to keep going a little longer to see if we’re a good fit. And still other times, I will feel satisfied right where I’ve stopped–forcing a new ending because another book is calling.

One book I almost gave up on is Antoine Laurain’s The Red Notebook. I’m so glad I didn’t. Month’s ago I started reading it, then put it aside. I had also downloaded the audio and started listening to it, then back to reading it–then perhaps it was being in one of the small bookstores looking through the tables of recommended books, and just maybe it was the woman nearby, also looking, searching, whom looked to me and said I loved this book, have you read it. I looked and because it was the hard cover, I didn’t immediately recognize it, then I said, “well, I started it, but haven’t finished it yet. I do believe it was her nudge that brought me back to the audio version. A sweet love story, that talking about, is making me want to go back for a visit.

One book that I recently downloaded is A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers. It’s different, in the way it’s organized through words–through the words the protagonist is learning, sprinkled with Chinese sayings. It has intrigued me and I think I’m in for the long haul. I want to see where this goes, how the language and thought process develops, how it ends.

Traveling through books is one of my favorite pastimes and also reading about peoples lives. I don’t always know whose lives will pull me in, wanting to read more, wanting to get to know the person more, read (hear about their experiences).

A couple of these that have recently come to my attention are Take Off Your Shoes: One Man’s Journey from the Boardroom to Bali and Back by Ben Fender. I am looking forward to traveling alongside Mr. Fender and his family. I’ve read up until the point where the transition begins and am happily awaiting getting back to the journey. The writing is clean and already I feel like I’m just beginning to know his family.

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying Yes to Living by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle. How could I not be inspired by a 90 year old woman, who is diagnosed with uterine cancer, and decides to say yes to life , join her son and daughter-in-law on an adventure on wheels, living out the time she has left in what may possibly be her last hurrah.

I came across these books from the daily BookBub email that I signed up for. I have found out about many great deals from them. It’s great!

http://www.bookbub.com

I came across the book, The Novel Cure while I was looking for another book in the library shelves. I like the concept of being prescribed a book for what ails you. I also like the idea of being introduced to books that I may not come across or some that I’ve read to see what the ailment was. A fun one to flip through.

Here I sit, writing in my journal, one of my tippity-top forms of happiness and one of which I’ve been depriving myself from enjoying.

Here I sit feeling the cold on my arms,
feeling my muscles tense with the chill.
One last sip from my teacup,
minty freshness perks my senses.
I hear the television in the background,
the aroma of someone’s hearty dinner wafting in the air,
happiness found in the tap tap tap of fingers on the keyboard,
as thoughts connect with words connect with the page,
making the day feel alright.

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It’s nice to have a day off. I’ve been in my new job now for a little over five months. The timing was right to leave my old job and I had no idea or expectation that things would work out as they did. I did put my faith in God, in the higher powers of the Universe; I prayed for guidance each day to let me know, to offer some sign…now here I am, with many serendipitous moments along the way.

I feel grateful. There is a probationary period–9 months; after I reach that hurdle, it will be official. Until then, I wait, I work, I rejoice for the opportunity.

Today I visited the library, it’s where I gravitate on my day’s off. I visited two today and here I sit in the second as I type these words out. I always enjoy browsing through the “New Books” shelves to see what I may have missed. I checked out a small stack and purchased two used books from the Friends of the Library bookstore. I had listened to the audio of The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery years ago and have recently wanted to revisit it in book form. I remember listening intently to the story and am glad that I listened first. It may have been harder for me to find the right voices in my head for the characters and I may not have been as open to the young character who is planning her suicide.

Another audio that I’m happy to have listened to is Anna Karenina read by the actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal. I had sampled other versions, the readers not piquing my interest, but when I read about how much she loved the story, and upon hearing for myself–the care and passion that comes through effortlessly, I was immediately drawn in and have since listened to the story several times over. What a treat to the ears, the mind, and heart.

At my first library stop, fiction mostly was the aim. Here at my second stop, creativity and food won me over. It is getting close to lunch, so of course a bowl of soup or any Latin American dish sounds scrumptious. I couldn’t pass up Literary Yarns: Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Books by Cindy Wang, since I love anything to do with books and my mother-in-law has been knitting hats, I thought she might enjoy a look at this book for some added inspiration and whimsy.

I know I won’t read all of these books, or the countless samples I’ve downloaded to Kindle or the freebies, or…

I’ve always enjoyed audio books and lately I’ve listened to more and more because I have extra time in the car on my way to and from work. I still read books, more slowly than usual. But even if I only get to know a book quickly, read a small portion of it–I tell myself that it counts for something; it counts for getting to know the book, if only a quick tryst. It’s better to have been acquainted, than our paths never crossing. A quick hello, or time over a cup of tea, and then goodbye, possibly only having this one chance meeting or perhaps our paths will cross again.

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.  

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.