Sunday, January 31, 2010

Papers: The Movie

If you're local and you haven't seen this film yet - here is an awesome opportunity to see it for free. I was at the premiere and was very moved. It is well done and I would be encouraging everyone to go even if there was a cost; for free, absolutely!

To those of you who are not local - keep your eyes open for it in your area. It is on tour (their website probably lists upcoming dates of showings).
Dear Portland, Oregon Friends,

If you or someone you know in the
Portland-Vancouver area wants to see the documentary "Papers" but hasn't had the
chance yet, there is a public screening this week in NE Portland.

Please pass on to anyone you think would like to know.

Tuesday, February 2nd at 6 pm
Hosted by PCC MEChA
Portland Community College
Cascade Auditorium
705 N. Killingsworth Street MAHB 104
Portland, OR 97217

Representative Michael Debrow will speak


Trailer at

Saturday, January 30, 2010

friday prompt response

(this was originally posted at The Writing Vein Playground, by Dot, on 1/3o/1o)

In The Midst
by Dot

follow me along the river to the banks of
bluebirds and walls of
let me drink in your wonder and wash away
your sullenness
the sadness that makes you hunger

sit with me by this path to the sea
and sip contentment from this cup
of wheatgrass emerald energy

hold my hand
and we will skip unabandoned
through boughs and sun rays and
wallow in the waves lapping all around
us pulling our feet forward

strangers on the bank smile
at our folly and giggle with
our magnitude which bubbles up
from our inner core
foams across the water to the boat waiting
for us to row together
to be you and me
safe together
in the midst of
this storm

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Razor's Edge: Fri. 1/29/10

The theme for today's Razor's Edge is Happiness.

I don't mean the giddy, forget everything, ignore all suffering and just put on a smiley face, happiness. I mean the kind that come from deep inside. From confidence that you are resilient, you are resourceful, you are worthy of being alive and here. You are creative. And in your creativity you can find or make that place of calm and joy and vibrance in the midst of the storm or at the edge of the shore or sitting alone in the quiet at home.

With a thank you to Ariel Gore and celebration of her recently published book, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness. Her recent writings about happiness and others' responses are worth reading.

So I decided, today's Razor's Edge would give us an opportunity to explore Happiness, in our own way.

Again, the instructions are simple. Take a few minutes to clear your thoughts. Breathe. Close your eyes if it feels right and breathe, feeling where you are right now. Then look at the prompts below and go with whatever first presents itself to you. Paint or write or sketch or get up and move. Whatever you feel pulled to create in whatever medium.

Happiness. You deserve it. You have earned it. You get to have it and be present in this life, in this place, here and now.

Give yourself 10 minutes to write (paint, dance, hum...) and then let it rest for a few minutes before you review what you have created.

Feel free to share them with me.


Joanna Newsom: "The Sprout and The Bean"


As I stepped through the door, I realized .....


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Featured Artist/Studio: great news for Serena

From Serena Barton, of Art of Your Life :

====The Spring Issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors STUDIOS Magazine

I'm excited to announce that my beloved studio will be featured in the spring issue of Studios magazine! I just found out, but will have to wait until February to see it. You can pre-order the magazine now here to make sure you get a copy. This issue is the biggest so far and should have a lot of cool ideas. "

Laugh for Livability

This looks like a fun upcoming event I found...
Join in for an evening of laughter at CLF's 2010 LAUGH for
Livability show!

LAUGH is an evening filled with spoken word,
sharp-tongued political satire and musical talents from our region's leaders and
rising stars. Cocktail hour + silent auction and dinner lead into the main event
where you'll see long time favorites along with surprise guests at this great
event! The proceeds from this evening of fun will benefit the Coalition's work
to connect issues, organizations and individuals to ensure a livable region for

LAUGH is Friday, February 19, 2010, 6 p.m
at the Melody Ballroom....
Portland, Oregon

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fertile Ground: New Short Plays

A friend's new short plays are being presented this coming Friday, as a part of Fertile Ground. Unfortunately, I'm working; but I want to spread the word so you can go if you can. New plays! Wonderful.

WHEN: Friday, January 29 @ 12:30 noon
WHAT: PG2 Presents: The Work of Sven Bonnichsen, Amy Doherty and Marguerite Scott
WHERE: Gerding Theater at the Armory. 128 NW 11th Ave, Hothouse stage (on the mezzanine), Portland, Oregon
TICKETS: $5 - tickets available at the door

Portland Gallery Playwright’s Group presents a variety of short plays from Amy Doherty, Sven Bonnichsen and Marguerite Scott.

Sven gives us two offerings: The Buried Piano and The Astronaut and the Nude. In the first, a girl is reunited with a family friend while a massive party for her father’s election bid booms in the distance and a recently unearthed, antique piano rests near their feet. The second play is a metaphysical exploration of marriage, nakedness and the cosmos.

In Amy Doherty’s A Touch of Cleveland, we (along with the cardboard cutouts that look on) are party to a Laundromat encounter between two people, each awkward in their own way.

Marguerite Scott’s The Ugly Duckling demonstrates the opportunities that come (and go) with plastic surgery.

This breezy, casual box lunch reading series will have you spending your lunch hour at the Armory listening to short segments of plays-in-progress and sharing your reactions with the playwrights. Pre-made box lunches will be available through the Armory Café- no brown bag required!

For more:

Fertile Ground 2010 is a 10-day arts festival that will be held January 22 through February 2 in Portland, Oregon. This city-wide festival is focused on new work in the Arts. It will feature up to 30 world premiere projects, staged readings and a myriad of other arts events from the Portland creative community. From fully staged world premieres in theatre, to ensemble and collaborative driven work, dance, comedy, visual art and film…this festival spans the spectrum of creative endeavor and seeds the next generation of creation through artist conversations, workshops, lunchtime readings and more.

For more:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Focus? Focus!

I have a dilemma. Not a bad dilemma, but one all the same. I'm not sure where to focus my writing time.

I often wish I had unlimited writing and editing time - and the financial resources to do that. And sometimes I know that I would then probably be fretting about not enough time to do something else. But a little more time to do my writing would be nice. With the commitments I currently have, I need to hang in here for about another six weeks then - well, we'll see. I need to schedule in more time for writing or leave time for writing. But, for now - this is what I have.

So my time and energy have limits. As much as I've tried to juggle and rearrange and shuffle and double/triple stack my time - it doesn't work for long. I have some acceptance of that now.


I have three books in progress. Well, two in progress and one stalled. And I have short stories out to publications and contests and more to be revised and sent. One poem out and a couple others I could send when I find the right place. But I also enjoy writing the short stories and need more to submit because almost all of the good ones are already out.

What do I do? Where do I focus my writing time? Book? Short stories? The book that the first rough draft is done but needs major revision? The book that the first draft is still in progress? Experiment with poetry forms?

There are other questions. Which will wait for now, while I re-integrate my writing (just as soon as all the student interns and practicum students have their placements!).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Razor's Edge: weekly feature

Each Friday I am going to post a set of prompts for you. This may include videos, music, words, puzzles. Use one or all to create something - it may be a response to what you see or the prompt may be lead you far away from where you are now. Each week there will be a different theme, and I will aim to touch different senses, the spirit, the body, the mind. The prompts may be intended to provoke or soothe or challenge or merely raise your muse to guide you further on your creative path.

Today I'm starting with the concept of Wabi Sabi. I wasn't going to go there with this first issue. But, there you are. That is where my muse led me and so, I am following her today.

Architect Tadao Ando described Wabi Sabi as
The Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic
that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated
and trimmed away.

With that in mind, I offer you the following as inspiration points to leap with:

..... ......... ....... As I approached ....

VIDEO ....

......There was a sound behind me as I sat down...

She stood taller than almost everyone around her
Straight blond hair, wispy on the edges, lifted by the wind against her cheeks
The first hat she ever knit for herself tugged tightly onto her head
Sand colored khakis, with a carpenter's loop at her left knee
Pockets bulging with coins and receipts and photo ID

If you're coming up blank, look at each prompt above for a couple seconds. Then gently close your eyes and let your head roll forward to a comfortable position. Let the images and words sweep past you, enter you, choose one. Then open your eyes and write. Or draw/collage/paint if your hands and spirit take you in that direction. Or stand up and dance; manipulate the keys on the piano; run your hands through the clay.

The only "rule" is to let your self be guided and don't force. Creativity will happen.

Take 7 -10 minutes. Then pause and look at what you've done. If you feel you need to keep going - by all means do.

And if you'd like to share what you've created, send them my way and I will add them in.


Monday, January 18, 2010

new feature

A friend of mine, Christi Craig, has an excellent blog I subscribe to, Writing Under Pressure. Her style is clean and eloquent, personal and personable.

And she also has a great feature which has sparked an idea for me. Every Wednesday, she has been doing a "Word of the Day." She gives the definition of the word and some examples, usually. Then she writes a piece using that word as her prompt. I look forward to it weekly and am often inspired to use the word myself in a piece of writing, or the word becomes a springboard into something else, which may or may not be related, but was at least sparked by that word.

So. Following along in Christi's path, I am going to institute a new feature. For now, it will be a regular part of my blog. When the new website is done, I will move it off the blog and onto its own section of The Writing Vein site.

Check back on Friday for the new weekly feature, The Razor's Edge. Every Friday I will be posting a prompt or group of prompts for you to use in a creative project - be it writing or music or visual art or dance.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Act of Showing Up

As I've hinted at here and there, I have been struggling to write. Creatively write. I've written plenty for syllabi and course outlines and introductions for students and defense of why I gave a student a "D" and in search of internship placements.

But writing for "me" and what I hope will be a growing audience was stalled.

I met with friends here and there and tried to continue the CLF saga (my 2009 NaNoNovel). I did manage to do a little editing on two pieces and did get one submitted.

But the new, the raw, the starting over - stalled. Or the completion of my 2009 NaNoNovel - stalled.

I tried prompts. I tried to "just go" -- lurch, ayup, nada.

But tonight I turned a corner. I met with my awesome writing friend, Jenny, this morning. Over coffee and egg panini at one of our favorite writing spots, we discussed her novel which I am excited to see coming to completion. I opened a document to work on it, made a couple notes, and we talked some more.

Great conversation. About self-publishing, about Amazon self-publishing and the ramifications of that. About e-books and Kindle and other electronic reading devices. About how to get more information about self-publishing something you are hoping to get published by a company. It was great and inspiring.

Then we had to separate and each go our ways to teach. The student I was in a rush to be there for didn't show up. So I had time to grade a little and do more preparation for next week. Then I taught my two classes.

And took my time to drive a major road - instead of the freeway - in the pouring rain and a little wind through rush hour to.... tada ... my ultra-favorite writing spot, which just happens to be open 24-hours a day. And there I met a new NaNo friend (I met Jenny and Christi - another writer friend from afar and an interpreter - during NaNo last year) and the newest member of my growing writerly support group, Deb.

And, tonight, at last, I wrote. I finished a short piece I will be submitting to The Sun once I get some feedback.

Tonight I feel like I finally broke through the wall of the stall and found my way back to the path. And I have one foot on it. There is a ways to go, but I'm finding my way.

Finding my way because, even though I was feeling like it was sometimes useless or I was failing, I still showed up.

I showed up and showed up and opened the documents and put down my very few words here and there and. I found my way back. Right now I'm waiting for my other writer friend, Alexander, to show up. And I'll see if I can put together a little bit more.

One step.
One bird.
One minute.
One thought.

With a little help from my friends, I wrote a piece tonight.

Monday, January 11, 2010

technology dependency





It is now a couple days later. When I made these notes, I thought they would bring back a flash of light and inspiration because I had something to say.

That thought is gone, overwritten or replaced by something new.

Technology Dependency. I wish I could remember what I meant. But I made this note instead and now, because I typed it on the keyboard instead of writing it by hand - an act which is like writing it in my brain. Typing has never had the same effect for me.

Maybe the thought will return. One day. Or not.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

why I like magazines; one reason

Today I was on my way to an article about something in one of the writing magazines I read. I forget which article I was paging through the publication for - and that is irrelevant to my point.

I came across a nice little article about three different forms of poetry. Fascinating! And it gave me a couple new forms to play with.

As I was making note of the types, I realized that is one benefit of a magazine. There is varied content within its pages - usually - and that is one attraction. Different writers and some variation in viewpoint. And, once in a while, on the way to the thing that made you pick up that magazine and put down some cash to take it home, you find an unexpected treasure tucked within the pages. A bonus of information.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

walking along the road to creative habit & an exercise

As I've mentioned a time or two recently, I am currently reading "The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life" by Twyla Tharp. Someone - I can't remember who right now - mentioned this book. Although I had sworn to myself to not purchase another writing book until I had finished at least reading through all that I already have (eliminating the earlier requirement to work through all the exercises!), yes, indeed, I bought it. Something about it called to me and I am still reading it. Slowly. Between work and sleep. Between work and workout. Page by page or by paragraph. Nearly every time I open the pages, there is something relevant to me - something calling out to me to pay attention.

Today's tidbit led me to an interesting exercise and a bonus of a statement that makes so much sense.

Ms. Tharp wrote about her process during work on a project and how she looked at her distractions and how to eliminate them.

She wrote:
"I want to place myself in a bubble of monomaniacal absorption where I'm fully invested in the task at hand." [pg 26]
Oh, I think I would like a shot at being in that place. Tonight, I am sitting in a 24-hour coffee shop with a writer friend. We were talking about time and writing. He has friends who are on sabbatical for six months; one of them to write a novel. Lovely. He said it would take him about four hours to adapt to having "nothing to do" for six months, except write and work on his house and take care of his baby. I said I would probably need two weeks to adapt to the change. I would be disoriented at first, overwhelmed with the expanse of time and choices to fill it with. I wondered how long before I could settle into a habit of writing and being content. Still, I'd like to try. Six months might be a little long for me to start with. Maybe I should start with two weeks. No, too short. A month would definitely push my comfort level. Now to round up some funding to do it with. A month off work to rest and write and explore and write and sleep and eat and walk and walk and write. I think I could do it.

In the book, Ms. Tharp goes on to list her own "perennially tempting distractions." She lists four and explains exactly what she means: Movies, Multitasking, Numbers, Background Music. These are the things that can interfere with her process and draw her away from her creativity.

Although I don't find background music to be a distraction for me (just the opposite - it often masks out the sounds of life all around me and lets me focus more what is right in front of me - unless it's the radio, like here in the cafe right now; the radio is distracting, which is why I don't listen to the radio while I write), one of her others did catch my "ah-ha" attention. For those who know me, you will not be surprised when I tell you that Multitasking rang some bells.

About multitasking, she said,
"In an accelerated, overachieving world, we all take pride in our ability to do two or more things at the same time: working on vacation, using an elegant dinner to hammer out a business deal; reading while we're groaning on the StairMaster. The irony of multitasking is that it's exhausting; when you're doing two or three things simultaneously, you use more energy than the sum of energy required to do each task independently. You're also cheating yourself because you're not doing anything excellently. ..."
You're also cheating yourself because you're not doing anything excellently.

Ah. I am a queen of multitasking and wear my crown proudly. Um. Ah. Let me think on it. That sentence in particular hit home.

Ms. Tharp challenged herself to give up her four major distractions for a week during work on a project. To see how her energy and creativity changed.

I don't feel as ready to take on four obstacles at once, as she did. And, no, I won't be eliminating multitasking from my life at this point. I have too much going on to do that *grin*. But I will write that post out where I see it so I can think on it more. I have heard from a couple of other sources that the time and energy required to complete multitasking tasks is more than the individual parts would be separately. Now here, again.

EXERCISE: So, my challenge to you and to myself: identify four of your own obstacles to creativity - your personal distractions. Then select one of them and plan to eliminate it for one week. See what happens. Plan it for a week when you can also be working on a creative project; for me that will be writing. If you feel up to it, eliminate two. Or, why not, go for all four, if you want. For me, I think I'll go with one the first go 'round.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

prompt and one Flash Fiction definition

From the Internet Writing Workshop, a definition offered for a flash fiction story:

"...A flash story must begin immediately and move quickly toward the end--no long descriptions, no unessential words. The goal is to present a single effect resulting from a single cause. The character(s) must experience and react to events, and the outcome must be swift. ..."

PROMPT: write a flash fiction story from one of the following. Decide whether to use a character sketch, a photo, or words; set a timer for 10 minutes, and write. ...
At the end of 10 minutes, take a break. When you come back, revise the story for 30-60 minutes. Then let it marinate overnight and check it in the morning. Repeat as necessary.

[character sketch] blue jeans with a hole in the left rear pocket, faded t-shirt with a scrawled A in a circle on it, blue headband, keen water sandals, safety yellow messenger bag.

photo from Zooborns
[words] Through the open window she saw...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Do Not Wait

Thank you to Mead Hunter for posting this on Blogorrhea. As he so aptly put it (and why mess with a master's words!): "You know: you could start off a new year more worser than by paying heed to Anne Bogart's sage adjurations."

A Word of Advice by Anne Bogart

Do Not assume that you have to have some prescribed conditions to do your best work.


Do Not wait for enough time or money to accomplish what you think you have in mind.

Work with what you have right now.

Work with the people around you right now.

Work with the architecture you see around you right now.

Do Not wait till you are sure that you know what you are doing.

Do Not wait for what you assume is the appropriate, stress-free environment in which to generate expression.

Do Not wait for maturity or insight or wisdom.

Do Not wait until you have enough technique.

What you do now, what you make of your present circumstances will determine the quality and scope of your future endeavors.

And at the same time, be patient.

A very timely reminder and I think I'll post this where I will see it every day (in my car; on the front door). See it at least once. Every day. I've been in a bit of a funk and what I'm encountering at work is not helping. But that's okay. I've been a bit mopey about the lack of time, lack of writing, lack of inspiration, about waiting for The Thing to happen so I don't have to worry about money/time/motivation.


I get it.

Work with what I've got.

Thanks, Mead. Thanks, Anne.