Monday, November 30, 2009

Five Minutes


It is not unusual at this time of year to contemplate gratitude. Much has been written about developing an attitude of gratitude and the benefits. It seems the more we practice something, the more we become convinced. This cuts both ways. Insecure artists, which I think are the majority and not the exception, know where I am going with this.

This Thanksgiving I hobbled around on an aching knee that limited my mobility. By Friday after the usual holiday cooking marathon Wednesday and Thursday, I hurt and I was not feeling great.

However, I ended up having a laid-back holiday in spite of the discomfort.
I did a lot of reading and pondering, two favorites that often are on the bottom of my list.

After two days of grape seed, ice packs, ibuprofen and msm/glucosomine/chondroitin …much better today. I love Mondays...new week...new beginning.

I was planning the have to do this week vs. can be put off which led me to wonder when I would get back to my walks. When would I ever be healthy and fit again…and it went on from there. I miss my walks, the new neighborhood has failed to engage me. Now I am between the Gulf of Mexico and the Grand Lagoon, my lack of interest has to be about me, not the place.

I hobbled a bit, did a few stretches and put on my walking shoes, grabbed my camera and decided – I was going to shift my focus, take a different path even if all I managed was five minutes.

Doing and not doing are decisions, each weighty and with consequences. Beliefs, fears, and doubts can be appropriate but must lead to change, new insights, some type of cognition and growth. Even if you decide to never, ever do that particular thing again.

If no change comes then these thoughts are traps. Looking at the big picture may be daunting... go for small victories. Take five minutes…listen to music, listen to the quiet, doodle, practice deep breathing, write a sentence of your novel...get up and move. Reinvest in your dreams and aspirations. Recognize failures for what they are – the result of effort and direction, energy invested, and it provides experience and opportunities to succeed.

I arrived at the launching dock to meet the caution sign and it was correct. The dock was shaky and shifted as I walked out. And what I wanted, the lagoon, was just beyond. I wobbled and shot some pictures and then sat. The pictures are not what I imagined in my mind but I will try again with another camera...another day...in one of those Take Five times.

Try replacing one negative and/or doubt with something new. Come on you have plenty of other downer thoughts, relinquish just one. I use,
I am a writer on the road to being published. It's exciting and I am going for it.

You are welcome to try it.

Of course I’m listening to Dave Brubeck’s Take Five as I write.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Memories

Remembering
brings me
closer.
And reminds me,
I may never
find you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Please remind me

As I posted on Facebook - Because the looming deadline to submit a partial to the agency was not stressful enough AND I am obviously unhinged- I have been rewriting/editing/reworking the damnable pages.

Been a marathon 36 hours or so.
I have never been happy with Chapter Two and various passages throughout.

The passages to me were almost there but not quite. Not good enough.
Seemed to throw the flow off.

Chopped 6500 words.- more pleased with the work now.

Additonal Thoughts: Sometime later today or early Tuesday morning, the final rewrite will be finished. Then I will upload the partial to the literary agent’s site. This is the agency I sincerely hope will eventually accept me as client. The agency represents a range of books including literary fiction, young adult and paranormal, all of which I am interested in writing.

I am finally at peace with the submission. This is the first time I have felt like this about any book I have written. I can read it without stumbling over cadence or questioning word choice or POV. It is as seamless and polished as I can manage. It has been an evolving work for more than a year.

As I was editing and rewriting for the umpteenth time, I wondered how many hours were invested in this project. A lot – that's all I know. But it’s been interesting. I learn more with each edit and revision.

I’ve been studying the market, reading agents, editors, and publishing house blogs. It’s grim out there. Although romantic fiction continues to survive, the competition is fierce. Shelf space and shelf life are tough to come by but not impossible.

I am not sure I have one voice which has troubled me. Then I realized I write like I paint- all over the place- in different voices- different schools and hopefully I will develop a truly unique style. But like my work, I am a work in progress. I am finally smart enough to see how far I have come and to understand “making it” is a state that occurs in many different ways.

When I first decided to approach an agent I was somewhat ambivalent about the novel. Now I feel and think differently. It takes a lot to offer your work to an objective and business-minded world.

Success or failure are intimidating options. Every writer dreams of hitting with their submission. That acknowledged, I am a dreamer by choice, by design, but I am also capable of being a cold-hearted realist. Published authors with a track record are being turned down; it is a tough market.

My realistic goal is to have the partial read and make an impression. To have the agency acknowledge I have talent and ask to see more of my work and at some point I will make it.

I am happy to be at this place. And I have far to go and no guarantees.
But it is the journey as they say. Please remind me of my goal when I get the blues.

Friday, November 20, 2009

someday i will untie myself

What a surprise to find this and a pleasure to read.
A comment following In A Day Gone posted by Hetro

someday i will untie myself
from this rock, love of you,
and i will no longer be lashed

i will rise through the water
no longer dropping down
seeing the sun translated through ripples

as i am bourne skyward
i will feel the nearing warmth
gravity reversing its hold to propel me home

and when i break the surface
the question will be answered:
can i breathe the air of the new day?

or have i grown gills
and now belong to the depths
tied to this rock, love of you


My thoughts - Good imagery and mood in this -
seeing the sun translated through ripples
gravity reversing its hold to propel me home

I particularly like the ideas and feel of Stanza 4 and
The use of gills and depths in the final stanza is stark and perfect.


Only suggestions I have are minor –
in stanza one-
delete love of you,and maybe change lashed to bound
to read

someday i will untie myself
from this rock
and i will no longer be bound

Last stanza
delete rock
and flip now and belong
to read

or have i grown gills
and belong now to the depths
tied to this love of you

This is one of the aspects I love about poetry – the range of voices, emotions, and interpretations.
BTW feel free to critique my work. I hope the blog will become a place to discuss and share writing. Thank you Hetro.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A road map from Mahatma Gandhi

In college I met a student pursuing a degree in journalism. Through several conversations I learned she was an avid reader and her passion was to be a writer. At some point I asked to read her work. She told me she didn’t do a lot of writing but did do a lot of thinking about it. She shared a paper awarded high marks and considerable praise by a professor.

Several things struck me. At this time I was pretty nomadic. I had few possessions – my cats, my paints, and several boxes crammed with writing. I could easily move – except the piano that I still have not learned to play. Does Jingle Bells and the first stanza of Across the Universe (painfully slow) count? A story for another day. I did not think of myself as a writer. Writing was something I did. I couldn’t Not write.

I think often about how we define ourselves and by extension our lives. To my way of thinking, she was and is by definition a writer. I too, have spent considerable time ruminating before I get the words to paper. However, as a writer if publishing is the endgame then you must write. I hope that for most writers to be read is the goal, to share, to contribute somehow. For me at least hence and now, it is the reward - the reason I write. There is joy in writing. I get high when I am writing…and I can go through ridiculous lows when I am not. Still working on that.

Mahatma Gandhi words:
Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny.

In applying this to writing, I acknowledge his application was intended as a philosophical and practical application for living one’s life. In using it in writing be warned – it may become a part of your philosophy. Whoopee!

As a writer. I pay special attention to:
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny.

Write in your heart, your mind, and believe. If you think you are a writer, you are. Writers write- basic rule. Seems simple but it has taken years for me to move that privilege, that necessity, to the top of my gianormous To Do list. Enjoy learning. It is wonderful to see how far I have come – I can read earlier attempts without laughing hysterically or dying a tiny death from embarrassment.

Take the initiative, make writing a habit. Value the act. Be an active participant in your destiny.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In a Day Gone

In a day gone
I am found wandering.
Darkest day to the darker night,
Silence calls, a sweet summons.

There is a gentleness
That is you
Just beyond my touch.

You are close
In a sigh
In a dream.
I am found wandering.

Time that you were mine, complete.
And when you are gone
All too soon.
There will be a place,
No one can travel.

I was here,
Only to be me,
To be you.

Where is it dreams go?
That we begin,
That we end?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17

As I posted on FB…this day is tethered to my heart – an emotional yo-yo. What a day it has been. Test results for my husband came back better than expected. Huge relief. Much good on this day, some reflections. Author Bruce Lipton tells a story in the intro to his book, The Biology Of Belief, how as a young boy his first encounter with a microscope set his life course in a profound way. I was thinking about how we are impacted by design and accident and the way our lives unfold. It can be a microscope or fairly predictable and clich├ęd – live by the sword, die by the sword. But for many it is not that direct, more gray and ill-defined.

I consider myself intuitive and emotional then logical, in that order. Perhaps the most important concept I have grasped in a long time is the idea of fluidity versus stasis. As a long time observer of people, one of the things I noticed is how easily we conform to unspoken yet rigid societal definitions. As we age, we fall into step even more- our physical limitations reinforce our roles. I have witnessed too many begin down the path of aging in their late thirties. With each decade they slip more into the realm of believing their time is passing or past. Too many are defeated before they begin.

I have been shy for as long as I can remember. Somedays I hide it better than other days. I love people, don’t like crowds. I prefer to relate one-on-one or in small groups. Learned early on it was: unladylike to talk about one’s accomplishments, needs, disappointments; bad manners to be assertive; and unforgivable to be angry. I learned my lessons well. But being intuitive and emotional by nature, occasionally my heart spoke. That’s a story unto itself.

I’ve spent some time learning to navigate between assertive and aggressive and working on typical anger issues that come with gender stereotyping. With great trepidation, I am putting myself out there. Reaching out to people, networking, hanging out, opening up. Taking risks. Or actions perceived as risky by me, i.e. Trusting someone with my thoughts, emotions, at the risk of rejection, ridicule, or being misunderstood etc. And believing in myself as much as I believe in other people’s efforts.

The benefits have been a day like today - An invitation from the literary agency I consider top notch. My realistic hope is that they see something in my work that persuades them to ask to see what I continue to write. Several people reading my work and liking it and telling me. Some awesome communications from a friend who wanted to talk about the work! Yikes! An offer to possibly collaborate on a project – very exciting. A call from one of my favorite artists to tell me good changes were coming. My great writer friend Jeanie and my wonderful daughters have offered the deadline crunch read. And my very dear friend Melinda has signed to follow my blog. I got tears in my eyes - my first and only follower! So glad I have been stretching…what lovely days ahead.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Great Spirit and Romance



As a young girl I was devoted to the Lone Ranger and believed that Tonto was the best friend anyone could have. Through movies and television came a cultural stereotyping including the cowboy hero as well as the American Indian. I went on to fall in love with every cowboy and rare Indian heroes presented in Wagon Train, Rawhide, Have Gun Will Travel, Bonanza, and western movies.

I spent a good deal of my time playing cowboys and Indians. When I wasn’t Bell Starr, I was an Indian. I lived in my Indian outfit. My Aunt Ruth made Indian outfits for her four sons, the Dalton Boys (yes, really) and for me and my Aunt Brenda, who was my age. The first photo is me playing with my dollhouse. The second picture is David and Odell in the cowboy outfits Aunt Ruth made them.

I was captivated by the Great Spirit and the American Indians. I think playtime led to my first pondering about the meaning of life. The Great Spirit was magical and there were times when I wished fervently that spirit could hear me. The Great Spirit never seemed any more astounding to me than Christianity or later Buddhism. Conceptually the manner in which the Indians’ religion was presented seemed more real even though magical. I suppose this was because of the cohesiveness of the message. The reverence for all things, animals, and nature and that in taking life one must acknowledge the gift, the debt, and the belief that this all had meaning.

Years ago my family rented The Last of the Mohicans which is now one of my favorite movies. However, I did not want to watch it and only acquiesced because the popcorn smelled really good. Through my readings I had come to disdain the violence and the suffering inflicted by both sides as history took its toll. As a matter of personal choice I usually avoid violent movies. I find it difficult to watch and hear.

I fell in love with the movie, the music. Then, I read the book – I liked the movie much more because of the love story and the changes in the storyline. It took me awhile to figure out why I loved the movie. The hero Hawkeye does many things but primarily he spends the entire movie rescuing Cora and Uncas is compelling as well. These guys are strong, valiant, and sensitive – I was hooked.

Was I surprised! I consider myself a modern woman and I was a goner! What was going on? Admittedly, Cora is no faint lass but this is the stuff of fantasies. A gorgeous, half naked, long-haired, strong Indian carrying my willing self off into the night. It’s the lure of magic/mysticism. After great sex (is there any doubt?) there is the magic - the deep and thoughtful hero whose love is made more intense by his beliefs, who is bound to everything in a profound and intense way. It was the merging of my very young days, the adolescent and adult life all mixed up emotionally, intellectually, and culturally, and I am enjoying it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

my tiny eureka moment

In Eureka! Scientific Breakthroughs that Changed the World, author Leslie Alan Horvitz, posits that sudden insight may come as a part of the process of study and thought, not directly but indirectly. Be it as varied as Charles Townes’ laser technology or Alfred Wegener's Theory of the Continental Drift, she describes the Eureka moment as a "sudden flash of light." Only a few chapters into her book what interests me is her discussion of the creative process (I believe is innate in all people, but is certainly more heightened in some). She describes a steadfast belief that they were on the right track no matter how elusive the solutions. That certainty intrigues me. Ideas and concepts in the abstract lead to the concrete but what happens along that road? How is the brain wired, what is thought and reason and emotion – and is there connectivity between others?

It occurred to me that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience speaks to this as does an entire section of books on my shelves. It dawned on me how long I have been searching and moving in this direction. My little, tiny, Eureka moment was twofold – I am not alone in this – and perhaps there is a palpable connection between us, a connection that is communicated and heightened in creative pursuits. The sense of knowing that I find most complete and satisfying is when logic and emotions merge.

I read back and forth between books and added Flow to the current reads. And in this flow of things it is no surprise that The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton is in the stack. Hmmm… Listening this evening to Celtic Requiem. This night finds me between the lagoon and the Gulf - a good place.

Friday, November 13, 2009

beginnings and routines

Changes can be unsettling but the challenge and promise of change is exciting. 2009 brought plenty of changes. Now I am in the little house, still unpacking and sorting. There are treasures I carry no matter where I go, both material and abstract. I am in my new home with my prints, electronics, photographs, robots, plants, cats, family, my words, books, paints, purple paraphernalia and dreams.

Looking at my van Gogh print of Starry Night is one of my comforts no matter where I live. I am reminded what my brother Skip once said about the painting, "It is what the stars look like through tears." A resident memory - one of many good conversations thru the years about art and writing.

I have finally begun physically writing the paranormal story I have been writing in my head for several years. I am beyond fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue my dreams and hooray - the chase is on again...feels like home.

Current reading list The Biology of Belief, Eureka! - Scientific Breakthroughs that Changed the World, and In the Spirit of Mother Earth - Nature in Native American Art. Listening to Etta James - Time after Time.