Thursday, May 31, 2012

Break Time

I am off work for a week. A whole week. No work.

Some of that time I will be in Seattle, with some very personable felines and reading, writing, relaxing.

Some of my time here will be spent getting acupuncture, a massage, a haircut.

Some of that time will be spent doing nothing. I hope. And writing. Reading. Relaxing. Yes, more of the same, whether at home or elsewhere.

And breathing. Gently. In. And out. And in.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The spring/summer session of Ariel's Lit Star Training has started.

My first quick write went well. It's a hybrid piece of 8-minute writing: part memoir, part total fiction. I like it and once I started typing it went smoothly. The prompt had to do with an imaginary friend, which posed a problem. I don't remember having an imaginary friend. Ever. There was an imaginary spirit for a short time, but he was more of a messenger, not really a companion or friend. I didn't write about him, but there was an element of him in the story.

I turned in my first assignment before midnight on Sunday as instructed. Only about 20 minutes before midnight, but I did. It was not complete and it was a first draft; but I was determined to not start this session with being behind. I don't like what I wrote and it had barely started toward where I thought it would go. Part of the problem with that piece is that it was a little too raw. It was primarily memoir, but a few hybrid pieces of information tossed in from nearby times to match the assignment. A couple of years ago I discovered that sometimes I struggle to write real experiences that are too recent. No, that's not quite it, either; that are recent and intense or which were challenging in some way. This was one of those.

But I did it. I turned it in.

Now here I am with two work days left until my long awaited week off. I am so looking forward to this break from work. And yet.

I'm looking forward to meeting my feline charges (or will I be their charge?) at the end of this week. Having some time to hang out in Seattle with three cats, sleep, read, write, walk. And do a little driving, yes. I will be in Seattle and I will be far closer to my favorite sushi restaraunt, so I will have to make at least one drive to there - Blue C Sushi, the one in Fremont. Yum. I'm hoping to finish reading the memoir my partner gave me. And to finish re-reading my memoir to get a little momentum going there, as well, and get the editing and rewriting firmly under way. Oh, and to do my other Lit Star assignments.

A week off of work, a new writing group session, a few days out of town = time to explore and rejuvenate. Through writing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Razor's Edge for 5/25/12

Today's prompt is a dance performance - and then the choice of one of two sentence starters.

Watch the video and then choose one of the word prompts and write for eight minutes.

Or if you feel ready to write, if a character surfaces and flags you down while the video is playing, go with it. Follow your character into her experience, her life. And write.

word prompts:

Alone, in the darkened room, I wonder ...

As she stepped out into the sun, she felt ...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Context: Is is really necessary?

As a writer, language is important.

Duh, Dot. Tell me something I didn't know. Right?

And as a sign language interpreter, language is also important. Not just language, but the context in which the language takes place. Which includes the setting, the purpose of the exchange, the people (of course, another "Duh, Dot"), culture, background, and so on.

So there is a lot in common between the two things I do: writing and interpreting. And theater. Language and context is very important there, too. Theater for me is a crossover activity, involving both my interpreting and my writing, or at least my creative output although I have plans for more theatrical writing in the very near future. But, shhh, on that last part because it's not public yet.

Context. Necessary? Yes. And maybe no.

Not "no" really, but more like: What tools do you have when there is no or less than optimal context?

When we're writing, we have time on our side for the most part. Even if you're doing the 24-hour Short Story Writing contest or NaNoWriMo, you still have time. Even if you're writing quick writes or flash/instant fiction on the fly, you have a little time before it goes public. So you can tinker with the context, show it or exclude it or alter it as needed, depending on your intent.

With interpreting, context is - I was going to say imperative and you can't do your job without it. But that isn't true. Because with video relay interpreting, sometimes we don't get the context and we have to do our job anyway. Interpreting requires context. Really; it is imperative. But with video relay we have instant connections, sometimes we're are dropped into the middle of drama or incidents in process and we don't have any background or context except what we see on the screen with the video caller and what we hear through our headset with the hearing caller. So context is necessary, but we have to have tools to deal with it and maintain the accuracy of the interpretation because, sometimes, it just isn't there.

Context. A tool to help our readers understand our characters. To help move the story forward and keep the energy flowing, interest, and reveal as things unfold.

Context. To give us language clues. Culture clues. Behavioral and emotional clues.

Context helps us to make sense of the what is happening around us.


Now let me tell you how I got on this topic. Not that I need a reason. Like I said, as a writer and an interpreter, language context is central to everything I do. What any of us do.

But there was a catapult to today's writing. Let me take you on this little journey with me.

It all started with this bumper sticker, on the rear bumper of a vehicle:


The design isn't 100% what I saw; all of the parts are the same and the words are in the same order and the symbols are the same.

So - my first question when I saw this was: what's the driver's point? Some of you may be thinking it's obvious and others may see different persepctives, as I did.

Because "Red" was used years ago as in the "Red Scare" to warn of the threat of communism, that was my first thought.

And let me explain a little more. The vehicle was a large white pick up with an extended cab; probably a 3/4 ton or a little more (I was co-owner of a 3/4 ton truck many years ago, and this was a little bigger than that - but the extended cab may have altered my assessment, as may have the larger than normal tires and jacked up height. I was focused on  deciphering which side of the Green issue this guy was on.

So my first thought was that it was negative - he was against Green. But then I thought that, maybe, he was supporting going Green and saying that people were acting like it was the big bad evil monster but it wasn't. I wasn't sure.

So I started looking at the other stickers plastered on the rear window of the cab, the bumper, the flap. Clues.

Yes, the context. I'm not going to paste or link in any of the other bumper stickers I saw. But the message was clear. I know which side of the Green/Red issue he was on. I'm not saying anything about big truck drivers, really I'm not. Why, some of my friends drive big trucks and I suspect I have some relatives who might drive trucks. It was a nice truck. But some of the other bumper stickers said things like "Does this truck make my ASS look bigger?" with a charicature of Obama (which I also don't understand; I'm missing a connection and that's okay; some things maybe I don't wnat to know); there was one on the rear window of the cab which said "MORON" and the "O"s were the Obama campaign Os; an "Impeach Obama" sticker; gun control, America-love-it-or-leave-it, and so on. So I'm confident which side of the Green/Red issue he sits.


The words on the bumper sticker alone definitely go either way. The hammer and sickle are clues. The other stickers are clues, definitely.

And when I was poking around online, gathering more information, deciding what way to take this writing, I found even more conflicting sites and viewpoints. The "Green is the New Red" is being used by opposing sides. So I wasn't "off" with my initial reaction. There are "left" groups claiming the phrase, saying that environmentalists and animal rights advocates and such are being targeted. There are "right" and extreme "right" groups claiming that Green is like throwing socialist (which is bad in their view) policies at a bad situation and that Green groups are creating problems. Opponents using the same phrase.


And for me this all started with a drive to meet with my writing buddy yesterday and a big white pick up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Making Space for Opportunities to Happen

A couple of months ago I hit the schedule wall. All of the things I do colliding and running from deadline to deadline and someone called, "Halt!"

I said, "But I can't. There's no time to take time off. Really. I can't."

And she said, "When is the soonest you can?"

Then I said, "June."

She looked at me. She didn't need to say "So, do it." I knew what her words would be.

So I made it happen. The next possible time slot to take a few consecutive days off; more than just a weekend. And that time is soon.

My next dilemma was rather to stay home or to go somewhere. If I went somewhere that meant spending money and I wasn't sure I wanted to do that, since taking time off from work means reduced income (no vacation time). I looked at Craigslist and Vacation Rentals By Owner and so on. I checked out Groupon and Google Offers and Living Social travel deals. But nothing really was "it." I have projects at home I could do. But I also knew I needed some down time.

So I decided to let it float and see what happened.

And happen it did.

Last week a friend told me that friends of his in Seattle were looking for a house/cat/plant sitter. The dates were almost exactly the dates I'd planned to be off work. And, even better, the Seattle friends are writers and photographers from what I can tell, and, well, I said, "sure, pass along my contact information."

And so it came to be that I will be spending a few days in Seattle and the home of writers with their cats and plants and, well, writing.

Another friend of mine said something about me leaving space for this to happen. And she was right. I hadn't thought of it like that. But everything coming together as it did is a pretty good case of synchronicity, I believe. And I'm so thrilled. I've been thinking that I wished I knew someone who had a place I could stay and here it is. Seattle. How perfect. And with cats - lovely.

Leaving space. And trusting. These are compatible ideas. I'm working on integrating them more into this life.

Space. Trust. And Creativity.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Writing and Agates

This weekend I've found myself, again, at the beach. It's not an accident, of course. I didn't wake up in the morning, look around, and say, "Hey, where am I and how did I get here?"

No, I've rediscovered the renewal possible for me by a trip to the coast. It doesn't have to be for a long stretch and not necessarily for even a couple of days; though I'll do that when I can. Even a short afternoon brings me energy and helps me move stress through and outward.

So, here I am. At the beach. This time with my partner. And today we headed down the small hill to the beach and walked. And walked. Waded in the ocean and looked at the rocks and shells covering portions of the beach, under a partly sunny sky, with a minimal breeze. We'd picked the perfect time of day.

Then I saw the first agate. I do have a skill at spotting the colored rocks, agates, and such on the beach which others might pass by. But most of the time any more they are tiny rocks and not many of them. There have been a few nice composite rocks, but rarely agates bigger than a pencil eraser.

Until today. I found two truffle sized agates a few minutes apart. Then, on the way back to our room, a third, which appears to be a crystallized fossil of a shell fish inside a common grey slate of some type, maybe; or maybe it's not a fossil at all. I noticed a couple of others, which I left. But these three I brought with me.

I took the agates out of the plastic bag into which I'd carried them and they were slick with ocean water and shiny, just as I'd found them on the beach, at the edge of the water. I sat them on the window ledge and went to get my camera.

When I returned, the rocks had dried and, while still attractive, they no longer glowed. The potential fossil was just a charcoal grey and black rock, the caramel truffle was a blondish lump, and the warm butterscotch gem was a dull. A dip in water and their luster was restored and I took a picture before they dried, again.

Later, as I was sitting on the sofa, watching the brown pelicans ride the waves with seagulls and terns, I looked at the rocks. Sitting against the backdrop of the ocean from which they'd come. Still pretty, but less refined - or something. I knew what they could look like all cleaned up, maybe polished, but at that moment, they were nice and ordinary. Which is okay.

As my thoughts sometimes do, they wandered back to writing. From rocks to writing and that's how it goes.

I realized that writing short stories can be like walking the beach and finding agates. In the moment, the words can shine. I find gems and put them down and build the story around them. I may look at them and turn them over in my mind and I know what they look like, what I want them to look like.

But sometimes that shine doesn't hold as they sit and grow. Or a new set of eyes reading the story may be after the surface has dried and they can't quite see the gem I know is inside.

So it got me to thinking about first drafts, and even seconds and thirds, can be like those beach agates or even like the thunder eggs I remember my grandparents having in their basement. The outside may need to be opened up, shined and even polished, to reveal their inner glow. To show their power and beauty.

It's also probably not by accident that writing and revision popped up in relation to being here today. Because today was the first quick write in the Literary Kitchen and work on the first week's assignment begins tomorrow. Having a writing community is the polish and shine for my writing. The other eyes who can give feedback and help me find the fire and strength in my writing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Razor's Edge: 5/18/12

Last night I interpreted my last show of the 2011-12 season. The interpreter I worked with has one more show left at PCS this season; but this was the first time she and I worked together. It was, as some people say, "like butter." Our preparation styles matched, our philosophy of this work matched, and I think our presentation styles matched. She was a joy to work with and this show, Black Pearl Sings, was nice to work on. Even after having seen the show several times and listening to recordings constantly for a couple of weeks, I will miss it. We met the two actors before the show and they were nice, welcoming. A very nice end of season show for me in all aspects. And I feel really good about our interpretation last night.

Tomorrow starts another Lit Star Training with Ariel Gore in her Literary Kitchen. I have almost completed my introduction to this session, but am still making tweaks and trying to trim it just a bit. I tend to get a little wordy. I'm looking forward to this next session and the timing is very good.

As I reconfigure and revision my work life, as I move from the creative interpretation of plays stage to the annual logistical planning for the next season, as I move into another level of revision on my book - a new Lit Star session begins.


Today's prompt is to look at your life. Or use the life of a character, if you are writing fiction. Identify a significant event which has either just ended or is in the process. And identify one new venture which is just ahead. Now look around you or around your character and find the transitional action or object or being. What is there in your life or your character's life which will help ferry you/him/her through this period of time.

Start with a list of 6-10 possibilities and pick whichever stands out strongest for you. Or take the first one which comes to mind.

Tell me what will help this you or this being get through the current time and toward the goal. What do you see? Feel? Smell? What colors are around you? The temperature? Paint the setting with your words and show me how you feel.

Write for 8 minutes after you have your ending and goal.

The following is a piece of music which I believe fits this type of writing. It's just under 3 minutes long, so feel free to repeat, or let it help you get started and then just go on without it. You may recognize it from the movie, The Piano.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Anna's Poetry Garden

For Anna Ingre

Today a mutual friend reminded me that
is your birthday. But do I say "is" your birthday
for someone who has died or is it proper to say
"was" your birthday because. Well. You died.
But the day is still the day you were born.
Tomorrow is the day which would
have been cause for a celebration. A variety of
some of whom know each other only
through you.
Your small and cozy home filled with people in every room,
spilling from the enclosed front porch with plants
and starts and vines lined along the house's railing,
into the front room entry way where one wall was covered
from floor to ceiling and end to end
with bookcases full of poetry and travel and spirituality
and pleasure books; the other wall covered with your own
artistic creations.
People meandering into the kitchen with dining area separated
by a peninsula which attached
to the wall, so it was not an island standing alone.

And the friends in clumps and covens and snaking through
the house and people would spill out the back door to your
lush and productive
Some people wandering the rows of plants, touching
gently, sniffing deeply, feeling the rich earth
beneath their feet.
Still others under the large overhanging tree.
Sitting or standing as they could or as they desired.

Nodding heads and topics tossed about from the political
to the heart songs to writing and art and
poetry. Therapy, mental health, pets, relationships.

I can still smell the cooking beans and rice, the sauteed onions,
an herbal tea made from your own garden.
I can see the fresh baked goods brought by friends, the basket
of tortilla chips and bowl of salsa, skewers of veggies and
plates of fruit.

Food and friends gathered.
To celebrate you.

I miss the gatherings. I miss your calm and firm manner.
I miss your determination and independence and strength.
I miss talking about writing and gardening and I wish
I would have spent more time with you, writing, listening,

The passion flower plant you gave us as a raggedy start root
still blooms. Still screens our front porch, giving shade and
cooling our front room.
Every year the plant returns, no matter the winter weather nor
summer heat.
Every year the flowers bloom, a few at a time, until the first
frost. Scattered wild passion flowers, purple, spikey, and white;

Today a mutual friend reminded me that tomorrow is your birth day.
Now four years past your death.
May your journey in the other world be kind 
and gentle
and full of passionate poetry
and dancing plants.

by Dot Hearn 5/16/12

photo from eHow

Copyright: Part II

The U.S. Copyright Office has a set of videos up on their website, intended for teacher and students as an overview of copyright basics. I found one of those videos on YouTube (of course) and have embedded it as an intro for you. Click on the title of the set of videos to see all of them in this short series.

from "Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright"

Here is Michael Moore sharing his opinion about sharing art - his
movies, in particular, and art, in general.
This won't necessarily help you understand the laws, but I believe it's good
to look at others' opinions.

And, just for fun, here is a link to the Copyright Office Registration, Recordation, and Other Services. In other words, how much will a copyright cost and what are the various costs associated with getting a legal copyright?

Over at Writers Write, they have Basic Copyright Concepts For Writers from attorney Claire E. White. The sections of her summary are:
- What Copyright Law Covers

- How Do You Get Copyright Protection for Your Work?

- Registering a Copyright

- Can Foreigners Copyright Their Work in the U.S.?

- How Long Does the Copyright Last?

- Copyright Infringement

- Exceptions to the Infringement Rules

Creative Commons is another option for sharing digital creative ventures. I think of it as the Shareware or OpenSource for creativity sharing. It's worth taking a look at their guidelines and seeing how their process works.

Their mission statement: "Creative Commons helps you share your knowledge and creativity with the world. Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation."

What other resources do you like to refer to when questions of copyright come up?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Copyright Basics

Recently I had posted an excerpt of another writer's content, which was posted on a writing website. I took a small piece of it and posted it, with the proper recognition of the author, with the intent of enticing my readers to go read her writing. It was cleaver and fun and was a good piece of writing.

A couple of weeks or so later, I received an email from the site, who was contacting me on behalf of the original author, who was requesting that I remove the content due to copyright infringement. And the potential loss of income due to duplicate information online. The website person was very kind and we had a good email conversation and I, of course, removed the content.

My intent was not to interfere with anyone's income nor did I pose as the author nor did I include all of the article nor even the entirety of my favorite part. And I understood that the author felt like I had crossed the copyright boundary.

So I've started looking. Trying to wade through some of the copyright lines and see what I can or can't do.

I can't plagiarize and I know what that is. Would never dream of doing it.

I also know, thanks to Ariel Gore, that there is a five word limit on including song lyrics. Which I find makes it pretty much pointless to include them. I have a really great piece I like, the song is clearly attributed to the original group and the writer. The story is distributed among the lyrics, they're woven together and the lyrics are particular to time and place. To remove the lyrics is to remove a significant emotional connection. Yes, then there would be the option of trying to contact the song writer, the group, to get permission. Yes, an option. Five words would be useless in that case.


Here are a few links I've found for copyright information for writers:

First, of course, is the US Copyright Office

Here is a link to a free e-book about Online Copyright for Writers (I have not read this yet, and am not supporting nor refuting the accuracy)

And here is a trusted link, Poets and Writers magazine starts with a concise glossary of different rights and then has a few resources at the bottom of the page.

One more resource is an attorney. I did consult with one copyright attorney a couple of years ago about an issue related to the novel I'm currently revising. The information I'd found online was a little unclear and didn't seem to specifically address the question I had about something in the book. I'd rather consult an attorney earlier if I feel there is something potentially in error rather than later.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spinach: The Culprit, Again?

My health situation continues. No, I mean, it's better but the cause has been unknown. But now there is a root cause; it's not the whole story but it's the foundation on which the other factors built themselves.

A few weeks ago my Kaiser MD told me that their blood specialist recommended that I stay on the medication for life, due to severity and family history; the family history which was unknown to me until my health incident last fall. But, being me, I didn't like that answer. I didn't (don't) want to be on this medication for life. So I consulted with my ND. Who referred me to another ND who is a cardiovascular pulmonary specialist, nationally and internationally recognized who, luckily for me, is local.

I went to the specialty clinic. Did an intake. They wanted to do several blood tests and three of them were originally suggested through Kaiser. So tests were done (Kaiser agreed to do the DNA tests and one other; I still have to pay for them, but at least it goes toward my deductible). And slowly, over the past week, I've gotten the various results.

Almost everything came back good/normal or negative. Except for one DNA genetic marker. Turns out I do have an inherited gene mutation. Great. And further news from the specialist ND, who has all of this research and experience in just this type of thing is that - tada - I do have to stay on this medication. This particular medication does specifically address this specific gene mutation.

Sigh. Okay. Both my MDs and the NDs agree. I'm still working on acceptance, but I will get there.

Meanwhile, I will be working with my regular ND and the specialist ND to support my body systems to minimize the negative effects of the medication and to address some of the other issues related to this condition which the western medication doesn't address. Which will probably alter the dose of the medication (in a good way in my opinion; the medication can still address the genetic mutation, the supplements can take care of other factors in this process).

Okay - now onto the spinach.

You know how people say that leafy greens are good for you? I'm not disagreeing that they are good for people. I totally support them. I like them. I eat them often. I really do - yum. But, first of all, another of my favorite greens is kale. Which, if you were reading me  when this health incident happened last October-ish, you know that kale is on the list of things which interfere/influence this medication. Medical people used to say to avoid spinach and kale and those other nasty high vitamin K foods; now they say to eat them for their health benefits, but keep the amount steady so the dosage of the medication is stabilized.

And, see, leading up to the health incident, I was eating a lot of kale salad. And drinking freshly made juices with, yes, kale. And spinach salads. And brussel sprouts.

I still eat leafy greens every day, the darker the better. And have a baseline of leafy green intake so the medication doesn't fluctuate. There are other foods which affect it, so I have to keep a sense of how much garlic, green tea, red wine (any alcohol, really), tumeric, greens, etc. I consume.

One of the blood tests the clinic did was to check my blood iron levels. My level is normal, but very low normal. And there is no reason for it to be that low. Really. So, they want to get it up to about double where it is now.

But I eat a lot of spinach, I told the specialist.  Come to find out, spinach has an ingredient in it which, in some people, can block the absorbtion of iron. And some people may need the animal protein bound iron for it to be absorbed. Which might coincide with my occasional craving and need for red meat (I go for the healthier elk or lean buffalo or grass-fed beef).

Spinach = friend or foe?

There's a story in here, I think. Characters to work with. Or something. Right now it's a big source of discussion and appointments and thinking for me. But, soon I hope, I can turn this new information and new experience into something in my writing. "The Case of the Rebel Spinach?" or "Learning to Bleed Well."


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Looking Up

There have been several time related emails and posts crossing my path recently. Astrology, astrology and sexuality for all 12 signs, Mayan art and calendar. More.

Since this seems to be a topic on the minds of many in my circle of 3-D life and virtual life, I thought I'd pass a little along.

I'm not an expert. Sometimes I don't know what I believe but I'm open. Exploring. Yes, exploring is probably a better word than just being "open" to possibilities, though I am that, as well. I know a little bit about a lot of things. And I keep finding more that I know nothing about or learning more about some things which I thought I knew quite a bit but am (sometimes) excited to find that I am missing important pieces of information. And, sometimes, I find that I actually know more than I thought I knew, which is both a good feeling and a not so good feeling. The not so good feeling comes from seeking something more or something else or not trusting myself and my knowledge, skills experience. Although even that can lead to discoveries; if I'm open - see my post last week about going to hear a speaker and initially being disappointed.

All of that has nothing to do with astrology nor the Mayan calendar. Or not as far as I know, anyway.

I know a few of your eyes were attracted to the "sexuality" mention and are looking for the link. A few others of you may be thinking, oh no not that. So if you're looking for the link, here it is. The "Astrological Detective" is Andrea Gehrz, who translated and published an ancient Greek astrology text, an more. May the celestial vault shine into the bedroom! Sexual tips and tricks for all twelve signs by sexuality educator and performer Felice Shays. Hosted by Andrea L. Gehrz

Then astrologer and author Hazel Dixon-Cooper had a post which caught my attention: In Case You Were Worried. That caught my attention, so I clicked over to her website (I subscribe to her feeds). And from there I was led to the Mayan calendar story which, unexpectedly, is also about art.

And also about the fact that the Mayan calendar really isn't ending.

But I'll let you read about that yourself. It's an interesting article because of the Mayan calendar. And it's an interesting read because of the art. Read it here: Maya calendar workshop documents time beyond 2012 .

Astrology. Art. Writing.

Things are looking up.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Razor's Edge for Friday 5/11/12

Today's prompt? Pictures. Below are your characters.

These are encaustic portraits by Serena Barton. I'm not telling you any more about them.

Give them names. Place them in a setting you've always wanted to visit; or perhaps you have visited and to which you'd like to return. The story line can be whatever you want, but there has been a death recently. How are these people related? Or are they? What is their relationship to the being who has died? At least one of them is an outsider. Which one? And why have they come?

Go. Write for 10 minutes.

Click on the artist's name to read more about these portraits after you've completed your writing.

Winding Down Another Season

Next week I'm interpreting "Black Pearl. Sings" at Portland Center. Stage.  The team interpreter I'm working with is Pamela Cancel and this is our first show together. It has been a great experience and I've enjoyed doing this show with her. Our styles are very compatible and I feel confident our interpretation will go well. Feedback tonight from our Deaf Sign Coach went well and is much appreciated.

Portland Center Stage has one more show this season, "Ain't Nothing But the Blues," in June (which will be interpreted by Pamela and Edwin Cancel on June 21st). But for me, this is my last show of the 2011-12 season.

I may do a concert or two in the summer; but I don't do much theater. I do a lot of theater planning and may also do some theater writing (shhh, that's a secret as of right now). But not much theatrical interpreting.

And the college school year comes to a close. I haven't been teaching this term, anyway, but it's another marker.

And I'm trying to get a better handle on my schedule. I'm starting with a short vacation at the end of this month. Probably a starvation with, perhaps, a couple of day trips; maybe one overnights. A kind of resetting of my biological clock. Time enough off to really feel it and break the cycle of going. I started that process with my trip to the coast last month, but to do it right requires a few more days than I had. So the very beginning of June that will happen.

And writing. The timing is working out to coincide with another round of Wayward Writers in the Literary Kitchen. The next session starts May 19th, two days after Black Pearl Sings. Perfect.

Someone asked me today if I had any big summer plans. No, I answered. Except learning to relax better and just be. Relearn how to not do. Then write. And walk/swim/bike.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak Died Today

We've lost another amazing author today. I looked around online, gathering videos and stories and anecdotes. I planned to write something original.

But isn't part of what he did is bring out our universal connections? The things we share - laughter, fears, humor, the dark places?

There is so much available online, so many tributes and stories and so much information, that I have decided to post one video and provide you with a few links. Just as he took us on journeys, I offer these as a starting place for you to take your own journey to discovering more about Maurice Sendak, his writing, his thoughts on writing, and maybe discover a few things about the author, about yourself.

Thank you, Maurice Sendak.

I wasn't able to embed the video, but click this title, NOW with Bill Moyers: Maurice Sendak to go to the interview, which includes a transcript. (I couldn't find a captioned video, but you can scroll through the transcript simultaneously as you watch the discussion).

From The New York Times: Maurice Sendak, Author of Splendid Nightmares, Dies at 83

From ABC News: Maurice Sendak: The Pointed Psychology Behind ‘Wild Things’

From The Guardian: Maurice Sendak obituary

From Huffington Post Maurice Sendak Dead: Stephen Colbert Remembers Author On 'Live With Kelly' (VIDEO)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quote from August Wilson

"Confront the dark parts of yourself. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing."

- August Wilson

Razor's Edge: Friday 5/4/12

So far today has been another lesson in Trust the Process.

It started out as a very early (for me) day. Only to arrive at the job site and discover that the coordinator had double booked interpreters. There are multiple clients, so I waited for the second arrival time to see if perhaps we'd just been told the wrong clients. Another interpreter showed up for the other group, so one of us had to go.

I left. It was very early, like I said. The hour at which I got up this morning is only slightly past the time I once in a great while go to bed (which is very late, even for me). I had a rehearsal last night so didn't get to bed as early as I should have for getting up so early. But as long as it's once, I knew I'd be okay.

I was frustrated. The other people were frustrated since they've lost paid hours recently from this same mistake. So I did my best to let it go and headed home with the intention of going back to bed. Still frustrated but thinking that more sleep was a good idea.

I even changed back to my pajamas but I wasn't tired. I tried playing a really boring computer game but it didn't help. Then I thought I'd apply a relaxation technique and go to bed.

But I checked my mobile device one more time before going to bed. And there was a message from the person where I was also scheduled, offering to split the shift.

I said yes. And thank you. With the recent medical appointments and the pending crown, I needed the work. And I wasn't yet asleep.

So I changed back to work clothes, drank the coffee I'd put in the refrigerator, and rebuilt the contents of my lunch.

Yes, four hours was better than no hours.

After we switched, the other interpreter sent me a message wondering if one of us was supposed to be working the night shift. We'd both checked our confirmation emails and we were both scheduled for the morning - but perhaps a scheduling error that the coordinator intended to put one of us on at night.

The other interpreter couldn't do the night due to plans. I had a writing and dinner date with a friend, so I couldn't.
Finally, a couple hours later, the coordinator got back to me and said the other interpreter would be relieving me. And I told him, no, she was headed out of town. And I had a meeting.

Just after that, my friend sent me a message that she is sick and couldn't meet me; what about next week.
So here I am, a few hours after I thought I'd be at home, still at work with more time to go.

Call it fate or trust or faith - it doesn't matter. It was another reminder that I don't need to panic when the money gets a little jostled. Something will come along and it will be okay. Notice I didn't say easy; I said okay.

What is your sticking point? The thing that if it happens or doesn't happen will make everything else okay or better or messed up?

Write a list of 8-10 things where you feel like your world changes? Or things you have to have to feel okay/safe/prosperous?

Now write the threat to those things.

And your options for recovery or avoidance?

Tell me a story about a time when....
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What I Know and Changing Expectations

Last night I went to a talk at a local writers' organization. It was their monthly meeting and the guest speaker this month was a literary agent. She was slated to talk about why we writers still need agents, even in the current publishing climate.

Two writer/editors I highly respect recommended I go. I often meet with a writing friend on Tuesdays and I proposed that we go to the meeting this week after having dinner. So we made a plan.

I know that publishing has changed and is continuing to change. And I know it will continue to change and evolve. It may never again go back to what it was because, well, everything has changed. How we read, what we read, how we write, what is published and how it's published and who publishes. Change. That I know.

I know that this agent has a lot of experience, is good, is respected.

I know that this organization has been around for a long time and has a lot of members. I know they have a big conference here every year. I know they have different chapters. I know some of the primary members; well, I know who they are, have been to workshops or talks with them, have bought some of their books.

Back stairs to Mt Tabor Park. photo by Dot.

I went to this meeting with some expectations. The expectations were based on the write-up for the meeting. On the good recommendations for the speaker. On what I thought I would hear based on what I wanted to hear and what was promoted as being in her presentation.

Leaving the Grand Canyon 2010. photo by Dot.

I left the meeting feeling disappointed.
I wasn't disappointed in the agent. She was delightful and strong and well-spoken. She knows what she likes and she knows what she's doing; that was very clear.
But I was disappointed because I felt like I didn't learn anything new.

Even though she gave a kind of Ten Things To Not Do When Querying/Approaching An Agent, there was nothing new. For me. I realize this may have been new to others. I don't know. I didn't ask. I had to leave and go straight to work. (Oh, and my friend wasn't with me. We had dinner and she wasn't feeling well so didn't go.)

So I left disappointed that I didn't get new information. There were no insights. No golden lights illuminating a path to publication or to finding just the right agent. I didn't even feel I gained anything about why I would need an agent. I'm not saying that I'm against agents or that I don't see the need - no; I want an agent (someday) and I think they're still important and serve a great function in the publication realm. I just didn't learn anything I didn't already know. Not that I've thought a lot about what I do or don't know about agents.

As I wrote an email to my friend who didn't go, I realized that the disappointment I felt wasn't really about the speaker. It wasn't about the information she shared. It wasn't even really about what she didn't share. I realized that the disappointment was more -

Narrative Non-Fiction Editing in Process. photo by Dot.

Wait! Another insight even as I type this. The disappointment was in me not knowing what I know; in doubting my knowledge and the information I've learned from books and Poets & Writers, The Writer, Writer's Digest, other writers, editors, agents.

Narrative Non-Fiction Editing Notes. photo by Dot.

Back to my story. As I typed the email to my friend I knew that my disappointment was not in the agent. It was about no new information. And as I typed I knew that my expectations were, perhaps, a little off. What can one person tell me in an hour? Especially when the first 15 minutes were talking about "her books" and "her authors"; followed by 20-25 minutes of her talking about publishing and agents (the Ten Things); and then a Q&A. Not bad. None of it was bad. But it didn't fulfill my expectations.

My friend wrote back to me. And as I read her response and thought more about the meeting and the agent I realized that I really like the agent. Her "energy" was awesome. She is confident and clear. Her submission guidelines and what she does and doesn't represent were clear and well thought out. I love her approach and philosophy.

I was not disappointed in the agent. And if she reps the type of book I'm writing, I'd love to have her on my side. I was very impressed with her as an agent, a person, and like what she had to say about approaching publishers. She even gave us a succinct version of the author's platform, in a no-nonsense, if you want it then this is what you have to do, kind of way.

What I need is to gain confidence in what I know. I need to use more of what I know and trust that I do know quite a lot. I'm not bragging and I'm not an expert - but I have a lot of information.

And I did learn something at the meeting. I learned who this agent is and what she likes and doesn't like. I learned her perspective on publishing. I learned what works for her and a little bit about how she works. I learned that I like her and that there are people in the publishing world who know how to play the game and still feel honest and believe in their visions and goals.

I also learned, or re-remembered, that going into a situation with too many expectations clouds the possibility of discovery. And that a disappointment in other may mask a lack of confidence in self.

Time well spent last night.

I'm off now to search for my confidence in the land of dreaming.

Twin Rocks Sunset, Day Two; April 2012. photo by Dot.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just 'cuz

It's important to remember that there are different perspectives in almost any situation. When talk gets loud and emotions are revved, there may be more to the story or missing information.

I've learned to recognize the signs of potential emotionally charged information and to step back. Take a breath. And see what else is out there to support or dispute or simply add to my body of knowledge. After a little research, I think I can say that the X and Y situation is no different than previous summer's. I'm not passing judgment on the rightness or wrongness, so to speak, but saying that this is where we have chosen to work and this is how it goes; no worse than previous summers and unfortunately no better.

So while I wish the Big They would change for the better in this particular area, this is what it is. The threat is not new and not worse - it just is. What others have been saying isn't wrong, but it is more complicated and there are other perspectives and other information.

So, just breathe and hold onto my goals and intentions.

And writing. Did I tell you that writing helps relieve stress and helps the negativity move through so it doesn't get stuck and become something worse? It does. And so I write.

Another video below to go with today's update.

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