Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's April - What Will You be Writing?

The question is simple enough; right?

Tomorrow begins April and there are two big writing events. More, I'm sure, but I'm talking of the global scale.

Will you be doing NaPoWriMo? National Poetry Writing Month? Writing a poem a day for 30 days?

Or will you be doing Script Frenzy? Which is brought to you by the Office of Letters and Light. That's right: the same folks who bring us NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for those who don't know).

Or perhaps you're still working on NaNoEdMo - National Novel Editing Month.

Whatever your April writing pleasure, which may be None of the Above, may it be fruitful and may the writing flow.

And that's not a joke.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Razor's Edge for 3/30/12

This week feminist poet and activist Adrienne Rich died. Her poetry and her strength and her determination were an inspiration to me and many others. It is a loss. And I'm glad that I know her work, even though I never met her in person. A loss and an inspiration.

Her death and some other events in my life right now have me thinking about this period of change. I'm looking ahead, toward what I want and figuring out what that means; feeling the loss of a friendship and grieving; remembering joy and good moments and wanting more of those; wondering about the significant events some friends have been going through or are still in the midst.

And writing. I think about writing. About my writing community. My writing goals. The creative non-fiction (memoir) manuscript revision which is going slowly. The novel revision put on hold to finish the memoir. Short stories and flash fiction and essays waiting to be sent out; especially now that I only have one active piece floating in the world. Many ready to go; I just need to find or decide where to sent some of them.

This week's Razor's Edge is about loss and re-vision. Think about something you lost. Or someone. It doesn't have to be a major loss. But it could be. It could be a goal achieved, which can sometimes result in a loss of focus when the task is done - a kind of "what now?" Or it could be a misunderstanding with a friend which led to the end of the friendship. Or the death of a pet, a parent, a sibling. You didn't get the job, you got the job but now there's not enough time for making art. Pick something.

And then think about one thing you'd like to do: to accomplish or experience.

Where is the intersection of those two things: the loss and the desire? Can one lead to the other? Or where is the commonality?

 If it helps, make a list of 7 - 10 things. See which holds the most power and then write. For 10 minutes. And if you find yourself stuck - and you might - just write whatever is in your mind. Even if it is a repetition of "this is stupid" or "why am I whining" or "I'm so over this." Just keep writing.

Below is a piece of music for you to listen to. while you think about it, or while you write. It is just under ten minutes long, so it could also serve as your timer.


Dot at the Till on the Willamette, photo by Andie O-oh
Neighborhood Writing Prompt Scavenger Hunt 2009, "Lost," by Dot
View from the Hot Tub, Nye Beach Sunset, 2011, by Dot

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Patience is Always Worth the Practice

I am generally a very patient person. Until it runs out. It's generally little things which accumulate and become a bigger thing in my mind and I feel that I can't stand any more.

It may be the twelfth time the cat jumped on my tender tummy in two days, which was still sore from the previous Saturday's foodpocolypse or stomach flu, I'll never know which it really was. Or the repeated speeders on Highway 26 which pass me by like I'm crawling along the shoulder even though I'm going a touch over the posted speed limit and then cut in front of me, too close, it's raining, it's foggy, it's scary. Or the caller who won't give up and there are 20 redials. Or. Well. Anything which is bothering me at the given moment.

Really, I am patient. But not always.

So a few days ago I found myself being impatient : with a client, with my schedule (and who's fault is it that I have a messy schedule? oh, mine), with me, with my partner.

I realize I needed to re-find my patience. Of course I had to look online to see what I could find about "finding patience" and, yes, there was a list of sites to read through.

This is only one from one of my favorite magazines, Tricycle. I decided that most of us probably have moments of needing to find patience, that I wasn't alone. So why not share.

Finding Patience

How to survive a traffic jam—on the road, or in the heart

by Michele McDonald

When I was a child, I was told many times, “Be patient” or “Patience is a virtue.” I would relate to these words in much the same way I would to the order “Eat your spinach.” To me, “Be patient” meant “Grin and bear it,” or that I should repress my feelings about the disagreeable aspects of life. This is not what is meant by patience from the Buddhist perspective, however.

 Patience, or khanti, is the sixth of the ten perfections, or paramis...

[click on the title above to read the entire article]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Something to Ponder

Not too long ago I discovered explodingdog. I don't remember the first cartoon I saw or where or why it attracted my attention. But it did. I think it was a tweet by a writer. Something about the picture resonated. So I went to Sam Brown's website and found more.

A couple of days ago, the cartoon below showed up on a search for something else. It has stayed with me. It resonates, too.

See if this one speaks to you. And if not, go browse Sam's drawings. There will probably be something you like. Or maybe not. There are more drawings over at Daily Dot (not me, another Dot, I guess) and Sam's work can be found on other scattered websites.

Thank you, Sam Brown!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Ooligan Conference: Write to Publish

Ooligan Press' annual conference will take place on Saturday, April 28th. This year the conference, "Write to Publish"'s theme is "Step Into Genre."

From Ooligan Press:
Write to Publish is unlike any writing conference you’ve previously attended. Instead of focusing on the craft of writing, we explore the process of getting published. Throughout the day we will host twelve workshops highlighting the basics of publishing with relation to our conference theme: Step into Genre.

The author stage will host a variety of authors who will speak about their own experiences in publishing. These presentations are intended as an “industry mingle” rather than a series of readings. The authors will focus on the ups and downs, challenges, and triumphs they experienced in their careers. Local vendors from the publishing industry will also be present, sharing their knowledge and services with conference-goers.
We selected our 2012 theme—Step into Genre—with the realities of the publishing industry in mind. While the focus of many graduate writing programs is literary fiction, we recognize that much of the publishing world is focused on genre, whether it is young adult paranormal romance, hard science fiction, or serial killer mysteries. By hosting authors in a wide range of genres and offering workshops focusing on different topics related to genre, we hope to offer insight into the publishing world through a lens that is often underrepresented.

Write to Publish is about empowering you as a writer so that you are one step closer to getting published. Get ready to spend a day having your questions answered and seeing how you, too, can become a published author.

There are genre workshops, publishing panels, and an author's stage. The list of authors is up on the website, which includes Chelsea Cain, Colleen Houck, and Phillip Margolin, and many other; and the basic schedule is there, as well. There will be more information up later on the individual workshops and panels.

They also have a flash fiction contest with a fast approaching deadline.

I'm planning to attend at least part of it. Hopefully, all of it.

See you there?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

All Lanes Open

I was wondering what to post and feeling the need to write something. It's been a week since I posted here. Busy, distracted, wrapping up the second of the two overlapping online writing workshops. Making it through each day, being where I needed to be and when I needed to be there.

And here it is again Sunday.

Then I saw the headline: "All lanes open on Morrison Bridge". I realize that people outside of Portland, Oregon will most likely have no relationship to that headline. But especially for those of us who travel frequently between the east and west sides of the river, this is great news. Being down one of the central bridges has been a pain for a long time. Construction on the bridge started last June and it has just reopened.

So I was thinking that feeling is what I'm searching for in other parts of my life. Yes, I'm happy to have my primary bridge available, again. Very happy. And there's more.

I've been feeling a little backed up in my life, which includes my writing life. Feeling like the flow isn't quite there. Like there are too many detours and sometimes, like with the physical bridges, the alternate route is blocked. Or raised for a passing barge / financial need / someone else's priority. I'm good with workarounds and hanging in there until it passes and finding patience.


I want my lanes open. Creativity to flow like water and to be able to follow my chosen path.

All lanes open.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Of Standing Ovations and Performance

Last night I went to the Kidd Pivot performance of Crystal Pite's "Dark Matters." As with many dance performances, don't ask me, "what was it about?" because I can't really tell you. Which is less true with this than some dance performances, since there was a high theatrical element, especially in the first half. But my attempt to tell you what it was about would be my interpretation of what I experienced; not The Answer to What It Was.

They received a standing ovation, which I thought was appropriate and deserved. I'm not a fan of standing ovations as they are currently used: like big star musician's tour encores, they've become expected, rather than earned. Standing ovations have lost their meaning, almost. Or at least around here. I wonder if other places are experiencing the same phenomena or if this is another Pacific Northwest thing. Or maybe a Portlandia thing.

I can hear someone questioning who has the right to determine if an ovation is earned. I hear you. Or someone wondering if I'm supporting the idea of us all having to agree on what is or isn't good performance art/dance/theater. And if you know me then you know that's not what I mean, either. But there are questions for me about the validity of a standing ovation when 80% of the performances I go to get one. The value of it is lost if it happens all the time.

Have we lost the ability to know good art when we experience it? Or great art, skill, innovation, flow, and words? Or are we so starved for inspiration that "good enough" is enough; is experienced as exceptional because we are so worn down or yearning for cultural exposure that we want to uphold valiant efforts so we don't lose it all?

I don't have the answers and I know this may come off as snobbery. That is not my intention. However, the power of the standing ovation has been watered down when it happens almost all of the time. Like expecting the encore: you know there will be more so don't get upset when the band holds off on giving you their #1 classic/newest hit/signature song. You'll get it in the encore.

But Kidd Pivot's performance last night earned each pair of feet standing in the audience. Each clap of hands showed the power and skill and connection with the dancers. All of the performances I've seen in the White Bird Uncaged series have been good. This was exceptiontional. Immediately after the performance I posted a tweet: "It flowed, reaching into every cell, holding. Breath." Today that feeling remains.

This performance will stay with me. And I was happy to stand and applaud with my fellow traveler's on the "Dark Matters" journey.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I know tomorrow people will be celebrating green beer and all things mint. But me? I'll be at a White Bird performance by Kidd Pivot. Below is a promo video of them for a different performance. I'm glad this is tomorrow because this is exactly what I need right now: a restorative and inspiring performance.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012


(Very odd - the quote disappeared in the posting process. Take two with fingers crossed!)

"Learn how to meditate on paper. Drawing and writing are forms of meditation. Learn how to contemplate works of art. Learn how to pray in the streets or in the country. Know how to meditate not only when you have a book in your hand but when you are waiting for a bus or riding in a train." ~ Thomas Merton

Thank you, Jessica Page Morrell for the quote at The Writing Life Too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hovering Between the Hours

Hovering may be a bit dramatic. I don't know that I'm exactly "hovering" but at this moment, that's what it feels like.

Outside the window dawn is approaching. It's very wet and windy and the temperature is an odd mix of early spring except the wind brings it down to warm winter. Which is evidenced by the condensation on my back windshield and the inability of the wiper to adequately clear the surface.

Before I went to bed, I reset the one time device I have which isn't connected to a satellite or wifi or internet or a wireless service provider. I was pretty sure my smartphone would take care of itself - but not 100% confident. The radio alarm clock I thought gets a time signal from some unseen robotic device in the sky to let it know - but I didn't trust it.

Which made for a restless night.

Then a really bad headache 90 minutes before I had to get up which had me curled up on my side of the bed. After taking two Tylenol mimics and downing probably 16 ounces of water, doing some Reiki and a protocol it finally subsided enough I could drift off to sleep. A light sleep, but still more rest than getting up would have been.

So here I sit with the dawn trying to scoot through the clouds and rain and my body and brain debate the real time. Only it doesn't matter.

Because this is my day. Up early. And will finish very late - tomorrow actually. Not all in one place, thankfully.

And I hope I can finish up a story I started between rehearsals and poem prep and work last week. Finish and submit before it's due at midnight tonight. I don't want to skip another week like I did last week.

The time on the clock and the time in my cells incongruent and the day goes on as scheduled. Time and sleep; working and writing; swimming, walking, laundry.

We change our clocks but do we really change the time?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Found Words

I love to swim. It's kind of solitary but not really. I mean, I swim along and the water blocks out conversation and, usually, people don't try to have conversations with me while I'm swimming.

Just to be clear, I'm talking about swimming in a pool.

So I'm swimming solo although I might not be the only person in the pool. And I don't mind that; it doesn't bother me at all. Unless it's too crowded. But as I'm swimming more I'm finding the times when it seems to be more crowded and try to not go. The pool at my gym isn't that big so there's not a lot of space for hordes of others. If there are a few walkers and water exercise people in the walking lane, that leaves three lanes to swim in. And if there are more than two people in a lane - well, I can't imagine that. Really. Two gets a little tricky depending on skill level and preference. For example, the "circle swim" doesn't work in my opinion, unless we're doing exactly the same thing. Which leaves splitting the lane and then, we better both be doing the crawl, back stroke, and kick boards; no butterflies or breast stroke or someone will get whacked.

And what does that have to do with found words? Not much.

Except I'm talking about the swimming pool as a source for catching snippets of conversations. Generally out of context and the punch line may be missing or you get only the punch line. And I've noticed that there are some people who tend to be posers in the pool.

I'm not talking about the hip young "meat market" type of people in swim trunks flexing their muscles. For the most part, that is not what my gym is made up of, which is why I joined it a number of years ago.

But there seem to be some people who like to sit in the jacuzzi or stand in small groups in the walk lane and "hold court," so to speak. They have opinions to share and sermons to make. I don't mind. It makes for some interesting character sketches or writing prompts or ideas for stories to discover between my laps.

Where do you pick up some lines for your writing?

The pool gem so far this week is as follows:

"Yah, like that. Insurance companies. I tell ya, it's in their best interest to keep us sick."

Gingerich Grammar Mistakes: Nauseous

from :

You can learn more about Jon by clicking on his name above.


Undoubtedly the most common mistake I encounter. Contrary to almost ubiquitous misuse, to be “nauseous” doesn’t mean you’ve been sickened: it actually means you possess the ability to produce nausea in others. e.g., That week-old hot dog is nauseous. When you find yourself disgusted or made ill by a nauseating agent, you are actually “nauseated.” e.g., I was nauseated after falling into that dumpster behind the Planned Parenthood. Stop embarrassing yourself.

Monday, March 5, 2012

"8": A Play about the Fight for Marriage Equality

" Featuring an all-star cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Kevin Bacon and others, "8" is a play written by Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and directed by acclaimed actor and director Rob Reiner. It is a powerful account of the case filed by the American Federation for Equal Rights (AFER ) in the U.S. District Court in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8 [LINK], a constitutional amendment that eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. Framed around the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, 8 provides an intimate look what unfolded when the issue of same-sex marriage was on trial. "


Gingerich Grammar Mistakes: Irony and Coincidence

from :

Jon Gingerich is an editor, a fiction writer, and writes about politics and media. Click on the title to read the column in its entirety - including all of the twenty common mistakes.

You can learn more about Jon by clicking on his name.

Irony and Coincidence
Too many people claim something is the former when they actually mean the latter. For example, it’s not “ironic” that “Barbara moved from California to New York, where she ended up meeting and falling in love with a fellow Californian.” The fact that they’re both from California is a "coincidence." "Irony" is the incongruity in a series of events between the expected results and the actual results. "Coincidence" is a series of events that appear planned when they’re actually accidental. So, it would be "ironic" if “Barbara moved from California to New York to escape California men, but the first man she ended up meeting and falling in love with was a fellow Californian.”

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gingerich Grammar Mistakes: Affect and Effect


Jon Gingerich is an editor, a fiction writer, and writes about politics and media. Click on the title to read the column in its entirety - including all of the twenty common mistakes.
You can learn more about Jon by clicking on his name.

Affect and Effect

Here’s a trick to help you remember: “Affect” is almost always a verb, and “effect” is almost always a noun. e.g., Facebook affects people’s attention spans, and the effect is usually negative. “Affect” means to influence or produce an impression — to cause hence, an effect. “Effect” is the thing produced by the affecting agent; it describes the result or outcome. There are some exceptions. “Effect” may be used as a transitive verb, which means to bring about or make happen. e.g., My new computer effected a much-needed transition from magazines to Web porn. There are similarly rare examples where “affect” can be a noun. e.g., His lack of affect made him seem like a shallow person.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gingerich Grammar Mistakes: Impactful

from :

Jon Gingerich is an editor, a fiction writer, and writes about politics and media. Click on the title to read the column in its entirety - including all of the twenty common mistakes.

You can learn more about Jon by clicking on his name.


It isn't a word. "Impact" can be used as a noun (e.g., The impact of the crash was severe) or a transitive verb (e.g., The crash impacted my ability to walk or hold a job). "Impactful" is a made-up buzzword, colligated by the modern marketing industry in their endless attempts to decode the innumerable nuances of human behavior into a string of mindless metrics. Seriously, stop saying this.