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1. Nora

 Look who's turned up.

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2. COMING SOON!

Coming soon, to my Etsy shop, limited edition, Wonderful Women Book Bags. Starting with, Nora, the original tattooed lady.

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3. Friday Speak Out!: Writing Exercises to Feed a Starving Muse (and Book Giveaway!)



by Jessica Bell

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Well, not entirely. I do believe that we run out of ideas or inspiration on occasion, but I honestly think that’s a result of a starving muse.

What do I mean by “starving muse”?

Sometimes, when you are working on one particular manuscript, your brain becomes lazy or trained to think a certain way. It slips into the routines and personalities of what you believe your characters to be, and creates, what I like to call, an inspiration shield. This means that you could be cutting yourself off from new creative stimulation that could improve your work, and help grow new ideas.

If you think you have a starving muse, here are a three writing exercises that might provide it with some nutrients.

Exercise One

Think about the person you are in love with. If you are not in love with anyone, think of someone you love unconditionally, such as a parent, sibling, child, or pet. Write a scene between you and this person that illustrates the extent of your love through action. You must not use the word love at all, any synonyms of love, or any declaration of your feelings. The reader must see that you love this person from the way you behave. Avoid clichés such as cheek stroking, and looking longingly into one’s eyes. Use at least one simile/metaphor in your scene that relates to smell. Use 1st person, past tense. Write no more than 1000 words.

Exercise Two

Write a one-page memoir from the point of view of an inanimate object. Don’t think about it too long. Just choose the first object that comes to mind. Think about its function. Does it need another object, or a living being, in order to efficiently serve its purpose? If so, what kind of relationship would this object have with this other object/living being, and how would that relationship shape the object’s life? Try to avoid giving the object supernatural abilities. Be as realistic with it as possible, but be sure to give it a “voice.”

Exercise Three

Step one: Grab a newspaper (or your iPad!) and open to a random page. Read the first headline that catches your eye. Write it down. Do not read the article.

Step two: Write a fictional article with the same headline. If you know the real story from the news, choose another one. If you know every single story that has been in the news lately, make up your own headline.

Step three: Use the people mentioned in your article, and the things that happened to them, or the events they are associated with, to write a short story or vignette. Try to “show” as much as possible.

Have random writing exercises ever helped you overcome the elusive writer’s block? If so, how? If not, why do you think that is?


***** BOOK GIVEAWAY*****

Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her writing skills book, Writing in a Nutshell: Writing Workshops to Improve Your Craft to one lucky winner! Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below and leave a comment for a chance to win. Open internationally. Winner is chosen randomly and announced within the widget on March 21.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


* * *

Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/ guitarist, is a the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

0 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Writing Exercises to Feed a Starving Muse (and Book Giveaway!) as of 3/14/2014 4:33:00 AM
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4. Monday Muse

20131021-084335.jpg

Come into the garden with me, and we can talk of what might be…


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5. Next Post

A Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope)

A Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my other blogs got lonely today. In order to keep it from gathering dust, I wrote a piece that talks of obligation, creation, writing, and put it all in a package that takes its inspiration from the manual on poetry.

Calliope is one of my several personalities. I figure if you’re going to go to all the trouble of having more than one persona, you might as well give each one room to spread out.

So, if you’re bored, have time on your hands and just want to see something different that you get over here, pop over to Calliope. The fare over there has a different flavor than Claudsy’s Blog; at least, most of the time.

Enjoy yourselves. Comment if you desire.

A bientot,

Claudsy


6 Comments on Next Post, last added: 6/20/2012
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6. When Elves Visit


When elves visit,
be they wee bairns,
or white-whiskered and jolly


it is best to
provide snacks








and woolly stockings. 


Might I also suggest
a means of documentation -

for doubters, and writers alike.
How else will people believe us?

I've started keeping a notebook and pens at the ready, 
in case elves, or story lightning strikes.

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7. Day 4 of April’s Challenges

This is going to be a long month. And one in which little outside of challenges gets done. Today I have three separate challenge styles to post.

The first is from Poetic Asides. The poem format used is of my own decision, since no specific form was required—a common occurrence. This prompt was so wide-open that my mind reeled from the assorted immediate mental flashes of subject.

The following is what I selected, purely by Muse. I sat down and just began writing. The results were unexpected. I hope you enjoy the efforts.

April 4, 2012 Day 4 Prompt—100% (blank) Fill in the blank and make title

 

100% Humidity Out There Folks

 

And still pavement waits for rain,

Disguised under its carpet of dirt

With footprints scarring its surface,

Waiting for fat drops to splat and stain.

 

Prayers danced in circles, call forth

Relief from Earth’s ravishing thirst,

Call forth dancers to join rhythm beats

From drum and foot, always circling.

 

Belief of dancers rises to Heaven’s ears,

Creates wind to drive Rain’s stampede

Across land cracked by Sun’s gaze while

Voices join drum in supplication.

 

Soon Rain’s front strangles ground’s throat,

Rushing, pounding, driving those beneath.

Feathered dancers glory in prayer’s end,

Glorying in The Creator’s answer.

 

100% Correct

 

“The little lady down front is 100% correct!”

How can that be correct, when factors flow as water,

During each second of the question’s answer?

 

Each breath creates new conditions, redirecting life’s steps

Onto paths as yet unseen, unknown until actuality appears,

To add to previous knowledge concerning that path.

 

Each thought, word, and action take the user

On a joy ride, designed within the user’s response,

Determined by perception and intent as to correctness.

 

Does consensus decided something’s correctness,

Leaving each person knowing one reality

While others live in separate aspects of it?

 

Should I believe what you say, knowing I

Have a different reality from your sense of right.

Can anyone be correct about anything in life?

 

In a short while I’ll post my offerings for Poetic Bloomings. The In-Form challenge for today is: tanka. Tanka is a Haiku form that has five lines instead of three. Those five lines have specific syllabic counts: 5-7-5-7-7. Some of the finest tanka examples I’ve seen tell a complete story in those five lines, containing 31 syllables—no small feat, but breathtaking when done well.

I’ll do my best to not disappoint when I write mine.

I also have a poetry challenge on BlogHer for a 4 Comments on Day 4 of April’s Challenges, last added: 4/8/2012

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8. Poetic Bloomings Wednesday In-Form Poetry Challenge

These are my efforts in Tanka today. Each follows the proper form of 5-7-5-7-7. Each attempt to tell a complete story in five lines. I hope all will enjoy them.

Poetic Bloomings Wednesday In-Form Poetry Challenge for April 4, 2012—Tanka

Dancers’ Prayers

Drum beats bring dancers,

Prayers rise to Heaven’s gate.

Rain’s presence called forth.

Supplication pleases God

Who delivers needed rain.

 

Driver’s Mess

When sight fails for speed,
Events scream for attention.
Metalic paint scrapes,
Tempers flare for all to see,
Solving problems with nonsense.

 

Music’s Power

Strains, soft with whimsy,

Sliding behind closed eyelids,

Relax and write now.

Muse sends song’s delicate voice

To woo the vision within.

 

I’ll return this evening with my sestina for the day. Happy reading, all.


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9. Mixing It Up with Poetry

The Muse of Poesie

Today’s prompt on Poetic Asides was simple. Write a mixed-up poem, no restrictions on subject or how you mix it up.

Again, wide open prompts like this one bring out a creative spark in people who must be seen to be believed. Humor cuddles with inspiration; absurdity takes a swing at nonsense, at the same time that both end with profound observations; teasers dive off the board into a sea of emotive pieces that defy categories; and cento makes an appearance from a pro. You just can’t predict what you’ll find inside the prompt’s comment section.

Take mine, for instance. When I began writing this morning, I intended to write about having been given the wrong directions for driving to a specific location. Not a difficult assignment from myself.

I got eight lines in and realized that Muse was dictating again on a subject that paralleled my intent. It became inspirational instead, surprising me as much as anyone. And I allowed it. Here it is for your perusal. Enjoy reading.

Much Needed Surprise 

I followed your directions,

Though there were missteps.

I’d begin once again,

Hoping to make no detours.

I left early but arrived on time

To your doorstep, a marvel sublime.

A picket fence greeted me,

Banking rivers of pansies,

Holding back a flood of color.

I didn’t think you’d remember

My favorite flowers and all.

You kept my swing company

Until I arrived to feel the peace,

Created for me by your side.

There, within your glory I’ll

Live for all eternity, a child

Learning To Be as one with thee.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Below is the poem I wrote this morning for Poetic Bloomings, which required verse focused on “senses” in all their definitions.

Sense and Sense Ability

We hear world’s echoes,

And see daydreams unfold.

Aromas fill our heads instead of humor,

With joys known or

Disgust at odorous repeats.

Fingers trace life’s passing,

While feet feel roads beneath.

And taste sensations

Keep our appetites replete.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

10. Senedipity and Friends

Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken", ...

Serendipity waves her wand across our lives on a regular basis, whether we realize it or not. I read Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides writing prompt this morning and thought, “Yep, I can do that one and had a title immediately.”

It wasn’t an original title; so few really are original. On fill-in-the-blank prompts, Muse either slips you filler quickly or not. I took an unconscious page from my old IBM days and did an “if, then else” statement in my head after I wrote the title. **For those unfamiliar with old programming code, an “if, then else” statement is one which is a prompt in itself. “If X happens, then what will happen next. If X does not happen, the what will happen next.”

For Robert’s Day 20 Prompt—Use “Let’s (blank)” as title. Fill-in the blank with word/phrase, use as title, and write the poem to it, my mind went to an old roommate back in the seventies and how things went from there. I called it–

 

Let’s Dance the Night Away

 

Two AM call caught us finally sitting,

A pair of disco addicts who came each night

To crowd a small floor, meet with friends

And laugh with others in new steps.

 

You faded from my life not long after,

A need that required distance to perform

Without recriminations or ever-afters,

A fact you could never appreciate.

 

Two to tango was never the real problem,

Though taking advantage was your forte,

For a con man needs only a woman’s faith,

Never was my enjoyment at issue.

 

Frankly I outgrew your need to mooch and moan;

Now my life and resources are my own.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Along the same lines but with different outcomes, just a couple of days ago, I reconnected with an old friend with whom I hadn’t talked since the mid-nineties. This was a person for whom I’ve searched for years with no success. He, too, had searched for me. Now that reconnection has ensued, life seems smoother than days before.

There’s so much to catch up on, so many personal travel logs to read. As I look toward this acquaintance process, I can’t help but look at this poem as a kind of letting-go of unfortunate experiences and a taking-up of those which uplift and secure.

Serendipity strikes again. Did she see it coming? Were the two events entwined on my star chart under a heading of “Let’s put things right”?

I hope you enjoy this day’s offering. Please leave a comment as you wish. Here’s hoping Serendipity waves her wand over you today.

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11. Poetry’s Microscope: PAD Challenge 22

Price Gun

Price Gun (Photo credit: Magic Robot)

Participants were handed an interesting writing challenge this morning. We were asked to write an “under the microscope” poem; either literal or metaphorical.

I doubt many of us can leap into our labs, scan a few slides and take up the scientific poetic slant, but you never know. I may try one later today; I do have a couple of ideas that travel that path.

My first attempt to satisfy this challenge is below. I’m not sure why Muse took me on this tangent, but it was the first thought to jump up and demand my attention.

I hope you enjoy the resulting fare.

 

What Price Celebrity

 

What price paid for fame

That we seek this scrutiny?

What price extracted in a game

Of hide and seek and infamy?

 

What price do innocents pay

For camera shots at school,

Where others are brought to bay

And thrill-makers stand to drool?

 

What price for bodies abused

For weight, highs, lows, or sleep?

What price to be so pursued,

In the name of love, admiration deep?

 

What price paid for a moment’s peace

Within the fish bowl of personal making?

 

Related websites:

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12. PAD Day 26—Fur, Fowl and Animal Poems

 

Photo Courtesy of BJJones PhotographyToday’s poem challenge is to write about an animal, addressing any aspect desired. Okay, I can do that. Like most people I’m fond of animals. They serve so many purposes within our lives that to have a world devoid of them seems sacrilegious.

 

Growing up in the country guaranteed that I knew and appreciated the roles of animals in our daily lives. So many years later, I still consider them the gifts of the earth, put on loan to us; teachers to teach us how to be guardians. You can decide for yourselves if we’ve ever learned the lessons.

 

Some creatures inhabit our dwellings as friends and family members. Others enrich our lives with their colors, textures, uniqueness, and myriad dimensions. The poems I’ve done today for this challenge are from both sides of the animal question; in house and outside it.

 

As always, I hope you enjoy these small efforts of mine. Take the time to comment; share some of your animal tales with others, if you wish. Above all, take a good look at what your life would be like without the non-human inhabitants in your life.

 

Companion Truth

 

Brandy orbs trusting, I see

 

Filled with love looking at me,

 

Gentle power of loyalty

 

Ever near, ever dear sentry.

 

Raise the call with nose held high

 

Licker of feet for miles gone by,

 

Pass this way my care to enjoy

 

Walk at heel my life an envoy.

 

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

 

 

Vixen’s Siren

 

Screams fill the night,

 

Terrorizing the listener.

 

Finger hovers over 911,

 

Until reason asserts truth.

 

It’s spring;

 

Her annual mating ritual begins

 

With blood-chilling siren song,

 

Seeking company for the nonce,

 

The vixen readies to entertain.

 

© Claudette Young 2012

 

Related articles


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13. Needed Relaxation and Nature

Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

Small excursions energize me most of the time. Over the weekend Sister and I took a quick trip to Central Washington. This was a trip planned for a couple of months. I could hardly afford the time away, I thought.

I did have numerous projects clamoring for my attention, things pushed aside or in need of initial contact. By Friday I’d concluded how much I really needed time away from computer and familiar surroundings.

I know we just had a break away with the Mountain Man Rendezvous, but what I didn’t need was stimulation and the constant movement of people around me. Instead, the need arose for personal quiet and peace, to allow me to recharge my internal batteries and my Muse.

The five hour drive Saturday morning began the recharging process. I sat back, listening to Sister’s running commentary of locations and wildlife passing by along Highway 2.

Mule deer and whitetail waited politely until they appeared in the rearview mirror before leaping across the road. Bald eagles kept pace with us from above the asphalt. Red-tailed hawks and osprey watched from their sky-scraper perches to make sure we left their territories quickly.

Rivers and small lakes rested in stillness, reflecting the forests lining their banks or the mountain summits that cast massive shadows across the sun-kissed mirrors. Canada geese nested with goslings yards from the blue heron and mallards, while red-winged blackbirds swayed precariously on last year’s cattail stalks.

The Kootenai River splashed along its bed heading back for the Canada. Clear skies colored with the peculiar shade of pale French blue spoke to us a warm temperatures and luscious clean air. The relaxation began, even as conversation flowed between us and the radio played softly in the background. There were no expectations other than our own. We were free for a little while.

Once we arrived at our destination, we had extra time to have a picnic. The city park in Connell was, as always, well-kept and ready for use. Under the shade of cottonwood trees we opened up the stocked cooler in the back and filled our plates. Sesame Garlic Chicken made room for homemade potato salad (a once monthly treat)

6 Comments on Needed Relaxation and Nature, last added: 5/15/2012
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14. Needed Relaxation and Nature

Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

Small excursions energize me most of the time. Over the weekend Sister and I took a quick trip to Central Washington. This was a trip planned for a couple of months. I could hardly afford the time away, I thought.

I did have numerous projects clamoring for my attention, things pushed aside or in need of initial contact. By Friday I’d concluded how much I really needed time away from computer and familiar surroundings.

I know we just had a break away with the Mountain Man Rendezvous, but what I didn’t need was stimulation and the constant movement of people around me. Instead, the need arose for personal quiet and peace, to allow me to recharge my internal batteries and my Muse.

The five hour drive Saturday morning began the recharging process. I sat back, listening to Sister’s running commentary of locations and wildlife passing by along Highway 2.

Mule deer and whitetail waited politely until they appeared in the rearview mirror before leaping across the road. Bald eagles kept pace with us from above the asphalt. Red-tailed hawks and osprey watched from their sky-scraper perches to make sure we left their territories quickly.

Rivers and small lakes rested in stillness, reflecting the forests lining their banks or the mountain summits that cast massive shadows across the sun-kissed mirrors. Canada geese nested with goslings yards from the blue heron and mallards, while red-winged blackbirds swayed precariously on last year’s cattail stalks.

The Kootenai River splashed along its bed heading back for the Canada. Clear skies colored with the peculiar shade of pale French blue spoke to us a warm temperatures and luscious clean air. The relaxation began, even as conversation flowed between us and the radio played softly in the background. There were no expectations other than our own. We were free for a little while.

Once we arrived at our destination, we had extra time to have a picnic. The city park in Connell was, as always, well-kept and ready for use. Under the shade of cottonwood trees we opened up the stocked cooler in the back and filled our plates. Sesame Garlic Chicken made room for homemade potato salad (a once monthly treat)

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15. Rolling Down the Cyber Highway

 

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher C...

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever begun a project only to find yourself on a journey to a place where you discover as much about yourself as you do about the place where you stopped?

If you don’t remember, were you paying attention? This isn’t an idle question: truly. I’ve just found more of myself because of a place where I stopped.

The new site where Meena Rose and I have taken up part-time residence is stretching me in ways I never anticipated. I had my expectations of what would be required of me, and I had dreams of what I could contribute. I think that’s true anytime one launches a new project that will be shared with others.

During the past couple of days, I did necessary research in order to put together a post for this morning in the “Two Voices, One Song” Garden. Research is a normal part of writing. Ask any good writer. What surprised me was not my distraction quotient, but rather the depth of the distraction.

I was looking for a piece of video—my first to be linked on a site in one of my posts—about Julia Cameron. I had no difficulty finding one. YouTube has several available for linking.

Surprise came with the reviewing portion of my research. I admit it; I got lost inside all of those videos. I watched the woman speak to a workshop group, not once, but several times on several videos. I listened and recalled what it was I’d put aside when my copy of “The Artist’s Way” was relegated to the bookcase.

My morning pages had become a thing of the past, no longer creating an advantage to my work and personal understanding. I’d given up that portion of my intent when I got too busy with daily tasks to remember that my inner self was more important than my public one.

Lao Tzu, traditionally the author of the Tao T...

Lao Tzu, traditionally the author of the Tao Te Ching (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I finished commiserating with Muse concerning this lack in my daily routine, I went on to enjoy watching several videos of Dr. Wayne Dyer as he presented the Tao Te Ching and its use today. I’ve seen Dr. Dyer before and thoroughly enjo

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16. Authors and their Muses - Katherine Roberts

The part of me that dreams up stories is quite separate from the part of me that goes to the supermarket for food, drives my car, or does the accounts. It is a fragile part, since it needs to feel safe before it emerges. Yet it is also a strong part, because it is always there deep inside me even if it does not feel like coming out. I am talking, of course, of my muse.

Traditionally the muses are young women who appear in Greek and Roman myth. First there were three, then seven, then nine. They had names, and they specialized in poetry, music, dance, history, astronomy. But obviously nine muses are going to be vastly overworked in our modern age, when nearly everyone seems to be writing a book or making music or doing other muselike things. So my muse is not a daughter of Zeus. He’s male for one thing, and he’s a unicorn.

I can tell when he is sulking. In some environments he emerges, delighted and curious and playful. He likes open spaces, mountains, beautiful gardens, candles, sunshine, snow, independent shops, second hand bookstalls, car boot sales, interesting artwork, music, colours, animals, the moon, stars, sparkly things. He dislikes noise, grey streets, traffic jams, litter, crowds, fluorescent lighting, mobile phones, dentists, and men in suits. He likes to be given little treats – a coffee in pleasant surroundings, a walk in a scented garden, ten minutes of sitting in the sun, a candlelit bath with incense and wine, an open fire on a cold day. In short, he has to be charmed.

For quite a while I did not know what my muse looked like and called him vaguely “my artist”. But gradually over the years he took form. He first showed himself to me when I won a short story competition – I went shopping with the intention of spending my winnings on something special to remind me of my success, and came back with two unicorn book ends. They were rather sweeter and pinker than I imagined, but of course they were my muse as a foal…



(I have been wondering if this means he is a twin – does anyone else have a unicorn as their muse?)

Later, browsing around Hay-on-Wye during festival week, I came across a poster of a more grown up unicorn, which I have on the wall of my study. I burn candles and incense on the shelf beneath it if I need his advice. I painted the wall behind him red for inspiration. He watches me as I write peering over my shoulder and breathing magic mist over my computer. Naturally, he is on the south wall for creative development (he’s into feng shui at the moment).



The unicorn is quite an interesting muse to have. He is a shy creature who will only respond to gentleness (the traditional maiden), and yet has potential for aggression when threatened (a sharp horn). Unicorn horn also has magical properties – it is supposed to bestow eternal life in powdered form, and can transform poison into sweet wine. Unicorns have a spiritual connection sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary and the Angel Gabriel, and are also associated with healing. They are usually shown as being horse-like, which means they can be ridden (but presumably not bridled). They are everywhere you look, and yet they do not exist except in the imagination.

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17. The Music Muse

by LuAnn Schindler

When I write, I like to listen to music. OK, I usually enjoy listening while I write. Other times, like when I'm on a tight deadline, I prefer the peace and quiet of our farm. Sure, there's the occasional 'MOO'........

Seriously, music ignites my writing muse. My musical choices vary as much as my writing topics. Some days, 80s and 90s rock blares, keeping my energy focused on the page. On Saturday mornings, I need the Kings of Leon and The Fray to jumpstart my morning pages. If I'm working on a creative endeavor, such as poetry or flash fiction, slow tunes by Sara Barilles, Howie Day or Tim McGraw or classical pieces like Moonlight Sonata help me keep an even writing pace.

And some days, I let iTunes decide what's up next.

The rhythm and words formulate the emotional connection between musical rhythm and written word.

It works for me, but does it work for all writers? What artists, music genres or songs keep you connected to your writing muse?

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18. TRANSCRIPT: Writing Under The Influence—Which Influences, Good and Bad, Fuel Your Writing?

This week’s chat was blessed by a visit from @markdavidgerson himself, who was able to give first hand information about his workshops and some retreats planned for later this year. The reasons you write and the ways you trick your demonic internal editors into leaving you alone long enough to get some words down were entertainingly [...] Related posts:

  1. TOPIC: Writing Under The Influence—Which Influences, Good and Bad, Fuel Your Writing?

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19. Poem A Day For April 3 and April 4

Time got away from me before I could enter my poetic post from yesterday. But it was a good day, nonetheless, spent with our grandson's drumline at their final gathering of the season---the annual picnic. Those times don't come often and are their own reward. So, today's post includes the poems from both yesterday and today. And as it turns out, both seem quite a propos.

April 3: Our challenge for today was to "take the phrase "Partly (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make that the title of your poem, and then write the poem."

Partly Written
By Bill Kirk

Some days the best we can hope for as writers
Is work partly written.

Try as we might, the words don’t seem to flow.
Maybe the muse has left us
In search of more fertile fields.
Maybe the intrusion of life gets in the way.
Or are some days simply more or less creative?

Yet on those days, is it not better to make the attempt
Than let the time we would spend writing,
Silently slip away unused?
Too bad if that happens.

So, write on, even if the work ends up
Only partly written.


April 4: "... write a history poem. This could mean a poem about your country's history, the history of an event or a tool, or even your own personal history."

On Making History
By Bill Kirk

With each passing day,
In our own way,
We make history.

Each of us carves out some small or large
Piece of meaning in time and space.
What did you do today to mark you place?

Did you simply wake up for breakfast
And wait for bedtime?
Or did you experience
A different kind of awakening---
Learning or contributing
Some certain thing or idea
To give meaning to life,
Your own or others?

With each passing day,
How well will you choose
To use it?

For the day’s relative length grows shorter—
A day in the life of a five year old
Seems much longer than my days
Three generations hence.
Why is that?

Perhaps it is the proportional share
An apparently shrinking
Twenty-four hour clock takes out
Of the increasing span of one’s life.

Until its end, that is.

And then we will no longer make history
In the doing of things;
But only in the affect
We may have had on others,
Through what we have done or left undone.

Either way,
With each passing day,
We make history….

1 Comments on Poem A Day For April 3 and April 4, last added: 4/5/2010
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20. Multitasking and Achieving Your Dreams (plus a WIP excerpt)

I’ve been thinking about time management a lot lately, while watching TV*, spending time online and working on my zombie novel. Apparently all this multitasking seeped into my WIP,** in the form of my subconscious, telling me to get my BIC*** and concentrate on my writing. What’s the line from my WIP?

Unfortunately, things that you want to be real are usually dreams, and things that you hope are nightmares can turn out to be real.

Yep. Even the zombies are telling me I need to concentrate on one thing and work at it to make my dreams come true (otherwise they will only remain dreams and the nightmare will be reality). Not everyone would read the sentence and think it means more BIC time, however, I know how my Muse works. It’s telling me that if I don’t do what it wants, it will abandon me to my Evil Inner Editor, and I don’t want that. Seriously. My Evil Inner Editor is a shape-shifting demon that turns into what currently scares me. He uses that form to bash my ideas and writing skills, which turns me into a puddle of jelly. Nobody wants to be around a blob of jelly with eyes, especially when it’s mint jelly. [Shudder.]

Help, I've been turned into a mint jelly blob! Again.

Help, I've been turned into a mint jelly blob! Again.

Is multitasking always such a bad thing? No.****

When multitasking works:
If you’re multitasking and still getting your work done and spending quality time with your family, then congratulations, whatever you’re doing is working! (How do you make it all work?)

When multitasking doesn’t work:
If you’re unable to get your work done because you’re unable to concentrate, or if the only time you spend time with your family is when you’re ignoring them because you’re doing several other things at the same time, it might be a problem.

Tips for slowing down and single-tasking:

+ Concentrate on one thing at a time.
(This could help speed things up, improve the quality of your work, or allow you to finally complete your project. You might even enjoy what you’re doing more, too.)

+ Handle things only once, if possible.
(Respond to emails after reading them, read articles, magazines or newspapers, then file them or get rid of them.)

+ Have a schedule.
(Use each scheduled time for the activity you’ve chosen, so you know you can concentrate on that one thing. You also don’t have to fit in other things because you know you’ve scheduled them for later.)

Tips for times when multitasking is necessary:

+ Use TV commercial breaks to get things done.
(Load the dishwasher, read an article, or write an email during breaks. Try to do activities that can be easily picked up again if you don’t finish before the show comes back on.)

Moo TV.

Moo TV.

+ Use multiple updates.
(Sometimes you can update several online things at once, like Twitter and Facebook.)

+ Watch your favorite shows during meal times.
(This doesn’t work for everyone, or for all the meals you eat each day, but it can work. It allows you to keep watching your favorite shows and not feel guilty about the time spent watching them.)

+ Do something that takes brainpower at the same time as something mindless.
(For instance, listen to a book on tape while you clean the house, or have game night with the family while yo

9 Comments on Multitasking and Achieving Your Dreams (plus a WIP excerpt), last added: 5/3/2010
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21. have you seen this (toy) cat?

Have you seen this cat?

Kitty

Kitty

This is Kitty. She’s currently residing at my parent’s house. I’d like to find her smaller twin to have at my house. So far, I haven’t been able to find her online or in fabric or vintage stores, so I thought I’d post about it in case someone knows where I can find her. Have you seen her?

Kitty was sold as a pre-printed fabric in the 1960s and 70s that you could cut out and sew to make a toy. There were two sizes of cats, this one and a smaller one. (I’m looking for the smaller one, but I’ll take either or both!) My mom found this one a while back, but they didn’t have the small size and she hasn’t seen them since. I’ve seen them called, “Charlie,” online, but nobody seems to have the fabric or the small version of the cat.

Wondering why I’m looking for Kitty? She was my original muse.

Thanks for your help!!

3 Comments on have you seen this (toy) cat?, last added: 5/20/2010
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22. Games For Inspiration

Every day writers everywhere are yearning for the Muse to open her arms and bestow brilliance upon their verse or story or article. That’s to be expected. But have you ever wondered exactly where Muse might live?

I ask this simple question because I hadn’t seriously thought about it before a few days ago. When I’d rather be doing anything else but writing, I play games on my computer to give my mind a rest. Others, I’m sure, do word games and the like to open the doors of creativity.

I’m not talking about writer’s block, really; just those times when boredom with existing material has trumped the desire to work it.

I found that when I play Mahjong on the computer something odd happens. At least for me. The tileset that I use is a standard one–all Chinese characters. For those who play the game in it’s varied forms it can become as enticing as chess and as addictive as solitaire.

I allow my mind free rein while playing, a kind of mini-mental vacation. But the other day, I heard myself relating verbally to each tile as I clicked on it. That startled me, as well you can imagine. I was actually creating a small fantasy adventure, laden with mystery. Each tile represented a piece of the puzzle. Four scrolls were taken east along with eight bars of gold. The treasure came to… and so on.

Players of traditional style Mahjong will know that those scrolls are a character with the numeric designation–four, east is its own tile referring to wind, and the gold is a tile that has a numeric designation of 8 with a red bar below. In ranch brand lingo it would say Eight Bar Ranch.

By the end of the game, whether I’ve won it or not, I have come away with a new creative surge in my heart and mind. It hums in the background giving me tiny bits of itself in quiet song as I go back to work. The game has allowed my mind to step back a moment to regroup. I now can see the story plot I’m working on in a new light, a more lively light, that can take on new proportions and complexity. Even articles can look different because I have seen a new angle, a new question to be answered.

Psychologists would probably say that the very act of play resets our perceptions and attitudes, which allow the individual a chance to look with fresh eyes at whatever comes next. That’s a good enough theory for me at this time. I don’t have to analyze it so long as it continues to give me something usable.

Speaking of which, I really need to finish one of the projects.

Take care and play with you Muse when she’s not being cooperative. Everyone/thing can use playtime to advantage. Ask any puppy or kitten.

A bientot,

Claudsy


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23. A Muse Me

He he. Nice pun, right? No? Well, blame my nano-fried brain. I do want to talk about Muses today though. What is a Muse? Well, technically a Muse is a goddess daughter of Zeus who inspires the creativity of artists. But you've all heard the expression I'm sure. Finding your Muse isn't always easy to do. After all, I'm sure even goddesses are busy.


So how do you attract a Muse? Make yourself irresistible. Be the perfect artist. How do you do that?

1. Don't wait for inspiration. Inspire yourself. You can find ideas anywhere really. A good place to start is a "What if" question. What if someone stole all the color in the world? See? I just did that. Right now. You try it...

2. Surround yourself with the right environment. Don't try to squeeze in a page while balancing a toddler in one hand and a bag of groceries in the other. I'm sure it has indeed been done. But try your best to give yourself a good solid block of time dedicated solely to your art. Make your own special space. Whether that's in an office, a bedroom, outside, or at Starbucks, well, that's up to you.

3. Be a good observer. Pay attention to the people and things around you. You never know if there's a story hiding right in front of your nose. Make up a story about something that seems out of place to you. Ask a question about someone's outfit. Why is that gorgeous woman wearing frumpy clothes? Is she trying to hide something? Protect herself? Low self-esteem?

4. Be nice to yourself. That's right. Be kind to yourself, give yourself space and time. Don't beat yourself up. Don't be arrogant either though. Be gracious if you want to entice the Muse.

And if the Muse still doesn't come? Eh - frankly if you can do all these things for yourself, who needs her???

17 Comments on A Muse Me, last added: 11/7/2010
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24. Lost Art, Found Hope


This cold November rain has had me in the house for most of the day today.
I can't get out of my own way lately, clutter on every surface of the studio, muse nowhere to be found. I'm floundering and doubting my ability as an artist.
I read Mim's post today about decluttering and finding art done from years past and it inspired me to look through some old drawings in the hopes of finding my muse.
I may be getting close.
The above drawing I have shown here once before. It's a pencil drawing of Nastasia Kinsky from a pose in a magazine. I did this in 1978. Look how much it has yellowed.


This is a portrait in pencil of Pablo Picasso. Although I'm primarily self-taught, I did have a very short stint at college and I became obsessed with this artist. I did this same portrait in every medium. The ones that are missing (or are in boxes still) is the aquatint etching and the lino cut. This is also from 1978.


This was my very first ever attempt at painting anything. And this was my only time using oils. I hated painting back then! Who knew that it would become my passion one day?
This wacky portrait made it into a juried show at the Brockton Art Museum in the late seventies and it took Honorable Mention.
It hangs in my studio now with dust and fond memories. 

18 Comments on Lost Art, Found Hope, last added: 11/7/2010
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25. April Is National Poetry Month

Hello to all poets and poets in waiting. April is National Poetry Month and tomorrow (April 1) begins the annual Poem A Day Challenge at Writer's Digest. If you have ever felt the call to write poetry or if you have heard the whispers of the poetic muse perched on your shoulder, now is the time to put pen to paper or digits to keys.

The Poem A Day Challenge is exactly that---write a poem each day for 30 days based on the daily prompts provided by Robert Lee Brewer on the Writer's Digest poem-a-day page. Here is a link to the guidelines for the challenge: (http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/2011/03/01/2011AprilPADPoemADayChallengeGuidelines.aspx). You'll get the hang of it in no time.

So, why bother? Well, apart from uncovering your poetic genius, you will end up with a pile of 30 poems at the end of the month, which is no small accomplishment. With any luck, a few will be really good and a few others will at least be a good start on the way toward something really good. Besides, it's not everyone who can honestly say they have written 30 poems in 30 days.

Forget about those who say, "Who would want to?" Hey, it's a challenge and some people just simply aren't up to it. So, dust off the poetic cobwebs and let's get cracking. Robert Lee Brewer's first prompt will be available tomorrow morning and you have until midnight to wax poetic in response... and so on and so forth.

Show us what you got unless, that is, you're averse to it....

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