Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bubble Fishing

Use of photography teaches me to feel the rustle of moments.  Shutter speed has a creativity all its own.
What else enlivens from the bubbles and papyrus?

The reflection from a dew globe searches the rose next door. Or, is a butterfly primping?

Moments stretch the power of the senses and shrink the need for perfection.

Like photography, writing does not require a definite subject or something to say. Rambling attracts words through imagery.  The process brings a novelty to light or permits a perception into existence. 

In the ordinary, discovery slants, catapults or somersaults perspective.

The tease of unknown intrigues.  I begin a blog entry with a spark and during the fingering of keys or delving into a photograph a collage of ideas percolates and permeates the screen.

Clouds in a puddle form and circulate wonder.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One Camel Kindled!

In the 10th century, Abdul Kassem Ismael the Grand Vizier of Persia, couldn't bear to part with his 117,000 volume library of sacred texts and poetry when he traveled. He had the books carried by a caravan of 400 camels trained to walk in a way that would keep the library in alphabetical order.

As we plunge into the 21st century, technology provides storage space for books in one device. I've made changes in adapting to teaching online, Bill Pay instead of check writing and the ease of WIFI. I now face the challenge of adapting to a change in my reading style.

Books surround me in all rooms of my house. Several follow me on trips. I graze in bookstores and admire them like some women shop.

Could I provide one camel for all my books and keep my suitcases lighter? Will I miss the scent of a "real" book? Do I need the sound and texture of pages as I turn them? Will I learn to type footnotes rather than watch the flow of green ink across the page?  

I've always needed a book cover to intrigue my imagination. Will I get the same satisfaction with only a "reader board"?

I took deep breaths and purchased a Kindle. The first frustration set in when I discovered one button - joy stick - provided all the ways in and around the device. It also enabled book purchases. After purchasing unlikely texts and having to call to cancel, I decided to ease into the initiation period.

Downloading all the free books I could in a couple of hours caused my eyes to twirl. I had classics of literature, history, biography, science, philosophy et al. My heart raced upon realizing I could move in and among several at once, make notes and play!

To date, I have read my first novel and continue to search for freebies.What adventures await as my single camel and I begin our journey . . . ?

Creative Write:  How do you deal with change? Consider how you entered the 21st century and your interaction with technology.  Is it moving too fast for your pace?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dewdrop World

This dewdrop world
Is but a dewdrop world
. . . and yet?

A delve into roses inside out.
                                        The petals fan and flair with the nurture of dew.


Shadows pose behind and beyond; shapes and curtains flow.

Harmony of upside down and turn around in traces and hearts unfurl.

What self-conversation stumbles among the shapes that reveal a secret core?

To peer, without haste and permit the eyes and nose to investigate. The hands and body bend to each shrine of nature. 

What musicality trails the leaves.  A taste of tart and surprise entreats.

. . . and yet?

Awake in the wild of impermanence, the temple
draws an adventurer.

What do I know of secrets I don't understand?
Like dew, a phantom or the flare of sunset gone.  With hope revisited.

and  yet . . . to awaken and arrive again at dawn.

Creative Write:  Write about impermanence.
Choose a metaphor to expand.

Positive Signage

Have you ever considered how our society programs us to think negatively?  Most road signs tell us what not to do.   NO, such an overused word, greets us at every turn. 

Granted many of the caveats prevent us from dangerous situations. We also need encouragement along the way.  What if  STOP  meant Stop and Think.  Stop and Live.  Stop and Have a FUN day.

What if this sign read - Surprise at the end of the street.

More signs could tell us about ways to enrich our lives.  Such possibilities would do wonders for the ego and communication. 

When I drive by Keep Clear it makes perfect sense. 
Where are the Burma Shave signs of encouragement when we need them?


What if we had signs to stimulate our interaction with nature?

Creative Write: Take time to design phrases and signs to encourage positive thinking in your neighborhood. Then post a few!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Playing in the Dictionary

“The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.”   Vince Lombardi

Vince Lombardi’s quote inspired me to think about dictionary play to notice where words might take me. I opened the dictionary at FUN.

Did you know that Fun comes after fumble and fumigate and before function? This reveals you need to have fun to function.

Turning another page at random, my eyes found grave. Now that word has several meanings so I looked to see that it comes after Gratitude but before Gravy Train. The dictionary defines Gravy Train as a situation where someone can make a lot of money for little effort. That goes against Lombardi’s philosophy.

See where your eyes take you in the dictionary wander. Humerus comes before humorous and could tickle the funny bone of the hummingbird. Perseverance arrives ahead of persimmon who still finds persistence up ahead. Doofuss and doohickey wait before doorway with doorsteps and doorstops ahead.

I found a photo of a pontoon already landed and waited for a pony to arrive with a woman in a poodle skirt whose hair was in a poof. She wanted to meet the Pooh Bah as he walked off the plane to a plateau of possibility. A possibility played possum and licked a postage stamp.

Make Gratitude hold more power than gravity as you graze your Thanksgiving feast. Don't forget the gravy.

See where the dictionary diversion takes you!

Unfurling Ideas

Use literature to encourage the writing process and try this exercise.

Select a book of poetry, then take a sheet of paper and draw a line to make two columns. On the left write out words or one line phrases that attract you. On the right side respond to these glimpses. Go beyond them. Capture the sensory experiences of the text in sound, taste, texture and scent. What would you write instead? Where can you take these notions?

For a week, take the time to peruse a novel, non-fiction selection, newspaper or magazine article and an essay. Use the two column approach to mine for ideas.

By week's end you should have ideas to combine or enhance for your own writing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

University of the Sea

The Sea

I need the sea because it teaches me.
I don't know if I learn music of awareness,
if it's a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the University of the waves.
      - Pablo Neruda from
    On the Blue Shore of Silence

Until thirteen years of age, I spent months at a time living on a variety of steamships. My father attended meetings around the world and ship cabins became our home. Thankfully, we docked at ports of call often because seasickness taunted as my beast to conquer.

I spent days dizzy and nauseated. After a month on board, I usually had gained sea legs and began my discovery of what Neruda calls, "the University of the waves." I studied movements of flying fish and sea creatures we happened upon. The line of the horizon where nothing existed but blue penetrating into green-blue sparked my curiosity. Sea spray redolent with fishiness accompanied my walks on deck. A mixture of ship oil, paint and wooden deck preservative return in memory. The sea sounded with swishes and thunks depending on its mood. Bells on board signaled activities starting and ending.

Evenings spread darkness in velvet until the silver of starlight penetrated. I learned the constellations from vantage points around the world. Storms provided whitecaps and cloud formations that amazed me from my queasiness. The rain ran salty on my tongue.

Now the sea remains a constant companion on my morning runs. I marvel at the tenacity of waves as they reveal their daily moods.

Creative Write: Share an experience you have had with the sea or another body of water. Bring in sensory imagery.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Writing, Relationships and the Weather

How do we nourish and sustain relationships with family and friends? Often we have to provide a lighthouse for those we care about. If frustrated with their choices, we rush into the turbulence in lifeboats.

Too many buoys thrown in the water conk some strugglers in the head. Canoes require collaboration and tip easily. We have learned not to send a sailboat into a tsunami.

Exhausted, we climb back into the lighthouse and dust the lens. Sometimes we call for a tugboat to get everyone past the harbor. We breathe and hope for a change in the weather.

Reciprocity rules in relationships that last. We also thrive in a reciprocity with writing. For writing to nurture us, we desire the thrills and rhythm to sustain our sense of direction. Writing must provide support as we struggle through the fog. Often this relationship feels unrequited. We push and push clutching for words that drown beyond our reach.

Similar to our relationships with others, we must figure out for ourselves what Aristotle meant by, “Know thyself.” What do we know about our individual strengths and challenges when churning in a wordless maelstrom ? We have to re-create our self-assurance and find a Positive to remind us what works . A “learn thyself” process keeps us going.

Nine Preparations for inclement weather:

1. Stock your own life raft while the sun shines. What are your best resources? During the times of flow, write down what works for you. What have you done “this time” to push beyond?

2. Challenge yourself to discover ways to return to the page or screen. Turn up the music. Sit there and let fingers fly without worry about the result. Don’t become anxious to create a finished piece.

3. Learn your rhythm. Chart your mind’s peaks and valleys by week. Give yourself a day of rest and read a variety of words. Choose words that amuse or amaze. Write one word or one sentence on colored cards.

4. As you begin to learn about yourself, consider: Does creativity increase the closer you get to the deadline? Can you count on this? What other ways could you manage your creativity? Consider setting an earlier deadline to trick the “procrastinating creative.”

5. When frustration floods, return to research and information gathering. Write a letter to your writing as a friend. Ask this pal for help.

6. Most breakthroughs occur when you move away from the project. Take a walk. Write about forces of nature deal with weather.

7. Consider improbable connections. Let your ideas rearrange in kaleidoscopic fashion.

8. Write your process for all writing projects. Notice it does not progress in a linear fashion. This will become your Best Friend.

9. Create your own metaphor for struggle. Consider your greatest accomplishment and how you achieved it. Use all your senses to recall it in detail.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Octopus Mind

"We are an anthology, a composite of many selves."
                                                  - William Boyd

I have always found writing fun and supportive no matter what time of day. My octopus mind takes over at times. When it whirs on a variety of levels at once, I multi-task with all tentacles in play. I can spend hours free writing but often it takes creative diversion and determination to dig out the gems to shine.

Then I read an article in  the November 2009 issue of  The Atlantic entitled  “First Person Plural” by Paul Bloom that provided an Aha moment.

In their pursuit of what happiness means, psychologists have discovered it has a lot to do with the definition of “I.” Many believe each of us exists in a community of competing selves where the happiness of one often causes the misery of another.

Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, feels that within each brain several selves continually pop in and out of existence. He says, “They have different desires, and they fight for control – plotting against, deceiving and plotting against one another.”

Yes, I’ve held conversations with another Penny at times. I’ve even argued, Come on. Come on. Okay Okay. I will. I will. No. No. No. Stop it. Stop it right now! I’ve used emphatic words not appropriate here, but you get the idea.

Bloom goes on to say if these selves worked as a team, they could create the perfect life. Because they clash, compulsions and addictions arise.

His concerns remind me of the self-talk that goes into my writing life. One of my selves just wants to go outside and play, not sit at the computer and face a deadline or follow an idea’s raveling out.

Another follows a disciplined daily routine. Yet another wants to read and eat words. I have used trickery many times. Now I realize I hold the reins to my selves . . . or not, according to Bloom.

A division of labor could become a solution. Maybe if some of my selves write poetry, some grade papers, others focus on new projects and photograpphy, then I’d have more freedom? If they have fun and discover happiness in their own separate pursuits, I could have polite and rational conversations with them.

The first step in any addiction requires naming it. I’ll call the selves: Huey, Dewey and Louie, for Duck’s sake of course and to get them in a row. They may clone with time and projects. I will provide separate clipboards for each.

It shouldn’t take much to encourage them with Tom Sawyer politics to work on an illusive poem, finish the pedagogy paper, or leap up and grade student work.

I can see their heads bobbing, feathers awriggle and eyes flashing with creativity. Although the site of pens clutched in web feet feels like a stretch. I will design an opposable thumb or two for the ends of wings. Notice the fingers in the first photo above. I will sneak away as they chatter between writing notions. They will find security and happiness with their own projects and feel no competition or alienation. What a relief.

Ah, the wind in my hair as I run by the ocean, my octopus mind twirls without the interruption of diverse conversations.

Creative Write:  Write about your writing selves.  How do you chat with them and make them do their best for you?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Determination of 29 Steps

Near the end of my running route, 29 stairs loom.  I can decide to smell the flowers and climb them once.  Or, depending on mind and body, repeats beckon.  Up the stairs two at a time for longer strides, then a recovery down the hill to climb again. 

On high energy days it's all right to run the row and go.  When I'm sluggish or my mind twirls in unfriendly conversation, I go for five repeats at least.

It might take ten to jiggle the juices.
The 29 ahead alter thoughts and energy level; that's their job.

With writing, the same policy applies.  One more line, or word must end my day's practice.  I'll give it another go in search of phrasing in a poem or essay. 

The 29 steps call me to scurry onward.

In both situations, I feel the confidence and motivation of inspiration combined with perspiration.

Creative Write:
What project or aspect of your life requires the determination of 29 steps?  

Write yourself through the ennui, confusion or frustration and don't stop before you feel a sense of accomplishment. Energize your heart!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Wisdom of Water

The tenacity of water has intrigued me since reading Lao Tzu in high school. When facing challenges, I've  learned to call upon water and its images to ask, “What would water do”?  I believe in its possibilities and process to provide imagery for me to emulate.

Now, I live by water in two states: on a hillside a mile from the Pacific ocean in California and across the park from the Willamette river in Oregon.

Water in the form of rain nurtures both states.  No Oregonian believes it ever rains in California. It's liquid sunshine the tourist brochures claim.  At times, Californian drops, large as quarters, make Oregon precipitation look like spritzes. 

In San Diego it will rain for ten minutes and cause waves to overpower the gutters and curl down the street to the sea.

Water also accompanies my creativity in mysterious ways. I call them water fairies, the invisible creatures who send messages to me in stains, glistens and drips. They reveal creativity in puddles, glides and streaks. Many leave patterns in the pavement I capture in photographs.

Elephant and bird

Clouds in a puddle

Other fairies have ways to attract attention in devious ways. After years of wonder at plumbing concerns, I have discovered these goblins hang around to enliven my problem solving skills. As a result, I have requested gardeners and plumbers go along with me and use humor and wriggle.  It always works when they dance to entertain the sprites who tease my homes. The animation causes them to retreat for awhile. Then they drip and drizzle to tease me again.

Recently we had windows replaced in our Oregon aerie. I warned about the fairies to the three men who would occupy my home for a week. They rolled their eyes, maintained respect and said nothing. I smiled and made the recommendation about humor and dancing. When the torrential rain began the next day, they arrived prepared with rain suits and went to work.

As soon as they left, the rains began in earnest with wild winds. A test of the quality of windows and installation followed.  Pinpoint drips began in new places just darkening the brick and then drying. Definitely the fairies’ satisfaction with a job well done!  Their "applause" created an idea that I should place shrines on the walls to catch the puddles.  Maybe add a plant or two?  Would that keep them joyful?

I follow the wisdom of water and muses since they offer writing possibilities. It's also fun to watch the dances.

Write about the mysterious forces in your life.