Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Contact Improvisation as Prompt

This is part I of "Margaret's Ghost" with Carolyn Stuart and Patrick Gracewood - Touch Monkey - perform this contact improvisation dance performance. Contact improvisation is about movement in relation - writing is about relating with your audience, the character relating with each other and with their setting.

Use this performance as a prompt for writing a short story. (Part two is available if you want to see more.) Who are these people in the dance? What is their relationship? What is their story? Or keep it abstract and how does it make you feel? What is your body's response to this dance?

Or try this ... 
If you and I were alone tonight, I would like to ....


Monday, May 30, 2011

Creativity Quotes

A quote showed up in my email inbox today and trying to search out its origins led me to even more quotes. So, while I planned to write something different, this seems timely. And is one of my favorite topics.

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” - Dianne Ackerman

Play and silliness are as necessary to the creative individual as food and water.” Molly Anderson-Childers

"To be creative, some of what we knew as kids has to be re-learnt." Tim Brown

video from TED of Tim Brown at the Serious Play Conference in 2008


Saturday, May 28, 2011


Recently I've been writing about some time conflicts I've been having. About how work and writing do or don't flow together. About how to fit in walking, swimming, biking and strength training around the working and the writing.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered that I seem to need some transition time between working and writing. I think this is especially true when I'm working long days; more time to get into my writer space.

Today I think I discovered another piece of my writing puzzle: that the transition time is a true thing, and that I need some incubation time. I mean, that's not a totally new or revolutionary idea - but it hit me today.

I've been working on this non-fiction piece about ADHD for a couple weeks and I keep thinking I have it just about ready to all put together and am ready to stop taking notes and writing pieces. Then I think of some new angle or something I left out or a better way to do it. Today I was at the job I wrote about last week - where I have to be careful about what I take in to do in the down time, where there are things I can't take in with me, and so on. And writing is not an easy thing to do in this place for reasons I can't talk about. But it's not. But today, while the client was absorbed in a single person activity, the words finally started to flow on the nonfiction piece. One paragraph flowed to another and another and soon it had a shape and I had notes inserted where I would put the anecdotes and cited quotes and sources.

I hadn't planned on working on the piece today. I was saving it until I got home tonight.

But there it was. It had incubated. It needed to be written. And I had the time.

I realized that, with my busy schedule, my incubation time took longer than I thought it would. Because I had less time to think about the piece. I had student observations (one of which was in Tacoma), write-ups related to the observations, the final quick write and assignment for the Lit Star Training, feedback for the assignments and quick writes, and work. So the incubation time was squeezed in between all of these things, which was also the time for writing, so it took longer.

And yesterday I spent over three hours writing with a friend. Another piece of incubation and transition time, I think. So my pump was primed yesterday and the writing flowed today.



I'm figuring this out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Creative Inspiration

Creativity isn't just in the doing - in the making of the thing it is you do. Whether it's painting or drawing or writing, or dancing or playing the tuba/piano/flute/guitar, pottery or spoken word or acting ... Whatever your venue, we need inspiration. And inspiration can come from watching others work, experiencing the result of others' creative actions, being exposed to something new or done in a new way or done with purpose and skill and with a truth.

So it is with PICA's T:BA for me. As a writer, as a theater person, as an artist - and even as an interpreter - T:BA exposes me to all types of new ideas, new approaches, dances which touch me deep inside but which I can't explain why or tell you what they mean. I hear new music, see theater performed in different languages, see cultural imagery different than my own and so much more. As an artist, a writer, I am opened up and soak in the energy, take in the shared breaths, bathe in the colors and smells and sounds - I am exposed and I come alive. As an interpreter, I see new meanings which can inform my work in theater and dramatic or literary readings/presentations and concerts - as well as the things which come up in the more ordinary business meeting or work retreat or when interpreting between people who are from different backgrounds or current cultures than my own. As a theater person and a theatrical interpreter, my work deepens.

PICA's T:BA is coming again in the fall. I'm trying to get my pass ordered now (there is a problem with the website and the link is not there). And I will arrange my schedule to maximize my availability to soak it all in and try something new and challenging, something I may not like. I did this in 2009 when I went to The Great Gatsby theatrical event. It was 7 hours; reading the book from beginning to end; with theatre simultaneously. The play didn't act out the story but the dialogue was the story. There was a dinner break. I'd given myself permission to not go back after dinner if I didn't like it; I didn't think I would. But I did. I did like it. And I did go back.

This year's challenge - the one known one so far - is not that I don't think I'll like it. I know I'll love it - but the format is, well, totally, new, different, and - I have to know soon when so I can schedule around it. See, Mike Daisey is performing his new 24-hour monologue - "All the Hours in the Day." From what I understand, it will be 24 hours. I think Mike Daisey is funny and insightful and smart and I like his style. And I've never attended a 24-hour piece of theater. But I will.

And I will see what other new thing I will attend after the list comes out.

Right now I need to get my pass.

In my search for the title and more information about the 24-hour event, I ran across some promo videos and interviews from PICA. Fascintating. I will watch more. And I will probably post more here because at least the ones I've watched are about : creativity.

One of my other favorites during T:BA and outside of T:BA is Ten Tiny Dances. Always sold out and always packed beyond full - it is an amazing event. And never the same. One of the videos was with the dancer and founder of Ten Tiny Dances, Mike Barber. This is a great video and there is a lot about the process and the development of this event. There is a lot of footage with Mike and Cydney Wilkes - another amazing dancer-choreographer - and the two of them together are synchronicity and electric. So the video below, from OPB's Art Beat, is about Ten Tiny Dances and the pairing of Mike Barber and Cydney Wilkes.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Would You Harbor Me?

This post came about in a bit of an odd way; roundabout. Another writer in the spring Lit Star Training posted to our Facebook group that she was developing her web presence, as seems to be required of writers these days, so she set up a Twitter account.

"If you follow me, I'll follow you," she posted to the group.

I did. She did. Others have and will and some are not yet on Twitter.

But her post brought this song to mind and I searched YouTube to see what I could find. I found several versions of "Would You Harbor Me" but the one I was specifically looking for was by Sweet Honey in the Rock. I haven't found a video of them performing the song, but I did find two videos someone else created with their version of the song.

The song is one of my favorites.

And I'm glad to be reminded of it. In the cyber/social media world authors are expected to inhabit, I think that "follow me/follow you" can also mean "harbor me/harbor you." Yes, I know this song is so much deeper than that and it's important to have support and some familiar names in our friends and followers lists as we make our way.

Who would you add to the list of the song? Who do you want on your list to harbor and be harbored?

I'm embedding the ocean version video I found, as I love the pairing of waves on the beach and this song. The link below that video is well-done - great imagery, good blending it together, and it feels a little more overt with less room for viewers and listeners to imagine. But it's a good video, so check it out if you want more imagery or to see what someone else has done with this song.

The second video can be found here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Another Accounting

The Lit Star spring online session is ending this week; our final assignments posted.
If all goes well, I will finish the final two intern observations this week. I typed up the observation reports I did last week on the weekend (thanks to some unknown interpreter who covered a shift for me on Sunday). I am caught up on grading, too.
And I have the rough draft of an essay done that is due before May 31st.
So things are moving along fine.
Except that I have been resisting a slight cold or allergy-caused cold. Something. But I think I won this round. And except for the novel excerpt that is on hold as I get these observations done and get the assignments due earlier done.
And that I haven't had time to get much exercise because the bike had to go into the shop (but it's back and ready to ride when the weather and I coordinate our schedules next - hoping for Thursday and Friday this week). And not feeling well I didn't want to go out walking in the rain when I wasn't at work. And I had some long work hours last week.
So I started looking at my time this morning just to check.
And, yes, the time I was using to prepare for a half marathon and dragon boat practice and distance relay training has gone to ...
... are you ready?
... to writing!
This is as I hoped. And it has come true.
So, the next step, is to get more exercise back in. And I think I will as soon as I get done with this term. I have a plan and parts of it are in place.
Writing - walking/biking/swimming/strength training - and working. A full schedule - but so worth it.
As long as I keep writing.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spending Time

I had a very long job today. It was a good job; a place I like to go, with some good people, a place I've been before and will hopefully be returning to as long as the interpreting services are needed.

But it was very long. With an hour drive on either side; it shouldn't take an hour to get there or get back - but it does. Such is the traffic situation in Portland now.

I thought I might be able to get some editing done. And planned to get some reading done.

But I forgot the book I was reading. Well - one of the two books I'm reading. One of them has a cover which would not be appropriate in this location and I don't have a book cover (it's a memoir, it's good so far), so I'm also reading a book with a cover no one would even notice and which recently won a big award. But I didn't take either one with me.

See, this job requires me to take less stuff with me. But I'm there for many hours so I have to take some stuff - but there are regulations about what can or can't be taken in. Which is all fine. It just means juggling what I have in my bag or having different bags. And then, invariably, I end up without something I want.

Which I did. And it was fine.

But I also did very little editing. There is too much happening in this place and the memoir is not an easy thing to edit and this work place is not the type of place where I want anyone looking over my shoulder. And the place is busy and noisy and I have to monitor who is where and am I needed and so on. Which is all fine - that's why I'm there; that's what I'm getting paid to do.

So - I thought, I'll do some writing when I get home. I have an assignment due before midnight tomorrow; and essay due before the 31st; and then this big memoir project due next month (which is a minimum 25,000 words or 100 pages - depending on which source is correct).

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. Even though I did pick up an iced soy latte to make the drive home. Something I debated because I didn't want to be up all night.

I did manage to get this week's quick write in. But I can't work on the assignment. I can't do any editing.

I'm writing this post. And then going to bed. I don't want to wake up with a keyboard pattern on my forehead. Too much time spent on work today and there's not enough time nor energy left to create.

I'll get the assignment done tomorrow.

*fingers crossed*

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Rejection is all a Part of the Game" by Greg Herren

A nice article showed up in my blog reader today, from Lamba Literary. The beginning of the article is below - just click on the title to be transported to read the rest of it. It's worth the click.

On Not Taking It Personally
Rejection. There’s nothing worse than experiencing rejection in any aspect of your life. That hottie you want won’t even look at you. The promotion you’ve worked your ass for went to someone else. And your brilliant story, with its vivid characterizations, setting and beautiful use of language, has been turned down by every single place you’ve submitted it to. Rejection after rejection after rejection; how do you keep your dreams of being published alive when you keep getting those damned form rejection letters?

It’s incredibly easy to say that one should just shrug and keep plugging away and not take rejection personally. But the rejections you get from writing should not be taken personally. Yes, you pour your soul into your writing; there’s no question of that. You get your inspiration from within yourself; the characters and story come from your mind, and the words are yours.

But having the story rejected is not a rejection of YOU. ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quote from Pema Chodron

Today's Pema Chodron quote in the weekly email, Heart Advice through Shambala,  is excerpted from her book, Comfortable with Uncertainty. I have this book; I haven't read it for a long time. Seems it's time for me to take it off the shelf and read some of it again.
Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all others behind. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape.

On the journey of the warrior-bodhisattva, the path goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Nice to Have Mentors

I posted an update on Facebook while I was at the coast. Which led to an appropriately short but gem producing discussion.

The gem came from a mentor - an experienced and skilled (an published writer).

I just wanted to share pieces of the conversation (edited down just a bit):

me: sometimes it's hard to keep telling the story my way - especially as I'm in the final edits of getting 25k-28k ready for a book contest. sometimes I think this is a dumb way to tell it; that I need to structure it a certain way. then I come back to myself, remembering this is *my* story. and they'll pick it or not. I don't want to write a formula book. I want to write it real and well. and what a win it would be!

friend AR: Win or not win, writing real and well is a triumph.

me: so true, A

mentor BHH: Trust that inner voice. And don't edit while you write. Just write.

me: thanks

BHH: You know how to do this. If you need me to look at anything, let me be the naggy editor voice, not you.

me: I'd appreciate another set of eyes on the part I'm going to submit. I have the basic chapters written. Over time, which means changes in voice and quality, of course - but also means there are different tenses... 
friend E: be true to yourself!! :o) ♥
BHH: Your questions are left brain. Just write the story. I'll help you with the organization. I'm excited too. Love what I saw of it.

I needed this conversation. I had an "ah ha" moment when I read "your questions are left brain." Yes. They are. A time and place, for sure. But for now, focus on the story.

And I do know how to do this. I'm beginning to see where I get myself trapped as editor while I'm still being the writer. Or at least I am at this moment. Not always - but recently.

Thank you, friends and mentor, for these words. I've made great progress since you said these things.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quick Update While I Have a Connection

Two things I now know - or at least have a bit of unscientific support for these two things I suspected.

Indulge me for a of couple minutes. This is silly I know, but true. And, who knows, may be of interest to include in a story. Not this, what I'm typing here, but the two things.

Which are really nothing.
First thing: Oceanside, Oregon may really have a blackout/energy reduction period every week. Saturday nights for 9 hours, starting around 1 a.m. until around 10 in the morning. I'm not kidding. I really don't *know* beyond a doubt this is true. But the last time I was over here for what turned out to be a personal writing retreat, the power went out at 1 a.m. - and it was amazing because it was the super full moon and the sky was clear. Awesome. Last night, again, the power went out. This time I was asleep, though. But I put away my manuscript and turned out the light about 1:20 a.m.; and when I woke up a couple hours later to do what one does in the middle of the night after drinking a large glass of water just before bed, the electric alarm clock wasn't glowing red numbers. I did check my Blackberry and it was about 3:45 a.m. I didn't test the electricity - I didn't want to wake up that much - so I did what I woke up to do and  crawled back under the still warm bedsheets. I woke up later, right around 10 a.m. and I was cold and it was cloud cover dark and rainy outside. The place I'm staying at this weekend has these heavy duty motorized shades on the windows of the living room area and I wanted to open them to let in more natural light. No response from the switches. And it was really cold. I tried a couple of light switches - nothing. And my computer, which I'd left on overnight, yet plugged in, was down to 40% battery (there's a program in it which prevents sleep mode). So I went back to bed and under the covers with the book I'm reading, "The Chronology of Water" by Lidia Yuknavitch, and snuggled in until something happened. Around 11 a.m. both the wall heater in the living room area and the one in the bedroom came on and the alarm clock started flashing red numbers at me. Power!

So - have I proven that Oceanside cuts its electricity for about 9 or so hours on Saturday nights? No. But, again, there were no sirens or alarms. Just - no power. Both times I've been here. And I know this could be a total coincidence. Or not. [And I do think this also is the reason I have an internet connection right now - though we'll see how long it lasts: the router needed to be reset but the tenant wasn't home, and the power outage did just that. So I may - or may not - have a connection the rest of the day.]

The second very unscientific thing I know now is that it is the instant coffee itself which makes soy milk curdle. It is not just the mere fact of putting it into the microwave (that was an earlier guess), or the water was too cold or too hot. See, instant coffee is not something I drink regularly (like coming to Oceanside). Usually I put in some hot water and the coffee and the soy milk and put it in the microwave to heat up. And the soy milk comes out curdled - sometimes even with some solidish pieces the texture of fluffy scrambled eggs. I've tried just heating the instant coffee in the microwave and then adding soy milk - same result. Today I decided to run the water through the coffee maker so it would be nice and hot without the microwave. Then made instant coffee with that, so no microwave required. Then added the soy milk. The result? The soy milk curdled - though not as much as when it goes in the microwave, I will admit.

So - it seems that the instant coffee itself is actually the cause of chunking of the soy milk. As it sits in the cup on the table, the soy milk becomes granular. I stir and it smooths a bit, but always grainy. And I can see the bits of soy milk pulling inward, leaving a ring of unwhitened instant coffee along the cup's walls. What is it about instant coffee which changes the molecular structure of soy milk? Does it do this to regular milk? What does it do to me when I ingest it? I don't really want to know.  Better than nothing - and note to self: try making a carafe of coffee ahead to bring along next time - although this time there is a coffee pot and a grinder. I didn't want to give up the hours it would take to dress presentable (no, I'm not driving into town in  my sweats and Script Frenzy t-shirt), drive down the very narrow and steep hill from where I am into Oceanside and then over to the next town where there is a store just to buy coffee. It's not that important.

This whole post is not that important.

Just notes on a couple of observations at a time when I'm not in my routine.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Unexpected Absence

I thought I'd make my Friday post when I arrived at the beach last night.

First delay was that I ended up working. Then, due to a couple of other things (forgot to pack the notebook with the memoir excerpts for the contest! Forgot the application for a special program I'm applying to) I lost my time between jobs to running home to get said things and shove them into the back of my car with half of everything else I own (I am *not* a light packer for weekends: two days? two weeks? I probably have the same amount of things, except the number of pairs of underwear matches the number of days I'll be gone, plus one). So all spare time lost, which included time to fill the gas tank.

So I had to get gas after working last night. And coffee since it was later and I had a late-night 90 minutes drive ahead.

Then - the beginning of the weekend rain - traffic slowed on the dark highway through the forest and mountain range.

And then, I came up behind what appeared to be a new truck driver. Judging by the extreme slow-downs for all curves and crawling uphill and frequent downhill braking. But I would rather be delayed by nearly and hour than get in an accident. And I don't know those windy roads very well, there was no moon, no lights. So I sipped my coffee - now cold - and rolled along with Lady Gaga and kd lang cds.

And the promised internet access? Nope. Well - I did have it for about an hour before I fell asleep. Then it was gone. And today - nothing. I've tried everything I can find with my Blackberry browser - but no luck. I've connected to the wireless router, but can't get back online.

No big deal - except that I can't post my Lit Kitchen assignment, I can access the online version of my book (which is okay, I have the latest versions of the parts I need downloaded to my laptop and I do have the printout). And I'll probably get more done on the book with less internet access.

Back to the book.

And probably no more posts here until Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Energy and Excitement

It is a tiny bit out of my current project - but I'm so happy to say that the opening chapter of my book is done! Not just that I know what I want to say and I have an edited version I like; but it has been revised and edited and there was one final tweak (thank you, Ariel!) and I feel totally satisfied that this the How It Begins.


What a feeling.

Part of the feeling is that I had the opening done for a while. I thought. I'd rewritten and reworked and edited and incorporated feedback and I really liked the changes.

Then, a couple weeks ago, there was an assignment in the Literary Kitchen and I was a little stuck about what to write. One night I sat down at my laptop and forced myself to just type something. "Make the assignment fit the memoir," I told myself and I did. There was one scene - no, let me take that back - there are several scenes or stories that have yet to be written, or where there are obvious gaps in what is there. This was one of those. Just put fingers to keyboard and type what you remember and improvise it if you aren't sure.

And I did.

And it was good.

And it was from much later in the book.

But when I cleaned it up a little and posted in to the online group, and read it again up there on the screen in the Lit Kitchen, I thought. "No, this is where the book will begin. I'll figure out the logistics of how they got there later."

So I did.

And they did.

And I took the feedback from that first posting. Made some changes based on that and from my own rereadings. And posted again. Then Ariel's incredible ability to hit on just the right word(s) I couldn't quite find - about six or seven words to alter in one sentence. Voila. Done.

The perfect opening to my story.

It feels good and has fueled my excitement as I continue with the editing. As June gets ever closer quicker and quicker and it will be here soon. And I want to have at least 25,000 words of this together in a near-ready format to submit to a book contest.

And I have a "grabber" opening.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Homage to my Hips" by Lucille Clifton

There has been a lot of wonderful poetry and poetic storytelling in my life recently. And today feels like a day to post a bit of poetry for you.

Lucille Clifton died in 2010. I feel lucky that I was able to hear her talk about her writing and her life and read her poetry on her last visit to Portland a year or so prior to her death. She was an amazing woman-poet-mother-writer-activist. There was a wonderful article written by Margalit Fox at The New York Times after Lucille Clifton died (click on NYT link to read it in its entirety). 
Lucille Clifton, a distinguished American poet whose work trained lenses wide and narrow on the experience of being black and female in the 20th century, exploring vast subjects like the indignities of history and intimate ones like the indignities of the body, died on Saturday in Baltimore. She was 73 and lived in Columbia, Md.
Besides producing a dozen volumes of poetry, Ms. Clifton wrote many well-received books of prose and verse for children that centered on the African-American experience.

Widely anthologized, Ms. Clifton’s poetry combined an intense, sometimes earthy voice with a streamlined economy of language. (She frequently did away with punctuation and capitalization as so much unwanted baggage.) Her subject matter spanned large ethical questions like slavery and its legacy and more daily concerns like family and community.
There are other versions online of her reading this poem and other people reading this poem - but I like this one because it's in a community, outdoors, and I love the look on her face as she reads it and the energy coming from her. As Marglit Fox wrote about Lucille, she wrote for community and I like that this older video captures that sense, as well. The poem is bold and straightforward and you know it's not to be messed with. It's a classic that is always relevant and always welcome.

Yes, gratitude and respect for our hips. Thank you, Ms. Clifton.

"Homage to my Hips"
by Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A.D.D. - seeking a few experiences

I'm currently writing a short essay about A.D.D. - which stemmed from submitting a poem to a publication. I have some things to say, but I want to include other people's experiences, too.

"Is Social Media Causing
Attention Deficit Disorder
Here is my assignment: an essay which is "exploratory about the nature of ADD and its effects, both on those who have it and on those who are close to it through relation or association."

This is not a paying article - but it's a great publication and I've had a few things published there before. Everything will be anonymous - but I want to broaden the perspective of my essay and not just have it all be my own.

You don't need to post it as a comment - though you're welcome to; you can use the contact me on the left to email your comments to me.

Thank you in advance!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Creative Non-Fiction Update

There is a non-fiction book length project competition (which includes memoir) with a deadline quickly approaching. My submission isn't ready yet - but I'm getting close.

I have chosen a section to get ready and have about 3000 words over the minimum required, for the sake of flexibility. I have printed the sections with expanded margins for revision work.

Now, to revise!

Fly, fingers, fly.
GIF from "Teach-A-Task"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Razor's Edge: Friday, May 6

Today's theme is bicycles.

This is my newest activity outlet. I've been thinking about it for a couple of years - but I frequently think of something new to do, to achieve, to try. And sometimes I have to draw the line, cut something out, or postpone the experiment. Bicycling was one of those. I didn't have a bike any more, was doing distance walking, dragon boating, working, teaching, writing, and more and - no time, especially since I didn't have the equipment.

I have a friend who bought a bicycle a couple of years ago. Due to some circumstance she hasn't been on her bike in a while and I asked if I could borrow it.

She said "yes." The first step was getting to her house at a time we were both available; since we work the true opposite ends of the day and the week, this was not an easy task. But we found one so me getting there, adjusting her bicycle to fit me, me trying to ride it and then - getting it home.

I stopped at a local bicycle repair shop I pass at least twice per day and asked about rack options. With an only partially concealed sneer, he told me I should just put it in my car, rather than wrestling with an overhead rack that would decrease the clearance of my car in spaces like a parking garage, or going to the expense or trouble of a mounted rack, since I was just trying it out. Luckily my new car can accommodate a bicycle inside.

So I went to my friend's house, we got out her bike and dusted it off, adjusted the seat and the seat stem (is that what it's called?) and I took it to the non-busy road in front of her house. She'd warned me about turning; she'd discovered on her first few rides out that it was not as easy as she remembered it being as a kid. I thanked her and wobbled my way up onto the seat while applying my weight to the up pedal and off I went. And she was right about turning. I was glad she'd told me, since I needed a wider spot to turn around than even my old Saturn sedan had required - wow. But I didn't fall. And I didn't throw myself over the handlebars when I stopped: my body instinctively remembered to that "right is rear" and to not stop myself with the front brakes. Yay. First test done.

It only took getting the bicycle into my car that one time with my friend's help and then taking it out solo at home, one time, to know that I needed another way to be able to take the bike somewhere for longer rides. No way was I going to wrestle it in and out of my car every time I wanted to go for a longer ride. So I made a deal with myself and that, if I took it out a few more times in the neighborhood and really thought I liked it and wanted to go further, I'd start with a rear mount removable bike rack. Later if I get my own bike and am on it more regularly, I'll invest in something a little more secure.

So, I did. I became the proud owner of a rear-mount hatchback bicycle rack that can hold up to three bicycles. So I can go riding with a friend.

Next (yesterday) was the basic bicycle repair and maintenance class at REI. Good, free, basic. Yes. Which led to the purchase of padded palm bicycling gloves and chain lubricant. Well, the class didn't lead to those purchases - my rides led to those purchases, but since I was at REI for the class, of course I bought them there. And used my member dividend to reduce the cost.

And so it has begun. The purchase of bicycle gear. To add to my paddling and kayaking and walking and distance relay gear.

If I start craving spandex pants, I'll know I'm in trouble. No - seriously. But at this point I don't see a need for special bicycle clothing. At this point I'm quite happy to ride in my jeans - more protection for my skin if I fall. I know when it gets hot I'll want something else - or not. Something more breathable, probably. But there is no reason I can think of for me to ever leave the house in spandex shorts. No.

Write a story about your experience with a bicycle - present or as a child. Or write a story where your character has an interesting encounter on a bicycle.

Still stuck? Try one of the visual prompts below to get you started (one animated picture; one video).

or the bicycle repairman sketch from the old Monty Python...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are You Being Too Polite?

artist Paul Manning
What if you just let loose in your writing?

What if you didn't hold back on naming names? (Okay - some names need to be changed - yes.)

What if you didn't pretty up the language? I mean in terms of vocabulary and roughness and all - I don't mean in terms of keeping the story telling clear; more in terms of keeping the dialogue absolutely, honestly, real and as you remember or how you imagine those characters would really talk - not as they "should."

What if you just waded into all the messy stuff and let it be there?

What is this politeness costing in terms of getting out the story?

Is there energy being spent in holding back; in being nice or smart or funny or whatever way you are covering up or pushing away?

And I'm already wanting to rescind this post - but I'm not going to.

I'm posting it.

In its rawness.

Raw thoughts for moving forward.

Putting on my hip boots and rain slicker and heading into the murky areas where my story has avoided exploring.

It's not going to be pretty. But it will be real.

And there's always the editing later.



Monday, May 2, 2011


I've been keeping a calendar of submission deadlines for myself and a few writing friends. As I was adding a few upcoming deadlines I decided to make it more widely available. Below is what the page looks like - feel free to come back and check it at any time. I will be making updates to the calendar as I find submission opportunities. Feel free to send some my way! The page also has a couple of submission websites (Duotrope, Poets & Writers, CWROPPS (a Yahoo resource group for writers); I know there are more - and I can add more links.

The views should change month by month; and the information will be updated as I make changes and additions.

Here is what you will see on the submissions page when you click on the link above!


Feel free to look through this calendar of upcoming submissions. These are from resources across the web, through email, from friends, and so forth. I am not endorsing specific publications, submission opportunities, or contests (unless I specifically say so!) - these are some that caught my attention, that friends have submitted to or passed along to me, and so on. I will also put some other links below the calendar so you can look at other resources. There are many publications out there and many good resources to see what's happening. I keep my own calendar of upcoming sources I'm interested in submitting to, so I thought I'd share it.

If you have a Google/Gmail account and would like to have this information show up on your calendar, you can subscribe to it by searching for Writing Vein Salon calendar in Google calendars, or you can click on the specific submission announcement and then click on "add to my calendar."

Other publication submission resources on the web:

Poets & Writers
CRWROPPS Yahoo Group


Sunday, May 1, 2011

"All the Pretty People" by Ariel Gore

I've had Ariel Gore's newest book, All the Pretty People, for a couple weeks, but just got time this weekend to read it. And I couldn't put it down. I had to put it down a couple times - but didn't want to.

I love this book. Her voice is authentic, the stories are funny and sad and connect to the human spirit, and her writing is witty and inspired.

From the early promo:

(The dirt on '70s suburban hippies!)

(The inside story on confused queer love in the '80s!)

This book has it all--love, shame, carob, suburban violence, Barbie envy...

Award-winning editor and memoirist Ariel Gore is exploring beauty, shame, Barbie-envy, '70s California pop culture, '80s love, and first cigarettes with a new novella of flash-memoir stories.

As spoken-word pieces, the stories in All the Pretty People have been wowing audiences from Portland to San Francisco to Albuquerque and beyond.
Here is a link to Ariel's website, where you can purchase this fabulous book,All the Pretty People !