Thursday, September 29, 2022

Writing Into the Void

 *

Maybe that's what I'm doing here. 

This is not Substack. It is not Medium. It is not Conversations. It is not Patreon content. It is not any of those other here-let-us-sell-your-words-for-a-fee sites. Which I'm not against. This just is not that. 

This is a space I created for writing. I had some thoughts toward goals when I set it up many years ago. But, as with many things, I did not make a plan.

I'm not a planner. Not in my writing. Not in my comics making. I'm just not. Which is not the same as never having a plan! No! I just ... I guess I build it as I go. I've said for many years that - in terms of my writing - if I tried to plan out what I was going to write, I would surely miss all the good bits.

Which I believe to be 92.5% true. When I can get in 'the zone' and write write write, good things can happen. If I get out of my way. Which I can do when I give myself time and space.

So here I am. All these years later. 

In this space.

My space.

Is anyone reading?

Is anyone out there?

I know I had one faithful reader, who died a year ago. I hope she's still catching my words now and then. I think she is. 

But is there anyone left who still sees what I type? What I throw out into space? Either way it's okay. This is my space and these are my words. This is also a place where I hold space and there are a few memories and, because I'm terrible with (some) dates, this is also a place of time markers.

If I ever turn this space into that bigger dream, maybe I can retire this part. Or hide it somewhere. I don't think I want to delete it because - good or bad - this is part of the journey I've been on.

Now. Back to the words on paper that I'm editing. And notes I'm making. And comics I playing with, doodling, drawing. 

Holding a space in time.

*

Friday, September 16, 2022

New Chapbook and a special deal

 **new in August 2022**

Illusions of Time :: Haiku Comics 
is a collection of graphic haikus by Dot Hearn. The haikus include traditional and modern haiku conventions, and include three types - haiku, haibun, and haigga - as well as wordless haiku.

$15 includes standard shipping to the lower 48 US states. If you need it sent to another country or expedited, send me an email and I will check into pricing.  

Published August 2022
64 pages. 
Page size 5.5 x 5.5 inches.
Perfect bound.
Black & white cover, with color comic on front; interior b&w.

Purchase "Illusions of Time" for $15 via PayPal

 
Orders will be mailed within 3 days of receiving payment, excluding weekends and holidays. You can also order at the Literary Kitchen, where you can purchase books from other Wayward Writers and see what class offerings are currently available.

________________________________________________

 ** special combo!  ** 



Purchase both books, Illusions of Time and Pickle Blanket Chronicles, together for a discounted price of $25, which includes shipping to the lower 48 US states. (See below for more information about Pickle Blanket Chronicles.)

Click here to purchase both books at the special price of 
 $25 via PayPal
 
Orders will be mailed within 3 days of receiving payment,
excluding weekends and holidays.
 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Current Projects


My book, "Illusions of Time: Haiku Comics" was published in August. It is available to purchase it on the BOOKS by Dot tab (or click the link *wink). Also, if you don't already have a copy of my previous chapbook, "Pickle Blanket Chronicles - A Flash Mixtape," you can purchase that. Purchase both books together for a discounted price!


I am also working on final* edits for the hybrid memoir. No publication date, but I will post it here when available. [*"final" means, final for this round. After this edit, I will be sending it to an outside editor to put their eyes and experience on and see what I get back.]

The printed manuscript has its very own soft-yet-sturdy pebbled sangria-colored leather carry-bag, which is also plenty big to carry pens, sticky notes, a notepad and other editing needs. I need the printed manuscript because I am currently doing what Ariel Gore calls "sonic edits" - which means that I read the entire book aloud, making notes as I go. I find reading my writing aloud to myself tedious and want to skip it. Simultaneously, I remember that every time I've read a piece of my writing aloud - whether in preparation for a reading/spoken word event, or in preparing a story for submission - it has been immensely helpful. There are tips and tricks to optimize the experience - and .every.time. that I read my work aloud, it gets better. I know this. So I grit and grin as I take it one page at a time, remembering that the book will be better because of it.

I am continuing to work on developing my comic making skills. I still attend the Friday Night Comics from SAW (Sequential Artists Workshop) when I can, and I am currently in another online Haiku Comics workshop with David Lasky from Seattle, hosted by Pull/Pull in Seattle. David's teaching style is perfect, in my opinion. He is an experienced artist and author, he gives us history and examples of haiku and comics, there are drawing demonstrations. He give us time to create, as well. This late summer comic haiku class, he added information and exposure about using watercolor in comics. He is competent and calm and I appreciate his classes, his art, his teaching very much. (He will be doing another Haiku Comics in the fall.)

I will be doing "The Wayward Writer One-Year Maven of Mythmaking Certificate Program" with Ariel Gore in 2023. This is a new offering in The Literary Kitchen and it looked like exactly what I have been yearning for, for several months. So I signed up. A full year program! Registration is now full, though there is currently a wait list. A month or so ago, I also signed up for "Gore’s Grotto: A New Way to Structure Memoir & Fiction," a one-day workshop via Zoom near the end of October. This end of October workshop is perfect timing, because ...

... I will being doing NaNoWriMo again - my 15th consecutive year! But, for the first time since 2019, I will be taking my annual NaNo writing retreat at the coast. The cozy cabin I love in Oceanside was available for the dates I wanted. It is a nice, quinessential Oregon coast cabin, with a full kitchen, two bedrooms, a living room, a can't-be-beat view and front row seats for miles of weather and ocean activity. And it is mine (and my writer/friend/covid-pod-mate's) for six days of writing in November.


I'm missing our boy today. He was an excellent cat and we loved him. 
Cats get old and get cat diseases and then it's time to let them be at peace, 
even though the decision is not easy.


Sunday, July 31, 2022

Hearty Prickly Survivor

 

She's a survivor.

This prickly pear cactus nearly died several years ago in a rare (for here) winter storm, which left parts of Portland OR under inches of snow-ice-snow for days. We get a little snow, we get some ice, but not usually for very long. People laugh at us because longtime Portland residents can get a bit panicked if there is a forecast of inches of snow. 

But people not from here should understand: we don't get very much or very often. The snow might come in a day here or there in winter. It might leave a dusting or an inch. If there is more, for a day or two, it is generally accompanied by ice and/or freezing rain on the transition back to our typical milder winters. So, when we get actual winter weather, a lot of people don't know what to do - how to drive, for example, and many people have no experience in the stuff. So, yes, sometimes we panic a bit.

And sometimes with reason.

That time about five years ago, it came down hard and long and parts of the city were stalled and stuck for several days.

This beauty was much smaller than now, though still a good few feet in diameter and the tallest paddles were probably two or more feet high. Before the snow storm hit, we assumed, with everyone else, that it was going to be another situation of Pacific Northwest Snowpocalypse warnings, followed by an inch or so out in our east part of town, maybe two inches in the West Hills and bare pavement out near my work near Hillsboro. 

So it was a surprise when the snow started and didn't stop. For a long time. For days. 

So this beauty was in our front yard. This storm was accompanied by freezing rain and layers of snow, ice, freezing rain, repeat. The prickly pear was covered in ice and so beautiful in the blankets of snow.

Several major paddles were lost when things started to thaw a few days later. The poor plant looked a bit scraggly and tired. And still very much alive.

It grew little by little, sprouting new buds turned to paddles and grew and grew. There were no flowers for a couple of years and some of the older paddles which survived were scarred; some are still there, with holes from the very cold and frozen winter.

But the prickly pear is now over five feet tall in places with a diameter of probably six feet or a little more at the widest. 

This is the first bloom this summer. And she is poised to show many more. There is an abundance of new paddles alongside the flower buds. 

We truly weren't sure if she would survive that winter storm. She did. And is thriving.

A note to those who don't know: if you've never touched a prickly pear cactus paddle, don't be fooled by their soft appearance and the lack of spikey thorns. I knew that and I was still surprised. Last fall we have a heavy windstorm, which batted the cactus around and a few paddles and one branch separated, fell on the ground. I was picking up some yard debris and, looking at the paddles, they did indeed seem harmless. I didn't have on gloves. I picked up a couple of the paddles and in seconds regretted it.

The "fuzz" on the side looked like soft fur, but it wasn't. Each was like a needle poking my fingers and my palms. I spent a long time with a flashlight and tweezers, pulling out those very fine hairs.

The prickly pear cactus is a survivor. Do not judge her by her appearance.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Exactly Two Years

In the time of the pandemic, there have been milestones, markers, of the passage of time. Time has been variable, sometimes feeling like an eternity and sometimes moments seeming to disappear when they'd barely begun.

Today was another of those markers.

The first big marker of event time passage was a year ago. In March 2021, I was one of the interpreters for the Oregon Poetry Out Loud competition. The event itself was virtual, but the host and coordinator (the amazing Deb Vaughn) and the two interpreters were live in a recording studio. We were masked until the recording began, and we were spaced about twelve feet from each other. The second interpreter has been in my pandemic pod since the beginning, still is, and we work and write together. The time marker of that event is that Poetry Out Loud had been the last live event, in-person, that I'd interpreted in March 2020. I had been preparing and rehearsing to interpret a play - which was canceled. But Poetry Out Loud, regionals, was the last in-person event. So Poetry Out Loud was both a last and a first.

Tonight I interpreted a Portland Community College Theatre Arts production, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. This is another marker of a sorts in pandemic terms. While TMLMBGB is a very different production than the one in March 2020 (Our Town) - I was at PCC exactly two years ago today, when theatre started shutting down, when stay at home orders were beginning to be issued.

I had gone to PCC on March 12, 2020, to work with an interpreting team - watching them to a sign-through, practice run - to be followed by feedback session and discussion about the show, their interpretations. When we arrived, about an hour before the show was to go live, we went backstage and found the director talking to the cast and crew, in costumes, standing in a large circle on the stage set and ready for act one. The director was telling them that the college had made the decision to close the school and the production was canceled immediately. There were tears. Lots of tears. And confusion. 

One of the interpreters and I left after a while, after the second interpreter showed up late and then left after learning about the closure. The other two of us walked to the parking lot. I received an email notice of a cancelation of another play at another theater. We stood at my car, talking about the virus, the state of things - it wasn't yet being called a pandemic (I don't think). I received another email with a "hold" on a production (which would be canceled two weeks later) and then another.

The other interpreter and I decided to drive to the coast. To get away for a few hours (we're lucky we live close) and think and breathe fresh air. We did.

As the days went by things changed quickly. More pauses and postponements from those who were hopeful. Cancellations from some who were near the end of runs or couldn't extend. One by one by one things fell away as the COVID-19 numbers increased.

Then, today, exactly two years to the day, I was on the (volunteer) interpreting team for this PCC production. It seemed fitting to be here doing this play at this time. It is not the first PCC play on Zoom that I've interpreted since the pandemic begun - and yes, they have all been pro bono. Keeping the access alive and supporting the creative and innovative and passionate work of theater that PCC has continued throughout this time. 

This is a photo of the setup the other interpreter and I used for tonight's interpreting set-up. I don't think we're done with this pandemic; or, more accurately, the pandemic is not done with us - the virus is not done. I would love to be wrong, but numbers around the globe are growing in the BA2 variant. And I, for one, do not want to get the virus. I have genetic conditions and a prior health situation which put me at risk for severe illness and significant complications - so I do not want to get it at all. Simply "surviving the virus" is not an option, not a risk I want to take.a

So - I may be doing more of this. Or less of this. I have to see what's ahead, how the numbers actually go and not just the wishful thinking of the wealthy, young, healthy, White people who are wishing it was already gone, so they are "acting as if."

Exactly two years ago today I know where I was. A vivid memory. And what a pleasure and a full circle to be working with the same theatre group. Their hearts are warm and glowing and their passions are clear and directed. Thank you for letting us be a part of your circle - in 2020 and now and in the future.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

In the Month After NaNoWriMo

It's Time by Dot. 2004




NaNoWriMo came and went. It is an annual November event, for anyone who stops by here and doesn't know what that is. It is a write 50,000 words in 30 days challenge, just for the fun of writing. 

For me, NaNoWriMo is also my annual recommitment to my creativity, of which my writing is a key part. I sometimes generate the skeleton of a new novel, or seeds for short stories. One year I wrote parts of my Work In Progress. Some years it is simply write whatever comes out and keep up. "Keeping up" means writing an average of 1667 words per day. 

I don't really struggle to write 1667 words in a day - when I write - so one of my added personal goals the past few years has been to actually write Every Day. In these years, when "write every day" is a goal, I operate under the belief that "all words are good words." Which they are.

One unique thing this year is that I didn't post an update or an excerpt every day here. I didn't even post anything here in November. Which is sad. Which is partly due to the death of my aunt in October 2020. She was one person I knew was reading everything I posted here. Every time. We didn't see each other very often since I've been an adult (a long time now), but we emailed following a long silence for some years following some family drama. 

This was my fourteenth consecutive year of participating in NaNoWriMo and my fourteenth time a NaNoWriMo Winner (meaning: I crossed the 50k finish line). Last year I posted very little in November, but I still thought of my aunt every time I did, even though she was gone by the time November came around.

This year - no aunt.

And I wrote. But not here.

One thing I have been doing a lot of during the pandemic is writing. New stories and essays and creative non-fiction. Worked on that WIP and I even finished a draft, which I shared with someone who is no longer an active part of my life, though she is often in my thoughts and her influence and words are an integral part of who I am now (my personal therapist closed her practice). So I have a completed manuscript of that WIP now! It needs more editing but I discovered it is in better shape than I thought it was. It is more complete than I thought. And parts of it are really good, I don't mind admitting.

So here I am. The middle of December. Tomorrow is a full moon. The holiday season surrounds me everywhere I go - even if "going somewhere" is online. Because the COVID-19 pandemic is still here and still raging; or raging again. We are actively heading into another surge or "wave" as some call it. There is a new variant (omicron) which spreads faster than the original or the recent horrific variant (delta). We don't quite have enough data yet to know how severe the omicron cases will be; there are conflicting studies - except that it spreads more quickly and gets patients hospitalized more quickly and it is evasive, with the vaccines less effective and prior infection minor protections less effective. 

So we're waiting as omicron hits more and more states here in the US and we watch the surges in other countries, knowing it is going to hit here, as well. And we still have hotspots and outbreaks of delta here, already. So we are potentially facing a grim and disease laden winter.

And I write. 

As a matter of fact, the reason I came to the computer tonight is to set up my profile on an online writing workshop which starts tomorrow (or today, depending on your perspective; as I've said numerous times - if I haven't gone to bed yet, it's still "today" - tomorrow comes after I've had some sleep).

Watch and wait and write. And wonder.

It's winter. It's the edge of a full moon. It's a shift of season (soon). 

Where do I go from here this time?

*

Friday, May 21, 2021

Still Here. Don't Know What to Say.

 It's been over four months since I've put anything here. 

Which is not the same as not writing for four months. I've been writing. A lot. I've been in workshops and working on book projects and experimenting with writing essays and different styles of memoir pieces and I even took a class on making an illustrated manuscript (page or book).

But I haven't written here.

How much "woe is me" and "the pandemic is hard" and "life is great/sucks/changes" writing can I produce and can anyone read?

The truth is that I could write a lot of that. Potentially. That is not what I've been writing and not what I wanted to put here.

So. Nothing was put here.

And I'm thinking again - what is this space? What should go here? What do I want it to be?

I don't know right now.

I am writing. I am doing some theater again - baby steps to distanced outdoor theater and I've been doing a little virtual theater (staged readings mostly; some audio plays/dramas). And writing. And working. A couple of big theater projects in the works - one of which is being recorded tomorrow. 

In a time of transition and some people are going to quickly, in my opinion. (And the opinion of several people I know.) Let's open a bit, see what happens. If the numbers don't spike, then let's go a little more. But let's not just throw all caution to the wind and jump into the mosh pit. Please. Too late. Okay, then I'll continue to be a little cautious while we see what happens.

I will also continue to think what I would like this space to be.

For now, here is a sample I made of an illustrated letter.






Monday, January 4, 2021

New Year(ish)

What is new right now is that the year is 2021. There is not much else, if anything, that has changed. I've seen comments about this actually being 2020 v.2 and such and it does feel kind of like that. Yes.

Some of us are waiting for January 21st for the New Year to begin. This week will be getting the final step of the electoral votes finally confirmed and done - and there are some Republicans who are vowing to vote against that, even though

Except that I missed posting anything here during December 2020. I intended to post more. The pandemic hit. I intended to write something to share at least once a month - which I did, until December.

What is not new is that the COVID-19 pandemic still rages. It rages now more than it did three months ago. The surge is bad. The experts say there is another surge coming, which will be worse. For those of us who believe the science, who are following the data, we know that is true. It is. It's simple - if you believe and follow the data. Stay home, wear your mask, keep your distance.

What is not new is that the outgoing President still claims to be the victim of a fraudulent election and there are a few clinger-on Republicans supporting his claims. One thing which astounds me about that is, don't they understand that if they claim fraudulent election, are they not also calling into question their own positions? Are they not also saying that all election results are invalid, which means theirs, as well? It is so ridiculous and yet it is also a little horrifying and even frightening, that there are so many people who are blindly following this 

I did not drop in here to write about politics, yet I can't or don't want to let it be totally ignored. There is a lot of good information out there from people far better qualified and better armed with facts to write about what is happening politically, so I will leave it to them. And I will read what they write, as well as follow reliable news sources. 

I stopped by here and noticed I had skipped a month of posting. Not skipped a month of writing, though. I actually wrote a lot in December, partially thanks to Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen and the wonderful, amazing, talented and supportive writers she brings together in writing classes, workshops, groups. As a matter of fact, I'm in a manuscript revision workshop which just started on Friday - which is going to be helpful and generative and I should have really good progress on a book project in three months!

So - Happy New Year and lets look forward to a new President and Vice President and lets get the mess of the last four years cleaned up (it's more than that, I know, absolutely) and lets also keep the anti-racism efforts going and growing.

Again: Stay home, wear your mask, keep your distance. The pandemic is not yet done with us.

And keep creating! Creativity is what will get us through.