Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Bit O' Fog

There is a pasture that butts up against our back yard. The barbed wire fence separates us from a lovely herd of cows and the occasional flock of black birds. The fence, however, does little to actually separate us from the birds; they decide on their own to feast predominately in the cow field.

Usually, just beyond the pasture, one can see the road. You can even hear it when the appliances are silent. Today, however, there is nothing beyond the field. Just a white wall of fog.  The trees stand out in stark, black contrast to the mist, creating the illusion of a void beyond.

Last week I had to submit two screenplay ideas for my writing class. I am not a screenwriter. I've tried it before and, apart from being an interesting experiment in dialogue, I felt completely out of my element. Floundering. Needless to say I'm feeling that way in this course. Unlike my own project, I can't just decide screenwriting isn't for me this time. I have to persevere for seven more weeks. This week is the big challenge: we begin critiquing each other's ideas.

Now I've critiqued and had critiqued creative writing before. It's part of the degree and I don't mind it. I appreciate the constructive criticisms and have learned to brush aside the, "I just don't get what you're trying to say" comments that pop up with some regularity. This time, however, I'm a bit apprehensive to check my comments. I feel a lot like the cow pasture today: appearing substantial and yet, just beyond me, is a white void of nothing.

Am I feeling insecure? You bet. Too bad this didn't come for my Insecure Writers Support Group post. Alas, insecurity doesn't wait until it's needed for a witty post or inspirational diatribe. It's here, lurking, creeping around like the mist beyond my doors and windows. Tapping against the panes. Curling around the trees. Is it a big deal? No. I'll get a good grade as long as I follow the procedures and create according to the rubric. Thankfully, we're not being graded on Oscar-worthy ideas. Still...I'm a writer...and the prospect of "you suck" in any capacity (even one that is not my normal genre) is a bit unnerving.

What shall I do? Considering the critique is part of our grade, I'll march myself over and begin critiquing other people's work. Then I'll ever so hesitantly,creep over to my own post and see what others have to say. Keep your fingers crossed! Hopefully the fog clears in time for others to see that there really is something on the other side of the trees.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Frosting


Leaves and vines and flowers in porcelain. The red stain: clay. Tried making a mold; didn't work.

White is glaring, examining, purifying. Find it imposing, comforting, all rolled into one.

Such a pain to clean, white. Holds stains with sticky fingers. Reminding, remembering, always there.

Without the remembering, we'd vanish; without the reminding, we'd forget.

There was frost on the bird feeder yesterday, all jagged edges, a haze of frosting on a verdigris cake.

Learning to live with glaring white is illuminating.

Resting, knowing, it holds reminders, memories like a string of porcelain vines...

*******

It's raining...another grey day. Callou! Callay! Off to write a paper on Voltaire and outline two short films. I'm taking a screen writing class this term. Yikes! Talk about stretching myself as a writer. Good experience, I tell myself. If nothing else, it will teach me to communicate in far fewer words. Heaven knows I love those big word counts!

Happy Wednesday,
Jen

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hello World

Good morning! This post is to announce that I have NOT fallen off the face of the earth (though with my current classwork load, I must say the thought is very desirable . How have you all been? Did you enjoy the  holiday season: Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year?

The New Year has been grey here, grey and lovely. I've always loved January. It's as if the entire world has wiped the slate clean and has agreed to start over. The leaves are rotting under the trees; the tree branches are bare bones and trembling. We have a wind chime out in our yard that has taken to ringing madly in the slightest breeze. Not quite sure what to make of that!

Writing has delightfully taken over my waking dreams. Though I sit in the corner of the living room (once occupied by our magnificent Christmas tree, Denzel), reading, reading, reading literature for my classes, my mind continues to wander back to the notebooks sitting on my kitchen table. Why the kitchen table? Why not my writing desk in my writing room? Ah, if only I could answer that one. There's just something about writing at the kitchen table that makes me feel as if I somewhat belong to the world at large. When I sit in my writing room I feel secluded, hibernated, squished away into a sort of cloud-like oblivion. Don't get me wrong: sometimes this is WONDERFUL and I nuzzle into my battered sofa and relish the rain that lashes at the window of days like that. But usually, I'm here, at the table, the reflection of the back yard in my screen.

What's been niggling at your mind lately? A new story? A new character? A whole troop of harpies?

Oh, and about that Christmas tree, yes, we DO name our trees every year :) Makes it more personal, you know.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG - A New Year is Here

Today is the first Insecure Writer's Support Group meeting of 2013. This brain-child of Alex J. Cavanaugh has been a wonderful way for writer's to share insecurities, seek encouragement, and offer inspiration. If you're not already involved, get thee to the Insecure Writer's Support Group page and join! You have nothing to lose but your insecurities :).


Insecurities will grow like grass if you let them. They sneak in, sprout up, attempt to choke out the flowers. If left un-managed, leaves will gather at their roots and slowly the fertile soil will begin to suffocate. What's left is a vast expanse of perfectly good land gone to seed and left to lie dormant under a carpet of creeping weeds.

However, there are ways to get rid of the weeds. The grass will cower to a lawn mower, a scythe, a sharp pair of scissors. Some methods take more work than others but all will give the desired end result. And, once those pesky weeks of insecurity are trimmed down to size, something else will emerge...


...the path you once walked down so confident and full of ideas. It's still there, waiting under the shag, half forgotten. Tentative steps will reawaken your once brilliant dreams. Never fear the weeds that gather around your plots and characters. Trim them away and, bit by bit, they will come alive, take your hands, and pull you along. Your confidence will rise and you'll soon find yourself planted deep in the fertile soil of your writer's imagination.

The grass and weeds are the doubts and insecurities that this world flings at us daily: what if I'm not good enough? What if my ideas suck? What if mom/dad/sister/aunt/uncle/grandparent/friend/colleague is right and I'll never get anywhere with my stories?

So what?

The mower, the blades are the voices of other writers who have gone before, who remember that the path is always there, waiting for rediscovery. You never lose it; sometimes, you just forget the way.

This year, my goal is to keep the weeds pulled and the grasses cut back. To keep the path clear of the debris of well meaning (and some not so well meaning) voices that whisper "It would be better if you just go pursue a 'real' career and leave this writing junk alone." This year, I aim to follow that path to its end. 

What will I find?

A cross-roads of course: new directions and new stories down which to ramble.
_____________________________

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your holiday season was filled with friends, family, and the awareness of every blessing you possess. Best of luck in this shiny New Year! Here's to many stories written and many new paths discovered!

~ Jen