Archive for the ‘Online Writing’ Category
Today’s a hard one. As fellow challenge poet said in her piece The Cure, how does one write freely and not write as one’s self? I’m still a bit stumped, but I’m willing to wing it and see what happens.
For those interested in joining in, there’s still time on the linky. The “rules” as they are, are here: Poets on the Page Day 3
a phone rings.
in my chair,
alone in our room
my tea is nearly finished
so I set it down instead.
I want to stay here.
It’s too loud down there
with your television show
as you type away
on your computer
I don’t know how long I’ll continue posting these pieces–certainly for the rest of the week of the Poets on the Page challenge. As I said: the words need.
For day two, Julie Jordan Scott asked people to choose five things they could see from the vantage point of their reading the original challenge post (at least that’s the impression I took from the post). Then we were to choose one to write a poem about without naming it.
Of my five items (the Green Man, a peacock feather, fossils, rough wood paneling, and old ribbons from chocolate boxes), only one called out for a poem today:
So cold to touch
I trace you
The saw laid bare youth,
left points and sharp edges,
bands of color to abraid my fingers.
Now you shine, polished,
miniature valleys of ice.
Were you ever so warm
when you yet lived?
Normally I don’t post here the way I probably should, but the sweet Julie Jordan Scott is running a mini poetry challenge this week, and I felt I needed to join in. The words …want.
So here is my short poem (no form used) for Day 1 of the February Mini-Challenge of Poets on the Page:
red from the effort
of standing by,
as so many have passed
Image and linky to join up are on the Mini-Challenge page.
A little family story…
World Suicide Day: Preventing Tragic Loss (reblog, but original post removed from the now defunct site: CommuniCATE)
I grew up in a household where suicide was always felt (my great-grandfather had killed himself… it may sound like that should have been distant, but our family was a very extended one with me living with parents, grandparents and my great-grandmother in the same house). In that house, there was a room no one was supposed to go in, the room he shot himself in. The blood hadn’t even been cleaned after his body was removed and buried. They just closed the door and on rare occasions, someone would shove a box of “stuff” to stack in the room through the door… when the door could be reached. Usually stuff was piled in front of it.
The outside door to that room (it was the original kitchen to the house, and yes, after he died, they just made a second kitchen) overgrew with ivies, the small awning was allowed to just fall off the house, pulling some of the clapboard with it. The window broke and the barn cats would go and nest in there.
I used to want to know why that room was closed up so much. No one talked about it. If I tried to peek a look, either I risked poison ivy itches (not so bad for me, since as a kid I never caught the rash, but horrid for my uncle and grand-father since they could catch it from being around me) or being hollered at…. And the brief peeks I did catch never made much sense. What was so special about a dirty old kitchen filled with boxes and the corpses of mice and birds?
It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I’d pieced all the hints together. By then I’d been hospitalized for suicide attempts myself, my uncle had been living on antidepressants, my grand-father had been slowly recovering from alcoholism, …
Suicide does change things.
And for those wondering… a picture of the house in question. Of the door, even:
Signing in late today… it’s been a long day of time spent at DMV and driving, driving and more driving. Oh, and more driving…
But I could not let the day close out without welcoming author Barbara Chepaitis to the Garden of Delights as my guest blogger for the week. Writer, reader, English professor, and interpretive artist among so many other things, Barbara Chepaitis also is a creative cook who blogs about life and pets and recipes on her blog: A Literary Lunch. She just recently finished a virtual book tour and graciously took some time out to leave the clay soil of her own garden to spend time in ours. And oddly, both have clay, clay, shale and more clay….
Please welcome, Ms. Barbara Chepaitis.
INSPIRATION HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE
When I’m asked about the source of inspiration for my writing, I don’t want to just say inspiration is everywhere, it’s all material, and so on. That’s true, but not very helpful. Maybe the better question is how do I access it? How do I get just the thought I need, just when I need it?
That’s simple. I get it by keeping myself in a state of open awareness, ready to filter any events, flitting images and thoughts, swirls of song or bits of conversation, into the needs of my work. I think that’s true of most artists. We’re always ready for inspiration, because we know that if we’re ready, it always shows up.
Here’s an example. When Jaguar Addams, my protagonist in the ‘Fear’ series of novels, first appeared, I was on my way to visit a friend who’d just had a baby, and my thoughts roamed as they do when you’re driving. I was asking myself what I might write next. I was also asking myself if I wanted to have another child. I was wondering rather than worrying, open to guidance rather than needing answers. In my tape player the Eurythmics song “No Fear, No Hate, No Broken Hearts,” was playing the opening lines – well, in the morning when our day begins/ and it feels like cold, dark steel.
Immediately, a woman with oceanic green eyes rose up, fixed me with her intent and told me quite clearly, “What you’ll do next is write me.”
She was Jaguar Addams, and I did exactly as she asked.
So you could say the source of inspiration was the song, but it had to combine with specific personal questions, and a state of open wondering.
In short, I was listening, both internally and externally.
Our culture gives more kudos to smooth talkers than good listeners, but for writers – perhaps all artists – that skill is the underpinning of inspiration. In fact, in the graduate writing classes I teach, one of the first things I make students do is spend ten minutes silently observing their environment. I tell them to listen with their eyes, their skin, and their heart as well as their ears. They’re always amazed at how much material they come away with.
Once they catch on, they can put themselves in that state more readily, and so inspiration falls into their waiting, open, hands.
Simple, right? Yes, but in our busy, frantic, noisy and cluttered world, it takes practice. Consummate artists practice it, literally, to the end of their lives. The great Irish harpist and composer, Carolan, composed his last piece on his deathbed – Carolan’s Farewell. Alan Ginsberg’s obituary said he spent his last hours with family and friends, and wrote six poems. They’d become so good at it, even the spectre of death didn’t chase their inspiration away.
So if you’re a writer seeking inspiration, or a reader wondering where it comes from, go sit on your front stoop or in your yard. Relax, and give all your attention to what’s around you. Then listen to your own heart. Reflect on what you’ve observed, and write about it.
And keep writing. Keep listening.
Barbara Chepaitis is author of eight published novels and two nonfiction books. Her most recent novel is The Green Memory of Fear, fifth book in the ‘fear’ series featuring Jaguar Addams. She is also director of the fiction writing program at Western College of Colorado’s Master’s program in creative writing.
Her Jaguar Addams novels can be found at Wildside Books, http://www.wildsidebooks.com/CHEPAITIS-B-A_c_315.html
- Guest Post by Barbara Chepaitis author of The Green Memory of Fear (alchemyofscrawl.wordpress.com)
- Your Inspirations Welcomes Martine Svanevik (edenmabee.wordpress.com)
A little upkeep is needed here, with a few announcements.
- First there are some wonderful upcoming features coming up including a review of Diane Ackerman‘s eloquent One Hundred Names For Love (May 14th) and a delightful guest piece in Your Inspirations by Barbara Chepaitis (May21th)
- I’m in the process of merging both this blog and Many Worlds, but the process is becoming far more emotionally stacked than I would like it to be. Please stop in occasionally for updates.
For the moment, please allow me to share a piece with you I’d written for the StoryDam Writing Challenge prompt this week
Spring time is about new beginnings and with new beginnings you have choices. We often are so excited to see the first days of spring turning into warmer days of outdoor fun, new projects, gardening, home improvement, new outlooks and decisions that have to be made if you want to start something new. Is there a doorway you always wanted to go through but allowed something to hold you back? What great adventure might have been waiting on the other side of that opening?
Dam Burst Prompt:
Write fiction or non-fiction, tell us what lies on the other side of the door. Will you take door number two or door number one? What magical wonders are just waiting for you to step through?
Despite writing this piece on the 30th of April, I’ve been unable to do anything with it until today…. It’s fairly raw. Still I hope you enjoy it. Sometimes life simply “is”.
Two doors… Where do they lead? Choices, choices…
A watchman stands at the door to the left. With promises of the stable life, the known life, everyone else seems eager to enter that door. Get your papers in order. The watchman–or watchwoman, depending on how you get here–deals with this every day. Just pass the information over and let him do his job.
He, or she will compare your papers to a checklist they keep. (Be careful–these guards all seem to have slightly different checklists!) It doesn’t matter what the little variation might be…. Child out of wedlock, too many job changes, a tattoo in a noticeable location… There are countless numbers of little things the guards check for.
After perhaps five strikes you have your papers handed back to you, and guard turns you from the line. There a few ways to get through the door even so. Perhaps you have a bonus supply of money or good looks or chutzpah… even talent can be used as currency to bribe the guard. If you have a surplus in some area, you still might get through. You can be one of the ones who has it all.
If you are smart, you may go over your papers on you own . Once you are in line, you’ve made you choice and unless the guard urges you out of line, you have to go through that door. You really have to mess up once you are on the other side to get sent back out to try again.
At least that’s what every one around you in line says, whispering in low, horrified voices, the sheer weight of ostracism held in each letter, each atom the air that is exhaled from their lips. They look askance at the ones that stand in line at the other door… Its blackened, muddied, peeling surface, dented and warped just enough that occasionally a whiff of “something” that doesn’t set well on your stomach escapes it. They have made it quite clear that you don’t want to enter that door.
That’s where those people go. You don’t want to be one of those people, do you? (They motion to their guard and say with pride “Why do you think we have to guard our door? Everyone wants to come in here. We have to be selective, you know.”)
And it does look so much nicer. There are flowers growing on a arbor over it. There is a light. Everything about their door is bright, clean. You once were near enough to catch the whiff of fresh clipped lawns and gentle perfumes as someone was let in.
But as you stand in the crowd, knowing that you should decide, already starting to step forward toward the door with the guard, you see someone push the other door open. This person hadn’t even considered the flowered, guarded door. He stepped out of the crowd boldly, he even seemed to smile when he got to the door and found it was stuck closed from having been warped so much. He pushed against it with all his weight, making his body into a battering ram in his determination to get through that door. And behind him, you could hear others calling to him saying “No! Please don’t do this!”
Suddenly, the door opens for him, just as the guarded door is opening for someone else, and you see inside for just the briefest moment. You see the guarded door and the rows of neat little boxes, of neat, carefully manicured grasses and faces, the sameness of it all.
Your eyes take it in in a second before you look back to the unguarded dooor as it creaks closed against the boy who has ducked into its depths. You see a multitude of colors and glaring brightness amidst devastating darkness, You hear music. You smell flowers and refuse and you hear laughter and tears.
You know that it’s all the same then. And why should you ask someone else yo judge you fit to simply “live”
We know the end result of both doors. The long term end that is. The doors all end in death. We cannot avoid it. Even if we were to try standing still and never move, we have chosen our exit from the world. And what a sad, desperate exit that is too. So what exit do we chose to use?
- Watchman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- Ipsden: inside the church porch Entering the 1761088 and closing the outer door behind you, it soon becomes clear that the porch does not have much in the way of illumination. Not having looked beforehand, I had to reopen the outer door so as to find the handle of the inner door. Here, we look back at the closed outer door, facing south on a bright sunny day as sunlight seeps in through gaps in the woodwork and under the door. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- Roses along a trellis, Interbay P-Patch (community garden), Interbay neighborhood, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today would normally be Book Review Monday. I’m behind in my writing. Sorry. Life has been a bit more “interesting” of late than I expected it to be….in a good way.
So this is instead a little news post.
I’m going back to college. After years (literally) of considering the pros and cons of going back to school for something that I feel quite passionate about but felt unready for, I decided I will be going back to school for Psychology. It’s all part of the joy I gather in learning about people, trying to help people, and just learning in general.
Next, be prepared for a change in both design and format of this blog as it becomes my primary and I work to slowly retire Many Worlds. You may see posts here that seem to have little to do with this blog’s general theme as I port all my older posts over. They aren’t that alien in truth. Writing, creativity, passion… Here or there, I have always strove to experience and share them.
And I will be sharing all of these things here….
For the moment though, let me share with you an image of a little guy (not him exactly, since his brief time with me was spent being held and nursed, not with cameras flashing at him) who shared my morning with me today. Not of his choice exactly. I’m sure he thought he had more time than he did as he tried to swoop in front of our car.
Did you know that it’s believed that tree swallows were once considered a sign of good fortune for seamen?