Friday, April 28, 2017

Reflections in the Bottom of a Cup

The box of Blue Willow moved with us. An entire box. When Mom phoned to ask if I wanted "some" of my grandmother's dishes, I assumed she meant a couple of plates and a cup or three. Try a dozen dishes, half a dozen bowels, four coffee cups, one coffee mug and a coffee pot.

We downsized when we moved; there was no room in the inn for more dishes. Honestly, I think the box was labeled "STORAGE" but so much of what was supposed to be stored came with us and vice-a-verse it wasn't a surprise to find yet another case of something we didn't have room for.

It was when I opened that box of Blue Willow that nostalgia hit me. In the chaos of the move, in the frustration of finding boxes of things we didn't need and not finding boxes of things we did need, I pushed back cardboard and found memory. There were reflections in the bottom of the cups that whispered, laughed, and spoke late into the night. I started to cry, standing in the middle of the hallway that was now our kitchen, while the cat looked on in condemnation.

The dishes were in tact. Not a chip in them that wasn't already there. It wasn't the state of the dishes it was the memories attached. My grandparents were in there. So were my parents. Everything about my past incensed from that box. Even my love of "Murder, She Wrote" episodes wafted towards me. Jessica Fletcher's Blue Willow dishes make an appearance in every episode set in Maine. Mom and I watched the show when the episodes were new. I now hunt them down on DVD to watch on rainy days.

As I carefully unwrapped them I marveled at how a stack of dishes could move me to tears. The thought bubbled up that things must carry part of us with them and we, forever, carry throughout our lives a bit of the things we've used, owned and collected.

Do inanimate objects soak up DNA? Could a genetic code for memory be found between book pages or in linen closets? I didn't need tea leaves to read; my past was written in porcelain and it's one that I reread with every clink, every steep, every sip.

------->>>>>------------

Have you ever come across a box of items that punched you in the gut? Things that conjured up smells, sounds, people long gone? Have you ever cried over a box of dishes?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Live the Life Creative 002 : National Stationery Week

Did you know that today is World Stationery Day? Until two weeks ago, I didn't even know there was a day (or an entire week for that matter...guess what? It's this week!) that celebrated writing letters. I happened upon an Instagram post by Sarah Becvar and she informed me of this lovely idea! By the way, click over to her Instagram account. She does delightful embroidery on note cards. If her work doesn't make you want to pick up  pen and write a note, well, you may want to check your pulse!

I LOVE writing letters. A friend of mine and I exchange letters once a month. I have another friend who's suggested if every my fingers itch to send a little post I should send it to her (and I really, really need to do that!) 

There's something beautiful about receiving a card in the mail. A real, honest to goodness card. You know, a piece of paper encased in an envelope with YOUR name and address HAND WRITTEN on the front. Something that's NOT a bill or a flyer for a new appliance store or dentist opening up in the neighborhood?

Yes. 

The first thing many of you might ask is, "Why? Why in this digital age should I waste what little time I have to sit down and write what I could text?"

The answer is simple: how many times have you received a text and thought, "Wow. How nice it was for that person to take 22 seconds and send me a terribly impersonal message with misspelled words, missing vowels, and some strange amalgam of symbols and consonants that, to some, constitute 'text-speak'?"

I'm going to guess never.

Yes, it's nice when someone sends you a, "Hey, how are you? I've been thinking about you" text. It's so convenient to shoot someone a message to make sure you're meeting at the cafe at 11 instead of 10. Email is fantastic for work! It keeps introverts like me away from telephones, *shudder*. But if you really, really want to catch up, sit down, pull out a nice piece of paper, a lovely pen, and write down your thoughts.

There's a war being waged against handwriting. Many of you are probably aware that public schools have stopped teaching handwriting (or cursive as we old folks call it). It's been said by folks with heftier degrees than mine that it's pointless to have children learn how to write in cursive. Pointless for them to learn the mechanics of their own hands and arms. Pointless for them to see their name, their NAME, written in whatever gorgeous or scrawling or chicken scratch or abstract or calligraphic handwriting that comes out through their fingers.

Ugh. Really? Handwriting is extremely personal. I can pick out my mother's handwriting, my husband's handwriting, even my father's handwriting from a stack of papers a decade or more old. 

No one recognizes your typing. Because it all looks the same. Are you the same as everyone else? Are you? 

No. I didn't think so.

And THAT'S why we need to promote handwriting. It MATTERS. It's individualistic. It's an art form. Heck, it's ART. And art, if I may straddle two soapboxes at once, is also under attack at a national level. The National Endowment for the Arts is being scrutinized and a band of highly unenlightened individuals would rather pump funds (funds that come from YOU and ME, mind you) into such marvelously glorious funds such as defense spending and siphon it out of the funds that encourage education, art, music, and science. In other words, let's take away the nation's ability to promote beauty and creativity, free thinking and individuality and hand weapons of mass destruction to the uneducated masses.

That's scarier than a telephone to an introvert. Heck, that's scarier than forcing this introvert to go to a rave on New Year's Eve!

Forgive the rant. The point of this entire post is to say this: support the ARTS! Write your memoir. Pen a story. Paint a picture. Take out a piece of paper and send your mother/aunt/uncle/best friend a note that says, "Hey! I think you're important enough to spend a few extra minutes writing to and a few extra cents to slap on a stamp and whisk a lovely bit of papery goodness your way."

When you do something with kindness, love, and passion that's art.

Even something as little as a handwritten note.

Happy National Stationery Week and World Stationery Day!








xo

PS: How do YOU feel about sending and receiving letters? What about handwriting? Did you know the National Endowment for the Arts was under attack (again)? Do you disagree with me and think that he NEA SHOULD be de-funded? Come on writers, let me know what you think!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pilgrimage of Place 002 : Let the Places You Come from Envelope You

I'm a Southern writer, born and bred in the deep south state of Georgia. Growing up, I couldn't wait to leave, head someplace more sophisticated and less “backwoods”. I wanted to travel the world, see the wonders, and leave this old, boring place behind. As of this writing I'm one year shy of 40 and I've lived in Georgia all my life.

While I have traveled a little, most of my time has been spent in the South. A few years ago, my husband and I left our home in Metro Atlanta and relocated to Savannah in the Deep South. We love this city, its people, and all the quirk that comes from being a port/college/military/tourist town. We meet people on a daily basis from all over the world! So many different cultures are alive and well in Savannah and there are plenty of places to go to “escape” the South, if we feel so inclined. The funniest thing to me is that although we're in the deep, old South, we are two of the very few people we know and meet who are actually from the South. So many of our friends and coworkers, the people we meet when we go out, are from other regions and other countries.

I've made peace with my Southern heritage. I'm not at all sorry that I've stayed here and I'm happy to be living in the Hostess City of the South. My husband and I both have wonderful jobs and we live 20 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. We're happy to sink our roots deeper into this rich, swampy earth.

There are myriad cliches about the south and her people. As I like to say, cliches are cliches for a reason. Come visit me and I can show you every single one of them - well, except for the guy who describes the tornado. I'm not sticking around for that. All those redneck jokes and Civil War horrors aside, the South is filled with beauty, majesty and magic. I've heard it compared with those old places of fairy tales and I must agree. Here things are larger than life, the trees reach the clouds and their roots wrap around seeds and bones. It's beautiful and deadly, serene and horrible, sacred and gritty. We're an old people, old souls, and we're slow. We're fierce and welcoming. We drawl and we dawdle and we sip and we rock. We're the cliches and the unexpected, the front porch tall tales and the backyard BBQs. We're haunted and backward and modern. We are lost and found..

The South is about memories, thousands of them. And stories. It seems that we're all born storytellers. But the only ones I can share with you are my own. I grew up Southern, I live Southern and I'll probably die Southern.

And you know what? That's perfectly fine by me.

We are where we come from. I know that makes some of you cringe. It used to drive me crazy! I didn't want to be Southern, not until I examined just what that really meant. Where you're from peppers everything you do. It oozes out of your pores and shines a light into the undergrowth.

Well I say let it shine. Don't hide your regionality or your nationality. Be yourself and let the places you come from envelope you. If they are painful, move through them, find the lessons, and move on. If they are delightful, breathe a deep hallelujah and step forward. If you're unsure, you moved around, were shifted and unrooted, that's OK too. Find the bits you can use and knit them into your own story.

Because that's really what this is all about.

Telling your own story through the places you've been in order to help pave the way to the places you're going.

Namaste,


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Commonplace 002 - A Day Late

This week slipped right by and right on into Sunday before I realized I'd forgotten Saturday's post!

I spent my off days outside painting, something I haven't done in years. It's such an interesting way to think : in terms of color and structure. I'm used to photography; I can compose photos either in the lens or later when cropping. Taking paint to a canvas, however, is an entirely new adventure. I've painted before but never with the intent to understand composition and color combining. It's fun and I'm enjoying experimenting with colors and shapes.

Saturday was spent meeting friends and family members who breezed into our city for weekend visits. This resulted in a lot of laughs and some really good food.

Today was spent hiking through a marsh-lined national park, getting my tennis shoes all muddy and letting snails crawl along the contours of my outstretched palm.

I finished reading my book for April. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach was spot on in the description of India. Honestly, it wasn't the best book I've read this year but I'm glad I finished it. It was completely different than what I'd anticipated and opened a new world of fiction for me. I've never been one to read a story that felt like real life without much else happening. In other words, the plots were everyday plots with frustrating, very human characters who pretty much didn't work through a lot of their issues but just moved through the book and out of it either by moving away, passing away, or going into hiding. The only reason it held my interest was because of Moggach's descriptions of India.  I spent two weeks in India 8 years ago and there isn't a day that goes by that something doesn't remind me of that baffling, beautiful, heartbreaking, bizarre, frustrating, magical land. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Now I sit listening to a record that portrays the seasons in music and nature sounds waiting for a forecasted thunderstorm. We've had amazing weather here the past two weeks but I'm getting a bit tired of the sun. Call me crazy but I love rainy weather. I love the sun too but my muse needs the rain.

Happy Sunday! I hope you had a great week.
Here's to a Marvelous Monday,
xxoo

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Things We Carry - 001

So many things travel with us throughout out lives.

Not just the tangible; there are ideas, dreams, fears and thoughts. There are beliefs and prejudices, stubborn falsehoods and wonder tales.

All of these make up who we are, have a hand in steering us.

This is a topic I've touched upon briefly, several years ago when first we moved from Atlanta to Savannah. It started with a box of china and has now extended past the items on my shelves and burrowed deep into the existential.

I want to explore these "things", unearth them, turn them about in the daylight. Like an archaeologist I need to examine the good, the bad, the baffling; I want to take  microscope to the macrocosm that surrounds me.

Every person is filled with stories, carry things with them from long past and recent memory. It's these things, these pieces that shape us.

I find that utterly fascinating.

xo







This is the third part of a new, four part posting schedule. To read more about all four weekly series, click HERE. And thank you :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Life Creative 001 - Reconnecting

 
I've been an artist my entire life. My first works were coloring book pages with random lines drawn through the pictures and sheets of paper with very delineated skies and grass with great swaths of empty space in between.

Notebooks were torn apart just so I could glue the pages back together with my own covers made from cardboard and construction paper. I made catalogs with magazine pages, sketched nature scenes with colored pencils, and wrote stories of imaginary worlds and journaled all our vacations.

Photography, jewelry making, soldering, free-hand embroidery, felted soap: yep, I've tried it and, for the most part, enjoyed it! The problem is, none of them took.

The problem is, I got caught up in well-meaning people telling me I "should" be doing this or I "ought" to be doing that.

So I did. I pursued some art forms professionally and got - how do we say this nicely - disenchanted with the business. I got caught up in goals I thought were MY goals and let my artistic side slide away.

The trouble is, it was always there, lurking, haunting. It would whisper when I was working or when I was at home, on my off days, working on what I thought I "should" be working on. After all, THAT'S what everyone expects me to do, so I should do it. Right?

Bleck.

Tired, old subject. I've posted about it a hundred times, but bear with me. There's a reason for that, kids! Some are lucky; they are born with an innate knowledge of what road they should walk. Some find it earlier than others. Then there's those like me: we have to learn the hard way. We have to walk round, and round, and round in circles, treading the same, tired paths until we finally, FINALLY, get tired of picking thorns out of our toes.

"Hn?" We say. "I should probably stop this foolishness."

Why do we do that? If I knew, I'd be a psychiatrist and retire in a few years to the Bahamas. But what I do know about this subject can be summed up into two points:

1. None of the time you've spent walking in circles or doing the same old, same old has been wasted. There are lessons to learn, stories to mine, and art to be created from even your darkest, most desperate places.

2. It is never, ever, ever too late to get on the right path and begin.

When you hit that path, you'll know it. You'll find an energy you didn't know you had. You may need to do a little soul searching. Or a lot, as in my case. You may have to take up yoga, join a kick ball team, change your diet, drink nothing but juice for a week. Whatever it takes to get to you own, personal enlightenment.

Your journey is YOURS. Find it, enjoy it, and make the art you were born to create! Pour yourself into it, your experiences; your joys, your triumphs, your disappointments and regrets. All those dumb decisions or stupid choices carry light. Find it and let it shine out of your fingers and toes and your voice.

Never let those missteps drag you down. Climb higher and turn them into your masterpiece.

xo







PS: Were you one of the lucky ones? Did you find and stay on your path early? Or are you, like me, just now getting your toes back in the water of your own river? There's no right, wrong, or better answer. Take a deep breath. GO.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pilgrimage of Place 001

Smell and sound have a way to transport us to the past. Memory is married to our olfactory glands. Science explains away the mystic, but I feel there's a deep resonance between place and the spirit. The places we've been, that we've inhabited, imprint themselves upon DNA and move with us through time and space. Every now and then, something crops up. A snippet of scent raises it's head above the blowing yellow blooms of rapeseed and instantly we're back.

Back. Where?

To the place we first remember as HOME.

Yesterday we sat in the courtyard sipping when our neighbor fired up the lawnmower, bursting through our silent Sunday with a sputtering, coughing engine. Ah well. We do live in an area with old houses and not so grand yards.

Then I smelled it: gasoline and cut grass. Back, back I catapulted to early summer evenings when Dad would get home from work, put on a pair of shorts and ride the mower round and round until the yard was conquered. Gasoline and grass become precious incense. From fresh cut grass I progress to vinyl and chlorine because when Dad started cutting, the pool was already open.

Petrol and greenery; plastic and pool chemicals:

Frankincense and myrrh to a child.

Mom still lives in the house where the pool once was, where the lawnmower once stowed in the back shed, gathering rust and spiderwebs each autumn and winter. I can sit on the back porch and smell it again, when the breeze shifts and the ice clinks in my glass just so. The hum of the air conditioner becomes the old pool pump and I wait again, eagerly, for Dad to come home, mow the lawn, and make waves we could ride on an old, orange float.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Commonplace 001

Happy Saturday to you!

The sun is shining and the birds are singing. It's definitely the day before Easter. I've always loved Easter: the promise of new life, resurrection, the dawn after the long, dark night. I've also always enjoyed the other side of Easter: the chocolate bunnies, the egg hunts, the gathering of friends and family for feast and conversation.

Spring officially arrived two weeks ago but the weather decided to show up on the tail end of last week. Oh has it been delightful! The courtyard looked a mess after the hurricane of last autumn and the ME/Fibro flare-up induced neglect of winter.

Thanks to the gorgeous weather, I've been able to potter about outside and get the courtyard mostly in order:


THIS is where I've been working on my "off" days. This little cafe table was given to us by my Mom after one of our moves. The arm chair was found at the end of our lane. Someone sat it out for the garbage pick up...or for people like me who just LOVE to take someone else's cast offs and turn them into favorite belongings! It's got a wee hole in the seat but it's nothing a bit of fun, decorative duct tape can't fix!

How has your week been? Your writing? Your creative ventures? My mind has fully awakened to the new birth and resurrection themes of Spring this year. I've been sketching ideas, doodling dreams, and seriously shifting some priorities. There are so many ideas running 'round in my head, I get dizzy at night trying to sort through them all! And, of course, my mind has not been at my day job in quite a while. I knew I had to sit down, take stock, and figure out what I really wanted to work on and what needed to go back on the shelf for a bit longer.

Such a refreshing last few days!


Plus, it's nice to get all of THAT out of my head and onto my computer!

I wish you all a wonderful, relaxing Saturday and Easter Sunday. However you celebrate, or if you don't celebrate at all, I hope you find yourself surrounded with friends and family, or take the opportunity to breathe deep and enjoy some much needed solitude.

Pass the ham, won't you?

xo 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hooray, It's Friday!

Good morning! It's Friday.

We made it :)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned, even if your plans look a lot like this:


Easter is Sunday. For those of you who celebrate, I hope you have a fantastic day of worship, of family and friends (and, of course, some excellent food!) We'll have a quiet one with a small ham dinner for the two of us and quite possibly a trip out to the beach. There's a sunrise service out at the pier but when Sunday is your husband's only day off, you don't make him get up at 5 a.m....not even for the sunrise over the Atlantic!

How has your week been? Was it filled with all the things you love to do? Crafting, writing, running, weaving, reading, eating, coffee drinking?

Whatever you do, whatever you love, whatever your passion and whatever your joy, I wish you all that and more this beautiful, Easter weekend.

Cheers!



A Peaceful Interlude


Friday, April 7, 2017

You Don't Need No &#^$*!@ Filters!

Like me, you probably know at least a handful of people who could be described as having "no filter". They say whatever comes to mind without regard to how it sounds or who it upsets. If they don't like something, they say so. If they don't like you, they let you know. At times I've wished that I could be that way, especially when someone is inexcusably rude to myself or someone else. Then again, I'd rather NOT be that way. I'd rather not get the negative reputation that comes along with not pausing to think about what you say before you say it.

photo found on Wikipedia

Conversation filters in our day to day lives are good. When it comes to our writing, however, word filters can get in the way. According to creative writing professor Jacqueline Hesse, filters can detach the reader from the story and cause him instead to observe the character.

In an article on The Writer Magazine's website, Professor Hesse gives several examples of the filters writers most often use. I'm as guilty as they come. In my current draft, I've been flipflopping between first and third person POV, trying to figure out which feels more authentic. Something I've noticed in both POVs is that I use a lot of words like said, thought, felt, remembered, recalled, saw, etc. Something about them bothered me. I knew there had to be a better way to communicate the action of a scene without constantly resorting to tired old words that pull the reader away from the story. Thanks to Professor Hesse, I now know what they are called and why they're such annoying bugbears.

~~~

#1. He walked to the abandoned building. He saw something shift in the shadows. Somewhere he heard something creak. In the distance, he heard the cry of a crow that made him jump. He slowly climbed the steps of the old porch and looked in the dirty window. He wondered at the neglect and remembered his parents house and how time took it before it took them.

Now then. Try this one on for size:

#2. He walked to the abandoned building. Something shifted in the shadows. Something else creaked. In the distance, a crow cried and made him jump. He slowly climbed the steps of the old porch. The windows were filthy with neglect like his parents house. Time slowly took it before taking them.

~~~

This may not be the most perfect example; I'm still learning exactly when a filter word is a filter and when it is and isn't necessary. You can see the difference though. This difference caused quite the Ah-HA! moment for me. The first example tells us what the main character is up to. The second example, you guessed it, SHOWS us. Glory be! Do you know how long it's been since my writing mentor first said, "SHOW don't TELL!" and I have been wondering just what the HECK she meant by that!

Eureka, kids. I've found it.

These filter words obscure our vision. They cause us to watch the character and not be fully involved in the scene. When we remove these filters, our vision becomes clearer and we're IN the story. We experience the scene THROUGH the character rather than OBSERVE what he or she is doing.

Of course, there are times when filter words are perfectly acceptable and help rather than hinder. For me, the discovery of "filters" was exactly what I needed to help me move forward in my current W.I.P and finally understand that old maxim "show don't tell".

Don't tell me the moon is shining; 
show me the glint of light on broken glass
                                                                                                       ~ Anton Chekhov

To find out more, read Professor Hesse's entire article at The Writer Magazine.

~~~

TELL ME:

When was the last time you experienced an AH-HA! moment for your writing?

Do you lean too heavily on filter words?

Did you already know what these were and why they limp a story along or, like me, is this brand new enlightenment?

Have a marvelous weekend, Dear Readers!








Psst... The IWSG Anthology "Hero Lost: The Mysteries of Death and Life" comes out May 02!! To learn more, check out the Lost Hero website or click HERE to pre-order :)

Can a lost hero find redemption? What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Absent yet Accounted For

Good morning! Welcome to the April posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We gather throughout the blog-verse on the first Wednesday of every month to lend voice to our insecurities and to seek out and give encouragement. You can read all about the IWSG here and about its creator and leader here. Thank you so much for stopping by.

PS: I'm not participating in the A-Z Challenge this year but best of luck to all of you who are! May the Force be with you.

~~~

I've been absent from the online world for a while now and with good reason. Many of you know I deal with an Auto-Immune disease that comes and goes in flareups that cause terrible pain and debilitating fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, paranoia, et. al. Back in February, the flare-up from hell decided to come by for an extended stay. Needless to say, I did not invite it. It came in like an uninvited relative, ate all our food, and took up all the room on the sofa. One afternoon, after work, lying on the couch (because that was all I could do), I clicked on Netflix and started scrolling. I came across a couple of documentaries about food: how it's produced, grown, raised, etc. as well as what i can do to our bodies.

The details are in the documentaries but I will say this: I was bowled over by what many of the doctors and scientists said regarding our Standard American Diet (SAD). I'm not going to preach about diets or fads or ways to become someone who only eats basil that blooms on the second full moon of the year. What I am going to say is this: I changed my diet and I HAVEN'T HAD A FLARE-UP IN A MONTH. Not only did the uninvited relative get kicked to the curb, I tossed out his luggage and his dirty socks to boot. I started walking again and have energy. I've been able to cut back on my day job schedule in order to devote more time to feeling better and to writing.

Through this entire ordeal, ever since August of last year, really, I've been giving deep, unbiased, and unflinchingly honest thoughts towards writing. Towards my art in general. With my head clear for the first time in years, with my mental neurons firing on all flux capacitors, I've been able to weed out the vines that have been strangling my productivity and have started work on several new and exciting projects.

They are slow going but they are beautiful and I am excited.

You'll see a few changes here but nothing life altering. Then again, perhaps it will be life altering, for me at any rate.

The point in all this: that old adage "You gotta do what you gotta do" is true. Many people won't understand and they won't even try. Many will grin and nod and pat you on the head and tell you that's nice. You can shout it from the rooftops and give out advice until you're blue in the face and they still won't listen. But I'm going to let you in on a secret:

It doesn't matter what they think. It doesn't matter what they say. It doesn't matter what they do.

What matters is that YOU are true to yourself and your vision. Sometimes it takes a bit of radical self care in order to find that vision. For me, it was a matter of clearing the path of many years of weeds. Weeds planted by well-meaning people and by myself in one of my fits of "THAT'S what I should be doing" rage. I'm almost through, though, and the path is visible. It's narrower than I'd like. It isn't paved. It goes through the dark wood that whispers of goblin stories and strange tales. If I listen, I can hear the sea. There's magic out there and I'm ready and willing to go after it.

Will you give yourself the chance to get better? Will you give yourself the gift of getting better so you can fully realize the magic of the call that is on your life? Maybe you don't need physical healing like I did, but you may just need to take a step back and seriously reconsider where you're headed and why. Only YOU can make the decision that is right for you. There's nothing wrong with taking multiple paths; you've got to find the right one and many times that takes time. But once you know, once you're so full of YES!!! that you're about to burst, shake off the dust of those other roads, hitch up your belt and, like Bilbo Baggins, let out a whoop, a holler, and let the world know you're going on an adventure!

Happy creating, Loves.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Shifting DREAMS to GOALS

photo found HERE


Good morning!

Oh I feel like it's been years since last I posted. Sorry for the absence but it was an unexpected hiatus that I really, really needed. I'll post more about that on Wednesday. For now, I wanted to talk a bit about something that's recently sort of slapped me in the face: DREAMS vs. GOALS.

Everyone has dreams. I know I've had about a million and twelve since I was three years old. They've shifted and merged, been everything from "I want to be an astronaut" to "Can't I just stay holed up in my house and bake macarons?" Dreams have haunted me, taunted me, for years. I followed some and let many go. I fought bitterly for a few only to realize, much, much later, they were never meant to be. We've all had those dreams that float by and make us wistful. We've also all had those that made us vicious and try anything that came our way to achieve them only to have them end in nothing.

But what about those dreams that have always been with you? What about those quiet desires that have graciously bowed back to the rabid ones, the ones that weren't meant for us to begin with but that shouted and foamed at the mouth so that we had no choice but to run after them?

I've had a handful of those. One of them has come true. The rest are still there, quietly waiting.

Waiting for what?

That's the question that's been boiling on my back burner. What on earth are these dreams waiting on? I think I've finally figured it out. They're waiting on ME to stop daydreaming and to start doing something about them.

A goal is a dream with a plan, I once heard someone say. That's what I've been lacking. An actual, cohesive plan that charts doable progress from dream to goal to DONE.

Now, I'm not saying that making a plan is a sure-fire way towards getting everything you want. What I am saying is that if you take a dream and sort out just how YOU can turn it into a reality, you WILL make progress towards it. You don't know everything up front. You don't know what challenges will arise as you go. But you can have your road map and you can have an idea of where you're going and the best way to get there.

Start fresh this morning. Sit down and really think about what it is you really want from life. Whether it's something big or something small, what you need is a plan. Even if that plan is "Find someone who has done this before and ask them what I need to do", that is a positive step in the right direction.

For me, it's been evaluating what I want in regards to where I am in life and what dreams are more feasible for my current situation. That doesn't mean that I've let the other dreams go; it means I'm letting them simmer a bit longer, putting a bit into the pots as I can, but focusing my attention on those things that I KNOW I can work on now.

Little by little, but by bit, a mountain is made. Don't begrudge small steps. Step out and climb your mountain, even if you have to take it one pebble at a time.

Happy Monday,

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hero Lost Anthology Interview with Yvonne


***

Hello and welcome to another Interview with the Author featuring some of my fellow Hero LostAnthology authors. Don't forget, the anthology is coming to you in May! This week I'm interviewing Yvonne Ventresca who contributed to the anthology her story “The Art of Remaining Bitter”.

Jen (J): How do you feel about the need for darkness in stories to find the light?

Yvonne (Y): Part of what draws a reader into a good story is rooting for the main character and their ability to overcome struggles. That ties back to the concept of darkness and light. Without conflict, there would be nothing to root for. Sometimes it can be hard for authors to put our beloved characters in dire straits, but it’s a necessary evil. As Nabokov said, “The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.”



(J): Why do you think we feel an attraction to fallen heroes, and cheer for their redemption?

(Y): Ah, the inherent attraction to underdogs! Whether it’s the un-favored Super Bowl team or Rocky in the boxing ring, there’s something satisfying about hard-fought attempts at victory. The same is true for fallen heroes. If they were heroic once, we’d love to see them rise to the occasion again. It’s a way to live vicariously and to have hope that our own struggles are conquerable.

(J): For kicks and giggles: What TV show would your fallen hero binge watch on Netflix?

(Y): In “The Art of Remaining Bitter,” Sylvia dreams of becoming an artist, so she’d binge watch Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting.”



***


Thanks so much, Yvonne, for taking the time to answer my questions AND for sharing the cute memes. I particularly love the Bob Ross one :) Make sure you stop by Yvonne's website to learn more about her and her work; also, click over to the Hero Lost Anthology website to read about Yvonne's story and all the stories featured in this year's Insecure Writer's SupportGroup Anthology. Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hero Lost Anthology Interview with Olga Godim



Hello and welcome to another Interview with the Author featuring some of my fellow Hero LostAnthology authors. Don't forget, the anthology is coming to you in May! This week I'm interviewing Olga Godim who contributed to the anthology her story Captain Bulat.

***

Jen (J): Why do you believe the concept of a “hero lost” is relevant to our times? Does the idea of a “fallen hero” appeal to society as a whole in light of the current social climate? If so, why do you think we feel an attraction to fallen heroes, and cheer for their redemption?

Olga (O): For me, “lost hero” and “fallen hero” are not synonymous. A fallen hero is the one who turned to the dark side. Or perhaps, he has always been on the dark side, a nasty thug, so to speak, but one of his actions inadvertently benefitted good people, hence: he’s suddenly lauded as a hero. I’m not interested in those and I don’t understand the attraction some folks feel for the “fallen hero.” A bad guy is a bad guy.

On the other hand, a hero could be truly lost, when nobody can find him. Either he doesn’t wish to be found and hides or something happened to him. In either case, he disappears from public view. Such situations are fascinating to me. I want to know what happened and why.

Sometimes, it is an illness or a simple wish to live his life away from the limelight. Other times, it could be something more sinister.

I explored just such a situation in my own story. My hero is lost in the physical sense. Nobody could find him for 25 years. My protagonist is not that hero at all. She is a Finder, hired to find the lost hero.

(J): Do you think that perceived heroes (in real life and in fairy tales) should uphold their position as heroes regardless of personal challenge? In other words, if a hero has an important role to play still, not just “I saved this place or that person once upon a time”, do you believe that person is responsible for continuing their heroics or should they be “allowed” by society to fade quietly into the background?

(O): I think that you need to perform a heroic deed, to display outstanding courage in the service of others, only once to be considered a hero. Nobody could be such a hero all the time. It’s not feasible to maintain this level of self-sacrifice long-term.

There is a different kinds of heroics though, a quiet kind. When someone lives with a terrible disease, for example, and tries to maintain her dignity and kindness to others, no matter how hard it becomes, that is real heroism because it lasts, day after day. And nobody celebrates this hero. Nobody wants to know about her courage. It’s not glorious. It’s grueling.

(J): Lost heroes could be perceived as anti-heroes or could descent into the realm of villain. Were you tempted to allow your hero to do that? Was there ever a moment when you considered letting your fallen hero fall to the “dark side”?

(O): No. I’m never tempted to make my characters anti-heroes. They can have doubts and fears. They might lie and cheat. They are not ideal persons, but I can’t write about anyone I actively dislike. For me, an anti-hero is cruel and greedy, and I hate such people. I must sympathize with my protagonist, otherwise I don’t have a story.

(J): I’m a hard and fast believer in the need for villains. Without villains, we are unable to truly understand the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” and the war that has raged in every story since their first telling. How do you feel about the need for darkness in stories to find the light? Are you a fan of fallen heroes who DO become villains? And if your fallen hero was to become a villain, what might that look like?

(O): Learning to write villains was the hardest writing lesson for me. I don’t think I actually mastered it because I don’t understand the villains’ motivation. Why would anyone want to rule the world? It’s so much bother.

In our lives, true villains are extremely rare. Much more often, the obstacles in our lives arise from something mundane, someone else having goals at cross-purposes to our own. Think of two candidates competing for the same position or two persons competing for the same lover. One of those could behave in a less ethical manner than the other, but does it make him or her a villain? Or just more determined to win. Maybe from his point of view, he is a hero.

Alternatively, the adversity could be something huge outside our control, like weather (a hurricane) or landscape (a mountain). Those make excellent antagonists: they don’t need motivation at all.

(J): For kicks and giggles: What TV show would your fallen hero binge watch on Netflix?

(O): No TV for my heroes. They read! Besides, most of my characters live in fantasy worlds, which are somewhat quasi-medieval. No technology of any kind.  

***

Thanks so much, Olga, for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure you stop by Olga's website to learn more about her and her work; also, click over to the Hero Lost Anthology website to read about Olga's story and all the stories featured in this year's Insecure Writer's SupportGroup Anthology. Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hero Lost Anthology: Interview with Ellen Jacobson


Good afternoon!

I have another interview with fellow Hero Lost anthologist, Ellen Jacobson. Ellen is the author of the forthcoming story, "The Silvering." Ellen generously agreed to answer a few of my questions before she set sail for exotic locales. Seriously. She lives on a boat :D

Jen (J): Why do you believe the concept of a “hero lost” is relevant to our times? Does the idea of a “fallen hero” appeal to society as a whole in light of the current social climate? If so, why do you think we feel an attraction to fallen heroes, and cheer for their redemption?

Ellen (E): I like the idea that anyone can be redeemed and that even those among us who have done the most horrible and heinous things can repent, turn their lives around and contribute to society. Sadly, that probably isn't how it works in real life which is why it's so enjoyable to read about fallen heroes and the triumph of good over evil in fiction.



(J): Lost heroes could be perceived as anti-heroes or could descend into the realm of villain. Were you tempted to allow your hero to do that? Was there ever a moment when you considered letting your fallen hero fall to the “dark side”?


(E)I've been thinking about trying to turn my short story into a novella or novel. If I did so, I think it would be interesting to explore the temptation of the “dark side.” But it wouldn't be a clear-cut battle between good and evil, where my lost hero, Caestu, is making a conscious choice to align himself with evil. Instead, I can see him torn by his desire to lead a “normal” life and conform with what society expects of him, even if that means turning a blind eye when it comes to how his society oppresses others.


(J): I'm a hard and fast believer in the need for villains. Without villains, we are unable to truly understand the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” and the war that has raged in every story since their first telling. How do you feel about the need for darkness in stories to find the light? Are you a fan of fallen heroes who DO become villains? And if your fallen hero was to become a villain, what might that look like?

(E): My first reaction is that every good story does have some sort of villain, whether a person or a larger force of evil. I'm trying to think of a story I've enjoyed that didn't have villain, but I can't. Are there stories without villains? This is one of those questions that I'm going to keep at the back of my mind when I'm reading and dissecting how authors craft their stories.



(J): For kicks and giggles: What TV show would your fallen hero binge watch on Netflix?


(E): I don't have Netflix, so I'm not exactly sure what shows they air, but if I had to pick a series that my hero, Caestu, would binge watch it would have to be something to do with fishing (like The Deadliest Catch) since that's how he makes his living. Or maybe The Bachelorette. Caestu really wishes he had a wife and family. He's too shy to approach someone he fancies, so he would probably enjoy daydreaming that a beautiful woman would pick him to be her husband.

***

Thank you SO MUCH, Ellen, for taking the time to talk with me about ideas of good and evil, heroes and villains, and letting us learn a bit more about you and your character. To learn more about Ellen and her life on a boat, check out her blog, The Cynical Sailor. To learn more about her story, "The Silvering", click on the Lost Hero Anthology link HERE.

Thanks for reading!
Have a beautiful afternoon. I hope ya'll are warm. It's FREEZING here!!!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Writing Dark to Find the Light

Conflict is the basis of every good story. Whether the main character is at war with an opposing army, an evil wizard or his mother-in-law, it's the conflict that tells the reader to what end the hero is heading. Literary fiction loves internal conflicts: hero vs. himself, and I've read articles by authors which state that some of the darkest, most vile villains can be found hidden deep within our own psyches. Fantasy and science fiction, however, deal heavily with outward conflicts. Every hero has an internal conflict, yes, but genre fiction prides itself on plot driven stories that are thrust forward by bad things happening to good people.

When faced with a lost hero as a protagonist, I immediately began thinking of dark themes. Why? True, I do love a good Gothic ghost story, but I think the adjective “lost” points us to the shadows. Heroes shine; they are noble and brave and wear blue tights and golden capes. But if someone is lost, if someone is missing, there's the age-old story device of the “deep, dark forest”. Deep, dark anything makes me shudder, feel claustrophobic and immediately want to draw my sword and start swinging. I know many people who don't like reading about dark themes. They certainly don't care for monsters and wizards and fallen knights. They like tidy tales with happily ever after endings - and there's nothing wrong with those stories. We need those stories. We need to sometimes escape from the challenges and darkness of the real world and, for a few, shining hours, know beyond any shadow of any doubt that everything is going to be OK.

But when we want to go deeper, when we want to really tug at the veneer of life, we write dark. Why is that? Well, I think it's because when we set our fictional heroes up against a seemingly insurmountable foe – be it monster or memory – we are able to shine that proverbial light onto many of the issues that are present in our real world. Real life is tough. It's hard. There's a lot of crap that goes on, that surrounds us and presses in. We battle fear, we battle injustice; some of us battle chronic illness or worry for someone we love. These villains are real and we turn them into beasts with fangs and ax wielding murders.

Sometimes we even turn them into ourselves.


Our lost heroes aren't villains. They aren't perpetually clawing their ways through dungeons. They are desperately seeking salvation. Just like we all are. They go through hell in order to glimpse heaven. We put our characters through the ringer so that we can figure own way out of the dark forest. We write dark so that, as our characters find their way back onto the gravel road, we, too, can look up and glimpse the stars.

(This post is also posted over on the Lost Hero Anthology website. Click over to learn more about my story, "Mysteries of Death and Life", and to read about the other anthology authors and their stories. The collection comes out May 02 :D)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hero Lost Anthology: An Interview with Lesleigh Nahay

Good afternoon!

Sorry about the late post. I haven't been well the past two weeks and blogging got pushed to the back burner.

A little bit ago, I virtually sat down and had a chat with fellow Anthology author Lesleigh Nahay about lost heroes and other such topics. Lesleigh's story "Breath Between Seconds" will be published in the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life Anthology THIS MAY!  Lesleigh, welcome and thank you again for spending time with my questions.

Me (J) : Why do you believe the concept of a “hero lost” is relevant to our times? Does the idea of a “fallen hero” appeal to society as a whole in light of the current social climate? If so, why do you think we feel an attraction to fallen heroes, and cheer for their redemption?

Lesleigh : I think because we acknowledge that everyone is flawed, we are drawn to those circumstances where an individual can find redemption. Watching someone else rise above a fall gives us hope that we can as well, however slight or immense our falls may be.
But no, it can't universally apply to society as a whole, ESPECIALLY in light of current social happenings. People make judgments according to the experiences and the values they've been exposed to. If you live within some sort of metaphorical 'box', what one person calls a hero is what another person will call a villain.

(J) : Do you think that perceived heroes (in real life and in fairy tales) should uphold their position as heroes regardless of personal challenge? In other words, if a hero has an important role to play still, not just “I saved this place or that person once upon a time”, do you believe that person is responsible for continuing their heroics or should they be “allowed” by society to fade quietly into the background?

(L) : In a way, I think that negates the truer notion of what a hero is. True heroes don't set out looking for a way to prove themselves. More often than not, they are given the title because of an instinctual response to an unpredicted occurrence. That 'instinctual response' is one in which they instantaneously and without logical thought, put value on something other than themselves, and then reacted without thought to their own welfare or safety. If you read the news about Good Samaritan or 'daily hero' type reports, most of the time, they vanish as soon as their role is done. Most of those articles are on the behest of the person they saved, desperately wanting to know who their heroes are.

To force someone into maintaining that role, I think could conceivably turn into your next question, where resentment can turn to bitterness can turn to retaliation. Also, what right have we to demand that someone else constantly sacrifice themselves for us? At some point, all of us should be someone else's hero. Or at least our own.

Then, of course, there's those who take helping and saving others as their purpose in life: health care, social workers, police and fire fighters, teachers, search and rescue, military. But these aren't roles that are usually forced upon them, and they would call it civil service or their civic duty versus career heroism.

I think a commonality would be: If not me, who else?

That being said, I love the whole concept of SUPERheroes (I'm currently in my Batman shirt, Superman's hanging onto my fan cord above me, Wolverine- the Hugh Jackman one- sits in my front window beside Wonder Woman, and my bookshelf is covered in Funko Pop Mystery Mini figures). And that is a mix of psychological studies that do include Narcissism, unquestioned civic duty, pure good vs flawed good vs bad and evil, and a constant reevaluation of motives.

(J) : Lost heroes could be perceived as anti-heroes or could descent into the realm of villain. Were you tempted to allow your hero to do that? Was there ever a moment when you considered letting your fallen hero fall to the “dark side”?

(L) : No, not in her story-line. But she does question whether her actions are for the good side, or if the other side is truly the better one. And in trying to flesh her story out more in my first edit, I found myself on a tangent that began to play up her opponent. While, if I ever choose to make this into an actual novel, all those possibilities and background unknowns will make for some awesome revelations and twists, they began to outshine her to the point where she was disappearing completely, which lost the irony of her heroism. In a way, it could have turned her into the anti-hero. But it was important that she be the one readers have greater empathy for, so I rewrote it to align back with the original concept.

(J) : I'm a hard and fast believer in the need for villains. Without villains, we are unable to truly understand the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” and the war that has raged in every story since their first telling. How do you feel about the need for darkness in stories to find the light? Are you a fan of fallen heroes who DO become villains? And if your fallen hero was to become a villain, what might that look like?

(L) : I do love stories and film that make you both love and hate the villain, because it forces you to question what is good and what is bad and what is evil. There is no two, there's not even just three classifications. And it's not always so easy to come to a concrete conclusions about other people's motives and underlying force.

If a story is all happiness and light, what do you learn from it? What is the author trying to tell you? How does that help you grow at all? My own stories don't have much of Happily Ever After. As a reader, I want more than just entertainment and a happy bubble outside reality. If you look into the origins of Fairy Tales- and not the Disney-d versions- they weren't meant to entertain or marry off all the teens into fantasy-led loveliness. They were meant as lessons and a way to teach upcoming generations of what to be aware of. The world is not made up of purely good, and those who question the legitimacy of a situation are typically the ones who survive.

Not that my MC is purely good, but I can't think of a way that she could conceivably become a villain in her situation. Even if I made her a traitor or a spy, only a select few would call her villainous.

(J) : Finally, for kicks and giggles: What TV show would your fallen hero binge watch on Netflix?

(L) : Hmm. Falling Skies. I wonder, what would a fantasy world's version of Sci-fi be??

Thank you so much, Lesleigh, for spending some virtual time with us today. I can't wait to read your story! To learn more about Lesleigh, wander on over to her BLOG. To learn more about her upcoming Anthology story, click over to the Lost Hero website! You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram :)


Happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Faithful Gardener



Story is an integral part of my life. Not only do I write them, not only do I work towards a life fueled mostly by Story, I am passionate about the written word. I am also passionate about the tradition of storytelling, something our modern culture needs desperately.

Madeleine L'Engle lamented once that the word "story" has come to mean something that is false. You're accused of "telling a story" when you lie. "Oh that's just a story," someone scoffs when they hear a parable, a fable, a myth. It's said in such a way to cause derision. A shrugging of the shoulders, a turning away.

"We want facts!" Modern American's scream. What we really need is truth. And truth, my friends, is rarely found in facts. It is usually, mostly, found in Story.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes may be familiar to you from her bestselling book The Women who Run With the Wolves in which she discusses the wild woman archetype. I am in the process of reading Wolves for the first time even though I used to shelve it at a bookshop when it first came out in paperback. I knew then I'd stumbled upon something weighty, something important. It was not until now, some 20 + years later, that I find I am ready for it. I knew I'd found a voice I needed to hear. What I didn't know was how beautiful that voice resonates.

Dr. Estes is a lyricist. I discovered her poetry, quite by accident, in her book The Faithful Gardener. It is a lovely, rabbit hole moment: researching a novel I found a quote from Wolves. I went to order the book online (from Barnes and Noble, if you must know) and discovered this lovely little tome. So I ordered it too, on a lark, and was so captivated by the cover and the excerpt printed on the back that I dove right in.

My, my. What a plunging.

The book is told in classic fairy tale language. Estes talks to us from her memories as a young girl sitting with her "giant" of an uncle and learning the subtle and profound art of storytelling. Estes comes from both Hispanic and Hungarian bloodlines. Both have infused her veins with the fire of Story. Her uncle, whom she called Zovar, was a refugee from WWII. He'd seen unimaginable horrors. He'd fled Hungary as soon as he could to put as much distance between himself and those memories and to start afresh in a free world. It was Story that helped him through the nightmares; it was Story that gave him hope and new life. He clung to the old stories, the old ways of sorting out life. He also retained the wisdom from those ancestral stories that applied to mankind's relationship to the land. Or, at least, the relationship we SHOULD have to the land.

This book is a real find. Estes and Zovar captivated me from page one. It's short; I could have read it in one sitting had I not started it close to midnight. But don't let that fool you. It's not a light read. It carries a weight with it and one that is not lightly tossed aside. I can't wait to read it again, underline the wisdoms, take notes and let them trickle inside me until I feel I, too, can in some microscopic way, understand the start of what Zovar was trying to say. I long for Story and for those who harbor that exquisite gift of creating it. Word weavers are rare, a blip on the radar of authors and artists. They are the poets and the madmen; they are the refugees from physical terror and horror as well as the misunderstanding of modern society. They hunger for community; they thirst for the telling.

"Now surely," Estes writes, " amongst the most soulful humans ever created, especially those mad for stories, hard work, and the living of life, were the dancing fools, wise old rosws, grumpy sages, and 'almost saints' who made up the old people in our family."

I can only hope, in some small way through Story, I can become one of them too.

Read on,


Friday, March 3, 2017

A Pilgrimage of Place


This is a photo of a place in which I used to dwell. It wasn't perfect. We didn't own it. At the time it was home and it was all we thought we needed. There was a courtyard in which we gathered and feasted, two spots of earth I planted flowers and hung hammocks and trained roses. When it rained, the drops gathered in the uneven bricks, creating small lakes in which the birds would later bathe. We could sit underneath the little patio and watch the drops fall like mercury from the flat, poorly sealed roof. Windows opened through ivy, screen popped out and stray cats would appear in the living room. The kitchen - o the kitchen! - had a curved doorway out of brick, a floor of uneven slate, a bar, and more cabinet space, counter space, than any place we'd lived before.

We thought we'd be happy there for years.

Then the management changed. The air conditioning went out and we roasted at 85 degrees in the sweltering, Southern summer while being told there was "nothing wrong" with the unit. The outbuilding was rented to another tenant and we had to put up with strangers rambling through the gate at will, regardless of if we were entertaining friends or relaxing in the hammock. Palmetto bugs swooped in through the windows and fluttered from the exposed pipes while we chased them around with a flimsy flyswatter.

Perspective shifted. It was time to move on.

I grow homesick for this place of my memory. At times, I wish we'd stuck it out, fought for better air units and learned to live with the constant intrusions. Deep down, I know that's against my private nature. We left the loft and went on to another place before leaving that city for good. Each move, each shift has seemed perfect until reality sets in and the gloss of new found freedom rubs off.

Still...

...each of these places is a part of me. A part of my history. My mythology. I cannot go back but it is also impossible to move forward with taking into account all the places I've been. The road lies before me shrouded; I can see but a few steps in front of me. There are goals, there are dreams and I know in what direction I am headed. 

Still I carry with me every place I've ever lived.

Still I carry with me every place I've ever been.

This is part of an ongoing, personal writing project titled A Pilgrimage of Place : a Deeper Look at the Things We Carry. To read more, search the Labels "a Pilgrimage of Place", "The Things we Carry", or "Personal Mythology.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 2017 IWSG : Keep Working

Good morning! Welcome to the March edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you are unfamiliar with our gathering, or if you'd simply like to peruse the list of fantastic writers, click HERE and you'll be taken to the site and the sign up list. And while you're there, you might as well sign up and join us! You'll be so glad you did.

We are a group of writers who gather once a month to offer our insecurities to the writing world and/or offer support to those in need. We're all in this together. It makes the writing life a little less lonely when you know there are 230+ other writers experiencing the same highs and lows as you are. You really aren't alone :0).

***

There have been two months this year. We tentatively step into number three. Some of you have already faced battles and great joys. Chronic illness fluctuates and I go from mountain top to valley in a matter of moments.

I subscribe to Poets and Writer's Magazine. It consistently inspires me and pushes me to be a better writer. I find prose and poetry that challenges who I am as a writer as well as what I'm doing, what I'm creating. Even in the midst of communing with the couch cushions I have been able to dig deep and think about what I'm doing and why.

The January/February issue is their annual Inspiration issue and this year's is filled with beautiful things, things that make me realize my short comings but that push me toward that distant apex of "the best I can be". It's still a long way off but I'm moving towards it every day. What really spoke to me was their annual look at debut poets. It wasn't so much the entire feature but what one poet in particular said in answer to a question about writing advice.

"Keep working," poet Ari Banias writes. "Follow the shape of your mind's particulars (its rhythms, its oddities) like a bloodhound, and take the poems [or narrative] as far as you possibly can, so that they (the words, the stories) are utterly yours, so that you're writing in that singular way that singular thing no one but you can write. Each time." (words in parenthesis, mine)

Oh my.

Take the narrative as far as you possibly can.

I started asking myself what this means. How can I take my words, my work, as far as I possibly can? I cannot unless I open myself up to the words, the story, and let it take me as far as it can possibly go. It's not up to me to take the story. It's up to me to listen, to stop trying to write a novel and start letting the story seep through my arms, fill up my blood and bones and pour through fingers to keyboard and page. Our soul's work can be seen in black and white.

That is truly amazing. It is the miracle of the call of the writer.

I encourage you today, Dear Reader, to let your story take you as far as it possibly can. Let the words be utterly and completely yours. Don't falter. Don't try to be what someone wants you to be. It doesn't matter if dear Aunt Essie is going to hate it. I doesn't matter if your mother doesn't get it. You have to let the story tell itself through you. Get out of the way. You can edit later.

But for now, right now, let the narrative carry you.

xo,