sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Creativity and the Decluttered Knee

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Soon, I shall experience full knee replacement surgery, leap from hobbled old Crone, muttering to myself and others through a pain-med haze, foggy-focused at best most days.

I’ll push through worse anguish for a bit, then — magically — break through to the exquisite tedium of a lifetime of daily attention to reach a level of mobility and sanity I’ve missed. My world has become smaller in scope, narrower in experience, limited by decisions I’ve made to balance constant pain vs. clear-headedness.

Thinking (and writing) have receded to the background. Every six hours, I joust the bits of my brain that control pain receptors. I succeed at times, but the price is an ongoing trip to la-la land. One small knee twist reminds me to be grateful for the advances in medical technology, and keen to get this over.

A couple of weeks ago, tripping in my la-la land, I discovered a site called 365 Less Things, a journey of decluttering life as well as belongings. Yes, the blog owner is aware of the grammatical situation. People who cannot see beyond the title are missing out on a huge benefit.

As I read the archives, from the first post, comments, links that still work, etc., I’m fascinated. I’m up toApril 2012 posts, getting closer to current in snatches online.  I’ve followed the joy, sharing, and breakthroughs of this international community. Watched them mature, fine-tune their concepts as well as their tactics. I recently sent in a couple of ideas for future posts.

I’m always looking to get my life under control, to make it easier to sit down and work instead of clear my space (and head) in order to attack my writing time productively. The 365 Less Things blog is shifting my life.

I declutter my house by noticing what’s in front of me. I’m looking at my office supplies and books (THE most difficult things for me to let go of) with new eyes. Took extraneous “stuff” off my dining room table. Checked out how to recycle an older iPad and iPhone for a Mini Mac; if we could figure out what to do with the dreadful Windows 8 computer we got hubby late last year, we’d do it in a minute.

But back to my knee –the shredded ligaments, cartilage-less kneecap, shifting lower leg bone, and lots and lots of pain. (I don’t know what they do with old knees; maybe bone donations? They have my okay already.) For my new knee to work, I must exchange my old lifestyle — give up non-productive habits, like I have eliminated gluten from my life — in order to truly live.

This cannot be a sprint — ever. Every day, I must re-earn the right and ability to walk and get around. Every day, I must push beyond my ingrained procrastination genes, well-developed excuses, and creative idiosyncrasies. Embrace boring, mundane, and important actions.

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During recovery, as I come off drugs that have kept me from screaming and behaving even crazier than I normally do, I’ll have time to rethink and rework other parts of my life.

I WILL put rehab first in my life. Choose small changes in my mental and physical environment, Clear space, be ready to write during my “writing time”. Play during playtime. Prepare and follow-through with what’s appropriate to heal body and spirit with nutrition, sleep, and attention to the present.

In a strange way, I’ve been heading to this crossroad for the past year. Prior to the 2012 Muse Online Writers Conference (this year Oct. 7 – 13, 2013), I promised my husband I’d turn over my major role in 2013 to others, so we could celebrate his 70th birthday in style. Since his big day comes right after the conference, he’s had a frazzled wife for the past five years.

My present was to be present for him this year. We planned a nice trip, and I worked on a surprise party for him. A couple of weeks ago, we knew this is not the time for this trip. I can barely get around, and can’t imbibe bubbly spirits.

So, no trip, no party, but no other obligations through the end of this year. Nothing else to sneak ahead of what I will do to bring congruence into my life. I’m approaching TaCaMeFi from a very different direction.

I hope you have an opportunity to reassess what’s important soon, but not because you are forced, like I am. May you keep your personal North Star in sight to guide you in all seasons, and enjoy your journey.

Michele

 

 

Clouds in Flight

Cloud in Flight

Clouds in Flight, Judy Hayden 2012

“Ah, yes, I remember it well”
Maurice Chevalier, in GiGi

Observations

I see and remember
through filters
of place and need,
hunger and fear,
time as instant as breath

You see a cloud
slide through the sky
I feel dragon’s breath
claim the ground
above the trees

Your wide-angle mind
grasps the world’s entirety
— so easy, you say —
it’s all clearly there
fully defined and framed

My mind cannot hold
virtual, visual
logic-formed snapshots,
all pixels in place

Darkroom details,
emotions, shapes,
visceral images
revealed in layers
are my truth

raw word-pictures,
mental music . . .
or
objects defined
by their given names . . .

we each see and say
our imprinted version
of reality as it never is

Michele M. Graf

This poem grew out of a discussion my husband and I had with friends, when we were each describing what we saw and did on part of our life on the road. How could two people come away with such different memories of the same shared event? One of the best parts of being married to one’s absolute opposite is laughing at all the ways we interpret “Life, the Universe, and Everything”. (Thank you Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)

In June, I was co-presenter of the Eugene Public LIbrary Summer Reading Series Poetry Workshop and Showcase. Judy Hayden’s photography was on display as part of the celebration. I went wild when I saw her bird in flight cloud photo — the clearest image of what I’ve tried to explain about how I process the world. Sentimentally, watching cloudscapes and the moon were my special moments with my father when I was young.  Judy graciously agreed to share this magic image with the Poetic Muselings in this post.

A bit about Judy:  I see light and line, color and texture, gladly through my lens; both still and moving images in nature; blessings from the earth, sea, and sky. 

Inspiration for the cloud photo:  During my annual women’s retreat in Eastern Oregon, a time to laugh, cry, and nurture, this amazing bird-like image appeared briefly on our morning walk, bringing us much appreciated joy and inspiration.

Thank you, Judy, for capturing that bird, and allowing it to soar here! We hope to collaborate on other poetry-photo projects in the future, so watch for more.

 

 

 

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

 

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Meet Carla Girtman


Carla lives in Central Florida with her family and three cats (who claim they write better than she does). She has been writing since sixth grade (and
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still has most of her handwritten work in a box somewhere), but didn’t really have anything formally published until 1996 when her story “Me? I’m No Writer” was published in the Phoenix (Valencia Community College) magazine. She received her BA in English in 2000 and her MA in Technical Writing in 2005.

When she isn’t working undercover at an international airport or teaching online, she manages to write speculative flash fiction and especially enjoys writing microflash. Her flash stories have been published in Clockwise Cat, Flashshot, Demonic Tome, Flashes in the Dark, Short Humor Site, Blink Ink, 101 Fiction, and her work has appeared in two print anthologies, The Zombie Cookbook and Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes. Carla is spearheading the anthology: Midnight Tarot: A Fool’s Journey; Mermaids, Zombies, and Vampires – O My! A collection of published and new fiction; and Fits and Starts: 102 Prompts For Story Inspiration. Carla has participated in the  National Novel Writing Month four successful times. Her first Nano novel When Elves Return has actually sold copies she didn’t buy herself.

She doesn’t really consider herself a poet and generally writes when the Muse stabs her with a pen.  Her poem, “When God Awakens,” appeared in The Corner Club Press and the poem “The Ring” found a home in Dark and Dreary Magazine. Her friend Linda, got her involved with the Muse Poetry Workshop which she helped develop the participant’s workbook. Carla mostly lurked in the Muse Conference due to restraints of grading 15 thousand-word rough drafts for her online composition class. Her favorite part of the Muse Conference was working with the Poetic Muselings and creating the workbook! She also enjoyed creating an aragman poem which did get into the workshop, and of course, it was about cats.

What kind of advice would she give to writers and poets? Set aside a regular time to devote to writing. (She’s also not very good at taking her own advice!) Don’t be afraid of rejection or be discouraged by it. A word written today is one less written tomorrow.

She enjoys reading, watching movies, and collecting antique books and the McDonald’s Madame Alexander miniature dolls.

Below are some poems that I have written.

Alarm! Tracing
the cat who hides
Alarm! Crating
The cat who snarls and yowls.
Alarm! Carting
The cat to the vet.

Alarm! Cat grin!

Aragman for the Muse Conference Poetry Workshop

Break Up

Upon the tin roof
Rain drums its tantrum.
Silver pillows of clouds
mound the sky.

Flashes of lightning
Flit like knives of fireimage01

Following the trail
To where my love lies.

Charting the storm
Which roils my heart,
I weep from loss
And wait for dawn.

(Photo is from Microsoft word’s clip art file.)
Poem was inspired by specific words for an anthology and was eventually withdrawn.

To the Young Mummy Recently Found

Atop an ancient volcano
Buried hundreds of years agoimage02

In a sanctuary shrouded in ice
a girl child was found below.
What thoughts went through your head
When to the altar led
To become the sacrifice?

Photograph by Maria Stenzel/NGS

Were you proud or full of dread?
You were ten, maybe twelve years old
Too young to shed your innocent blood.
The priests had hoped it would suffice
And appease their angry god.

You were frozen and preservedimage03

Your body to the god reserved.
Only once again to become a sacrifice
On the altar of science to be observed
And solve the riddle that would show
Why was a young novice
Buried hundreds of years ago
Atop an ancient volcano.

Photograph by Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Written for UCF poetry class inspired by a news story. Glose form.

Pictures found on http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/photogalleries/mummy-pictures/photo6.html
Shadow of Demons

With shadows of dread
In stillness dark, I alone
wrestle the demons.

Haiku – poetry group challenge

Ocean Song image04

Under the window, near the sea
Trembling lip sings sad stories
By mermaids who pluck strings
Of harps against a bare shoulder.
I sit by the window, bow against fiddle
Harmonize with the mermaid’s harp
Joining songs. Seductive dreams
Invade my sleep until morning’s rays
Chase the splash of a fish tail
Beneath the ocean’s wave.

Photograph by Carla Girtman


Published in issue one “use these words” 2008. Specific words were required.

Why A Cat Staysimage05

Languid, fluid, aloof
Basking in sunshine
Nothing is required
From a cat.

Limp, boneless
A puddle of fur
Lying in the shaft of light
Streaming from a window.

Nothing is required
From a cat.
Not even affection.

Which can be doled out
At the cat’s whim.
It may come – or not image06

When called.

Regal, royal, proud
A hunter with quiet steps
To pounce on a prey
Unexpectedly.

Nothing is required
From a cat.
Nor does it ask for
Anything.

So why does the cat stay?
It knows a good thing
When it sees it.image07

Inspired by a poetry group challenge. Included in an altered book submitted in art contest which won first place. 

Photographs by Carla Girtman

 

Shakespeare in the Park

The Sheep Meadow fills the area north of the 6...

The Sheep Meadow fills the area north of the 65th Street sunken Transverse Road and west of the disused Central Drive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the biggest influences on my poetic ear was due to Joe Papp‘s free Shakespeare in the park.  I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan. After Joe Papp won the right to put on the plays in Central Park, we never missed a performance. Even after I moved to the Boston area in 1978, I would occasionally get back to New York to see a play.

One of the reasons was that Sammy Silverman, the attorney who won Joe the permission he needed, was a long-time friend of my father. My dad, Louis C. Fieland, was an attorney, and he and Sammy went way back. How far? Alas, I don’t remember, and my father — and Sammy — are long gone.

After Sammy won the case, we all — my family, Sammy and his wife Claire — attended every performance. We could do this because Sammy and my family were sponsors. That meant we got tickets in exchange for contributing money. The tickets were free for everyone, but sponsors didn’t have to wait in line. Considering the popularity of the plays, this was a great gift.

The Pied Piper versus Goliath: Joe Papp and the fight for public theater

It was 1959 and Joe Papp was having a bad year. Not only had he lost his job at CBS, but also New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses had refused to issue Joe the permit he needed to present New York Shakespeare Festival‘s summer season of Shakespeare in the park, a permit that Joe had obtained without difficulty for the three previous summers.  The commissioner wanted Joe to charge admission. Joe refused. Joe’s vision was of free public theater. Not only did he not want to charge admission, he thought that the city should provide the funds he needed to continue his performances. The war was on.

Joe Papp, more than almost any other man, transformed the face of American theater. Joe, the son of immigrant parents, had only a high school education and didn’t go to an acting school. What Joe had, though, was a vision, optimism, and persistence. He’d need plenty of all of them.

In 1959, Robert Moses was the king of urban planning and Joe Papp was nobody. What chance did Joe have against Moses? Moses had refused to issue Joe a permit unless Joe charged admission. Joe almost gave in, but when Moses demanded Joe charge $1.00 to $2.00 a ticket, Joe refused.

And that’s when Joe got lucky. His attorney, Samuel Silverman had once worked as corporate counsel to the city and knew that Joe could bring an “article 78” proceeding against Moses. An article 78 proceeding could be brought against an official who had exceeded or abused his power. Silverman told Joe he could make a good case that Moses was being arbitrary in denying the Festival use of a public park when other groups obtained permits and in demanding the Festival, a non-profit group that didn’t want to charge anything, charge admission to their performances.

But summer was fast approaching. On May 18, Silverman brought suit against Moses on the Festival’s behalf. On June 2nd, the court found for Moses. Joe was ready to give up but Silverman persuaded him to appeal the court’s decision, and this time the court found for the Festival. Joe had won.

But Joe’s troubles still weren’t over. Moses agreed to issue the permit, provided, that is, the festival could come up for $20,000 in expenses for the city to prepare the site for the Festival’s performances.

Here Joe had a stroke of genius. He asked Moses for the money, and Moses, much to everyone’s surprise, asked the New York City Board of Estimate for $20,000 for the Festival. On June 25th the board said yes. Joe was on his way.

Joe Papp went on to much more. Eventually, the city built the festival a permanent home, the Delacorte Theater, in Central Park. The Festival acquired winter quarters in the old Astor Library on Lafayette Street, where Joe gave young, promising playwrights a chance to put on their plays.

Joe Papp transformed the face of American Theater, giving many actors and other theater professionals their start.  And if you go to New York this summer, you will be able to stand on line for a chance to get a free ticket to see Shakespeare in the Park, all thanks to Joe Papp, a man who had a dream and the belief in himself to go along with it.

My Fairy Muse

fairy-bliss-book
Fairies, dancing through the light that breaks through the forest. Calling others to join them. How can I resist? I love fantasy, magic, flight, and butterflies. Fairies combine all these elements into delicate, enchanting beings. I may not believe in real fairies, but of all the paranormal creatures they are the ones I wish most for. It’s no wonder they inspire me. From my bliss book to home decor to my writing. Here’s some excerpts.

from my poem “Concrete Forest”

Stench of pigeons
rouses me;
I uncurl from the nook
at the statue’s collar,
flap my wings
to rid night’s dust.

The birds share their crumbs–
pigeons and a fairy,
what a quaint family.

From the novel “Fly With Me”

The main character, Alexa, collects dollhouses for a fairy refuge in her front yard. Here’s an outsiders glimpse inside her home.

vines-by-nene-thomas
Sunshine poured through the bay window, creating a cloud of fairy dust over the round dining table. Placed evenly around the table were five mismatched place settings, all in vivid pictures. A plate of fairies here, sitting atop a larger one depicting lovebirds. One had a wine glass with a pewter dragon wrapped around the base, while another had a yellow plastic cup with red airplanes. The only thing connecting them all was the image of flight. Folded over the back of each simple wooden chair was a homemade name card. Unusual names, such as Casternon and Lalla-Lu, written in purple ink.

One long shelf of marble extended above the fireplace. The contents had as little sense as the place settings. Bottled flies, a dollhouse, dried hot peppers. The hardwood floor beneath had long scratches half-covered by what looked like dragon scales. Almost hidden behind the door was a pair of feathered wings hanging from a hook. No two of the sewn feathers were alike.

From the novel “Fey Moon”

Lamaric’s stocky form stood out against the slender grace of most Fey. Jex assumed that’s why the djinn’s best friend was Lue Nae–a runt pixie, four inches to her siblings’ five.

After Shenorill left for another meeting, Jex interrupted the friends’ game of hide and seek. “Why do the Voices meet so oft?”

Lue Nae popped out of the vase she hid in, her dual set of filmy wings trembling as she hovered. “The prophecy of course. The time is getting so close! Everyone is talking about it.”

“What prophecy?”

Lamaric raised his bushy red eyebrows. “The return of the Goddess, Mother of the Elements. Satu knows the tale.”

Jex frowned. “She never told me that one. I only know of Eleuteria from your creation myths. Why would she leave in the first place?”

“Those stupid enchanters.” Lue Nae did a flip kick at an imaginary foe. “They couldn’t stand to see one of their kind in love with a goddess. She was banished to save her life. I wasn’t born yet so never even got to meet Her.” The pixie flittered over to sulk on Lamaric’s shoulder, her cottony white hair drooping around her face.

fairy-figurines

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Mary’s Expression: Embracing the Passion

passion-dovesI 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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Waiting to hear on a proposal for a workshop

744908720_2654497633_0I got email from the Mass Poetry festival letting me know they’d received my workshop proposal. Fortunately they copied the email I sent them, because I forgot to save a copy.

I don’t know if they will go for it, but, hey, at least I sent it in.

Workshop

Even if we don’t suffer from writer’s block, we often dismiss our ideas before they have a chance to develop. How many times has a line of poetry popped into your mind only to be dismissed? A subject you dismissed as trite or as something you’d never write about? What are you afraid to tackle?

Don’t let your inner editor choke you off before you start. This workshop will include a series of exercises designed to free your inner muse.
Equipment Needs

  • Table for Presenters
  • Chairs for Presenters
  • Dry erase board
  • Paper and pencils

Target Audience: Anyone who wants to dig deeper and free themselves from their own critical thinking.What makes this distinctive and compelling? We’re all inclined to doubt the worth of our own work and to not pay attention to what it is we want/need to write. We will use group writing exercises as a warm-up to generating poetry, brainstorm starting lines for poems, write poems from various points-of-view: ex mother-in-law, best friend from high school, glass of water on your nightstand, unused computer keys. Anything goes.

This workshop is meant to be fun, to generate some ideas the participants to take away, and to start to develop some techniques they can use to get started when inspiration fails to strike.

Publicity & Audience Development Plan *I blog monthly on writersonthemove.com, twice monthly on poetic-muselings.net, and on my own blog, as well as guest blogging. I would use these to promote the workshop.

I’d promote on facebook and twitter, try for an article in my local papers, community tv station, and on internet and regular radio as well as emailing my list of contacts about the workshop.

Have you produced this or a similar program before? If so when and where? *I am one of the six Poetic Muselings. We presented a workshop, “Poetry: Not just for writing verse,” at the Muse Online Writers Conference this October.

 

 

 

TaCaMeFiMo, NaNoWriMo, and Reality

mg-neverforgetyourdreams2I decided to start a new kind of “month” — “Take Care Of Me First” month, or TaCaMeFiMo (TAH-CAH-MEE-FEE-MO) — and invite everyone who reads this to join me. Details below, but first, a bit of background:

The idea was to do this concurrently with crazy November writing ambitions: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month); the November PAD (Poem A Day, through Poetic Asides) Chapbook Challenge; NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Yes, I planned carefully how to be a NaNo Rebel, working in the various projects as adjunct to the new novel.

The paradox: do it all in support of my BIG GOAL — to step back from major projects I’ve handled with groups of writers and others, and take care of my own health and sanity needs FIRST:

– Establish functional sleep habits.
– Take my buns and the rest of my body to the health club five days per week and continue the healing process from my accident two years ago.
– Let go of the 25 lbs. I gained back.
– Work on strength and flexibility.
– Establish constructive eating patterns to reach and maintain a sane weight.
– Laugh and play more.
– Reduce my incessant worrying about the future, and second-guessing decisions from the past.
– Pace myself! Limit the time spent on writing projects, and fill the space with healthy stuff.
– Embrace and cherish what is wonderful in my life. Live in the “now”.

I began to plot this out in my “Never Forget Your Dreams” planner book (from Refuse To Choose, Barbara Sher’s amazing blueprint for “Scanners”). The ideas flowed and I realized I have ways of dealing with pieces of all of the projects I want to handle (or at least start) without having to dive fully into almost any of them. Yes, shamelessly, I would weave the silk into a net that surrounds me and this experiment in living what’s important:

1. Write my NaNoWriMo as a joint project with my husband; we did this in 2006; I won by completing 52,000 words within the time frame. He came up with the story idea, characters he wanted, plot and story line, and I wrote the book, adding scenes, all the words that made it to the page, massaging it when necessary.

So far this year, we’ve talked through the basic story line, have the title, main characters, villains, supporting cast, location, main story line and critical subtext identified. We know the triggering event, lots of possibilities for high and low points, and have a general idea of the ending. Like last time, Hubby’s imagination supplies most of this. I’ll throw in conflict, intrigue, twists, and whatever else strikes me during the writing phase.

In my NaNoRebel garb, I decided that the female main character would do a few more unscripted things during the month — write in her journal, plan out the portions of a book she’s writing about her travels, create a month of poems for another book she’s rewriting, and track her plan for gaining control of her life, one good step at a time — all while engaged in living the story being written.

2. 100 Words – a daily no-more-than-one-hundred-word piece, sharply focused, on one of my blogs:

Poetic-Muselings.net (2 posts) — on my scheduled posting day.

Gluten-Free Travel by Graf (4 posts) — long dormant and lonely.

RoadWriter (12 posts) – my blog the Tripod cyber-trolls destroyed a couple of years ago. I started a new version on wordpress a year ago with my domain name, and grappled with its purpose. Recently (when I let go of trying to know) I got a clear sense of what I want to do, and how I want to do it: use the 100 Words posts to sketch out, idea by idea, what I have, and what I need, to pull together Heart, Soul, And Rough Edges, my book of poems, prose, and pictures about our decade of living and traveling all over the US and Canada.

TaCaMeFiMo (12 posts) — the new one, not yet built, to track and share the journey to Finally Taking Care of Me First. I figured posts on this new blog would run a bit over 100 Words at the beginning, so this would give a word count cushion of a few hundred . . . maybe.

AHA! See? That’s 3,000 words right there!

3. Poem A Day (PAD) Challenge month. My MC will write poems, some may actually work in this NaNo novel. Most of the effort will focus on poems for the rewrite of my 2008 NaNo — The Guilt Ghost: Conversations With My Mother Now That She’s Dead — as a Novel in Verse.

My colleague, Margaret Fieland, wrote her NaNo last year as a scifi book, and did the PAD Challenge. Relocated, her NaNo, and Sand in the Desert, her book of thirty poems, were published this year. Is it inspiration or idea stealing to want to copy her success?

Figuring roughly 50 words/poem, times 30 days = 1500 words! Add that to “100 Words”, and the total word count for NaNo drops to about 45,500.

Time to schedule all of this into the calendar:

1. TaCaMeFiMo time first. Between the health club, breakfast, errands, and appointments, mornings are full. Hmm. Quality (and quantity) time with Hubby and Harlee the Wonder Poodle — a couple of hours per day, at least. More stretch and home PT time (up to one hour daily, broken into six ten-minute chunks). Go to bed by 10:30 pm; get at least eight hours of rest; prep time to make it happen = an extra 30 min in the evening.

2. Other commitments — previously-scheduled get-togethers with friends, postponed from Muse madness (4 evenings); two Oregon Ducks football games (my birthday present to hubby); two Oregon Ducks women’s volleyball games I promised to go to, after the Muse Conference was over; Open Mic Poetry Reading I’m helping with, as well as being a semi-featured reader (one afternoon and evening); Holiday Market Book Event where I’ll be signing copies of LIFELINES on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (prep, travel, set up, signing, breakdown = ten hours); monthly meetings I’ve invited others to attend, so must be there, too (four evenings).

Dropped out of the schedule — five other commitments, including a poetry workshop with the Oregon Poet Laureate, a memorial reading for those we’ve lost in the past couple of years; the Slam series I’d love to attend and try my hand at; the Third Saturday Reading Series, where I got my first break at open mic, and to launch LIFELINES. My Book Club, again.

3. Playing the numbers game . . . for writing:

– 20 days of intense NaNo writing = 2,300 words to reach 45,500. @ 500 wpm = 90 hrs = 4.5 hrs/NaNo writing session

– 20 days to write poems, playing catch-up a few times during the month; I always fall behind. Guesstimate @ 1 – 1.5 hr/poem = 30 – 45 hrs = 2 hrs/poetry writing session

– 10 days to write 30 posts for “100 Words”; I know I won’t do it daily. @ 45 min/post = 22 hrs = 2.2 hrs/blog writing session

This oh-so-sensible schedule = about 145 writing hours for the month = about 5 hrs/day, factored in a 30 day month. But, as you can see with 1 and 2 above, there aren’t a lot of days to spend 5 hrs on writing, let alone, all 30 days.

So, here I sit, two days late with my scheduled post for Poetic Muselings. I wrote a version of this a couple of weeks ago. Felt smug. Then squirmy. Then sighed.

TaCaMeFe won out — in order to take care of me first, much of the rest has to slide into December. I’ll keep my notes for the new site and post ideas, as well as what I do during this month; maybe before the end of November, I’ll get the domain name and capture a site. I love my idea of “100 Words” and hope to start that on Dec. 1, too.

I’ve been to the health club once, on Nov. 1, for my Tai Chi class. Today I have to go there to do my workout routine so personal trainer (who I hired for 30 minute sessions to get me going) won’t fire me next week. I promised us both I’d do it twice a week.

My Dragon voice-recognition program will get going a bit later today, to bring the first words of NaNo to the page. I’m four days behind. Same with Poems. NaNo takes priority for writing time, and I’ll get as much done as I can, working around it, for poems.

Now, after way too many words here, I will go downstairs to spend time with Hubby and Harlee. After I figure out what will thaw out in time for dinner. Forgot to factor that in!

Watch for another installment of this in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck, and think about what you can do to Take Care of Yourself First, starting now. Today. Really. Share your ideas and successes. We are all in this together . . . and I plan to add these words to my NaNo count, since I completely rewrote the post.

Michele

 

 

Mary’s Muse Conference Experience

Last week was the annual Muse Online Writers Conference. The Muselings have a history with this conference.

Our group emerged from this conference, we learned the tools to create our poetry collection LIFELINES. We pitched our book to publishers at a later Muse Conference, and it was during Muse Con of last year that we got our acceptance letter. We owe the success of this group and our book to Muse Conference.

And this year we paid it forward. For the first time, the Poetic Muselings presented a workshop. Poetry: Not Just for Writing Verses.

It was a great experience all around. We talked poetry, wrote poetry, critiqued poetry. Hopefully those that attended learned something and made their own connections to continue in the days ahead.

On Saturday’s topic, Michele brought up some questions to help us look at how poetry can enhance our other writing. It made me take a look at the relationship between my two types of writing. Sometimes I try to keep them in two separate boxes, a poet in one moment and a fiction writer in another. But they are both a part of me, and they definitely bleed into each other.

One thing I’m still working on is taking my strengths from each form and applying them to the other. I need to be more descriptive in my fiction, and use more story in my poetry. My best writing has elements of both.

I spent most of my week in our poetry forum, but I also dabbled in some of the other workshops. One of my favorites of the week was Creating a Writerly Logo. I learned the importance of choosing good font and color, spacing and shapes. It was a lot of fun coming up with a logo that represented both sides of my writing.

Here is my final result:

 

 

If you have different hobbies, or write different styles or genres, how do they overlap?

mary-sig2

 

 

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