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Showing posts from 2017

A Flash of Fiction

The days have grown shorter and night falls somewhere around 4:30. I've never liked this time of year. The short daylight hours are depressing and like some folks I have experienced that SAD that slows us down in winter. However, as a writer, there is a plus side to all this darkness.

It's early morning and I fill a glass with warm water, lemon juice and honey and head to my writing room. I light a vanilla scented candle, cradle my rose quartz in my palms and close my eyes. The silence and stillness of morning calms me and sends me into a writing mood. After a few minutes of meditation it's time to get to work.

At present I am working on a self-made course under the tutelage of poet and teacher Lorraine (Bird) Mejia. I have the new collection by Mary Oliver titled "Devotions" and I am using that as a guide. Each morning I open the precious book to a random page and read the poem. I copy down a line or two that strikes my heart and then write my own poems from those…

Be the 100th Monkey

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In the early 1950s a group of monkeys on an island was observed and a very important lesson emerged.

Sweet potatoes were dropped from airplanes for the monkeys and they began to eat them. However, not liking the grit of the sand on the potatoes, one young monkey went to a nearby stream and began washing the sand off the potatoes. She taught her mama to do the same and pretty soon all of the monkeys on that island were washing sand off the sweet potatoes in the stream.

At a certain point a total of one hundred monkeys were engaged in this potato washing activity and, to the surprise of scientific observers, at the same time monkeys on other neighboring islands began to wash their sweet potatoes too.



There is speculation as to whether or not this actually happened or if it is a folklore story used to present a point. The point is this: If enough people, or monkeys as it were, engage in a specific activity, soon other tribes will begin to do the same. The lesson seems clear and is especiall…

The Power of Poetry

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I believe that poetry, both reading and writing it, has the power to fill our hearts, change our minds, and feed our souls. When prose refuses to bend and comply with my expressive wishes I turn to poetry in order to get my feelings on paper. I prefer accessible poems and poets who I can relate to, who see the world in such minute detail that I view the world in new ways and come to think and feel differently.

Early morning is the most conducive time to write poetry, read poems, or read about poetry. The stillness and quiet, the blue gray light of dawn, a bird singing somewhere on a tree branch. The sun peeking like a rose over the tips of the trees all lend an ethereal feel that sings poetry to me.

Today I received Mary Oliver's newest collection of poems called "Devotions."


It is a collection of poems from all of her previous books. I never tire of reading her work. So singularly does she describe the fauna and flora of her native homes of Ohio as a child, Provincetown…

Rejuvenating My Writing Energy

For the past few weeks art has overtaken my writing energy. I love art journaling and using visual images to express myself. I also love getting paint all over my hands and engaging in play on the page through intuitive abstract painting. But at heart am a writer and I need to get my head back in that game.

I did accomplish quite a bit of writing in the online class I took in August, but once it was over I returned to art. Now it's time to write and as synchronicity would have it Melanie Faith is offering a prompted daily writing class through WOW-womenonwriting.com. It begins on November 1st--just in time. I have a few weeks to reset my mind. Melanie is a wonderful and supportive teacher and I have taken many classes with her in the past, both in fiction and poetry. Her guidance is wonderful and she shares lots of prompts, quotes and inspiration on a daily basis. The class lessons are guided by Natalie Goldberg's book "Writing Down the Bones" which is an iconic writ…

Writing for 20 Minutes a Day

I recently enrolled in an online class that requires writing for twenty minutes a day. The class is offered by Story Circle Network which is an international organization that provides support and resources for women who want to tell their stories. If you are a woman who writes I highly recommend joining. The class I'm taking is facilitated by Len Leatherwood who is an amazing teacher. I've taken several classes with her and have always benefited by her encouragement and guidance.

This class has helped me to rearrange some of my thoughts about writing. Initially I thought the class would help me do more free writing. I just finished a poetry collection and a chapbook of flash fiction and I wanted a break from such structured types of writing. But in the end the reverse actually happened and it has opened an old but sealed off door for me.

In the first week of the class I used my morning journal time to write pieces to submit. In the process I reawakened my desire to write novels…

A Community of Writers

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Writing is of course a lonely activity. You sit at your desk with silence and solitude your best friends. Closed doors are a treasure and you get settled in, shutting down your phone and disconnecting your internet. You don't want distractions or interruptions, Alone at the keyboard or notebook you let the plots of your novels unwind as you meet new characters who help or hinder your protagonists' goals. Along the way you conjure up stories in the most magical but comprehensible language you can muster and it is a lovely way to spend a few hours a day.


But eventually you need a community of other writers. When I lived in New York I had such a group. Over a period of fifteen plus years we met one Saturday a month to commiserate over wine and good good. We shared what we had been writing and received gentle but honest critiques. We talked about our personal lives and about the challenges of writing and trying to get published. It was a welcome three hours a month for writers who…

Writing Begins with Yoga

I wake at dawn as soft light penetrates through the window blinds mere feet from my bed. Though the idea of staying cozy beneath the sheets is tempting my bladder and my brain have other ideas. The bladder, well that needs no explanation. When she calls I must answer and once I'm up my brain kicks in and going back to sleep is a lost and foggy idea.

As I brush my teeth and wash sandy sleep from my eyes, ideas begin to tumble along neural pathways and lodge themselves in wormy gray matter. Even if I'm sleepy, and crawling back into bed with my snoring husband is inviting, I push myself to my writing room. These precious silent minutes alone are perfect for a writer. What chances I get once my husband is awake will have to be carved out of the daily grind, or other adventures we take in our new home in Southern California. There is so much to explore and of course shopping, laundry and cleaning are additional critters pushing away delicate hours I could spend constructing poems …

Synchronicity for Writers

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Synchronicity comes in a variety of packages and at myriad times if only we are open to hear those whispered voices. For writers and other creatives synchronous events and unexpected connections are the gifts we need to keep going when challenges or deadlines get too much for us. Recently certain connections have made it possible for me to get back into writing mode and set art journaling aside. Oh I'm not giving up art journaling but I'm definitely curtailing it to two or three times a week. Writing every day is more crucial if I'm to meet my goals. So here are the happenings that lead me to focus more.

Firstly I heard about a woman in the Temecula Valley Woman's Club who has written and published three novels and I am meeting with her on Friday. The value of a partner in this writing life is crucial and since we moved from New York to California I am missing my writing group of amazing women.

Last night we attended the monthly meeting of the Temecula Valley Art Leag…

Is Poetry Dead? Please say it isn't so!

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At least once a month my husband and I spend a morning in Barnes and Noble sipping coffee and exploring. He will browse art magazines and cookbooks while I explore books based on my current topic of interest.

On Sunday we spent just such a morning. When we got to Barnes and Noble soft music was playing, just right for reading, but it soon morphed into something more popular and downright annoying. I want classical or smooth jazz and preferably instrumental when I'm reading. I would also prefer the absence of other people's conversations but it is a public place after all and I have to adjust.

At various times my focus has been art magazines and books, literary journals, self-help books, inspirational musings or sometimes health and cookbooks. I always spend some time among the shelves of fiction looking for a new author or one of my favorite author's latest release to add to my ever growing pile of fiction. Sometimes my focus is on writing and that may include novels, mem…

Rituals for Writing, Writing as Ritual

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As I shift my creative focus from art back to writing I remind myself of what I need to do to enter my writing life. Rituals are a good place to start. We all have our own personal rituals even if we don't identify them as such. We have mealtime rituals, bedtime rituals, morning rituals and perhaps exercise rituals. Here are a few of my writing rituals that I will implement once again.

Five rituals that get me writing:



Cleaning my desk: The first step is to clear my desk of anything art related to eliminate distractions. Gone are the water glass, the paintbrushes, the art journals. All moved to another part of the room. The desk is then dusted and my mug of pens is placed in the corner.Setting up notebooks: I print labels for a notebook and binder for each writing project. Sometimes it is only one of each for a novel but often it is several. One for each flash fiction or flash memoir chapbook I am writing. Sometimes for a poetry collection in progress.Buying and/or reading books on …

Manuscripts in Cyberspace

It's early morning and blue light drifts into my writing space. I open a one subject, wide ruled spiral notebook and begin the first draft of chapter 10. Writing first drafts in longhand has always been my approach to writing in any genre. The words flow down my arm and out through my hand in blue swirls across the page. And any time I wish to review a few pages, find a certain scene that needs tweaking or check my scene notes, there they are inside the bright covers of the notebook.

Things can get tricky however when those character arcs, plot twists, and back stories are converted to documents in a word file on my computer.

I've been at work on this present novel for several years. Over that time plots and characters have changed and hopefully the whole has become better. But there are files, files and more files related to the varied forms of this novel. Some on the computer, some on a flash drive. Up until the passed few weeks this has worked okay. But I have been struggli…

Getting back to writing a novel

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It's been nine months since I wrote that last post and lots has happened--very little to do with writing however. Much to my embarrassment I haven't touched that novel since my critique group retreat in April. I do have an excuse though.
In May we flew to California and found a new home in a very nice apartment complex. It took many months to settle the details, pack up our belongings and drive from the east coast to the west. But now we are here and settled in and loving the sunny warm weather. We have taken care of details and acclimated ourselves to where things are in the town and now it is time I got back to business.
I have been making lots of art journal layouts and enjoying it immensely but it's time to get back to writing this novel. It seems I do not have any of the previous material so I am beginning from scratch!
I set up my notebooks and have an idea where I'm going. I also signed up for an online class to outline the foundation of the novel so I can have a so…