Thursday, June 28, 2012

Emptying the Well

Two things:

We are officially moving this weekend AND the forecast is for 104* temps. Really?!?! Every other time I've moved it's rained. I guess I shouldn't complain so much about the rain, huh?

During my writing class, the professor posted something very profound and I wanted to share it with you. We've been discussion freewriting and one lady said that she always thinks about writing but puts it off. When she thought about this fiction writing class, she said, "Oh, it starts soon. I'll hold off on the writing and save up my energy for the class."

Waiting for something better. For a more opportune time.

And my professor said this:

"Writing is about emptying the well, all the time, every day, all of it, not holding anything back, not saving anything for later. The well fills up from within."

If you never empty the well, the water grows stagnant. Nothing can drink from it and the waters eventually dry up. It can never be refilled with fresh water. The old water just sits there, breeds mosquitoes and fades away.

Think about it.

Happy weekend!
Jen

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gone AWOL

Afternoon all!

I know I've been out of touch and I know I've been missing out on a lot in the blogsphere. Last week was finals, I had two papers to write, ended up falling victim to a legendary theatre curse, and have been attempting to move into a new house (which, by the way, must be done by this Sunday! On top of everything else, I started my new semester today. I'm thankful for this accelerated program but really, five months without a break does wear and tear on a person!

Sadly, this blog has suffered. My participation in your blogs has suffered. Ugh. That's about the best I say about it!

What's been going on with you guys? Anything exciting? What about relaxing? Vacations, meditations, novels written? Forgive me being so curious. Being cooped up with school work and moving boxes will do that to you :D

I'm going to have to take a wee bit of a break for a while, at least until we get settled into the new house and I get the hang of these two new classes (one of which is my fiction writing workshop).

Take care, everyone! seriously, I miss you guys and hope you are all doing well.

All the best and do keep in touch!
Jen

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hi guys and gals! I have time for a quick post this morning and I thought I'd give a little challenge I ran across a go. Torggil over at Torggil's World did a post on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly going on in his life and issued a challenge for others to do the same. I did some thinking and thought, "Sure, why not!"

So...here goes!

THE GOOD:
We are moving in two weeks to a rental house! It has a yard, a fire place, a gas stove, and lots of windows :)

THE BAD:
Our new place has all appliances EXCEPT a fridge. So we need to find one in the next two weeks, preferably one that is cheap and in good condition.

THE UGLY:
We are moving in two weeks to a rental house! My current place of residence will soon be packed sky-high with cardboard boxes and I won't be able to find a thing for at least a month!

Now, he mentioned that we could also do this for one of our characters. Here's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for one of my favorite villains:

THE GOOD:
I've successfully imprisoned my brother, reclaimed what was rightfully mine, and have sent my enemies into hiding!

THE BAD:
That blasted prophecy keeps getting whispered about. The one about the return of the rightful heir and the restoration of my brother's house, blah, blah, blah. I swear if I hear one more person mention it, I'll set them on fire!

THE UGLY:
That prophecy I mentioned? Yeah. It's coming true.

Got any Good, Bad, and Ugly to share about you or one of your characters? Give it a go! And if you do, wander on over to Torggil's blog and let him know!!

Have a very happy weekend! May your Goods out weight your Bads and Uglies!
Jen

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cup of Tea



When I hear that phrase "Cup of tea", two things immediately spring to mind. One is the scene in "My Fair Lady" where Eliza is learning to correctly pronounce her words and she goes over and over the phrase "Cup of Tea". Only she says it more like "Cuppa Tay" which, of course, drives Henry Higgins bonkers!

The second thing I think of is the marvelous James McAvoy as the adorable Mr. Tumnus in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" talking to Lucy Pevensie:

"How would you like to have tea with me?"

I find the things that inspire people to be interesting. What inspires me: a cup of tea, an old musical, a faun wearing a red scarf and carrying a battered umbrella: may not inspire you. What inspires you, I believe, is in direct correlation with what you create.

I'm a dreamer. I prefer to read fantasy and ghost stories and cozy mysteries to literary fiction or romance. That's just me. You may be (and probably are) the opposite. Regardless of what we write, we are inspired by something.

Words inspire me. Gorgeous, tip-toeing words that sigh and pause and tumble out of mouths and books. Harsh words, growling words, biting, hacking, clawing words that tear at the soul and demand action. More than anything -and I know this isn't 'kosher' in the writing world- I love adjectives. I do. Describe something as "billowy" or "starlit" or "cumbersome" and I'm head over heels happy to envision it.

But I do admire a Twain or a Hemingway who could make worlds appear with just the basics. I mean, come on. HAVE you read "The Hills Like White Elephants"?

You know when you're in the presence of something inspiring. Something catches in your throat or tugs at your heart. It may be a word or an object or even the thought of a memory connected to a piece of music. Whatever it is, do you pay enough attention to yourself and your surroundings to know it when it comes?

One of the things I love doing most (when I have the time) is turn on Pandora radio and sit with my computer or a notebook and wait for inspiration to hit me in the form of a song. Most times I'm not just sitting and waiting for it thought; I'm doing school work or house work or some other type of work. Out of the blue, the strains of something half familiar and half exotic float to me. I have to stop what I'm doing and find out what it is. And sometimes, I get this idea, you see. This snatch of a story. And I have to write it down. And the song title. If I ever want to recreate the moment I have to know the song title.

What's the point of all this Wednesday morning rambling? Simple. Pay attention. Not just to the moment or the hour or the day. Not just to your breath or the simple things in life that we normally take for granted. Pay attention to that deep part of your soul, the part that seeps and writhes and gushes when that twinge of inspiration hits it.

And whatever causes that twinge, remember it. Capture it. Take advantage of it. The more you do, the more you'll recognize it when it comes again.

Tea?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fortune Favors the Bold

This quote is attributed to Oscar Wilde, but, then again, a lot of quotes are attributed to Oscar Wilde! I do like to think that it was he who said them all. Such a witty character, don't you think? Oh to be a fly on the wall in the tea parlors and bars and drawing rooms where he hung out...especially considering he kept company with the likes of Bram Stoker and Arthur Doyle.

Ah, but I digress....

Boldness! Such a powerful admonition. Be bold! Be fearless! And yet, timidity is safer and fear creates a blanket of warmth that encompasses us, makes us stay home where it's warm when the wind and rain are lashing at our windows. What does it mean to be bold? Well, to me it means to step out and do something that scares YOU. It doesn't have to be monumental. You don't have to go climb Everest or sign up for skydiving. You just have to step out your front door and see where your feet take you (and if any of you suddenly had a quote from Tolkien pop in your head, you're welcome ;))

My point is that if you don't seize a moment, it may never come again. It there is't a moment, then make one.

Someone once wrote that we can't wait for the perfect conditions to write; we can't concern ourselves with getting it right. We just have to get it written. Whatever "it" is, get you butt in that chair, hammock, sand dune, or flying carpet and write! Even if the story doesn't make sense right now or it came to you in a fit of indigestion but you just can't seem to shake one of the characters out of you conscious thoughts. Be bold enough to follow where he's leading you. See what it's all about. The worst thing that happens is you find another dead end but have more experience under your belt. Another stamp on your writer's passport if you will.

A bit of news: we're moving in three weeks! Yes, I know, we've only been in our loft for a year. We love the courtyard and the uniqueness of the lofts but the time has come to move on. A house went up for rent a mile from us and we took a gander at it a week ago. we loved it! It was so peaceful and had all sorts of little elements in it we've wanted in a place to live since we got married: fireplace, gas stove, A YARD!!!, a window over the kitchen sink. I know that last one is a bit odd but I never said I was normal ;)

I was nervous to move, afraid to sign a lease with someone I didn't know for a house I'd only looked at twice. And it's a HOUSE. This is serious stuff! True, we're still renting, but I really feel as we are taking a first step into a larger world (I'm just full of quotes today...this ones for all you Star Wars fans out there. Say it like Obi Wan would and you'll get it). We stepped out, signed that lease, and got the house.

What's the lesson today, kids? Be BOLD! Step out of that comfort zone that you've built up around your head, heart, home, imagination. See where the road will lead you. Just remember to keep your feet 'cause as Uncle Bilbo said, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. If you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to!"

Happy Monday!
Oh! And speaking of fortunes...



xo Jen

Friday, June 8, 2012

Picking up After Yesterday

I fell asleep last night before I could
Put yesterday back in its place.
Magazines and books and cups all clamoring for my attention;
Yesterday is still there on the floor.

There are clothes that forgot to be folded,
Dishes that forgot to be washed;
Cushions still outside from conversations,
Even the cat is in the same place - on the table, in front of the window.

Little fragments of yesterday
Surround like spots of life
- my life -
They become my today as I smile and slowly reclaim
Yesterday from off the floor.

__________

Happy weekend everybody!
I hope you have a safe and wonderful few days.
And remember: even a mess can turn into a piece of writing :D Inspiration is everywhere. Now go and find it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group - The Need to Roar



I've been thinking a lot about this month's IWSG post. This is a rather odd statement considering I've been AWOL since April. I'm making a slow comeback, but in the midst of the joy of returning to blogging on a regular basis, I've found an underlying issue. This issue is what has prevented me from plowing through; it has caused me to stop, start, pause, start again. I have a feeling that I'm not alone in this. This insecurity is quite simply named FEAR.

FEAR that I don't have anything of use to say.

Now I know I have a LOT to say. I've been told I am rather loquacious (only not in so polite of terms). I have ideas bubbling over in my brain, enough to fill at least three lifetimes of constant writing IF each of those lifetimes began with the writer writing feverishly from the age of seven to one hundred and thirty seven. So what do I mean?

You see, I am surrounded by an AMAZING galaxy of bloggers who always (and I mean ALWAYS) have something of worth to say. They are always there with words of wisdom, links and lists and references galore. And I've tried that. And I've failed.

Harumph.

This bothered me. You see, I'm in school studying English and Creative Writing. I plan on pursuing a graduate degree in Writing. I want to TEACH writing. The pressure is there to be brilliant. And yet...the brilliance seems to zip past me faster than a wildebeest being chased by a cheetah.

So I decided just to post at random. You know, the "I walked through my garden today and stepped on a nail" post. It mattered to you but, eh, not so much to everyone else.

Balance, please?

What to do? A little soul searching. Another break. A trip to Tibet to practice transcendental meditation with half starved Sherpas. Ok, so that last one is exaggerated...a lot.

Then...
....
....it hit me.

That age-old question that all writing students, writers, and prolific journal keepers get asked at least 457 times: WHY DO YOU WRITE?

I write to be heard. I write on the off chance that someone, somewhere needs a bit of encouragement to keep going. I write because I feel like my stories are needed. This is why we all write. We have a story inside us that is desperate to be heard. To dig further, why do I want to become a college professor? Not for the paycheck, that's for sure. No, it's because throughout the past seventeen years I've been in and out of colleges and only once -ONCE- did I have a professor who truly inspired me, who challenged me to do the best I could be, and who actually took the time to talk to me after classes about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. He was a bear of a man; reminded me of Ernest Hemingway. His favorite expression was "Hell, no!" and when he said it, it scared you. He wasn't a writing instructor. He wasn't even an English professor. He was a history professor. And he terrified everyone in that class but me. He's the reason I want to teach.

To write, to teach to be heard.
To inspire someone else to take up the pen after you.
To encourage someone who feels like they have nothing to offer such a vast world already filled to over-flowing with ideas.
To tell tales that simultaneously move a reader to action, to tears, to laughter, to anger.

We write to roar. And it is our voices that will carry us through the times when we feel like we have nothing to post, nothing to say. When we have no word count to show for a month's worth of writing prompts.

Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop feeling like you have nothing of use to say. You DO!

So go on. Find your voice...

...and ROAR!




Wander on over to Alex Cavanaugh's blog. The Insecure Writers Support Group is his brainchild. Oh, and he's one of those fabulous bloggers who always (and I mean ALWAYS) has something to say!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Musings and Tomatoes



There are tomatoes on the bushes. They aren't very big, mind you, but they are there. The bees know about them. So do the birds but thankfully they've decided that they prefer the massive amounts of bird seed I continue splattering across the courtyard.

Tomatoes are all we have so far. Well, there are a few beans. Spindly little things, more like fingers than beans. Long, skeletal with black nails that reach out to grab your pant leg as you scuttle by in the dark. Who knew beans could be so creepy?



Over here, nothing is too creepy unless you count the fact that at night you can't see a thing in the dark corner of the walled garden. There used to be solar lights that lit up like little moons. Now they hang there...limp and lifeless but adding character in the daylight. A suggestion of festivity. We've even seen honey bees over here. The honey bee everyone says is disappearing. Whenever I see one I tell it to stay, tell all its friends, pack in as much pollen as it can handle. The idea of a world without honey bees is...well...let's not think about that today, shall we?

We have bell pepper plants and jalapeno pepper plants; carrots, cucumbers, and a pathetic little scrap of an eggplant that has just ever quite made it above two inches tall. The only ripe veg I see around here lately are on a collection of mugs I found at Goodwill for two bucks:



Tell me: if I drink Earl Grey from a tomato soup mug does it make it any healthier?

I wonder...

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Only Happy When it Rains

Blame my Irish ancestors, but rain makes me happy. That soft pattering of water slapping the pavement, the roof, the leaves of the drooping mint makes me stop whatever I'm doing, run to the nearest window, and gaze outside with the open mouthed look of a dog at a bar-b-que. Sure it's a pain to walk across the street to pay the electric bill. Yes it's frustrating to drive across town to get a chiropractic adjustment. You get wet. Your umbrella is never wide enough and even if it is, the moment you get in the car and try to close it you realize you might just as well have left it in the house.

Then again, you get compliments on your wellies. You realize just how convenient it is to have really short hair. You come home to a house that is a bit brooding, so full of creative energy it may just burst leaving you and your cat without a roof and an intimate knowledge of just how wet a rain storm can be.

Yes I love the rain. It makes me happy. I get depressed when there's too much sun. The distant rumble of thunder, the swish of tires on passing traffic, the hushed whisper of rain drop, brick courtyard, and potted mint.

Good day sunshine? I say let it rain.

Friday, June 1, 2012

After a stormy night...

Well good morning blog world! Loooong time not chat! Please accept my apologies for that. Many of you have been wonderful in stopping by and I do hope I've responded to your comments via email. If not, it was because your comment didn't come with an email address. Know that I've read each and every comment since the A-Z Challenge and that I have appreciated every one!

I admire all of you who continue to blog, day in and day out, regardless of how crazy your life gets. My school schedule has literally taken over my life and I am ashamed to admit that it muscled its way into the forefront of EVERYTHING I do! Embarrassed am I...

Anywho, enough of that. How ARE YOU??? It's June already and I am super happy about that. You see, I'm cold blooded and as soon as the temperature gets above 80 degrees and stays there for a while I'm a very happy reptile :). Memorial Day weekend saw us a bit further south on the GA coast, back in my old stomping ground of Savannah, and can I tell you how great it was to be back home? Have you ever been somewhere (lived there or just visited often) and every time you go back it is as if a warm shawl gets draped over your shoulders and everyone you meet says "Welcome home"? That's how it is when we go back to Savannah. I know we'll end up back there one day. Just waiting for one day!

I did discover that I had forgotten to send in one of my old college transcripts to my current university. I forgot because it was only one class that I took at this particular college and I figured, eh, it won't matter for this degree. Seems I was wrong! In fact, my second to last term had me scheduled to take that very same class. Hmmm, says I! I've already had that one! SO, if all goes well, I should finish school -as in GRADUATE with that loooooooong pursued Bachelor's degree- in April of next year rather than June. Yippee! Then it's on to figuring out what to do about Grad school. But that's another tale entirely!

Aside from all of that, I have been writing a little, I've been creating a little. Mostly I've been recharging every chance I get. Unplugging for a while (well, as unplugged as one can get doing school online every day!) has really helped recharge my creative batteries and made me excited to get back into the blog-sphere. I've missed you all and look forward to catching up on your fabulous lives!

Happy Friday, Happy June, and Happy, Happy Weekend!

Promising not to be such a stranger anymore,
Jen