Where is my mind?

Answer: On paper.

When chatting with Peggy, I realized how old-fashioned I am. I keep most of my thoughts, to-dos and writing on paper, either typed or written in pen. Peggy uses her computer and phone, in other words, technology, to keep track of things.

In order to remember things I have to write them down, literally. I have notebooks for everything it seems. I even print out a monthly handout on the moon cycles that I follow along with. If it’s anywhere, it’s on my desk.

I take dictation (from whom? not sure about that one) on some of my poems, the rest I struggle with.

I have a planner with my daily to-do lists, a habit tracker, a writing tracker, a poetry notebook, a writing notebook, a prioritized to-do list, and a little green shopping list notebook. I’m more wannabe organized person than actually organized. Here are some pictures of how I keep track:

IMG_4119IMG_4120IMG_4121IMG_4123IMG_4126IMG_4130My trusty pen (and water bottle)!

Bernadette Meyer’s Writing Experiments

newmts2

Bernadette Meyer is an avant-guard poet associated with the New York school of poets.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/bernadette-mayer

http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/06/04/specials/koch-ny.html

I recently discovered her list of journal and writing experiment ideas:

 

PEPC LIBRARY

Bernadette Mayer's List of Journal Ideas:

Journals of: 
* dreams 
* food 
* finances 
* writing ideas 
* love 
* ideas for architects
* city design ideas
* beautiful and/or ugly sights
* a history of one's own writing life, written daily
* reading/music/art, etc. encountered each day
* rooms 
* elaborations on weather
* people one sees-description
* subway, bus, car or other trips (e.g., the same bus trip written about
every day) 
* pleasures and/or pain
* life's everyday machinery: phones, stoves, computers, etc.
* answering machine messages
* round or rectangular things, other shapes
* color 
* light 
* daily changes, e.g., a journal of one's desk, table, etc.
* the body and its parts
* clocks/time-keeping
* tenant-landlord situations
* telephone calls (taped?)
* skies 
* dangers 
* mail 
* sounds 
* coincidences & connections
* times of solitude

Other journal ideas:
* Write once a day in minute detail about one thing
* Write every day at the same time, e.g. lunch poems, waking ideas, etc.
* Write minimally: one line or sentence per day
* Create a collaborative journal: musical notation and poetry; two writers
alternating days; two writing about the same subject each day, etc.
* Instead of using a book, write on paper and put it up on the wall (public
journal). 
* and so on ... 

Bernadette Mayer's Writing Experiments
* Pick a word or phrase at random, let mind play freely around it until a
few ideas have come up, then seize on one and begin to write. Try this with
a non- connotative word, like "so" etc.
* Systematically eliminate the use of certain kinds of words or phrases from
a piece of writing: eliminate all adjectives from a poem of your own, or
take out all words beginning with 's' in Shakespeare's sonnets.
* Rewrite someone else's writing. Experiment with theft and plagiarism.
* Systematically derange the language: write a work consisting only of
prepositional phrases, or, add a gerund to every line of an already existing
work. 
* Get a group of words, either randomly selected or thought up, then form
these words (only) into a piece of writing-whatever the words allow. Let
them demand their own form, or, use some words in a predetermined way.
Design words. 
* Eliminate material systematically from a piece of your own writing until
it is "ultimately" reduced, or, read or write it backwards, line by line or
word by word. Read a novel backwards.
* Using phrases relating to one subject or idea, write about another,
pushing metaphor and simile as far as you can. For example, use science
terms to write about childhood or philosophic language to describe a shirt.
* Take an idea, anything that interests you, or an object, then spend a few
days looking and noticing, perhaps making notes on what comes up about that
idea, or, try to create a situation or surrounding where everything that
happens is in relation.
* Construct a poem as if the words were three-dimensional objects to be
handled in space. Print them on large cards or bricks if necessary.
* Write as you think, as close as you can come to this, that is, put pen to
paper and don't stop. Experiment writing fast and writing slow.
* Attempt tape recorder work, that is, recording without a text, perhaps at
specific times. 
* Make notes on what happens or occurs to you for a limited amount of time,
then make something of it in writing.
* Get someone to write for you, pretending they are you.
* Write in a strict form, or, transform prose into a poetic form.
* Write a poem that reflects another poem, as in a mirror.
* Read or write a story or myth, then put it aside and, trying to remember
it, write it five or ten times at intervals from memory. Or, make a work out
of continuously saying, in a column or list, one sentence or line, over and
over in different ways, until you get it "right."
* Make a pattern of repetitions.
* Take an already written work of your own and insert, at random or by
choice, a paragraph or section from, for example, a psychology book or a
seed catalogue. Then study the possibilities of rearranging this work or
rewriting the "source."
* Experiment with writing in every person and tense every day.
* Explore the possibilities of lists, puzzles, riddles, dictionaries,
almanacs, etc. Consult the thesaurus where categories for the word "word"
include: word as news, word as message, word as information, word as story,
word as order or command, word as vocable, word as instruction, promise,
vow, contract. 
* Write what cannot be written; for example, compose an index.
* The possibilities of synesthesia in relation to language and words: the
word and the letter as sensations, colors evoked by letters, sensations
caused by the sound of a word as apart from its meaning, etc. And the effect
of this phenomenon on you; for example, write in the water, on a moving
vehicle. 
* Attempt writing in a state of mind that seems least congenial.
* Consider word and letter as forms-the concretistic distortion of a text, a
mutiplicity of o's or ea's, or a pleasing visual arrangement: "the mill pond
of chill doubt." 
* Do experiments with sensory memory: record all sense images that remain
from breakfast, study which senses engage you, escape you.
* Write, taking off from visual projections, whether mental or mechanical,
without thought to the word in the ordinary sense, no craft.
* Make writing experiments over a long period of time. For example, plan how
much you will write for a particular work each day, perhaps one word or one
page. 
* Write on a piece of paper where something is already printed or written.
* Attempt to eliminate all connotation from a piece of writing and vice
versa. 
* Experiment with writing in a group, collaborative work: a group writing
individually off of each other's work over a long period of time in the same
room; a group contributing to the same work, sentence by sentence or line by
line; one writer being fed information and ideas while the other writes;
writing, leaving instructions for another writer to fill in what you can't
describe; compiling a book or work structured by your own language around
the writings of others; or a group working and writing off of each other's
dream writing. 
* Dream work: record dreams daily, experiment with translation or
transcription of dream thought, attempt to approach the tense and
incongruity appropriate to the dream, work with the dream until a poem or
song emerges from it, use the dream as an alert form of the mind's activity
or consciousness, consider the dream a problem-solving device, change dream
characters into fictional characters, accept dream's language as a gift.
* Structure a poem or prose writing according to city streets, miles, walks,
drives. For example: Take a fourteen-block walk, writing one line per block
to create a sonnet; choose a city street familiar to you, walk it, make
notes and use them to create a work; take a long walk with a group of
writers, observe, make notes and create works, then compare them; take a
long walk or drive-write one line or sentence per mile. Variations on this.
* The uses of journals. Keep a journal that is restricted to one set of
ideas, for instance, a food or dream journal, a journal that is only written
in when it is raining, a journal of ideas about writing, a weather journal.
Remember that journals do not have to involve "good" writing-they are to be
made use of. Simple one-line entries like "No snow today" can be inspiring
later. Have 3 or 4 journals going at once, each with a different purpose.
Create a journal that is meant to be shared and commented on by another
writer--leave half of each page blank for the comments of the other.
* Type out a Shakespeare sonnet or other poem you would like to learn
about/imitate double-spaced on a page. Rewrite it in between the lines.
* Find the poems you think are the worst poems ever written, either by your
own self or other poets. Study them, then write a bad poem.
* Choose a subject you would like to write "about." Then attempt to write a
piece that absolutely avoids any relationship to that subject. Get someone
to grade you. 
* Write a series of titles for as yet unwritten poems or proses.
* Work with a number of objects, moving them around on a field or
surface-describe their shifting relationships, resonances, associations. Or,
write a series of poems that have only to do with what you see in the place
where you most often write. Or, write a poem in each room of your house or
apartment. Experiment with doing this in the home you grew up in, if
possible. 
* Write a bestiary (a poem about real and mythical animals).
* Write five short expressions of the most adamant anger; make a work out of
them. 
* Write a work gazing into a mirror without using the pronoun I.
* A shocking experiment: Rip pages out of books at random (I guess you could
xerox them) and study them as if they were a collection of poetic/literary
material. Use this method on your old high school or college notebooks, if
possible, then create an epistemological work based on the randomly chosen
notebook pages. 
* Meditate on a word, sound or list of ideas before beginning to write.
* Take a book of poetry you love and make a list, going through it poem by
poem, of the experiments, innovations, methods, intentions, etc. involved in
the creation of the works in the book.
* Write what is secret. Then write what is shared. Experiment with writing
each in two different ways: veiled language, direct language.
* Write a soothing novel in twelve short paragraphs.
* Write a work that attempts to include the names of all the physical
contents of the terrestrial world that you know.
* Take a piece of prose writing and turn it into poetic lines. Then, without
remembering that you were planning to do this, make a poem of the first and
last words of each line to see what happens. For instance, the lines (from
Einstein) 
* When at the reception
* Of sense-impressions, memory pictures
* Emerge this is not yet thinking
* And when. . . 
* Would become: 
* When reception 
* Of pictures 
* Emerge thinking 
* And when 
* And so on. Form the original prose, poetic lines, and first-and-last word
poem into three columns on a page. Study their relationships.
* If you have an answering machine, record all messages received for one
month, then turn them into a best-selling novella.
* Write a macaronic poem (making use of as many languages as you are
conversant with). 
* Attempt to speak for a day only in questions; write only in questions.
* Attempt to become in a state where the mind is flooded with ideas; attempt
to keep as many thoughts in mind simultaneously as possible. Then write
without looking at the page, typescript or computer screen (This is "called"
invisible writing).
* Choose a period of time, perhaps five or nine months. Every day, write a
letter that will never be sent to a person who does or does not exist, or to
a number of people who do or do not exist. Create a title for each letter
and don't send them. Pile them up as a book.
* Etymological work. Experiment with investigating the etymologies of all
words that interest you, including your own name(s). Approaches to
etymologies: Take a work you've already written, preferably something short,
look up the etymological meanings of every word in that work including words
like "the" and "a". Study the histories of the words used, then rewrite the
work on the basis of the etymological information found out. Another
approach: Build poems and writings form the etymological families based on
the Indo-European language constructs, for instance, the BHEL family: bulge,
bowl, belly, boulder, billow, ball, balloon; or the OINO family: one, alone,
lonely, unique, unite, unison, union; not to speak of one of the GEN
families: kin, king, kindergarten, genteel, gender, generous, genius,
genital, gingerly, pregnant, cognate, renaissance, and innate!
* Write a brief bibliography of the science and philosophy texts that
interest you. Create a file of newspaper articles that seem to relate to the
chances of writing poetry.
* Write the poem: Ways of Making Love. List them.
* Diagram a sentence in the old-fashioned way. If you don't know how, I'll
be happy to show you; if you do know how, try a really long sentence, for
instance from Melville.
* Turn a list of the objects that have something to do with a person who has
died into a poem or poem form, in homage to that person.
* Write the same poem over and over again, in different forms, until you are
weary. Another experiment: Set yourself the task of writing for four hours
at a time, perhaps once, twice or seven times a week. Don't stop until
hunger and/or fatigue take over. At the very least, always set aside a
four-hour period once a month in which to write. This is always possible and
will result in one book of poems or prose writing for each year. Then we
begin to know something.
* Attempt as a writer to win the Nobel Prize in Science by finding out how
thought becomes language, or does not.
* Take a traditional text like the pledge of allegiance to the flag. For
every noun, replace it with one that is seventh or ninth down from the
original one in the dictionary. For instance, the word "honesty" would be
replaced by "honey dew melon." Investigate what happens; different
dictionaries will produce different results.
* Attempt to write a poem or series of poems that will change the world.
Does everything written or dreamed of do this?
* Write occasional poems for weddings, for rivers, for birthdays, for other
poets' beauty, for movie stars maybe, for the anniversaries of all kinds of
loving meetings, for births, for moments of knowledge, for deaths. Writing
for the "occasion" is part of our purpose as poets in being-this is our work
in the community wherein we belong and work as speakers for others.
* Experiment with every traditional form, so as to know it.
* Write poems and proses in which you set yourself the task of using
particular words, chosen at random like the spelling exercises of children:
intelligence, amazing, weigh, weight, camel, camel's, foresight, through,
threw, never, now, snow, rein, rain. Make a story of that!
* Plan, structure, and write a long work. Consider what is the work now
needed by the culture to cure and exact even if by accident the great
exorcism of its 1998 sort-of- seeming-not-being. What do we need? What is
the poem of the future?
* What is communicable now? What more is communicable?
* Compose a list of familiar phrases, or phrases that have stayed in your
mind for a long time--from songs, from poems, from conversation:
* What's in a name? That which we call a rose
* By any other name would smell as sweet
* (Romeo and Juliet)
* A rose is a rose is a rose
* (Gertrude Stein) 
* A raisin in the sun
* (Langston Hughes)
* The king was in the counting house
* Counting out his money. . .
* (Nursery rhyme) 
* I sing the body electric. . .
* These United States. . .
* (Walt Whitman) 
* A thing of beauty is a joy forever
* (Keats) 
* (I summon up) remembrance of things past
* (WS) 
* Ask not for whom the bell tolls
* It tolls for thee
* (Donne) 
* Look homeward, Angel
* (Milton) 
* For fools rush in where angels fear to tread
* (Pope) 
* All's well that ends well
* (WS) 
* I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness
* (Allen Ginsberg) 
* I think therefore I am
* (Descartes) 
* It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,. . .
* (Dickens) 
* brave new world has such people in it
* (Shakespeare, The Tempest, later Huxley)
* Odi et amo (I hate and I love)
* (Catullus) 
* Water water everywhere
* Nor any drop to drink
* (Coleridge) 
* Curiouser and curiouser
* (Alice in Wonderland)
* Don't worry be happy. Here's a little song I wrote. . .
* Write the longest most beautiful sentence you can imagine-make it be a
whole page. 
* Set yourself the task of writing in a way you've never written before, no
matter who you are.
* What is the value of autobiography?
* Attempt to write in a way that's never been written before.
* Invent a new form.
* Write a perfect poem.
* Write a work that intersperses love with landlords.
* In a poem, list what you know.
* Address the poem to the reader.
* Write household poems-about cooking, shopping, eating and sleeping.
* Write dream collabortations in the lune form.
* Write poems that only make use of the words included in Basic English.
* Attempt to write about jobs and how they affect the writing of poetry.
* Write while being read to from science texts, or, write while being read
to by one's lover from any text.
* Trade poems with others and do not consider them your own.
* Exercises in style: Write twenty-five or more different versions of one
event. 
* Review the statement: "What is happening to me, allowing for lies and
exaggerations which I try to avoid, goes into my poems."

I did start one, but quickly became hooked by write a rhyme:

Something Ventured, Nothing Gained?

Nothing gained through careless ventures,

spin the wheel and lose a dime

If you want a big adventure,

buddy, you can take on mine

I could do without the pounding

of my heart and sweaty hands

rather I would have abounding

quiet life that goes as planned

So as you ski down that mountain,

maybe crash into a tree,

I’ll relax beside a fountain

with a tall glass of iced tea

 

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Bernadette Meyer's Writing Experiments

newmts2

Bernadette Meyer is an avant-guard poet associated with the New York school of poets.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/bernadette-mayer

http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/06/04/specials/koch-ny.html

I recently discovered her list of journal and writing experiment ideas:

 

PEPC LIBRARY

Bernadette Mayer's List of Journal Ideas:

Journals of:
* dreams
* food
* finances
* writing ideas
* love
* ideas for architects
* city design ideas
* beautiful and/or ugly sights
* a history of one's own writing life, written daily
* reading/music/art, etc. encountered each day
* rooms
* elaborations on weather
* people one sees-description
* subway, bus, car or other trips (e.g., the same bus trip written about
every day)
* pleasures and/or pain
* life's everyday machinery: phones, stoves, computers, etc.
* answering machine messages
* round or rectangular things, other shapes
* color
* light
* daily changes, e.g., a journal of one's desk, table, etc.
* the body and its parts
* clocks/time-keeping
* tenant-landlord situations
* telephone calls (taped?)
* skies
* dangers
* mail
* sounds
* coincidences & connections
* times of solitude

Other journal ideas:
* Write once a day in minute detail about one thing
* Write every day at the same time, e.g. lunch poems, waking ideas, etc.
* Write minimally: one line or sentence per day
* Create a collaborative journal: musical notation and poetry; two writers
alternating days; two writing about the same subject each day, etc.
* Instead of using a book, write on paper and put it up on the wall (public
journal).
* and so on ...

Bernadette Mayer's Writing Experiments
* Pick a word or phrase at random, let mind play freely around it until a
few ideas have come up, then seize on one and begin to write. Try this with
a non- connotative word, like "so" etc.
* Systematically eliminate the use of certain kinds of words or phrases from
a piece of writing: eliminate all adjectives from a poem of your own, or
take out all words beginning with 's' in Shakespeare's sonnets.
* Rewrite someone else's writing. Experiment with theft and plagiarism.
* Systematically derange the language: write a work consisting only of
prepositional phrases, or, add a gerund to every line of an already existing
work.
* Get a group of words, either randomly selected or thought up, then form
these words (only) into a piece of writing-whatever the words allow. Let
them demand their own form, or, use some words in a predetermined way.
Design words.
* Eliminate material systematically from a piece of your own writing until
it is "ultimately" reduced, or, read or write it backwards, line by line or
word by word. Read a novel backwards.
* Using phrases relating to one subject or idea, write about another,
pushing metaphor and simile as far as you can. For example, use science
terms to write about childhood or philosophic language to describe a shirt.
* Take an idea, anything that interests you, or an object, then spend a few
days looking and noticing, perhaps making notes on what comes up about that
idea, or, try to create a situation or surrounding where everything that
happens is in relation.
* Construct a poem as if the words were three-dimensional objects to be
handled in space. Print them on large cards or bricks if necessary.
* Write as you think, as close as you can come to this, that is, put pen to
paper and don't stop. Experiment writing fast and writing slow.
* Attempt tape recorder work, that is, recording without a text, perhaps at
specific times.
* Make notes on what happens or occurs to you for a limited amount of time,
then make something of it in writing.
* Get someone to write for you, pretending they are you.
* Write in a strict form, or, transform prose into a poetic form.
* Write a poem that reflects another poem, as in a mirror.
* Read or write a story or myth, then put it aside and, trying to remember
it, write it five or ten times at intervals from memory. Or, make a work out
of continuously saying, in a column or list, one sentence or line, over and
over in different ways, until you get it "right."
* Make a pattern of repetitions.
* Take an already written work of your own and insert, at random or by
choice, a paragraph or section from, for example, a psychology book or a
seed catalogue. Then study the possibilities of rearranging this work or
rewriting the "source."
* Experiment with writing in every person and tense every day.
* Explore the possibilities of lists, puzzles, riddles, dictionaries,
almanacs, etc. Consult the thesaurus where categories for the word "word"
include: word as news, word as message, word as information, word as story,
word as order or command, word as vocable, word as instruction, promise,
vow, contract.
* Write what cannot be written; for example, compose an index.
* The possibilities of synesthesia in relation to language and words: the
word and the letter as sensations, colors evoked by letters, sensations
caused by the sound of a word as apart from its meaning, etc. And the effect
of this phenomenon on you; for example, write in the water, on a moving
vehicle.
* Attempt writing in a state of mind that seems least congenial.
* Consider word and letter as forms-the concretistic distortion of a text, a
mutiplicity of o's or ea's, or a pleasing visual arrangement: "the mill pond
of chill doubt."
* Do experiments with sensory memory: record all sense images that remain
from breakfast, study which senses engage you, escape you.
* Write, taking off from visual projections, whether mental or mechanical,
without thought to the word in the ordinary sense, no craft.
* Make writing experiments over a long period of time. For example, plan how
much you will write for a particular work each day, perhaps one word or one
page.
* Write on a piece of paper where something is already printed or written.
* Attempt to eliminate all connotation from a piece of writing and vice
versa.
* Experiment with writing in a group, collaborative work: a group writing
individually off of each other's work over a long period of time in the same
room; a group contributing to the same work, sentence by sentence or line by
line; one writer being fed information and ideas while the other writes;
writing, leaving instructions for another writer to fill in what you can't
describe; compiling a book or work structured by your own language around
the writings of others; or a group working and writing off of each other's
dream writing.
* Dream work: record dreams daily, experiment with translation or
transcription of dream thought, attempt to approach the tense and
incongruity appropriate to the dream, work with the dream until a poem or
song emerges from it, use the dream as an alert form of the mind's activity
or consciousness, consider the dream a problem-solving device, change dream
characters into fictional characters, accept dream's language as a gift.
* Structure a poem or prose writing according to city streets, miles, walks,
drives. For example: Take a fourteen-block walk, writing one line per block
to create a sonnet; choose a city street familiar to you, walk it, make
notes and use them to create a work; take a long walk with a group of
writers, observe, make notes and create works, then compare them; take a
long walk or drive-write one line or sentence per mile. Variations on this.
* The uses of journals. Keep a journal that is restricted to one set of
ideas, for instance, a food or dream journal, a journal that is only written
in when it is raining, a journal of ideas about writing, a weather journal.
Remember that journals do not have to involve "good" writing-they are to be
made use of. Simple one-line entries like "No snow today" can be inspiring
later. Have 3 or 4 journals going at once, each with a different purpose.
Create a journal that is meant to be shared and commented on by another
writer--leave half of each page blank for the comments of the other.
* Type out a Shakespeare sonnet or other poem you would like to learn
about/imitate double-spaced on a page. Rewrite it in between the lines.
* Find the poems you think are the worst poems ever written, either by your
own self or other poets. Study them, then write a bad poem.
* Choose a subject you would like to write "about." Then attempt to write a
piece that absolutely avoids any relationship to that subject. Get someone
to grade you.
* Write a series of titles for as yet unwritten poems or proses.
* Work with a number of objects, moving them around on a field or
surface-describe their shifting relationships, resonances, associations. Or,
write a series of poems that have only to do with what you see in the place
where you most often write. Or, write a poem in each room of your house or
apartment. Experiment with doing this in the home you grew up in, if
possible.
* Write a bestiary (a poem about real and mythical animals).
* Write five short expressions of the most adamant anger; make a work out of
them.
* Write a work gazing into a mirror without using the pronoun I.
* A shocking experiment: Rip pages out of books at random (I guess you could
xerox them) and study them as if they were a collection of poetic/literary
material. Use this method on your old high school or college notebooks, if
possible, then create an epistemological work based on the randomly chosen
notebook pages.
* Meditate on a word, sound or list of ideas before beginning to write.
* Take a book of poetry you love and make a list, going through it poem by
poem, of the experiments, innovations, methods, intentions, etc. involved in
the creation of the works in the book.
* Write what is secret. Then write what is shared. Experiment with writing
each in two different ways: veiled language, direct language.
* Write a soothing novel in twelve short paragraphs.
* Write a work that attempts to include the names of all the physical
contents of the terrestrial world that you know.
* Take a piece of prose writing and turn it into poetic lines. Then, without
remembering that you were planning to do this, make a poem of the first and
last words of each line to see what happens. For instance, the lines (from
Einstein)
* When at the reception
* Of sense-impressions, memory pictures
* Emerge this is not yet thinking
* And when. . .
* Would become:
* When reception
* Of pictures
* Emerge thinking
* And when
* And so on. Form the original prose, poetic lines, and first-and-last word
poem into three columns on a page. Study their relationships.
* If you have an answering machine, record all messages received for one
month, then turn them into a best-selling novella.
* Write a macaronic poem (making use of as many languages as you are
conversant with).
* Attempt to speak for a day only in questions; write only in questions.
* Attempt to become in a state where the mind is flooded with ideas; attempt
to keep as many thoughts in mind simultaneously as possible. Then write
without looking at the page, typescript or computer screen (This is "called"
invisible writing).
* Choose a period of time, perhaps five or nine months. Every day, write a
letter that will never be sent to a person who does or does not exist, or to
a number of people who do or do not exist. Create a title for each letter
and don't send them. Pile them up as a book.
* Etymological work. Experiment with investigating the etymologies of all
words that interest you, including your own name(s). Approaches to
etymologies: Take a work you've already written, preferably something short,
look up the etymological meanings of every word in that work including words
like "the" and "a". Study the histories of the words used, then rewrite the
work on the basis of the etymological information found out. Another
approach: Build poems and writings form the etymological families based on
the Indo-European language constructs, for instance, the BHEL family: bulge,
bowl, belly, boulder, billow, ball, balloon; or the OINO family: one, alone,
lonely, unique, unite, unison, union; not to speak of one of the GEN
families: kin, king, kindergarten, genteel, gender, generous, genius,
genital, gingerly, pregnant, cognate, renaissance, and innate!
* Write a brief bibliography of the science and philosophy texts that
interest you. Create a file of newspaper articles that seem to relate to the
chances of writing poetry.
* Write the poem: Ways of Making Love. List them.
* Diagram a sentence in the old-fashioned way. If you don't know how, I'll
be happy to show you; if you do know how, try a really long sentence, for
instance from Melville.
* Turn a list of the objects that have something to do with a person who has
died into a poem or poem form, in homage to that person.
* Write the same poem over and over again, in different forms, until you are
weary. Another experiment: Set yourself the task of writing for four hours
at a time, perhaps once, twice or seven times a week. Don't stop until
hunger and/or fatigue take over. At the very least, always set aside a
four-hour period once a month in which to write. This is always possible and
will result in one book of poems or prose writing for each year. Then we
begin to know something.
* Attempt as a writer to win the Nobel Prize in Science by finding out how
thought becomes language, or does not.
* Take a traditional text like the pledge of allegiance to the flag. For
every noun, replace it with one that is seventh or ninth down from the
original one in the dictionary. For instance, the word "honesty" would be
replaced by "honey dew melon." Investigate what happens; different
dictionaries will produce different results.
* Attempt to write a poem or series of poems that will change the world.
Does everything written or dreamed of do this?
* Write occasional poems for weddings, for rivers, for birthdays, for other
poets' beauty, for movie stars maybe, for the anniversaries of all kinds of
loving meetings, for births, for moments of knowledge, for deaths. Writing
for the "occasion" is part of our purpose as poets in being-this is our work
in the community wherein we belong and work as speakers for others.
* Experiment with every traditional form, so as to know it.
* Write poems and proses in which you set yourself the task of using
particular words, chosen at random like the spelling exercises of children:
intelligence, amazing, weigh, weight, camel, camel's, foresight, through,
threw, never, now, snow, rein, rain. Make a story of that!
* Plan, structure, and write a long work. Consider what is the work now
needed by the culture to cure and exact even if by accident the great
exorcism of its 1998 sort-of- seeming-not-being. What do we need? What is
the poem of the future?
* What is communicable now? What more is communicable?
* Compose a list of familiar phrases, or phrases that have stayed in your
mind for a long time--from songs, from poems, from conversation:
* What's in a name? That which we call a rose
* By any other name would smell as sweet
* (Romeo and Juliet)
* A rose is a rose is a rose
* (Gertrude Stein)
* A raisin in the sun
* (Langston Hughes)
* The king was in the counting house
* Counting out his money. . .
* (Nursery rhyme)
* I sing the body electric. . .
* These United States. . .
* (Walt Whitman)
* A thing of beauty is a joy forever
* (Keats)
* (I summon up) remembrance of things past
* (WS)
* Ask not for whom the bell tolls
* It tolls for thee
* (Donne)
* Look homeward, Angel
* (Milton)
* For fools rush in where angels fear to tread
* (Pope)
* All's well that ends well
* (WS)
* I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness
* (Allen Ginsberg)
* I think therefore I am
* (Descartes)
* It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,. . .
* (Dickens)
* brave new world has such people in it
* (Shakespeare, The Tempest, later Huxley)
* Odi et amo (I hate and I love)
* (Catullus)
* Water water everywhere
* Nor any drop to drink
* (Coleridge)
* Curiouser and curiouser
* (Alice in Wonderland)
* Don't worry be happy. Here's a little song I wrote. . .
* Write the longest most beautiful sentence you can imagine-make it be a
whole page.
* Set yourself the task of writing in a way you've never written before, no
matter who you are.
* What is the value of autobiography?
* Attempt to write in a way that's never been written before.
* Invent a new form.
* Write a perfect poem.
* Write a work that intersperses love with landlords.
* In a poem, list what you know.
* Address the poem to the reader.
* Write household poems-about cooking, shopping, eating and sleeping.
* Write dream collabortations in the lune form.
* Write poems that only make use of the words included in Basic English.
* Attempt to write about jobs and how they affect the writing of poetry.
* Write while being read to from science texts, or, write while being read
to by one's lover from any text.
* Trade poems with others and do not consider them your own.
* Exercises in style: Write twenty-five or more different versions of one
event.
* Review the statement: "What is happening to me, allowing for lies and
exaggerations which I try to avoid, goes into my poems."

I did start one, but quickly became hooked by write a rhyme:

Something Ventured, Nothing Gained?

Nothing gained through careless ventures,

spin the wheel and lose a dime

If you want a big adventure,

buddy, you can take on mine

I could do without the pounding

of my heart and sweaty hands

rather I would have abounding

quiet life that goes as planned

So as you ski down that mountain,

maybe crash into a tree,

I’ll relax beside a fountain

with a tall glass of iced tea

 

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The Evolution of a Story pt 1

I have multiple novels in various stages. Sometimes I have a basic idea, but not enough for characters or plot. I always write these down anyways. If I’m bored, I’ll pull up my idea file and see if any of the bits and pieces will work together.

I want to share with you the notes and evolution of how my current project came together. All these notes came at completely different times and from unrelated places.

ideas

ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Idea 1

Someone who lives to their beliefs. Mental expectation defines our reality. Refusing to belief that flight is impossible. A person lives by their own set of rules. What others see as tricks and magic is reality for this person. Anything is possible if you believe.

Idea 2

two best friends from childhood, begin to grow apart. the guy stops writing. she continues, unaware that he is throwing her letters away without reading them. The guys roommate gets curious and opens them. he falls for her through the letters. when she writes about interest in a guy, he gets jealous, has to meet her.

Idea 3

Story about the Crazy Lady:

They call me crazy. I’m not crazy. Just different. I’m happy. I can’t help expressing it. They don’t understand me, because they have not experienced my happiness.

Story

It wasn’t until later that I came back to this notes and realized they could all be combined into one story. Each alone is only a concept, a character, a setting. But combined together we can begin to see a STORY. Suddenly I had three characters: a “crazy” woman who believes in magic and writes letters to her old friend, and the roommate who intercepts these letters.

I still wasn’t ready to write the story. It needed rules, conflict. But the combined ideas gave it a shape, popped it out of 2D and into 3D. So that’s my advice for today. Always write down your ideas, no matter how small. And if you cut a character from a story, or a line from a poem, save that as well. You never know where it might find a fit later.

If you don’t have anything in your idea file, or can’t find a way to make any of your ideas fit for a story, don’t be afraid to use prompts. There are plenty of prompt generators online. Feel free to use different ones, mix and match. Get a character here, a setting there. The more ideas you can combine, the more depth your story will have.

Resources

Here are a few places for free writing prompts

Seventh Sanctum: A personal favorite. In addition to story prompts, has a lot of other random generators.

Writers Digest Boot Camp has a download for two full weeks of prompts.

Hundreds of little prompts at Creative Writing Prompts

And if you’re more visual, try out Writing Picture Prompts

Next time on Mary’s Expression (March 19): Evolution of a Story continues

 

Mary Butterfly Signature

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Farewell, Ray

Photo of Ray Bradbury.

The writing world lost one of its most gifted writers when Ray Bradbury passed away on June 6th. He was one of my literary heroes. Not only could he captivate me with strong story lines and amazing characters from his brilliant imagination, his style reads to me like poetry. It has a magical quality to it that strikes a deep chord in my soul.

I will miss him for that, as will many others. If you ever need a dose of literary Red Bull to energize your writing, get yourself a  copy of his book Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You. I promise you won’t regret it.

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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How 750 words Freed Me

Swirling thoughts

Swirling Thoughts Image via Wikipedia

Today I’m going to share with you my favorite tool for dealing with writers block.

You may already be familiar with Morning Pages. This started with Julia Cameron, creator of The Artist’s Way. “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.” The idea is to, first thing in the morning, get out a notebook and write three pages of whatever is in your head. No overthinking. This clears your head for the rest of the day, opening you to inspiration, happiness, opportunity.

My problems with this system? I don’t function first thing in the morning. And I’ve been burned before by someone finding and reading stream-of-consciousness pages, and I don’t have a convenient place to keep these close and yet secret.

The solution? 750words.com. This takes the same concept online. It’s easier to sit down at your computer than find a pen or pencil and write by hand. (At least for some of us.)

The site is completely private. No one will be reading your words, you can do them at any time in the day, and there are incentives! Streaks and different statistics can earn animal badges. Amazing how motivating it is to get them. There are also monthly challenges to write daily for a special badge and bragging rights. A point system keeps track of how many days you’ve started and completed your 750 words. Sometimes it’s an incentive, especially if I have a streak going that I don’t want to break. But I never get reprimanded if I go too long without visiting.

My first month was brutal. My brain wanted to edit my words, censor, plan. I had a hard time simply opening my consciousness and writing whatever. Now, even if I’ve gone a month without writing anything, it’s so easy to get back into.

Since starting on the site (just over a year now!), my thoughts are clearer, my ideas more frequent, I’m less bogged by negativity. Even my typing speed has gone up with all the speed typing to keep up with my thoughts. I spend less time worrying about issues, which frees my subconscious to other ideas. I wish I was more consistent in using the site, as I know the results are positive.

750 words is: 
My rambling,
brainstorming,
venting,
planning,
documenting,
a bit of creative writing,
pure randomness.

No worries about it being read.
Safe.
Unfiltered.

Some people use the site for their regular creative writing. Some use it as a serious journal. Others following the guidelines of Morning Pages. Whatever purpose you want. This is completely for you alone. No one else. The site is completely free, so no reason not to give it a try.

Next on Mary’s Expression (March19): a poetry prompt.

Musical Chairs: On Writing Groups

Last time on Mary’s Expression, I posted about a famous writing group, The Inklings. Since then, Anne has written about how to find your own creative tribe. Today, I’m going to share my own experiences with writing groups.

English: Playing musical chairs at the Our Com...

Image via Wikipedia

Finding a good writing group is hard. Joining a new group is like musical chairs. You’re circling, getting a feel of the music, the routine, when suddenly it stops and you have to find your bearings. If you find a space, you have a moment to see who’s around you, how you fit in with the group. But just as you get comfy, the music changes and things get shook up. And the group always seems to be shrinking. No matter how many new people come in, there’s always a good portion who just can’t find a seat, don’t quite fit in. I’ve been on both ends of this.

And what’s a good fit at one point in your life or career may not work for you later. So you have to learn not to blame yourself or the other members if a group simply isn’t working out. Sometimes it’s best just to move on. You can’t always predict who you’ll finally click with.

The first group I was really a part of was Writing.com. It’s not a true writer’s group per se, more of a community. There are plenty of other members to share your work with and get comments from. But it’s huge. The number of members is currently approaching one million. This makes it very hard to get noticed. To get the most out of it, you have to put the work in. Review other members, participate in contests and forums. There are specialized groups formed by members, some for discussion, or games, or critique. I think Writing.com’s best strength is getting feedback on shorter works, poetry or short stories. Downsides to sharing a novel on Writing.com:

  • A free membership is limited portfolio space, so it would be better to upgrade
  • Formatting isn’t as easy as copy and paste. Even the formatting codes are site-specific, not standard HTML, so it takes a lot of effort to get your chapter/book presentable
  • The first chapter trap. With such a variety of members, it’s easy to get a lot of comments on your first couple chapters. Almost impossible to get feedback past chapter three unless you find a dedicated writing buddy or group. (Really, this is a drawback of most online groups.)

I’m still a member of Writing.com, but I don’t put the time into it that I used to. As I focused more on novels, I started looking elsewhere.

I’ve tried a few other online writing groups. Dreaming In Ink is one of the better. They are very strict on getting in regular critiques. This isn’t a bad thing, and has kept the group strong, but when circumstances came that I was no longer able to keep up, I moved on. Who knows, I may go back someday. They have a great system going for them.

For poetry, I was very lucky to be in at the start of this group, The Poetic Muselings.

Last year I started my own fantasy group, Society for Arcane Gibberish Authors (SAGA). We’re still fledgling, and open to new members. So if you write fantasy, and want a more casual group, check out SAGA.

One thing I’ve learned over the years, is that an online group has different dynamics and strengths than a local group. Online groups are great for the line edits, the nitty-gritty stuff. It’s super easy to mark up text and share with someone. But in-person groups are good for those moments you simply need to talk over a plot point, or brainstorm. I definitely recommend a local group or writing buddy. Even if you don’t critique each other’s work, talking with other writers is priceless.

When it comes to local groups, I’ve had a rough road. The challenge is finding people with the same skill and dedication. With my first group, only two of us wanted to write as a career, for the others it was a hobby. Since the dedication wasn’t there, the group eventually fell apart. With my current group, we’re struggling with scheduling so more people can come, and getting more members.

A game of the non-competitive version in one o...

Image via Wikipedia

So whatever route you go, online or in person, there will be challenges and downfalls. Sometimes you have to hold your spot in musical chairs, and sometimes you have to give it up. And sometimes you have to hold on to each other and do your best not to fall off.

Do you have a good writing group? How long have you been together? If not, I wish you the best in finding one! 

 

Next time on Mary’s Expression (March 5): Freeing creativity.

Inklings and Writing Groups

English: THe Pub Eagle and Child in Oxford, wh...

Did you know that some famous fantasy writers were part of a writing group? The Inklings was a group of literary enthusiasts who encouraged writing fantasy. The four most prominent members were C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield. Other frequent members included Tolkien’s son Christopher, C.S. Lewis’ older brother Warren, Roger Lancelyn Green, Adam Fox, Hugo Dyson, Robert Havard, J.A.W. Barnett, Lord David Cecil, and Nevill Coghill. Warren Lewis described the group as “…neither a club nor a literary society, though it partook of the nature of both. There were no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections.”

Who are these people?

English: Round sign at the Eagle and Child Pub...
  • C.S. Lewis is most known for the Narnia Chronicles.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien  is known for the epic Lord of the Rings.
  • Charles Williams wrote a total of seven novels, including “War in Heaven” and “All Hallow’s Eve”.
  • Owen Barfield mainly wrote philosophy, on topics such as the evolution of human consciousness. He did, however, write one fairy tale: “The Silver Trumpet.”

The Inklings usually met at Lewis’ college rooms or at the Eagle and Child pub (popularly called the Bird and Baby) in Oxford England. Meetings took place on Thursday evenings. They would read and talk about each other’s works in progress, discuss fantasy and philosophy, and enjoy the company of friends. The pub meetings were more for fun; they wouldn’t read manuscripts, but sometimes read bad poetry to see how long they could last before laughing.

The group started in 1933 and met regularly for the next 15 years. Everyone benefited. Tolkien continued to work on Lord of the Rings at the encouragement of C.S. Lewis. Each writer improved their work from suggestions by other members. Their discussions led to essays, lectures, and other works in the attempt to legitimize fantasy and fairy tales as more than children’s stories, to be seen as liable literary pieces.

What does this mean for me?

Writers can find similar benefits in today’s writing groups, whether you join an existing one or create your own, online or in person. Friendships can be made when you find someone with similar interests. Sharing work will improve your writing and critiquing skills. Or perhaps you only want to discuss literature. The Inklings showed that a writers group doesn’t have to always be serious, or have any sort of leadership. All it takes is a group of people with something in common. Next time I’ll talk about my own experiences with writing groups, and how you can find your own.

A fun, related bit of trivia:

Lord of the Rings Online is an online multiplayer game based on Tolkien’s Middle Earth. While my husband and I were playing, we came across an interesting quest chain from a hobbit named Ronald Dwale. At one point you have to fetch his lost paper. The sheet of paper starts out: “In a hole there once lived a boar. No, wait, that’s not right.” The second ‘R’ in J.R.R. stands for Ronald, and his story “The Hobbit” happens to start very similarly to this paper: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

The final part of the quest chain is Missing the Meeting. If you own the game, I encourage you to go experience the quest yourself, but the basics is that Ronald Dwale is unable to attend the next meeting of his writing society. You have to deliver his message to The Bird and Baby Inn. “With the return of my lost paper, I really should get started on my new book, but I haven’t an inkling how I should reach my friends in time to tell them of my absence.”

When you visit the Bird and Baby Inn, you see the following “Inklings” in the back room:

Jack Lewisdon ((C.S. “Jack” Lewis))
Carlo Williams ((Charles Williams))
Owen Farfield ((Owen Barfield))

So if you ever happen upon this quest in game, enjoy the developers tribute to the Inklings.

(Originally written for a Writing.com Fantasy Newsletter)

Next time on Mary’s Expression (Feb 20): Delving deeper into writing groups.

To Market, to Market- Sending Out Your Poetic Babies

Marketing Plan

So you’ve written a poem. Congratulations and job well done! But now what?

Time to polish your work till it gleams like a new copper penny, and send it out into the world.

Editing is important, as there is always a better, fresher way to word your thoughts,  fix up a place where the rhythm is off or a rhyme could be improved, add this or remove that, or rearrange some lines. Get feedback from people you trust and work until the poem feels right. Then you’re ready for phase three: marketing.

Some markets or contests require you to pay a reading fee, or buy the book of poetry if they publish your poem. My personal preference is not to send to them. Here’s why: they may not be reputable. If it’s a big, well-known market, perhaps it is worth a shot. But if not, you have just given money to someone who will just pocket it and could care less about publishing your poetry, even if it is excellent. That said, time to look at some markets.

“Where?” you cry, “I don’t know any writing markets!” Believe me, there are plenty. I recommend you sign up at Duotrope to get their weekly fiction and poetry market listings. I also recommend you join CRWROPPS Creative Writers Opportunities List at Yahoo Groups, as well as join a local poetry group. You can find some near your area in Meetup.

Read the listing you pick to submit to thoroughly and make sure they accept your kind of poetry. Look for their submissions page and be sure you follow it to the letter. Nothing will get your poem tossed in File 13 faster than thinking their rules don’t apply to you. They have to read a lot of submissions so don’t give them a reason to eliminate you from the get-go.

So what do you need besides a market listing?

First, you need a Bio. Make it a 50-or-so word biography that tells something about you –  something quirky or intriguing is good, funny is even better, as well as any relevant publishing credits. You can go the online ezine route- easier to break into than a print venue- to help you get  enough poems published to give you a good bio.

Second, you need a cover letter or email that you can modify to fit the particular market you are submitting to. Be polite and professional. Try to find out the editor’s name if you can, if not, “Dear Editor” will do.

Be brief and mention the title of the poem you are submitting for consideration and any relevent information about it. End by thanking them for their time. If they asked for contact information, give it. Then include your poem in the format they requested, which may require you to use a certain font or type of document. Sometimes this is in the body of the email, sometimes as an attached WORD or other format document. If they request a typed snail mail submission, be sure your name and email are on the poem unless they tell you otherwise- envelopes and submission letters can get lost.

Last, keep a record of what poem you sent to what venue and when. Also make a note of how soon to expect a reply from the publisher, if given in their submissions page. If you don’t hear by that time, or 3 months if no deadline is given, a polite inquiry is in order.

When it sells, make a note of the publication date and go celebrate! If it gets rejected, make a note of the date and send it right out again to your second choice. Continue till you make a sale or use up all your markets. But remember, new markets come out every month!

So here’s to your first sale! I’d love to hear about it.