A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘Online Writing

A ROW80 Goal Post

A few months ago, I had a plan.

Actually, I’ve had plans and been executing them, step-by-step, most of the time I have not posted here.  Life has been…  well, Life.  Crazy, unpredictable, sometimes hellish, sometimes wonderful—mostly it’s been a blur that I remember only through looking over notes and drawings in my travel journal.  Maybe this is a good thing….  a topic I think I will try to develop into a real post for my Wednesday ROW80 check-in.

We’ll see.

You may wonder why I say “We’ll see” when I am writing up (albeit late) my list of goals for the Round of Words in 80 Days challenge.  After all, shouldn’t I be committing to regular posts and improving my writing?

The answer is “probably”.  Lately though, beyond my maintenance of the ROW80 site and blog, I’ve spent more of my word-related headspace in reading.  Some video time, but mostly reading and learning what appeals to me as a consumer of stories.  I’ve found that I run through an average-sized cozy in a day, I love a series, and that I’m the kind of reader (and watcher) who should never start a series when it’s new—if I have to wait for the next book… I may never return to it.

I do need to return my attention to some writing output however.  Which is why I’m making this post.

So here goes, my (8-week now) plan for the ROW80 challenge:

  • a daily note of something that has happened (journal)
  • continue to devour books
  • a once-a-week post about the books I’ve read
  • continue work on the ROW80 blog
  • outline (this first week) and then rough draft the new story that has been tossing in my head about one of ‘Listii’s covert missions

It’s not a great list.  It’s just a start…  long term goals don’t really work for me.  That’s something else I’ve discovered in my lull from posting.  Neither do breaks…  I need to maintain a consistency of scheduled events or the clutter of Life’s demands takes over and I lose sight of the place I’m trying to get to.  My ROW80 goals are as much a daily thing as anything, but I’ll be updating them weekly.

And maybe that more than anything is my goal for this Round of Words.  Be achieve some consistency in Life.

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Progress is a funny thing.  Little steps suddenly reveal themselves as mountains conquered, while the grand journeys I had set upon seem stuck at port from an infestation of teredo navalis.*

That’s where my writing lingers of late…  stuck in dry dock, awaiting repairs as I play catch up with the world around me.  I am getting caught up with my critique group (after being behind by five critiques), but the tally of new words this week—for the whole week—was less than 500.  At least this is not counting class discussions for the MOOCS I’m doing at FutureLearn; my class participation is on track.

As for the rest of my progress?

  • Write my five sentences daily — nope
  • At least three days a week, write a page, front-to-back — nope
  • Make weekly progress in travel plans for UK trip this Spring —check
  • Post here once weekly with progress — missed last week, but did post my Wednesday check-in at Many Worlds
  • Maintain and update the ROW80 blog/site and linkies once a week — check
Things still undone....

Things still undone….

Not much progress, as you can see.  The England trip is almost completely sketched out (important, but not since we’re not going until the end of April, more a case of me obsessing over things).  I’ve fixed links on the ROW80 blog and tweaked some of the links (and am starting to work out a system that will stop me from running late every post).  I’ve even changed computers and started two classes.

I’ve done a lot.  Just not a lot of writing…  Guess it’s time to work on that next, hmm?

* Keeps crossing my mind lately because of the Shipwrecks and Archaeology class I’m taking via Futurelearn and a Great Courses lecture series we have about Ancient Technology…  how a silly thing like a worm could decide some of the greatest battles in history.
The Many Worlds Interpretation

The Many Worlds Interpretation (Photo credit: EJP Photo)

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.

Tachycineta bicolor English: A Tree Swallow in...

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?

“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.  

Bosna - modlitba

Last week, if you checked in here you found a lovely piece by my guest blogger, Elaine Stock.  As I noted “Your Inspirations” will run twice a month (1st and 3rd Mondays) and will feature thoughts and inspirations from guests around the web and beyond. I hope you will join me on March 19th for a visit from Mrs. Bongle, whose post about tea and writing inspire me to use language more effectively and gracefully.

Today’s feature revolves around a different style of inspiration.  Books!  Or in this case, book reviews….  As part of my trying to offer a semi-consistent schedule here at the Garden of Delights and to track the progress of my Bookmarks Challenge, I will be alternating book reviews with Your Inspirations (2nd and 4th Mondays).

And for the first installment:
Love Thy Neighbor A personal account of Peter Maass’s experiences as a war correspondent in the Balkans during early 1990s

It’s a catchy title Love They Neighbor: A Story of War, and Maass uses it well, more as admonishment than anything else.  Any story that highlights the tragedy of war and the politics that perpetuate such suffering can quickly fade into what Maass himself refers to as “warporn”, and occasionally a section of the novel pushes that barrier between informative and expressively pornographic.   More so at the beginning of the book where Maass is himself reliving the intensity of the things he saw in Bosnia and the causes of his determination to become a journalist there.  But most often, we are drawn into the human experience that made this conflict.  We see the victims as people with dreams and aspirations as real as our own.

And through Maass’s careful commentary, we see the aggressors in the same compassionate light.

At times Love Thy Neighbor almost pains the readers as much as it informs.  The grief seems so inevitable when read in the beginning of the book, but Maass toys with his readers delicately, introducing historical instances of violence in the Balkans, stories of the extreme cruelty that has erupted in the region over the past 400 years.  Yet,  in the same pages, he speaks of the many years of peace and of the multicultural paradise that had once been Yugoslavia, an in particular the city of Sarajevo.

As a reader I could not question his words from experience here.  My one chance to go travel behind the Iron Curtain before it fell was foolishly squandered in chasing boys and avoiding schoolwork.  As rebellion was slowly fomenting in the East, it was being enacted with even less focus or sense on my own life.  But unlike the chaos that was about to rip apart the lives of hundreds of thousands, mine could be contained through introspection and patience.

Not so for the people of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia.  Not in 1992…

English: An exhumed mass grave in Potocari, Bo...I confess I do not like (or agree) with all the political observations that Maass makes in his book.  Granted, we both have very skewed perceptions of the conflict and the external circumstances.  And even more important for the reader, I am neither a historian nor a political scientist (positions  that would allow me to make an educated opinion on why people can be convinced to kill a friend, a neighbor, even a complete stranger just by the manipulation of others).

But my distance has some virtue as well.  I also was not as directly affected by the pain and suffering of good people and friends.  Unlike Maass, I cannot make accusations of insensitivity based on political hopes being squandered because the President didn’t stop Serbia from invading and destroying the “safe zones” of Bosnia.  Maass  blamed Clinton, but he didn’t blame Bush Sr. equally for not seeing the stirrings of excessive nationalism being allowed free rein.  He blamed the Labour Party in England, the French, the appeasers as he calls them…

He’s right…  at least as someone who experienced so much of the diplomatic “we’re a peaceful people” stabs from various figures in Serbia and even Croatia can be.   Maass daily saw the homes of doctors and architects, of farmers and school teachers being destroyed;  he witnessed interment camps where Bosnian Muslims were turned from human beings into skeletons…

Maass, for a few years, lived where Bosnian Muslims were made aware they were Muslims and not Bosnians. …  Where the seeds of the present day Sharia law in the Balkans, and the increased strife in the world between Muslims and Christians and Jews may not have been sown, but were certainly fertilized on the blood of the innocent and peacefully integrated.  Maass saw that pain, and he knew too many of those people as people.  He could not afford to be unbiased.

And sadly, I can.

It’s interesting to note that just after I finished the book, I watched a few Castle episodes this weekend and had similar thoughts to Maass’s closing chapter on how quickly Yugoslavia fell from peace into hell on earth.  Even if you don’t like the show, the (two-part) episodes “Pandora” and “Linchpin” are worth watching…  For those of you who say “It would never happen here”.  Watch it.

And, while it is not a work of “Great Literature” and it is clear that the author has forfeited his journalistic neutrality with joyous delight, Love Thy Neighbor was a wonderful book.  There is enough eloquence and despair and love, to stir the coldest hearts.  But read it with both open eyes and an open heart.

Another Mini Mash-Up today…  Really, it’s difficult to do anything but mash-ups when so many interesting things are going on all over the web lately.  It feels really wonderful to be part of such a creative global community.

The news first:

As I noted on Tuesday, I will be hosting my very first guest blogger, Elaine Stock, who will be sharing with us those things that inspired her to write and tell stories.  A writer of  faith-based fiction, Elaine’s curiosity and love of people has led her to welcome writers and readers from all over the world to tell their stories.  If you have the time, pop over to her page and check out some her guests.  You won’t be disappointed.

Now for the fun stuff:

Flash fiction!  Yep, as I posted for my recent ROW80 update, I’ve finally gotten myself back into the Swing of Things, and that means some Friday Flash Fiction.  It’s not as if I’ve kept up with my flash fiction of late.  No Five Minute Getaways…  No random prompts…  I am even behind on my Three Word Wednesday posts over at Many Worlds From Many Minds.

Well, to make up for some lost time, here is a piece of quasi-inspired writing to (hopefully) amuse you.

Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog gets a lot of traffic on Fridays because of the flash fiction challenges he posts, and normally I wouldn’t have bothered with an expired contest, but I felt a need to write a piece (albeit a week late) for Chuck’s The 10K Contest  where people were supposed to write a full story of less than 100 words in five sentences.

Her footsteps creaked on the stairs as she came down slower than normal.  He knew she’d heard about the shooting as soon as he saw her tear-stained face.  Steeling himself, “Honey, there was a–,” he started to say.  He reached out to wipe away a tear, wrapping his other arm around her, but she stiffened against the bulk of the P225 under his coat.

Refusing to give up faced with going to their son’s funeral alone, he clung to her, sobbing in her hair, “I didn’t know it was Bobby–I honestly didn’t know….”

That’s it.  Not much to it, I’m afraid.  There was supposed to be more, but due to technical issues I regret to inform you that those pieces have been canceled.  I am endeavoring to reschedule them for a later date.  😉


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

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