Saturday, July 30, 2011

Making Room for Writing

Writing doesn't happen without conscious thought. It doesn't happen without some planning, of some kind. It needs a time and place. And each writer has to find for her- or himself what that time and place is; if it is structured and regular such as a daily practice or random as when an idea strikes or the words flow.

And the reality is that it's a continuum and all of us fall somewhere along it.

We can look at our lives and think about:
- where am I writing?
- what time of day do I write most?
- what time of day do I write most productively?
- how do I write? in short bursts? do I need warm-up time followed by a focused stretch?
- does it depend on what I am writing?
- what do I like writing?
- what helps me write? what hinders me?

And what works? Do it more. What is causing stress or writing blocks? Do it less.

Sounds simple - but it isn't. And I suspect it's not always the same.

Today I had a unique situation, where I had to be in a somewhat confined space for a period of time. And I had to always be at the ready, yet a lot of time was spent waiting. Or could have been. But today I used that time to write and when I hit a wall I told myself to just go and see what came on out the page.

Yes, actual pen and paper.

And I wrote a lot. I completed one chapter, wrote two more, and started a fourth chapter of my memoir. The missing chapters have now been whittled down by four.

I'm nearing The End.

All because I was semi-locked in a room-like space for a number of hours, with minimal contact with the outside world (no computer, no true private phone time, no ability to just wander out and run and errand or get involved in something else). Confined with a deadline and I did it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Razor's Edge : July 29, 2011

This week's prompt set is made up of three pictures with music to accompany them. I'm not going to tell you where the pictures are from - it is up to you to create with the pictures and let your story or your characters guide you to a location.

Look at the three pictures.

Allow your character to emerge - don't dwell on it too long. Go with who first appears.

Start the music video. It's "Trois Gymnopédies" written by Erik Satie.

Write for the duration of the music - plus up to 2 minutes if you need them. The music video is just over 9 minutes in length.


Trois Gymnopédies

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Running Shoes and Writing

As those of you who have followed my writing over the past 2 1/2 years know, I spent some time training for a half marathon, 5k and 10ks and the Cascade Lakes Relay (CLR). Hours on the road and in the gym - miles and miles in shoes.

Looking for the perfect ... no, I take that back ... looking for a good shoe for walking distances and speed. Remember "speed" is relative; I'm not a fast walker and never will be a really fast walker and I accept that. My best time was a 14.5 minute/mile; my average was 15.5 - 16. Which was good for me; trained down from a 21 minute/mile. At the CLR I did two or three legs, generally the late night legs plus the one 6.6 miles downhill on the highway in the middle of the day in the high desert leg. I needed good shoes.

I won't bore you with all of my trial and error with shoes - except to say there has been some. Some worked for a little while - then they didn't (Brooks) - actually causing more problems than they were helping, especially when the new version came our ("only the color was changed" - uh, no). So I went to an official sports running/walking store and was diagnosed and fitted. Went through three brands and four styles until found something that worked (New Balance, Saucony, other Brooks). For a while. Then it didn't. That store couldn't help me, didn't have my size in any that didn't hurt my feet.... and so on. Went to another store with newer, better, more fitting and diagnostic tools - and went through all of that. Found some shoes that worked really well - through 5k and 10k and training and the actual half marathon (Asics). Then more problems, time to switch shoes because that style started hurting more than helping (several styles of Asics).

Did I say I'd be short with the shoe journey? Sorry. Many shoes. Lots of money. Many miles. Changes in my feet, yes. And as some of you know what I've recently returned to is: the minimal shoe, even trying out a pair of Vibrams FiveFingers "barefoot" shoes.

But, Dot, what about the writing? How does this relate? I can hear some people saying. And here we go.

Just like the running shoes - many people have opinions on the best way, the most effective way, the fastest way - the right or wrong way - to write. To publish. To submit. To query. The whats and whys and hows - many views for doing the thing we do.

Like with the shoes, I think, find what fits.

Last year I went to the Willamette Writers Conference here in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately I won't be able to go this year (it's next weekend) because I will be working; not that I'm complaining about having work - but I do have to miss the conference.

So - last year there were two editor-authors I went to in back to back sessions. They were both talking about some dos and don'ts of writing and editing and how to get published.

Guess what! Some of the expert advice they gave was in direct opposition to the other. They are both very successful and very well known and I respect and admire and like them both. And they were each telling their audience to do something exactly unlike what the other said.

I am not saying there aren't any rules in writing and getting published. I'm sure there are. But there is so much more to it than any one formula can do. There is very successful formulaic writing, I know - and if you have a formula which works for you - use it, yes, go! But I also don't think most people can just pick up another person's prescription for successful writing and have it go exactly the same way.

There are many readers and editors and publishers. You need to first find your writer voice. And then find the writer-editor-publishing people which fit your voice and can help you achieve your goals - and then go with your heart and your gut and the advice of those whom you trust.

Writing advice - like good shoes - must be tried for a good fit. And rechecked when something changes. With good shoes and a solid writing foundation, you can complete that marathon or novel or poetry chapbook. Patience and perseverence and listening to your own inner wisdom.

Keep on walking. Keep on writing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Searching for the Rug

Just a brief thought for today.

I'm in a holding pattern for a program I applied to in early June. The deadline is the end of July; it originally said the end of June. No worries; my application was in.

So I'm still waiting.

And booking work now into October. With the "what if" I get into the program thoughts, along with the other activities that begin ramping up in the fall.

"What if..." : I get into the program, which has non-specific days and times at this point, so I have to leave open both possible times on both possible days. "What if..." : I don't get into the program and I don't sign up for Ariel's next writing session - then I'm without either writing group and will flail, I know.

So, what to do?

Schedule "as if" ...

Which means that right now I feel like a dog in front of the fireplace, circling round and waiting to land. Except that someone keeps moving the rug.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

And On The Third Day She Wrote

That's what I woke up thinking yesterday.

It was my third day in a row off from work. "I know," I want to tell you. "Yes, I did say that not too long ago. Yes, I know! Isn't it fabulous? Again, yes." And I'd smile and you'd say congratulations and we'd both smile.

Then what?

Oh, right. It was another day off - three in a row.

The first day I had acupuncture and it was great. It was so helpful and my practitioner - who is also a naturopathic physician - is excellent and the acupuncture really helped. A lot. I was feeling good - though, admittedly, just a little spacey. The good kind of spacey; in post-acupuncture-Qi-flowing kind of spacey. Did a couple errands. Went home and tried to make a little art (unsuccessful, but I tried). Did some feedback for students and writers online. Later called to make a therapy appointment for Friday; if possible; but I was fine until the regularly scheduled appointment next week.

The next day I got a call from and an appointment with my therapist. Yay! It was good. Then I took a trip to Trader Joe's to get lunch and dinner for the zoo concert: Indigo Girls. That took a long time and I wanted to get up there early to get parking. Which I did. Parked. Decided to become a zoo member: tax deductible, free admission for a year (including early for the concerts, to get in line early for a better seat) free parking. Walked the long way around and stood in line for another hour. Got great and I mean *great* seats, squeezed in with another interpreter, her sister, her friends and acquaintances. And the concert? Awesome - really. I would say that Indigo Girls are high on the list of Great In Person Musicians - and not all musicians are. I had a lot of laughs, good blueberries & peas & cheddar-gruyere & Akmak crackers, shared a bottle of wine. And wonderful music - Amy and Emily were amazing, I loved listening to them, was inspired by them, was soothed by them. The opening band, Mountain Moriah, was really good, too.And Indigo Girls' violinist - wow; she was amazing, when she played it went straight to my cells. The combination of Indigo Girls and their violinist (whose name I don't remember, unfortunately) - magic. (Below is a video from their Lowell MA concert  on 6/23/11 of a new song on the updoming new CD.)

Then day three arrived. I thought I might go for a bike ride, but I'd stayed up late writing, editing. And the day was already under way. And I realized that I had this very busy week -- right after I had the thought that "On The Third Day I Wrote." Then the realization hit me that the first thing I needed to do was go to the store to buy some food to chop and prep and cook for the week because, in this very busy week, if I didn't do it on this, the third day, I'd be eating out for most of my meals = expensive and not very healthy most of the time due to scheduling. While at the store I received a page that we were, indeed, meeting up with my partner's son and his fiancee to celebrate his birthday (which is actually on Monday); which was totally great and I was thrilled. So - I'd already dismissed the bike ride; but walking around Costco for 3+ hours would be good exercise, though I could accomplish as much in 30-45 minutes on the bike or an hour of plain walking, probably - but it was movement, right? So I also realized that writing wasn't going to happen, because my first job on My Monday (Sunday) was very early, which meant early to bed, yada yada. No worries.

So - On The Third Day I ... went grocery shopping. Chopped two kinds of cabbages. Boiled eggs. Thawed an Ahi steak. Chopped some cheese. Divided up the blueberried: some for her and some for me so we each get some and don't accuse the other of eating them all (either accusation could be true). Washed and sorted spinach leaves and froze some. Consolidated flax seeds and ground a small container-ful for the week. Cooked the broccolini (one bag; left one bag raw). Stacked the case of soy milk and the half case of chicken stock (easy soup: organic chicken or veggie stock, fresh or fresh-frozen spinach leaves, optional kernel corn or diced peppers or broccoli or other vegetable - add protein of your choice (chicken, tuna, tofu, beans - whatever); heat and enjoy).

I didn't write.

But today between jobs, I did write. I put down a really good start to one of the missing chapters. Then tomorrow when I meet up with a writing friend for a couple of hours, I will transpose the handwritten beginnings into the computer and, perhaps, finish that first draft. And later tonight, after work, I was writing an email about how I couldn't seem to write this other chapter and the beginnings of that just poured out.

So, maybe I did need to gather the vegetables and the stocks and the soy milk and cook up some fuel because I would have spent that time today chasing after food at the store or the healthiest place I could find and get in and out of quickly. Instead of writing.

Today, I wrote.

Even cooking and cutting vegetables can aid a writer. Yes, it can.

And so can time off.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Razor's Edge for Friday 7/22/11

For today's prompt, I'm going to redirect you to Bonnie Hearn Hill's blog. She wrote a wonderful post about developing your characters, which came from a recent workshop she facilitate.

If you have a piece you're already working on, read through Bonnie's essay and follow her instructions for a character in your current writing. It may be a character who seems a little two dimensional or perhaps you're having a hard time pinning down just who they are. Or it may be a character who is rarely in the story but needs a little filling out.

Or this may be a character who is not yet assigned to a story. Pick a character or let her come to you, and write following Bonnie's instructions.

Characters. Is it really as complex as we sometimes make it out to be?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quote of the Day via Jessica Morrell

This appeared on Jessical Morrel's blog, The Writing Life Too and it is too good to not share.

"We must stay drunk on writing so reality does not destroy us."
Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Time of Change and Wonder

My massage therapist, Cydney, moved away last week; she closed her practice the week before that. I've known for a month that she was leaving and was able to get one final visit with her in her last week. She was amazingly gifted, insightful, intuitive and had helped me so much over the years I'd been seeing her.

My previous massage therapist, Simone, who I'd been working with for a number of years - first as a colleague at the health care clinic, then as my massage therapist - committed suicide. She was also very sensitive and intuitive, but she didn't have the tools to protect herself and there are many details I don't know. She went through a tough time due to a mental health condition and took time off work. She went back to a small private practice and not too long afterward, she killed herself. It was traumatic for many in our community. Many questions, no answers.

I got a referral to Cydney from someone I trust; Cydney has been an amazing massage therapist/body worker. So, while the transition to a new LMT was unexpected and the circumstances were emotionally hard, all turned out well.

Cydney's reasons for leaving are vastly different - she is very much alive and thriving. And it was still unexpected and I wasn't ready to change. But she did give me some names of other massage therapists in the area, told me about how they work and gave me recommendations. She put a lot of time and thought into making good referral matches for her clients.

I talked to Cydney's top two referrals for me on the phone. I'd scheduled an appointment with the first person - but after I talked with the second LMT, it "felt right" - more right than the first person, whom I'm sure is skilled and would do good work (and was highly recommended by Cydney, too).

So the end of last week I went for the appointment with the new LMT, Daria, and - wow. Her work was amazing. I feel that she was definitely the right choice for me and all of my nervousness about starting over with someone new has dissipated. I think this new bodywork experience is going to take me into a new direction and a new relationship with my body. I would have happily continued with Cydney and am going to miss her - and this feels like a right and good transition.

And I also would like to tell Cydney "thank you," for allowing me the opportunity to heal from my transition to her by providing an opportunity to transition out to a new LMT in a healthy, thoughtful, and respectful way. I don't blame Simone - I know she suffered and she did a lot of good for a lot of people, she was very kind and loving and caring, almost too much so for her own good; but it was hard to lose her as a friend and provider. I didn't realize there was a little residue of the loss of Simone until Cydney told me she was moving away; now I feel I've had the opportunity to heal that residue.

I'm not exactly clear how this relates to writing at this moment - except that it is another life lesson. And don't all life lessons help the writers and artists and dancers and actors? Even the CEOs if they'll listen, and anyone with a creative bone in their body?

Maybe this lesson, for me, is about being open to change. That saying about one door closing is the opportunity to open a new door. I know that's my own spin on the words, but that's how it is for me. Because I have been locked in the old place, shut in the room feeling like there is no way out, worried that if XYZ falls apart/falls through/breaks down then my whole life-system will crash and I'll have nothing.

So maybe now is the time to take this example and say, okay. There are options. Even tragedy, like Simone's death, can lead to a new opportunity. And sadness, like Cydney leaving town, can turn out to be an opportunity for growth and change I didn't even know was possible or needed.

And I wonder about other opportunities - presented or not yet, taken or avoided, how a loss is actually an opening to something else.

I have an application in for a program (IPRC's printing & publishing for writers) and am waiting for an answer; the deadline isn't until July 30th - I applied early. I really want to do this program - and I have this amazing clarity that whatever their decision, it will be the right thing for me right now. Yes, I want it; yes, I'm hoping they accept me; yes, it would be absolutely great and there would be so many opportunities opened up because of this new knowledge and skill set. And, if the answer is "not now" - I will be okay and there will be reason.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Last Of Borders' Stores To Close

Are brick and mortar bookstores dead?

It is undeniable that the book industry had changed. How we read books. How we write books. How we publish. How we sell - and who sells - books. Everything has changed. And people are exclaiming the end of the printed book.

Now, another bookstore has fallen, and some are proclaiming this is it - the end of a lifestyle. According to NPR,

Laura Bartell, a bankruptcy law professor at Wayne State University, told the Detroit Free Press, "The physical bookstore has become a thing of the past."
Is she right? Or is this merely another change?

Does the fall of the giant, national bookstores mean there is no need for bookstores at all? Or is this another restructuring and an opportunity for the readers and the writers to take back the bookstore - to make it what we want and need. Our vision - not the corporate vision.


Yesterday I read an article about an author who recently opened a bookstore. A writer friend described the opening, which included two authors' readings, and how this bookstore was a part of the community. Then today I read about Borders closing - which I think we all saw coming after the buyout deal failed last week.

My hope is that this is an opportunity for us to take back the books. To take back the bookstore. Don't get me wrong - I'm not starting an argument for or against electronic books and readers. I've heard pros and cons, I have my preferences; and I know some really valuable reasons why the e-book readers are a wonderful invention for some people.

I am saying - don't take away the printed book, the community and culture of writing and printing and reading. Don't force us to be any more dependent on technology than we already are. As long as there is something to write or draw on and something to write or draw with, we can have written communication - reminders, stories, something to pass on. After the batteries have died, we've dropped the device in the toilet, it's raining outside, the backlight burns out, we lose the signal while the book is being downloaded ... we still have oral stories. We have the dirt, sand, shale, chalk, pieces of cement. Leaves. Charcoal. Tree bark shed in wind storms. Natural chalk. Reeds.

One thing for sure - this is a time of change. The publishing industry has been changing drastically since about 2008 from what I've heard. Which has made some major changes for writers and readers. And change isn't all bad.

I try not to be one who falls for "the sky is falling" doom and gloom predictions. I have been, in the past - but have learned better. So - Borders has fallen; B&N and Amazon are still selling books online. Small bookstores have gone away; new ones are cropping up.

Maybe I'm lucky to live in the Land of Powell's Books - who have had a viable online presence for a number of years, in addition to the big downtown store and the smaller neighborhood and specialty bookstores. We've lost smaller bookstores and we still have a couple or a few long-time independents.

I don't (want to?) believe that bookstores are going away forever. But they sure are changing. There is more to bookstores than the chain giants. And Christi Craig's post about the writer's new bookstore in her home town was one inspiring story about how bookstores are not a thing of the past.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Razor's Edge for 7/15/11: Failure/Success

This week the prompt is the video below: It's Cynthia Hopkins - singer, musician, performer, writer, the lead and founder of Gloria Deluxe - talking about the third show in her trilogy. Watch the video and then choose your prompt from these topics from the video:
The Success of Failure 
The Failure of Success
Expunging the Demons in Your Head


Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Words We Use: Unintended Consequences

This is another of my periodic musings about what I see around me. Repeated events which catch my attention and make me say, "huh?" or "wow." Or, sometimes, yes, I think or say the now popular "WTF!?"

Today this occurrence I've noticed definitely brought the stronger expletive to mind.

What I've been noticing is this: how the passive-income generating advertisements on some blog posts, newspaper articles, essays, and the like are in opposition to the intentions or goals of the writing. I've noticed this here and there, not a lot; it hasn't been a big deal to cause me to sit down and write about it.

Usually the content generated ads I've noticed are things like Rip-Off MFA University and Write Your Novel In 72 Hours and some legitimate advertisers in the spots on my blog or hanging around my Gmail or tagged onto other writers' work. There have been some other content-related ads, like Buy This Car or Better Insurance Rates if the writing mentions a car, for example. A few off the wall  ads that came out of a word or phrase in the post/essay/email subject/article.

But I've caught a few really bizarre ones recently and I started thinking more about these.

One example is the work of the writer for Live Juicy, Once and Defiant Athlete. She is writing about keeping the focus on being healthy with eating right, following the Health At Every Size philosophy, and exercising - cardio and strength training. Her writing is insightful, inspiring, researched and well done. Her work has been syndicated and her articles and essays can be found on several sites.

What I noticed is that many of her writings which I read in my blog reader program or which appear on some other website have ads. I understand that - I know about the "passive income stream" generated by readers who click on the links and ads connected to writing, that's why they are there! But what I see attached to her writing are weight loss ads: some of them severe weight loss programs, some of them exactly what she is writing against, some of them very derogatory about fat people and supporting the myths she is trying to break down. I wondered if she knew what ads were being generated on her broadcast essays.

Then today I was reading a news article about the young woman who was kidnapped and held for 21 years and has two children fathered by that man. Now there is more evidence and the wife is even further implicated. And the system, the law enforcement system, is being shown as being even more negiligent or more incomplete in their work in this case. And right there, in the middle of the article, and I mean in the middle: halfway down the page was a set of ads in a rectangular box which jutted into the article, clear into the middle so the article was squeezed into short sentences to navigate around the box. The ad which was at the first left position, placing it in the middle of the article, was for little girls' and childrens' clothing. The article was presenting how the kidnapping couple would go out and take videos of children - girls mostly from what I read - at the park and try to make it look like the wife was filming her husband. And here was this ad for a children's clothing and accessories store with a picture of a little girl and the ad had something about just what every girl and mommy needed, yada yada. In another context - in a mothers' article, or childcare magazine, or such, very cute and appropriate. In the middle of an article about pedophiles and the expoloitation of children and everything associated with this case - kind of sick, I think.

So - that is what prompted this writing.

"Passive Income" - I understand that. Use the ads that are out there anyway to benefit the writer; every penny counts - it can add up over time, and for the well-known and frequently read writers, they may get to dimes or quarters instead of pennies piling up.

"Content-Related" - Again, an understandable concept. Make the ads match the writing. Great idea and makes sense. But this is where the problem starts. Which content? Who decides? Why don't the Defiant Athlete's content generated ads lean towards bicycle company's ads (she's had some great writing about her new bicycle, including the company who made it), and places like REI and Cabella's and healthy living companies?

"Key Words" - Back to content-related. But here is where the computer/bot selected process really breaks down. In the pedophile article - "children" appeared often. Probably the ad-bot selects ads based on the frequency of the words. I don't know - I haven't looked into that, but that's one theory I've heard explained about how it works.

I do understand that there aren't enough dollars in the world to have real people look at all the posts and decide what ads fit with which piece of writing. I'm not dumb. But there are issues when electronics start deciding what is and is not appropriate.

So, for now, I will keep my "income generating" (I'm in the pennies category!) ads on the sides and bottom of my site. In this piece of writing, for example, I can imagine what might be attached to it if I sent it out to blog readers with advertisements; and I don't want that. I'll let my puny little ads sit on my website and go with the overall, bigger picture of what I'm writing about. Which is mostly writing and some outdoorsy, exercisey types of things.

I'm not criticizing - I'm just saying, as the saying goes. Careful what you write about if your writing is being scanned by bots for "appropriate" ads.

Swarm-Bots, Belgium, 2007
Photograph by Peter Essick
for National Geographic

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Deed Has Been Done

Oh, yea. Today I purchased my ticket for Mike Daisey's 24-hour monologue (a part of TBA:11). I am so excited. This is going to be an awesome experience - and I am in for the whole 24 hours.

Mike Daisey
TBA:11 Mike Daisey
All the Hours in the Day

Producer: PICA
VenueWashington High School (Portland, OR)
 A live, 24-hour monologue that spans the globe, weaving together stories from every time zone into an electric road movie for our time.

All Pass Holders, besides Patron Pass holders, must purchase a ticket.

Sat 17 Sep 2011 06:00 PM PT

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Fortune Cookie Said...

from  Shana's Blog

"You will be traveling and coming into a fortune"

... oh, the possibilities ...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Day WIthout Work

Today was my third day in a row without work.

No, let me back that up. Today was my third day in a row off from VRS work. But Thursday, the first of the three days, I had a meeting with another interpreter an hour south by freeway. I was half an hour late - which turned out to work out well for the other interpreter. We had a great meeting and it went twice what I guessed. Which was fine. And which put me driving back home so that I hit the height of traffic in Portland. And coming up from Salem on the freeway, there was no way to avoid the traffic. I think I selected the easier route for the most part. But it was not a day off; all told I spent about 6 1/2 hours "not working" on work.

Okay, so I had two days off of work in a row.

Yes, I'd call yesterday a day off work. I had a final exam from the winter car accident. That wasn't work, obviously. It was an appointment and the assessment and treatment was an hour; driving to and from another 1 1/2 hours. Then I spent a happy 7 hours writing! Writing included working on the story that is due tomorrow (which I will finish up tonight) and hanging out in two cafes. About four of those hours were spent with a writing friend at our regular Friday writing spot, with front row seats as the Friday night rush of cops and ambulances and fire engines whiz by. Yes, yesterday was a day off of interpreting work.

Then today? It was a day off work, but with volunteer work. So not totally "off." It was an awesome event: A mini Write Around Portland writing event held in conjunction with the "A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art" exhibit. I was there as a facilitator - there were four of us - but the number of participants was lower than expected, so one person led the group, two of us participated as writers along with another 8 participants, and the fourth facilitator left. So I helped set up and tear down and I wrote.

Then I was off the rest of the day. I had a "Brazilian burrito" and iced tea. Then called my partner because I'd found out that I could return the Asics I bought online to the local Road Runner Sports store - and trade them for? Vibrams FiveFingers! I'm trying "barefoot" walking now - I've tried so many different shoes and haven't found "it" yet. I had a good pair when I started - but those became really the wrong shoes. And it's been downhill from there.

So, I picked up my partner and we drove to Tualatin and, yes, I made the exchange. Then we went to the original big Powell's store; bought books and magazines. Then went to Deschutes Brewery up the street and I had a really nice summer ale. I'm not usually a big ale fan (there are some I like; not often and not many) - but this was nice. It's called something like La Cycliste: it's a combination of a light ale and lemonade. Yummy, light, refreshing. And I had steamer clams and salad - perfect.

After we got home, I went for a walk with my Vibrams. Yes, I know to take it slowly - get my body used to them and ease into them. And I did. I can tell it will take some easing in - but I can also tell that my body is happy with the minimal shoe, and I will build up the distance slowly.

Now, here I am, at the laptop. I must finish the story so it's ready to submit tomorrow. I have a load of laundry in the dryer. And I feel

And I feel ready to return to writing.

Getting out into the world. Doing regular things. Getting plenty of sleep and being around art and the only work I've done in two days is write. This is good.

New perspective.

Note to self: time off work renews.
Celestial Treasure

by Serena Barton

Friday, July 8, 2011

Razor's Edge for 7/8/11: Falling and Flying

I've linked to a new contact improvisation performance today. This one is appropriately called "Falling and Flying."

I've been riding the ups and downs of my life recently. Some causes external, some causes internal. Flying high with submitting the book excerpt and accompanying information; stumbling into an emotional puddle with some unexpected news; recovering to explore and deepen my capacity for joy; being triggered by yet other news.

This is life - that's all. The wins and losses and breaking even. Laugh; cry; let it go and go on.

So - when I saw the title of this performance - it called to me.

And it's Friday - time for another Razor's Edge.

Two word prompts - choose one. Then watch the video. And write (paint, draw, dance, sing) for 10 minutes. Then let it sit for a while and return to it when you're ready - to add to, revise, or put away for even later.

- Through the window he saw ...
- I felt the power in my wings and ...


Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Challenge Today: Theme Song for "I'm A Writer"

I won't go into all of the details which led to this discussion. Way personal (says the person on the brink - I hope - of publishing a memoir!) and it's a winding path to today.

The point is that today I was given a friendly challenge of coming up with a ditty or hummable (!) song with the pride and acceptance of the fact that "I'm A Writer." I am a writer and I've known that, but I'm also other things. But I was a co-editor and contributor for an anthology, I have a book of excerpts from my 2009 blog essays, I've had short stories and essays an poetry published, a short radio play produced (that was fun!), other short scripts and articles. And I recently submitted 119 pages of the memoir to a publishing company for a contest. I really put out there into the universe that I am a writer. Big time!

And the rest of my life goes on.

So I was given the task to come up with something to help remind me, keep me in touch with, acknowledge and maybe even celebrate that I Am A Writer.

It has been fun and we'll see if I come up with more. And I'd love to see what others have to say. Share them if you dare!

The first thing that came to mind as I was driving was the famous Monty Python "I'm A Lumberjack" song. I was singing to myself:

I'm a writer and I'm okay
I work all night
and I write all day ...

I didn't get beyond those words at the time, but added more after getting the lyrics (see below). So I went in search of YouTube videos and found many. This one below, is my favorite for many reasons. It is not Monty Python, as you will soon see.

Now, Monty Python was very good and very funny and I can hum along. Here is my expanded version:

I'm a writer and I'm okay
I work all night
and I write all day.

I pound out words. I drink coffee.
I go to the lavatory.
Wednesdays I walk to the post office
to send out my poems and stories.

She's a writer and she's okay
she works all night
and she writes all day.

But I still wasn't satisfied. Yes, I can expand my lumberwriter ditty more - but I went in search of something else. I found some interesting, some scary, some hilarious and some which didn't rock my proverbial boat at all. But I did find one thing...

I found this clip from the movie Barton Fink. Voila! Yes. This will do. It's not quite the challenge of a ditty to sing along with. But this is great.

"I'm a writer, you monsters! ... THIS is my uniform."

What would YOUR "I'm A Writer/Artist/Actor/Dancer/Composer..." song or ditty be?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In the Flow: Water and Words

This picture was posted by Dosho Port recently on his blog, Wild Fox Zen. You might remember that I mentioned Dosho as the person who did the "Zen Howl" writing CD with Natalie Goldberg. One of my favorites: inspirational and influential. It was actually Dosho who gave me the words which helped me in my initial re-commitment to writing as a priority. This picture is from Dosho's regular bike route - beautiful! He had a lovely post, too, which I encourage you to check out.

photo by Dosho Port
I've been missing being on the water. Unfortunately water and my laptop don't mix well, so, while I'm in the throes of completing the memoir/creative nonfiction book, I haven't been on the water. I've been doing more swimming recently - because that takes less time than paddling/kayaking, and all the preparation to get equipment together and drive there and all that goes with it. I miss it. I've been putting kayaking and lake pictures as backgrounds on computers.

Then today I went to the Ridgefield Kayak website and was excited by a couple of paddles they have on their calendar. I will make time to get on the water. Then I was catching up on the blogs that I follow and there was the above picture - with the really nice Zen translation - and, water. Yes. Beautiful.

I have a couple of days before I have to turn in my availability for August for one on-going assignment I'm doing and I think I'm going to make sure to leave some time for going on the water. I have made a commitment to have the editor-ready draft done before the end of this month (along with something else I *have* to do) - so I think August will include some paddling.

Paddling and writing.

Writing and paddling.

And working and teaching.

My writing is flowing like the water right now and I love it. I want to maintain that momentum. And I need to get into the wet flow, as well. (Sorry, my MissFit paddling friends: my Tuesday nights are taken or I'd be in the Hong Kong boats with you!)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quote via Jessica Morrell

This came up in my reader today from Jessica Morrell's blog, The Writing Life Too:

"At least twice a week, I pause in the rush of work and have a meeting with myself. (If I were part of a team, I’d call a team meeting.) I ask myself, again, of the project: “What is this damn thing about?” Keep refining your understanding of the theme; keep narrowing it down." ~Steven Pressfield (Do the Work)

Thank you.

Yes, think I'll call a meeting with myself.

There's This Crazy Thing I'm Excited To Do

If you've been following my blog for the past four years, you've probably seen me mention PICA's T:BA Festival. T:BA is Time-Based Art and it's usually written with the year, such as T:BA:08, T:BA:10. I've been attending the festival since 2004 and T:BA11 is quickly approaching. I just had to schedule some work for the first half of September and was thrilled to discover that most of the T:BA11 schedule of events are up online.

So I selected everything I wanted to see and all dates of those that had multiple opportunities. I saved my list, checked and circled and figured out how to maximize what I see and still be able to work enough hours that week.

Yes, I can do it. And I'm excited.

Besides the next Ten Tiny Dances performance - which I always love: it's always new and fresh and fun.

The very topmost thing I'm looking forward to is not included in my Immersion Pass. I have to buy a ticket separately. It's only being performed once. And there are only 25 seats.


But now I know when the tickets will go on sale and I will, yes, arrange my schedule so that I can call when they open. Because I Have To Be There.

The thing I am excited about and absolutely have to see is Mike Daisey's "All The Hours In The Day" - which will be premiering here in Portland at T:BA:11. And I must be there. Yes, "all the hours" means all 24 hours. Mike Daisey will be performing a live 24-hour monologue. I want to be there for all 24 hours.

I have planned my work schedule so I can be there.

I must.

I will.

Below is an interview of Mike Daisey. They talk about "All the Hours in the Day" at about 50:03 minutes (out of 57). The rest of the interview is worth watching - but if you want to see what I'm excited about, there it is. Friends and my partner look at me a little skeptically - and they're not surprised. No one has offered to join me and that's okay. This is for me. And I can't wait.

There is a nice section about writing and thinking about half way through. There's a clip from the infamous New York City walkout (about 80-90 audience members of a 350 seat house stood up and left during one performance). Mike Daisey talks about keeping it fresh, keeping it live, keeping it real. And a bit of how he got there. And feel free to jump to 50:03 or so to see what this 24-hour monologue will be about.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Momentum of Writing Still Amazes Me

I had one of those very long jobs today. A long job where I'm on alert to whenever I'm needed. Where I'm surrounded by people and some of them don't have good boundaries. Where I have to know where not only the clients I'm interpreting for are, but where everyone is; what mood their in; is a situation escalating and could become a physical danger (yes, even for me). So I'm "on" even when I'm not interpreting - not actively engaged in the thing I'm there to do.

And I've tried different things when I'm there. Reading a novel (limited success and I have to keep in mind where I'm going and I won't take some things I'm reading); I tend to read deeply and one of two things can happen - (a) is that I get absorbed in the book and am not monitoring my surroundings and miss my call to action (be that being needed to interpret or needing to move to a new location to avoid being caught in a fight or mishap), or (b) that I have to keep rereading and will have to later go over everything I read because I am keeping it at a more surface level so I can monitor the space. So, reading a novel is not the most successful thing for me to do. Reading a magazine or sometimes short stories is easier: Poets & Writers, The Writer, work well - I can scan and circle information and make notes and it's easy to be interrupted and not lose my place and to maintain one eye and ear on the room around me.

And writing. Not so successful. Sometimes I can do a little editing - if the piece is near ready. Again it's a matter of focus and/or content. Some of the material I've been writing would not be good to have someone come along and look over my shoulder, or for there to be an urgent situation and I leave it on the counter and someone takes it. No. Therefore my creativity has been at a bit of a loss in this setting where I gone on an infrequent yet regular basis. Not a good fit.

But today! Today was different. I've been in the mode of writing on the memoir/creative non-fiction. I'm nearing the completion of the book (although I keep thinking of more that I could put in it; yes, more and more and more - I see where my partner goes with her paintings sometimes; when I tell her "don't touch it; it's perfect" and she does, sometimes losing the thing I love; but it's her painting - and now I keep thinking of other possible stories and I also think it has to end somewhers -- maybe I do just need to plan a second book). I've been writing on the book a lot - be it a revision of a story or a new one I haven't writte before, or all of the massive editing.

Last night I typed up a story for the Lit Star Training workshop that is due tomorrow. I thought it would be around 2000 words. When I was ready to shut down the laptop and head home I was surprised to check the word count and it was 3850; and I wasn't done.

I printed what I had when I got home and took it with me today. When the client was busy doing something else for an extended time, I got out my notepad and the printout and - voila, I wrote more. And more and more. I finished the story (I think). What I had printed out was 11 pages at 1.5 spacing. What I wrote by hand was another 15 pages and I'm guessing will be another 5-7 pages when I type it up.

It just kept going and going - like the Energizer Bunny of writing. The words flowed and I was able to monitor the physical space.

Writing momentum begets writing momentum.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Razor's Edge for 7/1/11: It's 1975

The turning point in the book I'm writing is 1975. It was an important year - a time of hope and anticipated change and independence. Maybe.

So, I've been spending time and thought in this era, and I thought I may as well share the experience.

The videos below are from 1975: Talking Heads, "SOS" by ABBA, and the trailer for "Jaws." There's a link below those to watch "Pinball Wizard" by The Who, if you want a bonus video to go by; embedding of that video has been disabled so I can't post it here.

The prompt instructions for this week: watch each of the videos. At the end of this post is a photograph of regular people in 1975. Use these characters - one, a pair, all of them - in the time (or place, if you'd like) and write like it's 1975. You can do it. Give yourself 10 minutes; 15 if you're on a roll.



"Pinball Wizard" by The Who

Now: select someone from the picture below. 
Start with ... 
"Today was a momentous day. I finally found a way to ...."