A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘Online Writing’ Category

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I had the pleasure of making Laird’s acquaintance almost two years ago now through our local Atheist and Agnostics Group.  At that time, I just knew he was an amazingly friendly guy, that his wife was amazingly patient with my son (who wanted to regale her with story upon story from books he loved), and that the conversation (which was very hard to follow in the crowd) often touched on ancient civilizations and science, both topics that enthrall me.

I asked Laird if he would write a piece on the sort of things that inspire him.  As you can imagine by his diverse interests, he savors the world, but I’ll let him explain how in his own words.  Without further ado, please welcome Laird Scranton to Your Inspirations:

For me, inspiration – the spark that breathes life into an idea – is something that comes much more easily when I surround myself with interesting people, situations, activities, and ideas.   As with most things, the more immersed I am in an active exchange of interesting ideas, the easier it seems to be for me to come up with an interesting one of my own.

I often feel that inspiration can be triggered by little things, like some incidental thought that may cross my mind during the day, a simple phrase that I casually overhear, or the unexpected answer someone gives to a question I have asked. 

Situations that offer changes in perspective also seem to help promote the processes of inspiration, and so I like brain teasers, optical illusions, mysteries, puns, and a funny new joke.  I really appreciate being around children, in part because they are often not as practiced at seeing the world in the same old predefined ways.

Sometimes I even think to do things to change my own perspective. For example, try saying the same word over and over again so many times that you effectively disconnect the sound from the meaning.

 At times I find inspiration in simple everyday mistakes. I have a friend who once briefly failed to recognize the word “fruit” because his mind somehow interpreted the letters as “fru –it”.   My wife Risa recalls a time when her brother couldn’t remember whether the word “of” should be spelled OV or UV.

When I was in middle school, I became aware that I often found humor in things that almost no one else around me thought were funny.  That still happens – just ask my wife.

I make an effort to pay close attention to my dreams, since I’ve often seen important thoughts play out in them. My dreams are sometimes set in unusual locales that can reappear again and again, and which I have learned to navigate with complete familiarity.  I recently discovered one of these locales to be a neighborhood I actually lived in when I was only two years old, even though I had no conscious recollection of it.

Finally, as the word implies, I know that inspiration really should be as easy and natural as breathing in and out. The trick may be to simply pay close attention while you’re busy breathing. 

Laird Scranton

Laird Scranton CPAK 2008 image

A software designer by trade, Laird Scranton enjoys exploring the intersection of history, mythology, and science.  His curiosity has inspired to write four books to date on topics that range from the analysis of the oral and symbolic teachings of the Dogan people in Mali to a reassessment of the Young Venus theory proposed by Immanuel Velikovsky .  He has published articles through various universities, including Colgate and Temple.  He has a degree in English from Vassar College.  He lives in Albany, NY.

For further information on Laird’s writing, please check these links:

The Storyteller in Uncertainty

Inspired or nudged or something by both Shan Jeniah and Shah, I’m adding my two cents into Shah’s Storyteller Challenge due today.  Or maybe it was the cool picture–See?

Does she manage to soar?

As She Said

The wings felt heavy, unnatural.  It should have been a clue, but the desire to escape the confines of her day-to-day life seemed so strong, so powerful, Naria accepted them.  How could she not, she thought?  How could anyone refuse the chance to soar free, above the clouds, to live, even for a moment like the birds…

The  djinni had warned that few could wear the wings and make themselves a part of the living bird spirit that existed within them.  Death came to those the bird spirit refused.

But what of those it accepted, Naria had asked, several times, demanding the djinni answer her, even to the loss of her last favored wish.  She had to know.  Could she become as the birds in the sky?  Would she stay human, bird, both?

The answer had been unsatisfying to say the least.  How could a djinni not know such things? He had sworn even to the oath of his royal family in the Planes of Ether that there had been those the bird spirit in the wings had accepted.  Death had not taken all those he had been sent to gift.  And yet, he could only answer her with “They became what they were already.”

A truly unsatisfying answer

Still, even if it were a moment of escape, a moment to try on the life that she would never experience again, to see the world in a new light than than of her husband’s kingdom, her oversight of the servants, the petty squabbles of her fostering ladies…  If she could have but a moment to be more than she was, she would not refuse to take it.

“I won’t fall,” she told herself  as she crept to the top of the highest tower of the castle.  She paused at the window ledge, weary from hauling the large wrapped bundle up the stairs, held as carefully away from her body as she could in the tightness of the stone stairways.  It had suddenly seemed vital to protect the delicate barbs of the fathers from harm.  Every quill must remain solid and firm.

She knew this, and as soon as she’d entered the tiny chamber, she had gently laid out the plumage, inspecting it carefully, soothing it, feeling it, cool yet warm and alive under her fingers.  And, though the djinni had told her otherwise, saying she should spread the wings out inside out and lay upon them till they became with her flesh,, Naria erected them, tenting them over her body as she crouched, bare to any eyes that might see.  The wings felt heavy and unnatural, pressing her body into the stiff straw pad of the bed.

And now, they felt even heavier, drawing back her shoulders as she tried to stand straight and proud the way she’d always been taught.  Chest in, she heard her nurse scold, though the woman had been dead many years now.  Do not show  a man more than he need see to know you are virtuous, her tutors had lectured.  But try as habit forced her to do, she could not, her back wearied from her journey up the several flights of stairs already, and  Naria felt herself drawn forward, chest pressed to the world defiantly.

Forward, unsteady, weary, wobbly, from where she stood, looking down over her husband’s lands.  “I will not fall,” she told herself once more, even as she felt herself totter.  A moment’s panic gripped her, but she vowed it yet again.

“I will NOT fall.”

And she did not try to hold on.  She faced what was to come, whatever her choice would bring.  She could not fall, she realized, because she had already escaped.  She was already free.  She had already done as she’d wished.

Naria did not fall.

There was a second prompt to write about; a timed prompt for 3mins.  It could be in any genre, any form, just three minutes…
————————

Treacle:

TIMED WORD ASSOCIATION:Treacle, Bloated, Yesterday.

Sweet the pudding words you told me, treacle to my ears and heart
Yesterday your mind was showing, you spoke some thing,
Pop art, urban deco, bloated with your self-importance, thinking foolish
hardly worth my time and thought

Yesterday, your words were treacle,they tasted sweet, they warmed my soul
Today your words smell of noxious vapors, putrid bloated in my bowl

I don’t want to touch them, don’t want to taste, don’t to smell.

I can’t even wash them

 

We’re back on schedule here at the Garden of Delights, and that means Your Inspirations.  Today I have the honor of welcoming a wonderful writer (and an incredibly helpful and outgoing person), Martine  Svanevik, the self-named nascent novelist.  When you have a chance, please step over to her blog and read her most recent piece on Stories That Stick or any of a number of others

Writing in Public

cup of coffee

There are two types of writers: reclusive and social. The reclusive writers hide away in corners, go on solitary retreats and lock themselves away so they can write. The social writers join groups and collectives, and like to go to parks or cafes to get their writing done.

Often, non-social writers and readers have the preconception that social writers are hipsters or posers or both. That their Macbook airs are open on blank pages because they have nothing of depth to offer, that they sit at cafes to be seen, while real writers hide away, shaping their words in private. But really, it’s all about the kind of environment you draw inspiration from.

The cafe writer enjoys the buzz of human interaction, she thrives on catching snippets of other people’s conversations, she needs a space where the tap-tap-tapping of fingers on keyboards won’t thunder through an empty room.

She knows that her words are written so they can be shared, and that it’s only in the reading of them that they serve a purpose, so she writes them in public. Or maybe she feels like the only place she can truly be in her own space, is in a crowd. That her muse hides in that special silence you get when you’re surrounded by noise and movement. Sure the laptop sets her apart, but it doesn’t define her.

Now, I’m not saying there’s a right way to write, or that everyone would gain a circumstance bonus from sitting in a noisy crowd. I am in awe of writers who are so comfortable in their own head that they can spend most of their time alone in there. What I am saying is that the search for inspiration might take us weird places, but as long as we’re willing to chase our muse, who cares where she leads us? I’m sure it’s going to be somewhere good.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to steal a snippet of conversation from the girls next to me, and then figure out the definition of a “Toronto bro.”

The elegant, creative Martine

Martine, lovely both inside and out

About Martine Helene Svanevik

Martine Helene Svanevik is a fiction writer from Montreal. She spends her days editing text for computer games, her evenings powerlifting and crossfitting, and her nights writing twisted stories set in a darker world than our own.

She blogs about writing and training over on nascentnovelist.wordpress.com and can often be found wasting time on twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/martinemonster).

“Audacity, more audacity and always audacity.” by Georges Jacques Danton

If you’re online, you get spam some way, some how.  From proclamations of  wealth overseas to titillating your lover better than any other man (which always struck me as funny, for obvious reasons), most spam is a horrible waste of time and mental energy.  And of course, the dangers of falling for the spammers’ tricks could fill several blog pages…

But did you know that spam could be fun?  Or empowering?

Well, it can at least be somewhat fun. Read the rest of this entry »

With many apologies to our guest, Janet Parfitt, for being a week late with posting this piece, I wish to offer her a warm welcome to the Garden of Delights as she shares one of her writing inspirations with us.  I especially enjoy reading things that Janet posts, because (barring becoming a rock star), we share so many common interests.  It always fascinates me to see the differences that occur even among common threads.

So, without further ado, please welcome, Janet Parfitt:

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

         You only have to look in your local bookshop or go to Amazon to see that there are thousands, if not millions, of books about creative writing.  An amazing amount of people have written on the subject with a lot of conflicting advice.  There are those who tell you basically to just sit down and start writing and then there are those who say you should plan out every scene, character, setting and plot twist before you start.

You might wonder who all these people are and what makes them qualified to give you advice on writing.  But there is one guy who I don’t think anyone in their right mind would question because he is the best-selling writer in the entire universe and his name is Steven King.

King’s book entitled “On Writing” is the best book ever written about the process of creative writing.  I mean, what he doesn’t know can’t be worth knowing, right?  And, as you would expect, it’s very well written; part biography and part writing manual, it’s all good.  My favourite bit is the first sentence of the second foreword which goes “This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.[1]”  You got to love the man for writing that!

He goes on to say that “If you want to be a writer, then you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.  There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.[2]”  This is not a book padded out with lists or the same writing tips given out over and over, just phrased slightly differently.  And it doesn’t have that school-marm slightly superior tone that says ‘I know better than you do.’  What he does is tell it to you straight; here’s another excerpt to show you what I mean.  “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends.  In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.[3]

Thank you Steven!


[1] Steven King – On Writing.  P. xiii.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

[2] Steven King – On Writing.  P. 164.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

[3] Steven King – On Writing.  P. 326.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

On Writing

Now in her late 40’s, Janet Parfitt has filled her creative reservoirs with the labors of many crafts.  Diverse jobs such as filing clerk in a tax office, chamber maid in a hotel, vending machine maintenance in the (now closed) Kodak factory in Harrow and Wealdstone (UK) and sous chef in a restaurant supplemented her reading to inspire stories, poems, songs and dreams of becoming a rock star.  Led Zeppelin, animal welfare, words of beauty, the mysteries of the occult stir her passions almost as much as her family and lovely husband.  Raised in North London, she has a degree in history.  She runs a writing related magazine Writing With Fire, a blog Mrs. Bongle, and can be found on Twitter at @MrsBongle.  She is a practising witch.  

A bit of an apology, and some commentary:

First,I need to apologize for not having my guest piece up yesterday (or today).   Between missing some pieces of the post and being sick, I wasn’t up to posting things.  It will go up next Monday.  And thank you all for your patience with me.

And now the commentary…

I try to avoid reblogging, but find myself doing so all too often of late.  Sometimes it is simply because I feel I cannot say anything as potent as what I am reading in another’s words.  Other times, it feels only just to give the original author the accolades.  That very powerful piece by Christine Slaughter from The Dash Between I posted on St. Patrick’s Day, evoked so many memories for me…  I am grateful for the new awareness of my own rights that it gives me: And here, if you missed it, is the link:   http://brilliantlyred.wordpress.com/personal-bill-of-rights/

Institute of Mental Health 7, Nov 06

Institute of Mental Health 7, Nov 06 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This, of course, is not the only Personal Bill of Rights out there in the ether. A quick search helped me find many such pages. Most seem to revolve around people with problems: alcoholism, mental health issues, child and/or domestic abuse victims… It is both heartening and not to think that an affirmation of one’s value as a human being is so necessary among people who have not been able to receive the world’s fill of joy. The strength of will required to assert such self-value is good, and I cheers me to know that many have found that strength in the face of adversity.

But why does the existence of suffering make so many feel unworthy of simple human existence?

Like Christine and so many others, I have had my experiences that have left scars on my psyche. I do not dwell on them, or even analyze them (as I probably should). They helped mold who I am, but I am not defined by them or those who inflicted them. It’s wonderful that we are finding our voices in this world.

Especially when in watching articles such that this one from CNN, we find that too often, it takes an awareness that we are all human to realize that we all deserve the rights of humanity. How many of us do not know that we have rights as well?

Relevant Links:

Reblogged from The Dash Between:  with gratitude!

The Dash Between

The rights I’ve posted below are extremely important to me, because up until two years ago I didn’t believe I had many of them.

I think of an incident that happened when I was about 12 or 13.  I was listening to a Morrissey tape when my Mom walked past my room.  For those of you that are familiar with Morrissey, you know that most of his music sounds very depressing and fairly mellow.  At least it did when I was listening to it in the mid-80’s.  Mom happened to walk past at a particularly “drumm-y” intro and reacted in an unexpected way.  I was raised in a very conservative home, so the drums were too much.   She grabbed the tape out of the player, and started yelling at me about the horrible music.  I remembered trying to explain that it wasn’t all hard rock like she thought, but back-talking…

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