Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: writing Page 1 of 7

Taking Pictures to Trigger Memories

If it weren’t for taking pictures wherever I go, I’d have so few memories about the details.

From “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen E. Ambrose, “He (Lewis) was a man whose mind never stopped working, and during his long walks on the plains or in the mountains he had plenty of time to think – even though his eyes were constantly picking up flora and fauna, geographical features, the distance to this or that spot, and registering them in his mind so he could write about them in his journal.”

At this line, I wrote a small note in my book, “I’d forget all about the details by the time I got to writing it down.”

It’s something that frustrates me and why I take a lot of pictures…and then get so discouraged by the people that say you’re not in the moment if you’re always taking pictures.

taking pictures
My First Photo Album

I take pictures to remember the details. I may recall where I was and who I was with if I don’t, but in the long run and especially if I want to think on and write about the day later, the pictures stir the memories back to the surface.

I started taking pictures when I was around 11 years old and got a camera for Christmas. It took square pictures. From that day on, I snapped pictures of my toys, my brother, my friends, the playground, my mom, everything.

When I was in high school, I got a Minolta camera that I carried around with me on a Mickey Mouse strap that I bought at Disneyland. I took it everywhere and filled scrapbooks with photos and notes about them.

taking pictures
Loved This Camera SO Much!

Digital was a dream come true. I could take even more pictures of my day and not worry about the cost of printing them all and throwing away the bad ones.

And then they put a camera on my phone. Best invention ever! And instead of putting them in a book with a note, I can post them on Instagram for the world to see.

There was a downside to that. People and their opinions. I started to let those opinions change my actions. They started to diminish what I love with their petty bullshit.

I don’t consider myself a photographer. Most of my pictures are not “art,” they are memory triggers: I saw this, I want to look into that, this was interesting, etc. I used to put them in a photo album, now I put them on Instagram. I make a note to remember what I was thinking or where I was, with who, and leave it, creating a printed photo album at the end of the year.

I’d like to start taking some time at the end of my day to reflect on the pictures I took and write more thoughtfully about them, instead of posting throughout the day.

Strange that I didn’t realize how much I enjoy taking pictures and how I had let it be ruined until just now, reading about Meriwether Lewis walking the Rocky Mountains and returning to journal about his discoveries. Can you image in he had social media and the internet? Would he have changed he wrote down or how he felt about the exploration if he had been confronted with public opinion at every turn?

Go back to my first post, “Undaunted Courage: New Read,” to read more.

Oh, For Writing Habits Sake!

Ugg! This post was so hard to start! I really don’t have much to say about the book, so why bother with a follow up post? For writing habits sake? That’s the worst reason to post ever!

But here I am anyway: a creature of habit. Once I develop the habit of doing something, I feel compelled to do it, even when I don’t want to. I guess that’s what a habit is but sheesh. You’d think I’d be able to put something down and walk away.

(looks at the cookies, the coffee, the knitting, the books, the daily laundry, the yoga)

There are good habits and bad habits, right? Both of which are hard to let go.

Lately, I’m not sure if writing here is a good habit or a bad one. I’m not sure if I should put more effort into writing and posting daily, or let it go completely. I don’t seem to be one that can do things one or two days a week.

The question I’m asking myself this week (and in the past) is, “Is what I’m writing and posting worth putting out into the world?” At the moment, I believe the answer is no, but I continue anyway out of habit and wonder what will become of it and where it will take me.

Probably nowhere.

I debated all day yesterday whether to write this. And today, while sitting here reading it over and adding a few things, I pondered whether I should post it. I’m not a happy/joy mood. Why add to the negative online?

Because it’s honest and true. So there. I’m not always sunshine and lollypops.

On to my final thoughts about Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster!

About halfway through, I started wondering if the story was going to go anywhere. It did and I got some decent laughs, so it wasn’t a waste of time. I enjoy her style and some of what she says, especially about blogging, resonated with me. I was encouraged reading it because her journey to writing the book feels like something I can do, something I long to do.

Why don’t I get out there and get my book published?! It’s every bit as good as this one, even if it is half the number of pages. I could fix that if I had to.

Because I’m chicken.

And her blog had plenty of readers. Mine? Not so much.

I’ve got to find a way to do this. I know I’ll regret not trying but…so scary. People might have negative things to say about my words. Unlike Jen, I’m not sure I can handle that.

…sigh…

I’ll keep trying though. I need better writing habits. And habits are something I’m good a picking up!

Go back my post “Bitter is the New Black: New Read” to see where I started with this book.

Short Stories: What makes a good story?

The following are my reactions to each of the twenty short stories in “The Best American Short Stories – 2014,” in order of appearance.

Loved. Meh. Anticlimactic. Painful. Eek. Oh, my heart. Interesting. O.K.… Did I miss something? Wow. Felt like that went nowhere. Nice. Made me feel something but why? Beautiful. Eek. Ouch. Nope. Oh man. A dog’s point of view. Again…I have no idea why you told me this story.

short stories

I think that what makes a good story is subjective. We might be able to put our finger on what really makes a bad story, but a good one? I think it’s an impossible task. These weren’t bad stories, but most of them just didn’t speak to me. I felt lost as to why they were telling me these things. Then again, I’m not much of a deep reader. I like things spelled out for me, the same way I like reality to be spelled out. Don’t beat around the bush! What are you trying to say? I don’t have time to decipher what you’re thinking.

Someone else may have loved every single one. What is a good story? Depends on how you view the world, what you want, and how you think.

I did enjoy the book though. It was not a waste of nearly twelve hours of my life. There were some amazing scenes. Some were heart breaking and some lifted my spirits. I also learned something; I could write things like this. It’s not my style, my talent, or my subject matter holding me back. It’s my fear of rejection.

I’ve pulled out a few of my favorite quotes for you. Enjoy!

“Wildflowers bloom without worry.” Long Tom Lookout by Nicole Cullen

“He kept this dangerous knowledge inside him where it tightened and squeezed, but where it couldn’t menace the greater world.” At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners by Lauren Groff

“The eyes of other people distracted her; the way those eyes begged for an instant intimacy wasn’t just an imposition, it was an affront. An assault, even.” This is Not a Love Song by Brendan Mathews

“What makes you so sure that what I ‘just know’ is any less reliable than what you ‘just know’?” Next to Nothing by Stephen O’Connor

“…’herd dreaming,’ which refers to a mass of people begin possessed by the same delusion: fainting epidemics, or nationalism, or the craze for teeth whitening.” Next to Nothing by Stephen O’Connor

“Do you have any secrets?” Antarctica by Laura Van Den Berg

I have another one of these collections of short stories and I’ll be reading it soon but reading this one has inspired me to submit some of my stories to magazines. I think I’ll make that a year end goal, make myself a post it and give myself a nice reward if I reach it.

Go back to my first post “The Best American Short Stores 2014: A New Read” to see where I started.

Media B.S. and Scientific…ahh, who am I kidding?!

Two quotes about media b.s. and scientific challenges from the essay “The Role of the Heretic” in the chapter “Other Aberrations” in The Roving Mind by Isaac Asimov.

“Supply the public with something amusing, that sounds scholarly, and that supports something it wants to believe, and surely you need nothing more.”

Sounds familiar. This is what we get from today’s “news,” social media, and politicians. When you ask anyone where they are getting their data, or what study or finding they are paraphrasing, you are accused of either not having an “open mind” or being “anti-science.”

“I hope scientific orthodoxies never remain unchallenged. Science is in far greater danger from an absence of challenge than from the coming of any number of even absurd challenges. Science, unchallenged, can become arthritic and senile, whereas the most absurd challenge may help to stir the blood and tone the muscles of the body of science.”

Unchallenged scientific orthodoxies are the same as religions. They both only wish to keep their power and control the masses so that things continue the way they want them to.

And…that’s all I’ve got today. Not very inspiring, I know.

The trouble this morning is that I promised myself I’d write SOMETHING every day and then post SOMETHING, even if it’s not worth posting. Do you think that’s too much? I’m talking about an hours’ worth of work each day. I really don’t think that is too much to ask of myself. But here we are…struggling to keep up.

And what about tomorrow? One day a week I leave the house at 7am to drive down the hill and visit friends. I don’t have time to write before I go. No big deal, right? I mean, it’s only one day and I have a legitimate reason. But I’ll have another this weekend when we leave on our mini vacation for our anniversary. That’s two days, maybe three.

My initial solution was to write two posts today and schedule one to come out tomorrow morning, but then I woke up angry and tired from a bad dream and just couldn’t get into writing anything at all. I decided what I really needed to get my brain off the dream and into work mode was some breakfast and coffee. Then I started texting a friend about that stupid dream. My mother-in-law called and asked me to pick something up at the store for her later. Then I thought, “Screw this. I’ll read some more and then write while my son needs the livingroom silent for his class.”

I showered, started the laundry, chatted with a friend, ate more tasty things (still thinking about a tasty lunch), sat down to my computer, and decided I needed to clean up some photo files first…

Yeah. You see where this is going.

But here I am now. FINALLY. At the laptop. Sitting in my bed instead of my office because it’s not comfy at all. My husband is working at his desk on the other side of the room. Luckily, he’s not on the phone right now.

My head hurts. I need more coffee. How long is that kid going to be in class?! The laundry will be done soon. It’s hot again today. I’m starting to think summer won’t end this year. First Covid bullshit and now infinite summer.

All of this angst is because I had a bad dream, a few of them in a row actually. I woke up tired and cranky. What I need is a nap and there is no room to hide in today.

But that’s ok because I DID write SOMETHING, and I am going to post it. For posterity, of course. And I believe I’m hilarious, especially when I’m being pissy. Win!

Go back to my first post, “The Roving Mind: New Read” to read more about this book.

A Walk in the Woods: New Read

What the…?! “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson was amazing. Like, running around telling everyone I know, amazing. I told a friend and my dad that I was inspired by it. I told another friend that he should get it because he’s a “real” hiker, unlike me who mostly just goes for long day hikes. And I commented on another blog about it. THAT’S how much I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down.

A Walk in the Woods
The road calls me.

What was so amazing? From page one, I felt like I was there, and this guy goes and does things the same way my family does, so I don’t feel like I missed anything. When we go on an adventure, whether it be a day trip or a long road trip, we have always researched a little about where we are.

I say, “where we are,” because we don’t plan much about where we’re going, so we really can’t do a lot of research in advance of our trip. We have a general plan of what direction we’re going and where we may end up the first night, but usually the rest of the trip is a surprise. We’ve never been disappointed.

Typically, at the RV park we land at, we browse their gift shop, pick up maps, and ask about local sights. We look for a local museum or historical site, visit a park visitor center, and pick up small publisher books about the place or the people that founded it. I look for older books, ones written by the people that lived it. We walk, A LOT, around the area and within the parks. The point is to try to get to know the place better the short time we are there.

When I read Bill Bryson, I feel like he’s doing the same thing. His story isn’t just about hiking the Appalachian Trail. It’s about his misadventures getting ready for it and while he was on it. It’s about the nature he saw, the history of the trail and the towns and parks it runs through, the people he met along the way, and the stories he heard.

Within the first few pages, I was ready to get back out on the trails myself, in earnest this year! I texted a hiking friend and told him about the book. A few days later, he texted me a picture of his copy and asked what we were doing this weekend. And now I have plans to hit the hills at the crack of dawn in a few days.

As you probably know, I dread the coming of summer every year. I’ve lived in Southern California all my life, and in the desert for long enough to tolerate the heat. My trouble comes because I start to get cabin fever about halfway through the summer. I need to get outside but I can’t go out half naked to beat the heat like everyone else. It’s not modesty that keeps me covered up, my friends. It’s my red hair and fair skin.

In the winter, it’s easy to keep from getting sunburned. But in the summer, when the temperatures rise, shedding my long-sleeved shirt and long pants is not an option. I’d burn to a crisp in a matter of about twenty minutes. So, like those of you that spend your snowy winters indoors, I hibernate over the summer, focusing on indoor projects. But I love hiking in the desert so much.

This weekend’s plan, thanks to “A Walk in the Woods,” is to get up early, drive the hour up into the mountains, and hit the trail at 6am to beat the heat. We’ll climb to the top, maybe have a few adventures of our own, have a picnic with a view of the valley below (or more trees, depends on how far we get), and climb back down before the heat of the day tortures us. It’ll be a nice preview of the coming Fall.

I cannot express how much I loved “A Walk in the Woods.” On the back, right at the top, there is a quote from Washington Post Book World, “Choke-on-your-coffee funny.” Yep. That’s exactly it. It’s hilarious, heart-warming, full of interesting information, and I didn’t want it to end.

The last book I read by Bill Bryson was “At Home” and I’m pretty sure I fell in love with him back then. Why did it take me so long to read him again? All I know, is that from now on, every time I see a Bill Bryson book on the shelf anywhere, I’m going to buy it. He’s brilliant.

Mid-Life Crisis or Existential Crisis?

Is this what a mid-life crisis feels like? It’s not quite an existential crisis, but I feel that something does need to be done.

I’ve been sitting at the corner of “The Past” and “The Future,” wondering what I’m supposed to be doing for quite some time now. I’m sure you’ve been there. You may be there right now. Life is just full of these intersections. Some of them have nice rest areas we should take advantage of before we move on.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been heading down one street and coming back, then heading down another, circling and ending up in the same place. I sit down and think, try to group my thoughts, and head off in another direction, only to feel like I’m still headed the wrong way and stop again.

This morning I was chatting with a friend and grumbling, not in a sad or frustrated way, just in a curious way, about what was going on in my head. He listened, threw out some suggestions, and virtually gave me hug and a “it’ll pass” pat on the back. That’s all I needed really, just to be heard.

At the end of the conversation, I decided not to write anything at all and got up to get in the shower to do some thinking. That’s where the best thinking happens. Right? Side note: I really need to start bringing my notebook in the bathroom with me to write down my idea before it gets whisked away by distracting chores. I held it in my mind this time though. It must be a good one.

When I was child, I didn’t give a flying leap about the future, and I had no past to ponder. All I cared about was if my mom would make cookies, if my dad would take us to the movies this weekend, and if there was going to be someone to play with at the park. Right now, right in front of me, was all that mattered.

Then adolescence came. Stupid teenage angst: wondering what I would do after high school, if that person liked me, who I would become. Soon I’d have to make it on my own, get a job or go to college, find an apartment, make my own dinner. And I wanted to, desperately. If I were on my own, I’d be in control of my destiny. No one could tell me no.

My young adult life proved that to be a false dream. Life tells you no all the damn time. But I was still happy. I had my own apartment, a great job that I thought I’d have forever. I was dating a lot, had a few good friends. The license plate frame on my truck said it best, “Part of the Magic.” I was a part of something bigger than myself.

Life snowballs. Did you know that? Sure, you did. Everyone knows that. Dating turned into serious relationships that in nasty, mean break ups. Jobs turned into careers. Debts were incurred and paid. Marriage. Kids. House. Car. Playgroups. Arrest. Yes, you read that right. I’ve written that book, but I’m afraid to try and publish it. Homeschool. Moving out of the city. Motocross. Eventually, the kids grew up and started their own lives. I know you’ve heard me tell that bit before.

And here I am now with that “Now what?!” feeling, that endless song loop playing in my mind.

I started reading more, writing this blog. I volunteered a bit. I’ve made some new friends and gone on a few adventures. But nothing seems to feel like it used to. I’m not part of something. I’m not going anywhere. I’m just wasting time and energy in the wrong direction.

This morning, it dawned on me. Could it be because I AM heading in the wrong direction?

The one thing I know for sure is that nothing is certain in the future we have coming to us. Just about everything is up in the air, anything can happen. My job right now is to get my own shit in order. Do the repairs that we haven’t had time for in the past. Save the money, pay off the debts. Clean up the stuff that has accumulated over the years and regroup. Reading, writing out my thoughts and posting them to this blog, meditation, and podcasts are part of my own preparation for what’s coming.

Life, right now, is preparation for what’s to come. I didn’t know what it was when I started college. I didn’t know what it was when I was building a career or my marriage and family. I don’t know what the future holds now either. All I know is that I’ve learned in the past to trust my gut and listen to myself. My place right now is making space, getting ready, building up skills to deal with whatever comes my way next. And I’ve never been very good at staying still and waiting.

What does that mean for this blog? It means that I’ll keep writing about the things I find when I find them. I’ll be making time to write and re-write, put my thoughts in order and post as often as I can. My hope is daily…unless I can’t, at which point I will not be freaking out and throwing things at myself because I’m such an awful blogger.

The point of what I write here is only to show someone else what I’ve learned. Teaching/showing is the best way to learn. I’m not telling anyone how to live their lives, what they should do, or how things should be done. I’m just here marveling at the world around me, the same way I would if you and I were on an adventure together. Yeah, I probably talk too much. I have a lot going on in my head. I get very excited about strange things, like this dwarf mongoose I saw at the zoo.

Mid-life crisis is not a thing for a mongoose.
He jumped up there so I could take a picture!

But I hope you’ll stick around. Adventuring alone isn’t any fun. Who would I look to and scream and point at things if you weren’t here?

Mental Minimalism: Taking a Break

I went into my morning routine with a crummy attitude, set myself up for failure, and the surprisingly…I failed. Took a long shower, ate something tasty, had another cup of coffee, laughed with my husband, read an article. Had a thought…mental minimalism.

My original goal earlier this month was to sit here quietly every day for one hour, uninterrupted by the phone, and write anything that came to mind. If nothing came, I would just sit there with my laptop open to a blank page and stare out the window until the timer was up. Within a couple days though, that simple goal morphed into writing brilliance and posting on my blog every day as well. It didn’t feel good.

This morning, once I was interrupted by my company at the house and a text (because I forgot to turn my phone off), I lost my strong stride and got frustrated. Over the past couple of days, I had already begun to question what I was doing. This morning only confirmed my suspicions. This wasn’t going to be sustainable.

I need to rethink, refocus, and gain some perspective. Meditate on it a while and see if I can get a better picture of what the point of this blog is. What am I trying to do here? What am I offering to you? If I’m only writing for myself, why publish it at all? What if I really don’t have anything significant to add to the conversation in the world?

So many posts each week seem to just clutter up the place. In fact, this blog looks a lot like my mind if you could open it up and see all the rooms inside. My brain is like an open floorplan office space. Everyone loudly working on their own stuff, no boundaries, no privacy, no quiet time. Meetings in the middle, writers on one side, painters over there, and a construction crew adding on a balcony, all while someone else tries to make phone call in a corner. It’s a mess. Nothing gets done.

It’s time to do some decluttering and put what’s left in order, a little mental minimalism.

Today is my last day with a house full of people. I’m going to put away the writing and enjoy that moment. Tomorrow I’ll be driving to LA, then the weekend to rest a bit and think, and then a week with my mom. I won’t be posting here, but I’ll be back, and with some new floor plans for this metal office space.

“Always on the move.”

Managing Distraction : A Repost

Distraction has always been my downfall. This post from my old blog, dates all the way back to August 6, 2017. How can it be almost four years later? This one made me feel good. I have progressed and I did enjoy that time with my boys.

Distraction in a furry form.
Photo by Dan Barrett on Unsplash

Daily writing takes focus. I’m easily distracted by the things going on around me and I find myself pulled in several directions each day. If I set a time to sit and write in the morning before the housework gets done, I find myself thinking about all the things that need to be done next. If I set a time to it in the afternoon, after the house work is done, I find that I’m too tired to think or I find myself sitting down just before I need to get up and get dinner ready. I can’t just write in ten-minute sprints, no better than I can read a novel in ten-minute sprints. And I really want to write daily, not once or twice a week.

I find distraction in my newsfeeds. Looking thru social media, reading friends’ posts, watching funny videos, playing a game, they are all fun things to do and I do them…maybe…a little too often. They occupy my mind and if I’m bored, sometimes that’s the best thing I can do. I only have a few minutes before I have to be doing something else or there are too many distractions (people talking, etc.) to read or write. But when I spend too much time doing this, the next time I sit down to write, I find myself just staring into space with nothing coming to mind.

I need quiet to generate ideas, to think. Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, folding laundry, without music or podcasts playing, my mind wanders in and out of memories and ideas. I suddenly have to sit down and get a few sentences out to remind me where I went. Later, when I have an hour to sit quietly and focus, I reread and retell. I can put in a few better words, expand on it. Reread. Rewrite. Then have my boys read it for errors or run it through Grammarly if they aren’t available.

I’m struggling with distraction and time management. Who doesn’t? I have housework, grocery shopping, and sewing projects to get to. And I do still have kids to care for, even though they look like adults. Teens are a strange thing, a cross between grown-up independence and childish needs. I want to be there for them if they need me and it can mess up my well-planned schedule. They are like the baby birds I see around the house. They look like adults but they still follow mom around screaming for food. Eventually, they’ll fly off for good and I’ll rarely see them. I’m trying to savor this time. And then there are weekends when my husband isn’t working like he does on weekdays. Does he want to do something with the family or work on his projects? Sometimes I feel like I’m in a giant game of Tetris! It’s an interesting position. The good part is that I know it will all change again soon and I’ll have a new set of obstacles. I just keep rearranging the plan and seeing what works this week. Speaking of the plan, I’m off to look at next weeks agenda!

Looking For Inspiration for Writing Your Story?

If you’re in need of some inspiration for writing your story, this is the book you need to get. You can’t have my copy though because it’s riddled with notes, from pieces underlined to exclamations of joy. From the very start I felt a connection with the author, like a fantasy story where the book knows whose hands it needs to be in and finds its way there.

Inspiration for Writing in the form of a book. Wild Mind cover on a pile of blankets.

It’s been a month since I finished reading it and as I flipped through the pages looking for a good quote to riff off of, I realized that the magic I felt while reading it had already begun to fade from my memory. How can that be?! I remember thinking that I should go back and do many of the “Try this!” sections of the book, but never did. I had begun to incorporate them into my daily writing routine. And then life, I suppose.

No worries though. I plan on keeping this one out on my desk, not hidden in the bookshelf, to flip through when I need encouragement and inspiration.

The following are a few of my favorite quotes and some words of my own in response.

“Over and over, we have to go back to the beginning. We should not be ashamed of this. It is good. It’s like drinking water; we don’t drink a glass once and never have to drink one again. Over and over, we begin. This is good. This is kindness. We don’t forget our roots.”

As the Mandalorian says, “This is the way.” Writing, like most of life, is a long series of restarts. Each time through, if we’re paying attention, we learn something new and build on it. It’s a slow spiral up and then then we die. Hopefully we get the chance to share what we’ve learned with others before we go.

“When you write a memory, it isn’t in the past anyway. It’s alive right now.”

I have found this to be especially true when I was writing the memoir of my arrest, among other stories. It’s like I’m there, reliving it all in my mind. It hurt and it was terrifying at time, but the wonderous thing is that, as I write, I’m separate from the event while I’m reliving it. This time I get the chance to slow down and speed up the moment. That’s when I get to process and reflect on it, makes sense of it or choose to let it be. Then the pain of reliving it has a meaning and purpose.

“Katagiri Roshi said in his book Returning to Silence (Shambhala, 1988) that it is not important whether a spiritual teacher has reached the peak or not; what is important is how he has digested the truth he has experienced and how much this truth is manifested in the teacher’s life moment by moment. This is true in writing, too.”

And now I need THAT book (clicks over to Thriftbooks and adds it to the wishlist). The feeling behind imposter syndrome is just this. We don’t need to have all the answers. We don’t need to be completely with it and composed. We only need to have the beginnings of knowing ourselves and the drive and courage to be open and honest. We’re not leaders or gurus. We’re just people sharing our experiences with others.

“It is the nature of a human being, like having a heartbeat and a breath. Thoughts really happen involuntarily. …the brain continues to have thoughts whether we will them or not.”

Oh, those pesky thoughts. Reminds me of how detestable the idea of a “thought crime” in Orwell’s 1984 is. Contrary to popular belief, thoughts, like feelings, are involuntary. Once we are aware of that, we can hold them and examine them to see if they are correct or useful. First we hold a thought out in the light, put our glasses on, then we can decide what we want to do with it.

“Writing is elemental. Once you have tasted its essential life, you cannot turn from it without some deep denial and depression. It would be like turning from water. Water is in your blood. You can’t go without it.”

I’ve tried giving this up, really. Even when I’m at my lowest, laying on the floor in my livingroom, crying to my husband that “No one in the whole world is reading this! And even if there is, they are probably only reading it as an example of mediocrity!” I still get up the next day and start typing…or scribbling in my notebook. I’ll set it aside for a few days, but then I get hungry and begin again. I have to breathe.

“Writing is the act of discovery. If I knew everything ahead of time, why bother writing?”

It’s lines like this that made me smile. I’m not alone. I just start typing and sometimes she comes out to play.

“I am my own mind. I claim my thoughts. My mouth and the words I say with it are mine and no one can take that away. I can’t write like Dostoyevski or Henry Miller. I write like myself.”

If you sat with me over a cup of coffee, you’d hear the same words you read here. Maybe if you heard me talking with people at a party, you’d recognize me.

“You have to let writing eat your life and follow it where it takes you. You fit into it; it doesn’t fit neatly into your life. It makes you wild.”

I’m not a “let it go and see what happens” kind of girl, but the older I get, the more I allow it, and the more I wish I had started earlier.

“My writing self is braver than the rest of me. I follower her, trust her, but I know my human self, the part of me that is not a warrior of truth and words, lags behind me.”

Have you ever been in a conversation and then hours afterwards thought, “Dammit! I wish I had thought of that to say!”? That is her. She hides from view, taking notes, thinking of all the witty, clever, and brilliant things to say, but she’s too shy to make herself known face to face. She’ll save those words for later and write them instead. She also comes out of hiding when triggered to respond to social media posts and the sincerely regrets she has fingers to type with.

“You’ll lose your reader if you are vague, not clear, and not present. We love details, personal connections, stories.”

You can probably tell when I’m hiding behind euphemisms and creating characters to say what I want to say. There are things I want to reveal, pieces of me that I’d love to set free, but fear gets in the way. Who will it hurt if I do? What if I’m ridiculed for my beliefs? What if I’m wrong?! Our need to get along and fit in is strong, but we can be stronger..

“We are great warriors facing the barriers of truth. We are digesting experience for society.”

That’s the beauty of creative nonfiction. For what it’s worth, we write our experience so that everyone around us can share in it. It’s why I enjoy reading it, as well. Your story is now part of my experience.

“Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath.

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.

All writers have a natural bent toward laziness. That is good. Utilize it. The couch is a good place. Lie there for a whole day in the middle of everything. It is like waiting for vinegar to settle after you shake it up with oil.”

The perfect ending. An excuse for why I spend just about every morning reading and writing, looking out the window, going for a walk, quietly cleaning my house. I’ve only begun to completely relax into it, to let it roll by while I watch. Little by little, I’ve realized that if I run from one thing to the next, if I fill up my days with activities, I miss the joy of life.

And there it is. There was so much more in this little book, but I’ve already shared too much. If you’d like to read my first thoughts on this book, you can find them at my original post, Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg.

Developing New Habits: Using Prompts as a Writing Session Warm Up

I love developing new habits, especially good ones that make me feel like I’m getting somewhere. I have found that I’m a naturally habitual person, so if I can make one little change in my routine stick for a few weeks, I have a very hard time letting it go. I have to be careful though, I can easily make myself crazy with habits. Ok, crazier!

This new habit is writing related! Yay!

I’ve been wanting to write more fiction, but I find it difficult to get started, and then more difficult to stick with a story longer than a day or two. My current writing practice is to use quotes from the books I read as writing prompts, write for thirty minutes, edit the thirty minutes I did the day previous, and then post them. It reflects my attention span, for sure.

A couple of times last year, I was able to get my brain to move in one direction for nearly a week and was very happy with the stories I was able to cobble together. I want more of that! Come on brain! Work with me!

I went looking for prompts and found Reedsy! I haven’t submitted any stories yet, since today was my first day of this new habit, but I’m totally going to. This might be just the sort of spontaneous publicity this girl needs!

As a teaser…I know you’re going to love this…this is what I came up with this morning.

On my side, long pillow tucked under my arm and a knee up, fetal position. Feather blanket and heavy quilt in disarray, one foot partially out from underneath. The perfect temperature.

The cat, perched up on my shoulder, purring away.

I lay there, still, awake but not moving. It’s dark, very dark.

What was I dreaming about? Something disturbing. That recurring one where I’m trying to explain something, and no one understands. No, they aren’t listening, and I get louder and more insistent until I’m screaming insults and epithets in a desperate attempt to get their attention. Blank stares, as if I’m not there at all and then suddenly, comprehension, and anguish in every face. They’re destroyed by my words, pushing away from me in pain. I wake from this dream often, several times a month, not with a start or tears, just quiet and helpless resignation, a deep and still sadness, wishing I could take my words back, wanting the ability to be quiet.

I lay there another minute. I’m warm. I’m safe. It was just a dream.

Then that feeling comes as I lay there waking up…I should get up. I have things to do. Places to be. I can’t be late. What time is it? I carefully crane my neck to see the red numerals of my clock at the foot of my bed. Without my glasses, my sleepy eyes can’t quite make out what it reads. The cat complains of my movement. I’m disturbing his sleeping place. I lay my head back down.

That’s all I have time for this morning. I have a breakfast date with a hot babe! But I’m looking forward to working on this and adding more. Will I actually submit something? I hope so!

I have written some stories in the past. I keep them collected on my Short Stories Page. If you like any of them, please share!

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