Thursday, December 29, 2011

Six Words

Respond to each question in six words.  Go for nouns and verbs.  If you must use an adjective, make it startle the noun.

Where do you discover amazement in life?

How does a scent remind you of an emotion?

Where does a taste take you back in time?

Describe a favorite song.

What makes you laugh?

Show a color's effect.

Write six sound words like kableem or skeech.

Creative Write:

After you create your six word responses, mix them up.  Notice where they might re-arrange themselves in a poem.

Let them lead you with nuances and fun.

Finding out why

"The two most important days of your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why." -Mark Twain

Do a freewrite today about your first memory of life.  Discover additional details as you write.  

How are you doing in the "finding out why" area?

Write about the thrill of life!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Writing Focus

Have you started thinking about your 2012 Writing Resolutions? Consider a writing focus instead.

Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, describes resolutions as an effort to reinvent oneself. People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves, he says. Pychyl argues that people aren't ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate of resolutions. Another reason for the high failure rate involves unrealistic goals and expectations.

When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don't really believe, the positive affirmations not only don't work, they can damage your self-esteem.

The other aspect of failed resolutions lies in the cause and effect relationship. You may think that if you have a writing plan this year your entire life will change. When it doesn't, you may get discouraged and then revert to former behaviors.

Take a look at realistic ways to focus and begin your 2012 writing year.

Don't wait till New Year's Eve to make writing resolutions. Make it a year long process. Plan every day to focus on an aspect of writing.

Set realistic, specific goals. You will write a set number of pages each day, each week or by a set date.

Take small steps. Many people quit writing because their goal requires too big a step all at once.

Create a support system. Have a writing accountability buddy you have to report to.

Celebrate your success between goals. If you write today; you're a writer today. Applaud yourself!

Be mindful. Stay physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as you write moment by moment, rather than living in the past or future.

Don't take yourself so seriously. Have fun and laugh when you feel cranky and don't want to write.  Write about cranky.  Write even more.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Seedy Story

Two seeds settled side by side in the spring earth.  The first seed shouted, "I want to grow and send my roots deep into the soil. Then I'll push my sprouts through the earth above so I can feel the sun on my face and dew on my petals."  She grew.

The second seed whined, "I m afraid. If I send my roots in to the dark ground I don't know what I'l find.  If I push my delicate sprouts upward, I may damage them in the hard soil. I'll wait till it's safe."  She waited.

A hen wandered in, scratched around for food, found the waiting seed and ate it.

Moral.  Don't get gobbled up this week. Take chances to grow and shine in the light. Avoid procrastination. 

Forget New Year's resolutions. Do it NOW.   Amaze yourself with your writing today and every day.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Conviction in C's

In the week before New Year's Day, work on your writing plans for 2012. Include convictions to go with your writing.  Bring in your attitudes, skills and approaches for writing results.

Play with the notion of going through the alphabet and writing five ideas for each letter in relation to your writing goals.

Here are five C's:

Make a Commitment to a writing mission for 2012 that matters. Go for a quantum leap to develop your talents to the fullest.

Challenge yourself to become the best. Learn ways to access your hidden reserves.

Bring Caring in.  Allow yourself to bring in feelings, emotion and passion in your writing.

Let your Creativity unfold bit by bit. Use all the senses.

Realize the Courage to know that at times moving toward higher levels of writing performance will be met by set-backs, obstacles and problems to solve.  Address the problems as part of the game plan.

Now, start with the A's to Z's.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Do Day!

We drive down the street and negative signage accosts us at every turn.   STOP.  Do Not Enter.  Wrong Way.  Stay back.  Danger.  Do not feed the birds. Do not.  Do not.  It's all about NO instead of DO.

Rewrite all the signs you pass on the street.  Turn Stop into Go for it.  Encourage motorists to DO positive actions.

Hurrah for YES!  Just do it!

Reword the negativity and make it a DO day!  What would this Night Heron have to say?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Trolling for Truth

"A writer's knowledge of himself, realistic and unromantic, is like a store of energy on which he must draw for a lifetime."  
- Graham Greene

What are central questions to living as a human doing?


Lovers' misunderstandings
Quarrels between friends
Family feuds
Tests of courage
Defeat and redemption
Pleasures expressed and thwarted

What material of your life has baffled you?  What experiences won't digest and go away? What treasured moments do you value? What do you know about yourself in a way that is realistic and unromantic?  Test them for meaning.

Creative Write:  Write about turns in life's road: u-turns, left turns, right turns, changing vehicles.
Imagine driving a different vehicle and an alternate way to go.

Timeout for FUN

Don't let the chaos of the Holiday season cause distress and down time in your writing journey.  Incorporate surprise, laughter, and delight into your next two days of writing and see what it does for your attitude toward life.

Take time off from your usual worrying or trying so hard to please everyone else.  Make a list of the five biggest worries on the left side of a sheet of paper.  Opposite each worry write why they would never-in-this-world happen.  You'll discover you worry using creative improbabilities not creative reality.

Write a Dear Child of Me letter.  What would you like to do that's really fun, daring or outright wild? As you write, try to remember your fearless self.

Take a timeout and write yourself into Fun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

You to You

It's a mad rush this Holiday season.  Take a breath and focus on YOU.

Consider how you treat yourself.  When you become one hundred percent responsible and care for yourself, you will have the ability to become one hundred percent responsible in celebration of another person.

A relationship between two individuals who are each one hundred percent responsible for their lives provides true reciprocity.  Anything else engages entanglement.

Celebrate and Love yourself.  Invite yourself to tea.  Enjoy your own company.  Expore your heart.  Cuddle yourself.  Be grateful for all your accomplishments.  Don't judge yourself for one day.  Sing outside the shower.

Creative Write: Explore how your mind moves in writing. Notice what you feel.  How does writing change your mood?  Write about altering one habit that gets in the way of the loving you.

two days

"The two most important days of your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why." -Mark Twain

Do a freewrite today about your first memory of life.  Discover additional details as you write.  

How are you doing in the "finding out why" area?

Write about the thrill of life!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Gift of the Present Moment

Do you spend a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror?  In anticipation of the new year, promise yourself to use your time in present moments of movement.

Enjoy the present as a gift and keep your eyes ready for amazement.  Let your ears take in all life's music.
Taste the breeze as it arrives.  Notice the flavors of color. Breathe in the scents of magic around you.

Then write your present chapter!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Habit Tracking

Individuals and their traits travel through us.  From Childhood onward, many of our behaviors become composites of watching and emulating others.  Preferences may arise from both positive and negative experiences that build character and personality.

During the day keep track of behaviors you attribute to influence from family members or friends.  Who taught you to roll socks into a ball or fold them over together to place in the sock drawer?  Did someone suggest you try catsup or vinegar on French fries?  Did a sibling throw the baseball and football with you and show you form?  Did you ever skip a stone on a lake?  Who taught you to tie shoelaces and how do you?  Who dared you to become courageous?

Does science appeal after watching the celery experiment revealing capillary action with blue ink that traveled up into the leaves?  Do you like jelly with scrambled eggs because your father ate it?  Does mac and cheese not fit into the favorite foods category because you had to eat it when recovering from an illness?  Who read your first book to you or revealed the alphabet?  Do you count on your fingers?

Notice how you respond during the day.  Do you hear yourself say something a friend always repeated?  Do your slang words retreat many decades and you still say, "Cool" or "right on"?

Creative write:  After you complete your day's habit tracking, write about your impressions.

Writing About Gifts

The way we give and receive gifts indicates a great deal about ourselves. It takes time, thoughtfulness, and creativity to select a present for someone we care about. Often the present becomes a symbol of friendship or involves an item to fill a specific need.

On other occasions, the gift selection feels mandatory and takes less effort.  The gift of our presence for someone in need also requires thought and skill.

Self-awarensss and empathy run through the process.

Write about gift giving and receiving.  Begin with a present you did not appreciate at first.  Why did it gain in meaning?  Or did it represent something you're still attempting to resolve?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Seeking Simplicity

A woman who called herself Peace Pilgrim began a walk across America in the 1950s.  She had reduced her possessions to what she believed necessary and essential.  Her clothes and a few items in her pockets served her.  Living at the need rather than want level made her feel liberated and empowered. She said, "a persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one's life."

Seek simplicity for yourself by writing responses and see where they take you:

How might you return to simplicity?  In what ways will it assist with contentment?

On what scale do you rank possessions and endless striving?  How necessary are these aspects of your life?

Does technology add to or reduce complexity in your life?

What would you do to reduce daily clutter in physical items and mental issues?

Describe emotional crutches that provide illlusions of security?

Which rituals do you use to start the day?

In what ways do you silence sensory overload daily?

During the hectic Holiday season, if you take time to write about seeking simplicity, does an improvement plan appear?

Natural Encounters

"Hold out your hands to feel the luxury of the sunbeams."  - Helen Keller

Each day you breathe in and out about five hundred cubic feet of air without even noticing.  Daily the sun rises and sets and weather patterns abound.  Seasons move on and constellations revolve around the sky. Tides ebb and flow.

Nature can entertain, stimulate and enlighten.  The doors and windows of wonder open to you daily.

What will you notice today?

Write about a moment when you had an encounter with nature.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Shape of Personal Narrative

"We must create and find our own stories, our own myths with symbols that will bind us to the world as we see it today."  - Terry Tempest Williams

A personal narrative includes a desire, struggle and realization.  More than an accounting of events, it includes emotional, moral and psychological tones which give meaning to the events.

Story shape:

You have a desire that starts the story.

You struggle to gain it through an action or actions.

You feel challenges and interrelated events that you made happen or happened to you.

Because of what happened, you became a different person.  You realized something as a result of the struggle.  You may see things differently with resulting wisdom.  Or, you do not gain insight.

Change from an event is a moral change.  You had a realization or a series of realizations and a shift in values or perception.  Possibly you learned nothing from the life lesson and continue to make similar choices that end in negative results.

Creative write: Tell your story by describing  a desire and challenges to reach a result.


A symbol stands for something else.  It takes the place of myriad descriptive words as a shortcut to meaning. Symbolism carries the theme and significance  of a piece of writing

A symbol:

l.   Creates an image that stands for a moment in the story  (blinking light or ringing bell).
2.  Fits into the action and story's movement.
3.  Implies rather than intrudes upon the story.
4.  Creates mood. A raging storm implies violence.  A wolf howling in the wilderness suggests loneliness or foreshadows and intensifies danger.
5.  Can be used to resolve the story.  Through the symbol the main character achieves new insight which changes attitude and brings a decision.

When writing, employ symbols early as part of  the background.  In some stories the symbol parallels the story action.  What happens to the symbols happens to the character (plane crashes, character crashes).

A man retreats to the lake to contemplate his life after a divorce and alienation from his children.  During the afternoon he watches a sailboat struggle against a rising storm.  It mirrors his own struggle.  The story could take several turns.

He could get caught up with the boat's struggle, race out to save the crew and avoid his own problems.  The boat could be battered and sink but the man could see he can call upon his strength of will to fight for his joy in life.  In either case the man's conflict is made dramatic by the boat's struggle.

Creative Write:  Develop a story around the symbolism you notice in the photograph.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poetry Play

Come up with a word for each letter that follows. Write as fast as you can.  Write downward from the letter or slant your words.



S E A   G L A S S

E  M B R Y O

See if ideas for a poem appear.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Epistolary Style

The epistolary story consists of letters written from one character to another or moves between characters.  The convention of the story may also include that of a monologue spoken aloud by one character to another.

The variations include the narrator speaking in intimate confessional to a friend or lover.  Or, he may present his case to a jury or a mob.  The narrator could pour out his heart in a love letter that he knows
(and we know) he will never send.

This style is the opposite of what's employed in a story told to the reader.  The listener as well as the teller becomes involved in the action.  Readers become eavesdroppers with all the ambiguous intimacy that position entails.

With email, Twitter and blogs so popular these days, not many individuals exchange letters of length and substance.  Many novels have used the epistolary form. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner reveals the benefits.

Creative write:

Write a sketch based on the epistolary form.  Choose either monologue or a series of letters between friends.

Choose one or create your own.

 l.  The narrator is concerned about the choice he made to sell property that had been in the family for  years.

2.  Develop four letters among friends attempting to settle an argument.  First letter details the problem. The second responds to it. The third attempts reconciliation. The last letter puts it to rest or leaves it unresolved.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just Three Things

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”   -  Lao Tzu

Take a look at your current lifestyle.  

How do you define simplicity in your life?  
When do you discover and reveal patience each day?  
Focus on your compassion and when you initially understood its concept.

Write beyond these abstract ideas with descriptions of how you achieved each of these treasures.  Have you taught them to others?   If you're still pursuing one or all, write about that journey also.

Write Past Stress to a Sense of Place

“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.” ~ Joan Didion

Ponder your sense of place.  Where do you feel the most content?  Write about the colors, shapes, sounds, and scents of your favorite place.  

Why does it surround you with pleasure? How did you discover it and what experiences happen there?

During the Holidays, tension increases.  After you have described your place of comfort, return there often in writing to reduce stress.

Creative Write:  Write a story or poem embellished with fantasy characters who inhabit this environment.

Monday, December 12, 2011

From the Shadows

Follow light and dark today in your writing.  Notice what occurs in the shadows. Observe the shapes and ridges that bounce in the light.  Discover possibilities for story in the textures revealed.

What will you encounter in the spaces between illusion and appearances?

Play in the shadows and bring them to light.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

To be a Star

What would you write today about Stardom?  What does it take for your star to shine?  If you chose another metaphor to describe your brilliance and self-illumination, what would it be?

Write your shine today!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Learning is not a Spectator Sport

Review your life in ten year increments.  What and how have you learned during each decade?

Start with your tenth birthday.  What did it feel like turning double digits?   Do you recall a specific incident that stood out for you?  Write about it.

Continue on with ages 10-20.  What challenges and conquests occurred for you?  What concerned you?   What did you cheer for?

In the years 20-30.  What misfortunes. misunderstandingss and mishaps do you recall that turned into enlightenments?

Keep progressing onward through the decades in a freewrite!  You'll realize that Learn is an active verb!

Take the Leap

DON'T be afraid to take a BIG step. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps.~ David Lloyd George

What leap might you take with your writing today?  

Do you have a piece of writing to send out
for publication?  

Why procrastinate?  Take the chance.

Polish that essay, story or poem.  Read it out loud to make certain every word has its place. 

Choose several publications and start the submission process.  If it returns, send it to the next one on the list.  Persistence will gain you writing credits.

GO for it today.  Jump to the other side and publish your work.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Become a Thrillionaire

It's the Holiday season.  Everyone has a gift to give.  What are your talents to share with others?

Former Wellesley College President, Diana Chapman Walsh, described what "thrillionaires" do when she handed out the UN Declaration of Human Rights to each graduating senior from the class of 2000: 

“With rights come responsibilities to preserve the institutions of freedom; with privileges come duties to others less fortunate than you; with wisdom comes an obligation to use your knowledge in the cause of justice; with power comes the opportunity to remove that which subverts love.”

You become a thrillionaire if you can recall a time when you experienced a real thrill when you gave something away: money, time, kind words, or ideas.  You create feelings of a thrillionaire if you light up when you think about giving.

Write for the thrillionaire in YOU.  Share your thrillionaire story with us.

Hummingbird Moments

Legends say hummingbirds float free of time.  They carry our hopes for love, joy, and celebration.  

Our eyes open to the wonders of the world as we watch their displays of whirr in wings.

Choose hummingbird moments for today's writing. Aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes. 

Celebrate the day's flickers of magic.

Write the moments in movement. Create a hummingbird story or poem.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Life's a Box of Crayons

Life's a box of crayons.  Most people exist in the 8-color boxes: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, pink, purple, turquoise.

Choose the 64-color boxes with the sharpeners on the back. Then you'll have vibrant colors such as periwinkle at your disposal.

Life presents so many colors of possibilities and of feelings.  

Color yourself magenta, aubergine, sunburst and color outside the lines.

How might you adapt colors to your writing day?  Go way beyond the 8-color box.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Questioning the Times

There are seven billion people on the planet.  Everyone tries to figure out how to live, love, eat, survive and co-exist with one another. We live in a great "something."  Struggles for that something give meaning to our lives.

How would you write about our current era?  Would you call it a re-awakening for change? Have we become more aware of what needs attention: pollution reduction, resource protection, energy efficiency, and self-sufficiency?

Do we live in an age of universal chaos?  

Stay upbeat and have creativity match challenges in writing about our era.   What inventions or suggestions would you develop to take the negative out of our life process?

Writing Practice

"We lack nothing. What we seek is exactly where we stand. But knowing this doesn't do anything; it is not a matter of knowing. It has to be realized as the functioning of our lives. And for practice to function, it must first be wholeheartedly engaged. Practice is always with the whole body and mind."--John Daido Loori, from BRINGING THE SACRED TO LIFE

Today, write about where you stand in your writing practice. 

How do you engage daily with writing?  Have you made your practice consistent day-to-day?   Or you write when you "feel" like it?  Do you journal or keep a writing log?  Do you write regardless of feelings, time or place?  

Flow into a freewrite to discover your current habit of writing.  Reveal your strengths and what needs enhancement. Then, write five ways you will increase your consistency and develop your writing habit to abundance.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Finishing Touches

The Beauvais Catherdral in northern France has been called the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture.  Started in the year 1225,  it still lacks completion.  Architectural experts speak of its soaring facades, carved wooden doors, stained glass windows and astronomical clock demonstrating high artistry.    

Many also discuss how to solve ongoing difficulties with its construction. They wonder how to move it to completion.

What happy ending would you will like for writing that puzzles you?  

Formulate definite plans about an unfinished piece of writing. Add finishing touches on your own personal version of the Beauvais Cathedral. Move your daring achievement in writing to completion.

Heartful Points

"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”   
 ~ Maya Angelou

What will you write today that amazes and amuses?  Consider a positive impact for your words that will arouse the mind of the reader.

Where to begin?  Start with three gratitudes, add a contentment, sprinkle in a few ha ha ha amusements and you're on the way.  Make heartful points.

Write so the words race to the heart and circulate from there.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Discovering a Taboo Truth

"Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what do not want to know," wrote Eric Hoffer.

Use this as a consideration for writing today.

Figure out what you would rather not know, feel afraid to know, or might even be allergic to knowing.  Create dialogue between two characters. Begin in a coffee shop with one character attempting to uncover a taboo truth. 

Reveal all in dialogue.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Turn Triumphant

If you travel 300 million years back in time, you feel frightened by dragonflies as big as eagles and cockroaches the size of dogs.

Similarly, if you managed to locate a time machine and returned to another phase of your life you'd come across events that once upset and might have derailed you way back when.  

Revisit one or two of those events in today's freewrite.  Dig in and discover how with your confidence and courage of today you might approach them differently.  Turn what once undermined you into today's triumph.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Start in the Middle

Rainer Maria Rilke said, "It is a tremendous act of violence to begin anything. I am not able to begin.  I simply skip what should be the beginning."

Take several pieces of your own or others' writing and begin them in the middle.  Jumble the story or poem this way to make a breakthrough. See where that takes you.

What did you discover?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Become a funambulist - acrobat or tight rope walker

In addition to rope dancing, funambulist also refers to a person with mental agility and skill - a writer. As writers, we struggle from concept to expression along lines that quiver with illusion and reality. 

Begin rope dancing with a thought, add a feeling, and a difficult aspect of life.  See where agility and skill move you.  Don't forget to add illusions and humor along with the reality.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Truth in Writing

Auguste Rodin said of the first time he saw clay, "I felt I was going up to heaven . . . I understood everything at once . . . I was in thrall." When he talked about his work, he described his deepest aspiration as revealing "the hidden meaning of all things." He saw art as "one of the paths to a deep knowledge of reality" and sought to bring his sculptures to life, to reveal "expressive truth." In how he described his purpose he saw the question: Where is the truth in the "matter"?   - Laura Carroll, Your Life Quest

Write about your search for truth in writing.  Explore a freewrite to discover "thrall."  Uncover a hidden meaning today and write on!

What's Left Out

Experiment with substracting elements from a descriptive passage.  Select paragraphs from your favorite writer or a piece of your own writing.

Describe a garden without the use of color.  Reveal music without sound, a meal without taste, a sunset without sight.

Write or re-write a passage to leave something out.  Rewrite it again eliminating another element. Notice where these ideas take you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Write About Your Guest House

Guest House
      - Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi makes points about life's randomness and how to deal with it.  

Everyone lives in a house with four rooms physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Acceptance, gratitude, and laughter help us achieve balance when challenges arise in our rooms.  

Creative Write:  Write about your unexpected visitors and how they expanded your knowledge of yourself.  Use dialogue and humor to delve into these concerns.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Unfurl Experience

The best way to write about an experience involves paying attention to the body and using physical detail.  Rather than tell the reader about love or anguish, show it in body language. Avoid abstract words and reveal emotions in sensory details. Rather than report the feeling, enact it.

Avoid your reader's comment, “Oh, this poet feels strongly about this.” Toss your reader into the full impact of the feeling.  Let readers experience all the related sensations themselves. 

Unfurl the story, layer by layer. 

Creative Write: Go for a visceral impact in writing a poem about frustration or joy.  What does it sound, smell, look and even taste like?  Grab your reader's attention and write a wild ride.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chasing Contentment

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”
                                                 -  Henry Ward Beecher

Write about contentment that extends beyond a feeling of happiness.  What makes you feel Alive?

Develop a list of "common" things you enjoy.  Include five or ten.  

What does the sun feel like after a steady rain?  Cherish a taste of boysenberries just picked from the garden.  Recall a scent that brings a memory. Notice a robin, bluejay or sparrow and write about its movement and behavior. Sing a few notes of a song with words of delight. Revel in a dark night of stars and moonlight.

Deepen the experiences. Reveal how they add enrichment to your life.  Respond to the details of their nature. Explore contentment in a story or poem. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Past the Comfort Zone

Make today a Grateful day during your writing practice.  Begin freewriting to develop a flow about thankfulness.

Write on and on with speed and grace. Lasso words to attract everyone and anything that makes your life bounce and race with delight.  Take time to write about the inconveniences that also creep in.

You will realize the balance you search for arrives through the pen or while fingers bound across the keys.

After your gratitude exercise, delve into ways to expand your writing skills.

When have you stretched with writing way beyond your comfort level?  What did you write and where did you venture?

If you haven't yet pushed past barriers or climbed cliffs, write for them now.

Scribble with intrigue and fascination.  Make your sentences zing and ring with wonder and nuances. Feel the thrill of playfulness in words.

Writing the Bones

To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone."
                                                                   - Reba McEntire

Today, write about a wish, a strength, and a chuckle. Combine all into a story or poem.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Present Yourself with the Present

Ode to the Present
       by Pablo Neruda

present moment,
as a wooden slab,
immaculate hour,
this day
as a new cup
from the past–
no spider web
with our fingers,
we caress
the present;
we cut it
according to our magnitude
we guide
the unfolding of its blossoms.
It is living,
it contains
from the unrepairable past,
from the lost past,
it is our
growing at
this very moment, adorned with
sand, eating from
our hands.
Grab it.
Don’t let it slip away.
Don’t lose it in dreams
or words.
Clutch it.
Tie it,
and order it
to obey you.
Make it a road,
a bell,
a machine,
a kiss, a book,
a caress.
Take a saw to its delicious
And make a chair;
braid its
test it.
Or then, build
a staircase!
Yes, a
the present,
by step,
press your feet
onto the resinous wood
of this moment,
going up,
going up,
not very high,
just so
you repair
the leaky roof.
Don’t go all the way to heaven.
for apples,
not the clouds.
Let them
fluff through the sky,
skimming passage,
into the past.
your present,
your own apple.
Pick it from
your tree.
Raise it
in your hand.
It’s gleaming,
rich with stars.
Claim it.
Take a luxurious bite
out of the present,
and whistle along the road
of your destiny.

In his poem, "Ode to the Present," Pablo Neruda advises us how to slip free and clear into the opportunity of the present moment.  The here and now is so ripe and willing, so malleable.  "Take a saw to its delicious wooden perfume."  

Build a staircase. Yes, a staircase.  Climb into the present, step by step. Don't go all the way to heaven. 

Today, write about the present moment with Neruda's verve.  Seize the magic and free yourself.  Take a bite, another and another.  Fill your page with imagery and playfulness.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Editing Process

You touch one part of it, and the whole thing shivers, from one end to the other. It's such a delicate thing, revision, and revision is where the artistry is; and so you have to be ruthless, and put away anything--even parts you like the sound of, even the matters that speak from your secret self to who you hope you are--put away anything that does not contribute to the whole thing. And it is hard. --Richard Bausch

The editing process becomes as challenging as the initial creativity of the writing.  Dylan Landis author of Normal People Don't Live Like This her novel in linked stories, says of editing that she works the nails out slowly with a teaspoon.  Landis reveals that metaphor by explaining about the spoon from a tenth grade art assignment. They had to form an egg from wet clay.  After the gray eggs hardened, they polished them with the back of a teaspoon.  By the end of a week her egg looked like polished pewter.  She didn't understand the process until, twenty-five years later, she started writing fiction. Now she's discovered that egg-polishng gets her to character, story and conflict.

Do you have a specific way to revise your work?  List the editing techniques you use.  Do you read the words out loud or turn the pages upside down?  How do you discover areas to enrich or delete? 

Create a metaphor to represent your editing process. See where it leads.