Mary’s Expression: Embracing the Passion

Mary's dove music boxI am a passionate person. Most people don’t get to see that. In fact, most people don’t really see me at all. I’m the quiet one in the background, invisible. At times I felt there wouldn’t even be a ripple if left. No one would notice. But there have been a few special people who have seen through that invisible shield, seen the passion I have inside.

I have a strong empathy for people. This leads me to blindly trust, believing a person to express truthfully. I need to believe in the goodness of people. There is so much pain and ugliness in the world. I’d rather see the beauty, even if it blinds me. I’m sure I’ve been lucky so far. I haven’t been badly burned. Not since I was little anyway… but I digress. I live by my emotions. My head may plan and compare and list, but my emotions are generally stronger. They’ve gotten me into much more trouble than my blind trust.

But I’d rather feel strongly than not at all. In eighth grade I was hospitalized for depression. Depression isn’t a feeling, it’s not accurate to describe it as sadness. It’s a lack of feeling. No sadness, joy, passion, pain. It’s a lack of emotion. It’s much more dangerous to not care than it is to feel. At least this way I can experience, learn, and grow, rather than remain stagnant. It can be so easy to retreat within myself, to block out all emotion, but that blocks out people as well. People that are an important, wonderful part of my life. People that care for me. Maybe that’s why I haven’t tried to control my feelings. I’m afraid that if I block one emotion I’ll do the same to the rest. I can’t afford to go back to that. I have responsibilities, people that need me. So, I will direct my passion rather than cut it off completely.

There are many things in this world that I enjoy, but there are few that I am truly passionate about, that I cannot live my life without. As you may have surmised, my close friends and family are up at the top. Other passions include dancing, poetry, my fantasy novel, books, playing the piano, and nature. I thought I could live without the last, but I find I crave fresh air. I need to spend time outside, feel the sun and the wind. These passions are what make me feel alive. Take away one of my passions and I will survive. Without a piano, I could only play when I visited my parents. But, as I crave the outdoors, I crave to feel my fingers on the keys of a piano. To make music, let it enfold me. As I read, the urge to write my own stories builds. They are all connected. Take away all my passions and I think I would die. What would I have left to live for? My fire would burn out. I’m grateful to those who have seen my passion and helped to keep the fires alive.

What are you grateful for? What are your passions? What drives you?

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Mary's Expression: Embracing the Passion

Mary's dove music boxI am a passionate person. Most people don’t get to see that. In fact, most people don’t really see me at all. I’m the quiet one in the background, invisible. At times I felt there wouldn’t even be a ripple if left. No one would notice. But there have been a few special people who have seen through that invisible shield, seen the passion I have inside.

I have a strong empathy for people. This leads me to blindly trust, believing a person to express truthfully. I need to believe in the goodness of people. There is so much pain and ugliness in the world. I’d rather see the beauty, even if it blinds me. I’m sure I’ve been lucky so far. I haven’t been badly burned. Not since I was little anyway… but I digress. I live by my emotions. My head may plan and compare and list, but my emotions are generally stronger. They’ve gotten me into much more trouble than my blind trust.

But I’d rather feel strongly than not at all. In eighth grade I was hospitalized for depression. Depression isn’t a feeling, it’s not accurate to describe it as sadness. It’s a lack of feeling. No sadness, joy, passion, pain. It’s a lack of emotion. It’s much more dangerous to not care than it is to feel. At least this way I can experience, learn, and grow, rather than remain stagnant. It can be so easy to retreat within myself, to block out all emotion, but that blocks out people as well. People that are an important, wonderful part of my life. People that care for me. Maybe that’s why I haven’t tried to control my feelings. I’m afraid that if I block one emotion I’ll do the same to the rest. I can’t afford to go back to that. I have responsibilities, people that need me. So, I will direct my passion rather than cut it off completely.

There are many things in this world that I enjoy, but there are few that I am truly passionate about, that I cannot live my life without. As you may have surmised, my close friends and family are up at the top. Other passions include dancing, poetry, my fantasy novel, books, playing the piano, and nature. I thought I could live without the last, but I find I crave fresh air. I need to spend time outside, feel the sun and the wind. These passions are what make me feel alive. Take away one of my passions and I will survive. Without a piano, I could only play when I visited my parents. But, as I crave the outdoors, I crave to feel my fingers on the keys of a piano. To make music, let it enfold me. As I read, the urge to write my own stories builds. They are all connected. Take away all my passions and I think I would die. What would I have left to live for? My fire would burn out. I’m grateful to those who have seen my passion and helped to keep the fires alive.

What are you grateful for? What are your passions? What drives you?

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My Voice

I’ve been thinking about voice a lot lately. Voice, as in writer’s voice, what is it, where does it come from, what influences it. As a writer, I love words and word play, have a good knowledge of English grammar, can speak, read and write French well enough to carry on a conversation, read a book, and appreciate some of the differences in the grammars. I enjoy humor and like writing all kinds of humorous poetry.

Many things have influenced me as a writer, but one of the biggest was my father. An attorney who appeared twice before the Supreme Court, he love the English language and was adamant about correct usage. Every time my sister or I would make a mistake, he would repeat the whole rule and its explanation. Not simply the correction. The whole, blasted thing. He also refused, generally, to give us the meaning of a word; he made us look them up ourselves. At the time I found the whole thing beyond annoying. Now I view it as one of the biggest gifts he could have given me.

He also encouraged us to read widely. I recall reading Damon Runyon and O’Henry among others at about age twelve, and having to look up about one word in every sentence. Talk about vocabulary building! And I can still recall discussions about points of grammar around the dinner table.

The New York Times crossword puzzle was another big influence, in that it led to my developing my own algorithm for generating rhymes. I am an auditory learner, and one day while doing the puzzle, searching for a word where I had the first letter, I realized that there were a very limited selection of sounds that could follow:
Consonant plus L sound: for example C plus L as in clap
Consonant plus R sound: for example C plus L as in crap
For some, Consonant plus W sound:   C plus W sound would be cwap — nope, that one’s not a word.
For S, C, and T: consonant plus H
For letter q: KW is the sound
Special case : S : S plus most of the others: S plus C , S plus C plus L, S plus C plus R…

But NOTE well.  We’re talking about SOUNDS, not spelling. I use C for the K sound.
If you’re visual and this throws you off, this system might not work for you. fat frat flat

I’ve used this algorithm for years. I love to rhyme, and although I now occasionally look up the rhymes using rhymezone.com, I can go through my own algorithm pretty quickly. I do better that way, because it forces me to contemplate each word and whether or not it would fit in the poem.

Although I love music and play the flute and the piccolo, I don’t listen to music as I write, nor do I see images when I listen to music. When I listen to music, I listen to music. It evokes emotions, but I don’t see pictures unreeling in my brain. I know some writers are inspired by music, like to write to music, and the like. I don’t, not in the way most people mean. I do find music to be very freeing when I’m letting my mind wander, contemplate plot, character, or whatever.

I have written several poems that were music-inspired. In  the cases I can remember, I was in my car listening to the radio when a particular song — or songs — got me started on a poem. Here is one of them. The first part of the first stanza was what was happening when the Kenny Chesney song started to play on the radio. I did have to go search out the titles of some of his other songs in order to fill out my conception of the poem. I’m nobly resisting the urge to revise it. It was published in an ezine:

Crack Up

Swish through car-lit darkness
Past squares of light,
street signs sparkling green and white.
Roll down your window,
feel the lemon air
ruffle what’s left of your hair.
Kenny Chesney blaring on the radio
loud enough to silence the thoughts in your head
waiting to be drowned in a cold beer.

Your wheels slide through ghosts of clouds,
past skeleton trees waving bare arms,
past lighted windows with families eating
roast chicken, green beans, potatoes
while the letter from your daughter
crinkles in your back pocket,
your seat belt chafing as
Kenny croons Who you’d Be Today.

The smell of leaf smoke drifts
through the window
as you drive at twenty-five miles per hour
past the cop in the turn-out on your left,
as the rain starts dripping down your windshield
and your windshield wipers quit.
You reach for a beer
as Kenny starts singing Keg in the Closet

Your car drifts into the center of the road
as you drop the empty on the floor,
reach behind you for another,
one hand on the wheel.
The car skids on wet leaves
going around that curve in the road
you forgot was there
and Kenny sings Steamy Windows.

The sweat drips down your neck
as you wrestle with the steering wheel,
brake on the empties,
your seat belt unfastened.
Skid into the tree.
Glass arrows your cheek your eye.
You’re bleeding from your ear.
Somewhere Kenny’s singing How Forever Feels.

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Make Visible: Story a Day

It’s almost May…

On the Story a Day website it boldly says: StoryADay.org is home to an annual Extreme Writing Challenge:

Write a story every day in May.

Still confused.  Want more info.  Here are “The Rules” from StoryADay.org.

The Rules

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

The Story A Day Challenge is a creativity challenge.

It came about when I (Julie) needed to prove to myself that I could still actually write stories — not just talk about writing, read about writing or even write about writing!

I needed bootcamp.

I declared May 2010 to be StoryADay May and set about telling the world (to keep myself honest).

As other writers started to hear about it, they clamored to sign up. They got excited. They challenged themselves. They challenged their friends. They wrote a lot. And some of them went on to do great things.

So here we are, declaring May 2012 to be:

The 3rd Annual Story A Day May

The rules:

  • Write (finish) a story every day in May.

The details:

  • Stories may be any length (50 words? 5,000?) but they must be stories (they must take us or the characters somewhere).
  • Stories may be fiction or non-fiction (but if you’re already blogging in non-fiction or keeping a journal, consider trying fiction)
  • You get to decide what “every day” means. If you need to take Sundays off, go for it. You make your own rules, but you are encouraged to set them up early, and stick to them!
  • Sign up as part of the community here. Get a username and join in the groups and comments. (sign-ups open soon. join the StoryADay Advance Notice List to be first in line)
  • You can post your story at your site, or in the forums here or you can simply post an update in the Victory Dance Group saying that you completed that day’s story.

The point:

  • To foster creativity
  • To come out with 31 first drafts, nuggets, chapterettes, ideas, and
  • To prove that you can craft a story. Lots of stories. To practice that craft

What Should You Do Next?

  • Get on the Advance Notice List to find out when sign-ups open (I only open it up sporadically, to combat spam sign-ups) PLEASE email me at editor at story a day dot org or contact me on twitter @StoryADayMay if you have questions. Really sorry for any inconvenience.
  • Take a look at the Inspiration and Productivity links on the Resources page.
  • When you have a username, Make some friends,, Join or create a group.
  • Most of all, gather your ideas between now and May 1. You’re going to need at least 31 of them.

This story a day business sounds intriguing and challenging!  If you are interested please go to the Story A Day website to find out more.

The Stories of Ray Bradbury

The Stories of Ray Bradbury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Bliss and Gratitude

I first learned about a bliss book from Sylvia van Bruggen during a workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference.

What is bliss? Complete happiness, undisturbed by gain or loss.

What is a Bliss Book? In simplicity: a book that makes you happy.

Whenever I feel my writing sucks, or am generally depressed, I can open my bliss book and bring on a smile. I have words of encouragement about my writing, quotes, lists of favorite things, and I’m always on the lookout for pictures to clip from magazines.

The most important rule is no negativity allowed.

Creating Your Own Bliss Book

  1. Make or buy a pretty journal or notebook. I use a lovely illustrated fairy journal.
  2. Write up a purpose page. What do you want from this book? Here’s what I wrote in mine: Fears have no power here. My bliss book is my quiet place. A way to center myself and find my muse. Smile. Play Be Free. Free my muse; free my writing; free me from doubt and fear; free me from burdens that I may fly.
  3. Add something regularly. Anything that makes you happy. Ideas: lists, pictures, doodles, quotes, stickers, poems, mantras
  4. Open your book! When you’re in a slump, or forget your motivations for doing what you love (whether that be writing, or parenting, or running). Read it front to back, or open to a random page. Let it inspire you once more.

You can expand this idea of bliss into other forms. A bliss box, a bliss room. Anything or anywhere filled with things that inspire and lift you up.

In honor of the recently celebrated Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A., I’m starting a new page in my bliss book. A Gratitude Page. Anytime I lose sight of the good things in life, sucked down in negativity, I can search for something to add to this page. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for, even in our darkest hours.

Next time on Mary’s Expression: The Poetry of Pink.