sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Posts tagged ‘Writing’

Make Visible: The Muse Online Writers Conference

write-picThe Muse Online Writers Conference

The next MuseCon will be held October 8-14,2012.

Although registration for this fabulous and free online writers conference isn’t open yet, it soon will be.

The Poetic Muselings will be hosting a poetry workshop at the 2012 Muse Online Writers Conference!!!

Hope to see you there!

Just read this Mission Statement! (from the website, home address is:  http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com/joom/)

 

Mission

 

Our Online Writers Conference is aimed to offer you, the writer, whatever resource we can to give you the opportunity to enhance and improve your craft, to offer the opportunity to make contacts to reach that next level all writers seek – publication!

Our vision for organizing this online and very FREE writers conference as an annual event is to bring the writing world a bit closer for you. I understand many writers out there do not have the monetary resources to attend face-to-face conferences, or perhaps they are situated far, and even some writers may be incapacitated making it difficult for them to travel.

Within the world of the Internet, everything is possible and with this in mind we offer you this chance to come out, chat with our Presenters, ask them questions and even attend a few of our FREE workshops to be held throughout the week.

And remember…this is a smoke-free environment.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at:

lea at themuseonlinewritersconference dot com

 

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

 

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

 

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Make Visible: Focus on Form: Senryu

Welcome to Focus on Form. For the next three weeks, we poets will be writing a poem in the same form and sharing it here on the blog.

My first experience with Senryu poetry was when I posted what I thought was a Haiku and was told it was Senryu instead.  It’s a Senryu because it includes a man-made object (my glasses), even though it’s about the weather; and also because of its sarcastic tone.

Untitled

The June rain
Leaves drops on my glasses
I can’t see summer from here.

June 7, 2008
© 2008 Anne Westlund

 

Senryū (川柳?, literally ‘river willow’) is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 or fewer total morae (or “on“, often translated as syllables, but see the article on onji for distinctions). Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. Unlike haiku, senryū do not include a kireji (cutting word), and do not generally include a kigo, or season word.

Senryū is named after Edo period haikai poet Senryū Karai (柄井川柳, 1718-1790), whose collection Haifūyanagidaru (誹風柳多留?) launched the genre into the public consciousness. A typical example from the collection:

泥棒を dorobō wo

捕えてみれば toraete mireba

我が子なり wagako nari

The robber,
when I catch,
my own son

(Excerpted from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senryu)

The first step to writing Senryu poems is to think of a theme and what message is to be conveyed. Taking ideas from family life and experiences with friends and coworkers is a good place to start.

Once the theme is established, the next step is to begin jotting down ideas and phrases.  Build on those ideas until they form three lines and add up to 17 syllables or less. Senryu poetry seems easy to write but in actuality it is not easy to convey a complete message in three short lines.

The first line should set up the setting, and the subject should be the focus of the second line; the third line should use action to sum up the poem. This is a simple way to approach writing Senryu. With more practice and reading examples the writing process will become more natural.

One thing to remember when writing this form of poetry is that it is not complex. Senryu uses simple language and incorporates humor.  Here are a few more examples written by modern poets:

As if it were spring
the green mold
on the cheese

© Garry Gay

rush hour-
the blonde in the Porsche peels
an orange

©Robert Bauer

(excerpted from How To Write Senryu Poetry by Sarah Carter, http://www.howtodothings.com/hobbies/how-to-write-senryu-poetry)

Give it a try!  I can’t wait to see what the rest of the Poetic Muselings come up with.

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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Forms of the Muse

When we Poetic Muselings first approached the idea of putting together a poetry collection, our initial theme was that of the muses. It didn’t work out, and you can read about that journey here. However, I still think the Muses is a good topic.

The origin of the muse goes back to the nine muses of Greece. There are four different versions of their parentage, so I won’t delve into that. It is said that all tales and songs, all inspired knowledge, come from the Muses. Each has their own specialty and associated emblem. These are the most common names and attributes:

Calliope, muse of epic song, carries a wax tablet. Clio, muse of history, carries a scroll. Euterpe, muse of lyric song, plays a double flute. Thalia, muse of comedy and bucolic (characteristic of the countryside or pastors) poetry, is seen wearing a comic mask and ivy wreath, holding a shepherd’s staff. Melpomene, muse of tragedy, wears a tragic mask and ivy wreath. Terpsichore, muse of dance, is seen dancing while playing a lyre. Erato, muse of erotic poetry, plays a maller lyre. Polyhymnia, muse of sacred song, is depicted veiled and pensive. Urania, muse of astronomy, is pictured with a celestial globe.

The nine canonical Muses. From left to right: ...

The nine canonical Muses. From left to right: Clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsichore, Urania, and Melpomene. Drawing of a sarcophagus at the Louvre Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mousa, in addition to being the greek word for “muse”, literally means “song” or “poem”.

In modern day, the word muse has a much broader meaning. It no longer refers to the original nine. Much more personalized, everyone can have their own muse, the source for his/her inspiration.

The muse comes in different forms. For some, it is a creature – perhaps a fairy or a dragon. For others, it is something specific in their life that inspires them – nature, walking, music. Perhaps it is an actual person – a friend, sibling, or spouse that you speak to and come away re-enthused and inspired.

My muse is more likely to show up if I play Celtic music. It can come in the form of a woman, or a dragon, or merely magic in the air that blocks out the rest of the world.

Stephen King has a muse, which he writes about in his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”

There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think this is fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much too look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (what I get out of mine is mostly surly grunts, unless he’s on duty), but he’s got the inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life.

Later he writes about the importance of having a regular writing schedule, and how it is for the muse as much as for yourself.

Don’t wait for the muse. As I’ve said, he’s a hard-headed guy who’s not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. … Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon or seven ’til three. If he does, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up, chomping at his cigar and making his magic.

If you’re always waiting for inspiration to write, you won’t get much done. Is it not better to exercise your writing muscles while you wait for your muse to come to you? Even if all you do is stare at a blank screen, you are opening yourself for it to come.

What form does your muse take?

 

 

 

(Bulk of article was originally written for a Writing.com Fantasy Newsletter in 2008)

 

 

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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Scrivener: Not Just for Novels

Many novelists have heard of Scrivener, a software for writers. Initially it was available only for Mac, but last year a version for Windows became available. While editing one of my novels lately, I became frustrated with keeping all my documents and Excel charts updated, and trying to reorder scenes or chapters for a major revamp is a big pain in Word. So I finally decided to download the 30 day free trial for Scrivener. The next day, my husband told me to go ahead and buy it, since we had both read a lot of great things about the software, and I couldn’t stop gushing about all the tools and features.

Scrivener and My Novels

I’ve imported that manuscript I’m revising, and have a newer WIP (only a few scenes written) transferred over to work on mostly from scratch. It’s a very different process for each.

One of the biggest features of Scrivener is that it you break each scene into its own document, but it can still be easily viewed in chapters, or the entire project. It’s been a LOT of work breaking my manuscript into individual scenes, and filling out the attached notecards with updated summaries, but it is SO worth it.

I can easily drag and drop a scene into a new location, I’ve used keywords which color the notecards so I can see POV at a glance, and the time I spent summarizing scenes has given me a basis for an updated outline and synopsis. I love having everything in one place. I used to have documents for characters, world building, different drafts; Excel sheets for keeping track of word count, Point of View, chapter length. Timelines and chapter outlines were a number of drafts out of date. With the ease of having all my info readily available, in one program, I can easily keep everything up to date, find what I need, and move things around.

But that’s not all! I had the brilliant idea while fiddling with my manuscript that I can use these same features for my poetry.

Scrivener and My Poetry

I can use keywords to categorize my poems, put them in collections, and easily reorder poems for compiling into a chapbook. No more copy/paste in a giant word document. If I want to work on an individual poem, I can. If I want to see how it fits into a larger body of work, I can do that too.

My old method: Over a dozen folders, sometimes with a poem in multiple locations. Separate Excel sheets for information like theme. Not only a mess, but I never seem to have everything up to date. I forget to add a poem to my themes list. I have poems in my “new poems”  folder for as far back as 2006 that I haven’t gotten around to categorizing (pure laziness, as I do have a miscellaneous folder).

Now: I write a new poem, tag it with themes, and mark it as a rough draft. I could even list in the notes, or keywords, which poems I’ve shared with whom. I never can remember which ones I’ve shared with my husband, or my critique group. I love being able to have all that information in one place. If I can’t view it at a glance, it’s only a quick click away. 

For comparison, here’s my Excel sheet I used to keep track of themes in my poetry: (click on pictures to biggify)

And here’s my collection of color poems, with their keywords (themes, in this case), in corkboard view:

In this same folder, all I have to do is click on the Scrivenings button up top (highlighted in yellow below) to see the composite of all the text. I’ve circled in red the binder on the left, where I can drag documents to rearrange them, which would update the composite text, as well as the corkboard and other views.

If you can’t tell, I LOVE Scrivener. It’s become such a useful tool, not only for my novels, but for my poetry as well. I’m super excited to put together a new chapbook now. What writing software have you tried?

Make Visible: End of the Year Self-Evaluation for Writers

The end of the year is a fantastic time to evaluate one’s writing life with an eye to the future.  It’s a time to look at the big picture and see if you have met, exceeded, or fallen short of your self-created writing goals for the year.  This self-evaluation was inspired by the About.com Graduate School post, Check in With Yourself: End of Semester Self-Evaluation.  I’ve found that doing a regular self-evaluation is a great tool for reflection on my graduate school experiences.  This evaluation is not an excuse for you to beat yourself up; instead it will allow you to get a clearer picture of your writing life.

Consider your responses to these questions.  It might help to actually write them down.  🙂

Consider the last year:

  • How did my year begin?
  • What were my submission plans, writing goals, and marketing plans (if applicable)?
  • Did I allocate enough time for writing, typing and editing my work?
  • Were my expectations met?
  • What surprised me this year?
  • If I could do anything over, what would I choose?  What would I do differently?
  • What are my writing strengths and witnesses?
  • How might I address these weaknesses?
  • How can I augment these strengths?
  • What have I learned this year?  About writing?  About subjects of interest to me?  Personally?

After thoughtful consideration, what can you conclude about your year?  What will you do differently next year?

Some ideas to think about for 2012:

Set aside regular times to write.  Be flexible.  If you are a morning person write in the mornings, if not, write in the afternoons or evenings.  Consider investing in writing prompt books or get writing prompts off the internet, so you are not stuck for ideas.  Remember, writers write!

Consider collaborating on a writing project with a writing friend or online critique group.  Collaborating is a great way to support one another while holding each other accountable.

Take time at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012 to revisit your writing goals.  Are they too ambitious or not ambitious enough?  Can you break your goals down into smaller, more manageable steps?  If you haven’t made any writing goals, is it time to do so?  Think about sharing your writing goals with supportive family members and friends.  Do you have any deadlines looming?  Make a note of those and give yourself time to meet them.

Reflect on any Works in Progress (WIPs) you have.  Is it time to let your WIPs go or is it time to breathe new life into a WIP?

Every year is a new beginning.  A new year is a great time to establish good writing habits and to reflect on the past year.  It’s also a good time to congratulate yourself on what you accomplished in 2011 and realize what you did right. See you in 2012!

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An Exercise in Imagery

Dreigiebelhaus (three-gables-house) Am Laien i...

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. As my gift to you, I’d like to share a fun exercise to create unique imagery.

Sometimes I find myself getting stuck using the same descriptions and phrases in my writing. Especially in poetry, it loses that pop. One of my favorite exercises to get out of this rut is one I learned in high school.

1. Come up with a list of common adjective/noun combinations. Since it’s the day after Christmas, I’m going to choose some season appropriate terms. The more you come up with, the better a chance you’ll get an awesome description out of this. I like to come up with 10-12, but for teaching purposes I’ll do six. Adjectives in green, nouns in red:

white Christmas
evergreen tree
falling snow
slick roads
gold rings
hot cocoa

2. English: Six dice of various colours. 4-sided ... Now choose a number. Any will do as long as it’s not a multiple of the list you have. Since I have six items, I would not use the number six. You can use virtual dice to give a random number, or roll an actual die. Since I have six phrases, I’ll use a regular die and re-roll if I get a 6. I rolled a 4.

3. This number is the shift number. Leave the adjectives where they are, and shift the nouns down the number rolled. Christmas would shift down 4 to match with gold. My resulting list:

white snow
evergreen roads
falling rings
slick cocoa
gold Christmas
hot tree

4. These are now your prompts! Use any that inspire you in a poem or story. As you can see, some combos are definitely better than others. White snow isn’t very original, but evergreen roads excites me. If you get a dud, and none of the results speak to you, pick a new shift number.

Another variant: write a bunch of adjectives and nouns on pieces of paper, and put them in separate bowls or bags. Mix them up, and grab one from each. A grab bag of inspirational imagery.

Here’s my poem inspired by the above. I have the start of an evergreen poem, but ended up on a tangent and wrote this one instead.

What color is your Christmas?

White with snow
and frosted branches?

Blue with longing
for romances?

Mine is one of gold
as I snuggle down with slick cocoa
and listen to the joy around me.

A child’s laughter making
all those purchases worthwhile

The Carol of the Bells
echoing like falling rings

And at the end of the day
the family gathers round
to watch a movie

As a child I never could have known
Mothers have the best Christmas,
with memories of gold.

 

For another example, see my very first poem written using this technique.

I’d love to see the poems you come up with, using either my list or one of your own.

Next time on Mary’s Expression: A book review.

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