Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Writing Well-Being

Delve into your writing well-being. Take from fifteen minutes to an hour to give yourself a check-up.

Respond to these questions and others that arise as you write. Close your eyes, take several nourishing breaths. Then begin the flow of words. 

As a child, do you recall the first motivation to write a story or poem? Bring this experience into view. Where were you? What prompted the writing? How did you like the results?

Move the flow of words into why you write now. 

Finish with how you imagine your writing to grow and thrive. Give life to your ideas and feel the life-affirming magic of words as they color the page or screen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The What's - Right here. Right now.

Consider your choices in the "right now."

What will you appreciate?  What will you ignore?

What do you have the power to change?
What does it take to accept what's given to you and spin it your way?

What do you long for?
What do you search for?

Pick up a pen or tickle the keyboard and write to the questions.  Just go with it.  Right Now.  Just now.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Awareness of What you Eat, Drink and Love

Today at the supermarket as I arrived in front of the checkout line, the checker attempted a smile and said,  "Hello."

"How's it going?"  I asked.

The sigh deepened as she offered, "OK."

Feeling buoyant after the challenges of the last month, I spouted, "Beware of what you eat, drink and love."   I stopped myself, no idea why those words collided.

She brightened and with a chuckle said, "Wow, may I write that down? That makes my day."

"Let's change it for a positive to "Stay Aware of what you eat, drink and love," I laughed and thanked her for encouraging my words to bounce.

The exchange left us both perkier.

Pushing my cart to the car, I wondered - Whatever did the words mean?

I pondered their expanded usage:

Eat!      Savor healthful food and delight in the nourishment.

Drink!   Indulge in every moment with all the senses.

Love!    Begin by admiring yourself and give your Love away.

Creative Write:  What three words come to mind for you?   Where will those words take you on a writing exploration today?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Creating a Dream Sequence

A recent medical event sent me plunging and questioning into a depth of darkness.  I don't often dwell in places so deep and confining.  While a visit into this cave of chaos might not become an adventure for pleasure; it provides a means of self-discovery.

Inner power gained through creativity and writing activates a return to the regular self.

The humidity in the mind cavern stifled objectivity.  Shouting a challenge to my Better self,  I created imagery in sequences to get me through the night.

Out the stuck door I pushed, running at an even pace through a jungle, then a forest. Finally a field of wildflowers dappled in sunshine greeted me.

During the roughage of night, shadows and eyes glared from tangled vines. Creatures slithered against my arms. While shades of fear howled and clouded thinking, I kept one foot in front of another. A focus on breath and movement kept the terrors at bay.

My feet slogged in marshland with the buzz of insects pricking my skin. Like a Disney ride gone wild and off the track, my mind lurched. With measured breaths, I leaned into the corners as I kept my forward progress.

Within the monotone of darkness, my eyes squeezed until a kaleidoscopic view flavored my lids.  I brushed against the final pine tree of the forest rubbing its scent among my fingers.

Once into the light, I looked at the mountain peaks that shimmered against the sky under clouds in magenta whorls.  They beckoned with adventures.  I found a path laced with jasmine, tuberoses and lavender.  Awareness of feathers jazzing the air mingled with the rush of waterfalls re-tuned my ears.

I climbed the path toward the summit growing the buoyancy of my regular self.   My prize -  the panorama view from the summit.

Creative Write: Create a metaphor to use when you need to return to your optimal self.  Name anxiety and despair as characters to learn from, instead of opponents to battle.

Design a sequence of imagery to return to in times of need.  Notice how much better the writing makes you feel.

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 whir 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.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Keep true to the dreams of thy youth.
     - Friedrich Von Schiller 
Recall the dreams of your youth. Do they offer insight into adventures not yet taken? Do you notice undiscovered potential for your life as you review former goals?

Did anyone try to distract you from your results?  How did you respond?

Enjoy time to freewrite today to three dreams of youth and see where the writing takes you. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Time to Wander and Wonder

To sing, you need to put courage behind your song. To be heard, you need to put your heart into your song. And time. It requires time.
 -Rod MacIver

Writing involves self-expression for its own sake. It also includes the desire to communicate so others will notice and appreciate the words.  

Write to wander in wonder at words that would give you contentment. Write your notions first for yourself, then shape them to share.

Creative Write: What do you want to express today to the World?  Begin with a song and write beyond it with all your senses.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Write the Sounds

"If you listen to the river long enough, if you stand on the bottom rung and tune in, the river offers unity with all things." 
-Herman Hesse

Herman Hesse wove river symbolism throughout his novel, SIDDHARTHA.  He revealed the river offers access to all knowledge if you tune into it and let it slip beneath you. Your patience will reward you, if you believe delving into the flow has something to offer.

Through his character, Siddhartha, he reveals the music of life, "all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events..."

Creative Write:  Chose a symbol from nature, such as a river. Let it accompany and guide you in your writing as you listen and write with its rhythm.  Hear the voices
 and respond to them. Write with sounds and scents.  Discover life's music.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Color, Words and Rewiring the Mind

Do you ever feel challenged to do something opposite of what your mind seems to lead you to do automatically?

Take a look at the words above.

                                        Say the colors out loud, not the words.

Observe what an effort it took just to focus the mind to change your way of thinking!

Your brain wanted to read the word as you battled it to say the color.

It's the same when you struggle with the negative thoughts that arrive when your monkey mind jumps around. The same way you worked with colors and words, focus on a positive and concentrate until you override the negative.

Changing negative thought patterns takes mind control and diligence. You can do it. You just practiced.

What do you think? Will this concept help with your writing?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Abilities

"One of the best abilities is dependability."  
- Head football coach, University of Oregon Ducks, Chip Kelly

We live in a world where the media focuses on failures and foibles. Take time today to think of your abilities.

What do these abilities mean to you:  accountability, credibility, flexibility, and mobility?  Show them in action in your daily life.

Which other abilities do you believe in?  Thinkability, lovability, playability, funability, careability.

Notice possibilities you can use in your writability.

Make a list of wild abilities and write to them.   Be creative.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

Today, June 21, celebrate Summer Solstice when the sun reaches its zenith. It will provide the longest period of daylight in the northern hemisphere. Summer solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

Cultures around the world hold events to celebrate Solstice. The Celts & Slavs celebrated the fi
rst day of summer with dancing & bonfires. They feel it helps to increase the Sun's energy. The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.

The Pagan Festival of Litha, celebrated by Druids, venerates the Solstice as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth.” Druidism worships nature and believes in the spirits of mountains, and divine guides.

Stonehenge in southern England holds the largest festival. Here, more than 350 mounds surround a stone circle at the center. Dating back to 3100 BC, Neolithic people started the construction. Experts cannot agree on whether Stonehenge served as a temple, a burial ground or an astronomy site. Nobody can figure out for sure how the stones were erected. Mysteries abound in the region.

Starting at midnight on the eve of Summer Solstice, revelers, spiritualists and tourists gather to dance around the fire, star gaze and hug the stones at Stonehenge. They wear robes and flowers to celebrate the year’s longest day.

The summer solstice is one of the rare occasions in the year when open access to the stones is allowed by English Heritage, custodians of the monuments.

Enjoy a writing festival today in celebration of Summer Solstice. Imagine yourself reveling at Stonehenge near the fire. Think about Shakespeare and have a "Midsummer Night's Dream."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stardust and Gratitude

Statistically, the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you’d think the mere fact of existing would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise. We are alive against the stupendous odds of genetics, infinitely outnumbered by all the alternates who might, except for luck, be in our places.
From The Lives Of A Cell by Lewis Thomas
Struggling past a recent illness, I used the healing time to ponder my role in life's mysterious twists and turns. I thought about those who have traveled before and remain in memories with me on my journey.

Lewis Thomas's book, THE LIVES OF A CELL, deals with the probabilities of our existence and its amazements. I recommend it to everyone.

Imagine one ancestor missing a connection with another, meeting death too soon to meet that connection. Or not even finding the connection in the first place. Without those connections through the generations, I would not have an opportunity to write these musings.

I agree with Thomas that we should remain in a "dazzlement" at our presence on this earth. Why do we not awaken each morning dizzy with gratitude? Why do so many feel entitlement and not responsibility for their actions? How have individuals lost the desire to delve into and dwell in the amazement of the natural world? How can we take anything for granted?

Years ago I wrote a poem after a day of those "terrible trifles." Through the poem I moved into a feel of the Dazzle!

Darwin's Notions

When morning presents a dead battery,
or my shoe pulls up gum before I arrive
"on the dot" at the canceled meeting,
I take a breath. Then I march on.

I’ve hitchhiked in cells of ancestors,
as they survived disease, famine and war.
Always the magnets of egg and sperm
collided in time. Whew, I'm here!

A click of virtue or coy regret along the way . . . and no me.

I’d like to think I’ve tripped inside mitochondria of wild ones,
defiants who left comfort to commit experience.

I remember when she tied her life up with stars
in a foggy sky. Chased wind
with daisies and bits of straw in her hair.
Barefoot, she focused on breathing.
Waited for the click, at the right time.
- Penny Wilkes, Flying Lessons (Finishing Line Press, 2008)

In her book, GREEN SPACE, GREEN TIME, Connie Barlow writes, "Our star system was born of a colliding outwash of exploding stars. We now know that every element on earth and in our bodies was created in a supernova that blew up in this sector of the galaxy some five billion years ago."

We arise from reworked stardust and should exist in a state of wonder. Take time today to acknowledge it and write your stardust dreams. Share your dazzlement!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

"When I was a kid, I said to my father one afternoon, 'Daddy, will you take me to the zoo?' He answered, 'If the zoo wants you, let them come and get you.'" - Jerry Lewis

My father had a great sense of humor.  An entertaining prankster, he always shed a positive light on life.   He certainly would have teased me with the above joke.

I swarmed him with questions about the world.  One right after another.  If he couldn't answer them, he would tell me a story.  We shared our love of sunsets which he called, 'the great ball of fire."  

He left this earth 34 years ago for parts unknown.  He'd always say, "I can't leave till my work on earth is done."  Unfortunately, I think he had much more to do.

One of the tricks he played on my husband (then boyfriend) involved the day Michael asked him "for my hand in marriage." Mike knew my father would respect that tradition. Close friends, my Dad and Michael's shared delight that we had started dating four years earlier.  

Michael walked into his office and asked if they could talk.  He stood but my father motioned him to the chair across from his desk.  This chair had held many dignitaries who would sink low in the cushion and have to look up at my father.  Not many out-negotiated him from this position.

"Penny and I would like to get engaged," Michael said sitting tall.

"Engaged in what?"  my father's straight-faced response.  Then he burst out laughing and shook Mike's hand.

He rose, went to the closet and called me, knowing I had my ears tuned in the next room.  He brought out a tray with three glasses and a bottle of Ballentine's Scotch.  

My father never drank so our eyes widened.  He asked Michael to stand and for me to stand next to him. Then he offered the glasses to us.  When he turned the top on the bottle, music flowed !   He had us.

Michael and I will celebrate our 43rd Anniversary the end of June.  I know my father's thinking of something clever for our 50th.

Happy Father's Day.

Creative Write:  Share a humorous story about your father.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Amelia Earhart's Vision

"The clouds are tinted pink with the setting sun. Bill just got the time. "OK" sez he. 10:20 London time my watch. Pemmican (dried jerky) is being passed or just has been. What stuff! The pink vastness reminds me of the Mojave desert ... Bill gets position, we are out 1096 miles at 10:30 London time ... the view is too vast and lovely for words. I think I am happy — sad admission of scant intellectual equipment. I am getting housemaid's knee kneeling here at the table gulping beauty."
                                           -   from the flight book of Amelia Earhart.

On June 18, 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She flew from Newfoundland to Wales in a plane called the "Friendship." Even though she did not fly the plane, she received media attention. Wilmer Stulz flew the plane with Amelia as co-pilot.

Amelia had a job as a social worker in Boston when publisher George Palmer Putnam thought her trip would make a great book. He urged her to take the trip. Earhart wrote about the experience in the book, 20 HOURS, 40 MINUTES. She married. Putnam in 1931.

She piloted her own flight across the Atlantic, from Newfoundland to Ireland, in 1932. She made the trip in the record time of just under 15 hours, and she wrote about it in THE FUN OF IT.

In 1937, as Earhart neared her 40th birthday, he wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. On June 1st, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan departed from Miami and began the 29,000-mile journey. By June 29, when they landed in Lae, New Guinea, all but 7,000 miles had been completed.

At 10am local time, zero Greenwich time on July 2, the pair took off. Despite favorable weather reports, they flew into overcast skies and intermittent rain showers. As dawn neared, Earhart called the ITASCA, reporting "cloudy, weather cloudy." The ITASCA sent her a steady stream of transmissions but she could not hear them.

At 8:45 Earhart reported, "We are running north and south." Nothing further was heard from Earhart.

A rescue attempt became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history thus far. On July 19, after spending $4 million and scouring 250,000 square miles of ocean, the United States government reluctantly called off the operation.

Many theories abound but no proof of her fate exists.

Remember Amelia Earhart for her courage, vision, and groundbreaking achievements, both in aviation and for women. She wrote to her husband, "I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others."

Creative Write: What visions do you have about your writing? Do you have a Hero to emulate. Write about it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Beyond the Tigers

Tigers belching, monkeys howling, mysterious swamps and chasms and lightning storms -- some of the best times of my life have been when I’ve experienced things like that. Or when I made it through them and calmed down.

- Rod MacIver

What challenges do you face that both energize and terrorize you?  Let writing take you into the jungle and swamps of the current situation. Review past conditions where you found success by using intuition and intellect.

Creative Write: What did you do to get past the tigers and monkeys?  What will you do now?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today is Bloomsday

On June 16 in 1904, James Joyce had his first date with Nora Barnacle. He commemorated that day in his novel Ulysses (1922), a retelling of Homer's Odyssey set in contemporary Dublin. Taking him seven years to write, the book recounts the events of a single day in the inner and outer lives of its characters

Joyce described Dublin in obsessive detail, "to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the Earth, it could be reconstructed out of my book," he told his friend Frank Budgen. He used a phone directory to provide the real names and addresses of Dublin residents.

The first "Bloomsday" was observed in 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the novel, when artist and publisher John Ryan led a group of writers on a drinking tour of Dublin in horse-drawn cabs. They didn't complete the course, succumbing to the alcohol's effects about halfway through.

Today, Bloomsday is celebrated around the world in pub crawls, street festivals, Irish music and food, public readings and dramatizations of Ulysses.  It involves scholarly panel discussions; the last part, at least, would come as no surprise to the author. He once said, "I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of ensuring immortality."

Creative Write: Have you read Homer's Odyssey or Joyce's version in Ulysses?  Take a chance on one or both and see what you think. You don't need to read the entire books. Open to a section and begin reading. Let the puzzles in both inspire your writing response.  Freewrite your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Creativity and Benjamin Franklin

On June 16, 1752, Benjamin Franklin tied a kite to a silk string with an iron key on the string's end. From the key, he ran a wire into a Leyden jar, a container that stored electricity between two electrodes inside and outside of the jar. 

He tied a silk ribbon to the key, which he held onto from inside a shed, to keep it dry. The electrical charge from the storm overhead passed through the key and into the Leyden jar.

Franklin used the information he gained to design lightning rods, which conducted a storm's electrical charge safely into the ground. One of Franklin's lightning rods saved his own house years later, during a storm.

Creative Write: Have you ever wanted to design a contraption to test a notion? Write about it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dancing in the Fire

I had no more alphabet that the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen  
- Pablo Neruda

The legend of the Phoenix appears in several cultures.  The basic idea involves a superatural creaturing living for 1000 years.  At that time, it builds a funeral pyre and throws itself into the flames  As it dies, rebirth occurs to live for another 1000 years.  Another version involves the bird laying an egg in the burning coals. When the egg hatches the life cycle repeats.

Theories abound concerning the Phoenix. One involves a colorful bird of wild powers, captured in Asia and sold in another land. Possibly the claims about the bird's powers increased the price.  Maybe a peacock, back lit by the setting sun, led someone to believe the bird flew into fire.  Did a hummingbird rise from its nest, its feathers reflecting sunlight?

One theory about the origins of the legend involves a raven dancing in a dying fire.  Ravens will sit over a hot surface such as the dying embers of a fire.  They spread out their wings like we might do in a sauna to enjoy the heat.  Or they use the heat to encourage feather mites to find a different home. The sudden resurgence of flames around it causes the bird to take off.  There's the bird rising from the flames. 

Ravens and crows also practice a form of behavior called "anting."  A bird will disturb an ant's nest, spread out its wings and allow ants to run up and down its body.  The ants give the bird a massage as they eat feather mites which live on the bird and cause irritation. 

Once someone sees a bird in these situations, stories abound.  

Creative Write:  Do you wonder about a bird that dances in the fire?  Write a fable or poem of your own.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mysteries on the Edge of the Unknown

We elevate ourselves when we learn to love life-long learning.  It begins with curiosity, by asking questions like how does the world work.
                                                         - Jeffry Myers

Consider three queries concerning the workings of the world.  What have you wondered or pondered since childhood?  What questions attracted you as a young adult?   Where does your curiosity lead you now?

Let writing lead you into questions and mysteries to discover.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Write for Freedom

"We write to imagine our own freedom or someone else's; we linger on things that frighten or delight us."           
- Rachel Kadish

Freedom involves the ability to do the difficult work of listening to feelings, managing them without over-reacting and respecting the feelings of others.  It requires really hearing and absorbing the details of nature and the universe.

Fear of abandonment underlies reasons individuals do not trust and or permit themselves to feel in times of trouble in relationships. Avoidance never serves to avoid hurt.  The numbing effect of shutting down achieves nothing.

A journey into the unknown beyond fear, creates a process of inner transformation.

Relaxation in a natural setting pen in hand starts the process. Writing beyond frustration will begin a revelation. Inner peace arrives in trickles and energizes without fanfare. Often shortlived, the achievement becomes a goal to write for again. The flow will gain speed.

Creative Write:    Write for freedom today in a natural setting.
How do you define your freedom and peace?  Do you push past anger, grief and cynicism?  Write beyond the abstractions: vitality, harmony, serenity and potency. Make peace with yourself.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Need for De-Bugging

When days don' t shuffle out the way I'd like because of issues I can't control, a de-bugging calls.  

For five days my rugs have rustled; covered in plastic and red paper for protection. Chips and dust float and land. I have used a variety of skills to show patience with men pounding hammers, screwing objects into wood as they install windows. They saunter along the paper that crinkles. 

Certainly I deserve time for a de-what's bugging me break.  I wander down the path, breathe and venture into the Owen rose garden.  Years ago in June, their perfume would have teased for blocks.  Now, because of chemicals preventing bug infestations, not much scent remains.  

What's a playful bug to do?  

I discover a variety of non-threatening creatures deep inside the roses. My cell phone camera captures them.  A robin teases, then poses for my attention. Roses shine with dew.

The stress releases and I feel free, refreshed and de-bugged for now.  

Write and show us - how do you de-bug in times of need?

Foreshadowings of Destiny

Jane Goodall, a primatologist who lived among chimpanzees in Tanzania, favored a stuffed monkey toy during childhood.  Did that playmate influence her career choice?

Do you recall foreshadowings from your childhood or adolescence that predicted your present occupation or interests?  

Reflect on those early hints of the future magic you would create.  Update your understanding of the capacities they revealed.

Ponder and write about it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Belief and Self-Esteem

"We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit."
                                                 - e.e. cummings

Do you recall the first person who believed in you and how it affected an event in your life?  Describe the details and who provided support.

Show how this person: a coach, parent, mentor or friend influenced your experience.  Did you feel a surge of self-esteem?  What did it feel like?

Consider also a negative influence that motivated you to go beyond and "show them."

Write from the inside out.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Revel Past Routine

In his 1934 book, BEYOND THE MEXICAN BAY, Aldous Huxley observed that, "The natural rhythm of human life is routine punctuated by orgies."

He did not mean wild sex parties. Huxley referred to cathartic eruptions of passion, uninhibited indulgence in revelry, and spirited rituals of relief and release.

What does it feel like to punctuate your writing routine with passion and indulgence? How will you revel today by writing in an alphabet of orgies!

Get way past routine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Flip and Flop

Flip flop your roles today. If you're a control freak, try becoming a laid-back connoisseur of the mellowest vibes imaginable. Do you think in black and white? Try forest green, cerulean and aubergine.

Make today a time to play with flipping and flopping your usual perspectives, roles and angles. 

Write about it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Into the Future

Picture yourself at an energized age of 90.  Create a detailed vision of the person you'll become at that time of your life.  With technological and medical advancements, you'll have no ailments.  You enjoy a life of creativity and  exploration.

Observe yourself with the advancements, thrills and passions of life pushing the century mark.  What are you wearing?  Who will share your lifestyle?

Explain the new devices you use to communicate and live with ease.  What vehicles do you use?  What food do you eat?  Name the animals and plant life around.

Write your way into the future and share your imaginative flow with us.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Negotiating with Inconvenience

To lighten the seriousness of the book of humanity we need to add bubbles, stars and butterfiles  . .  .and a magic carpet or two 
- Jeffry W.  Myers

How well do you deal with inconveniences?  Would you barter for them instead of a life with devastating issues?

What would you negotiate to replace the issues?

Would you trade the sorrow of death for a day of lost keys?  Will you replace the pain of a physical illness with stepping in chewing gum?  Would the irritation of home repairs replace a friendship gone awry?

Or, do you need the reminders of life's challenges in order to appreciate the splendors?

Write about negotiation with inconvenience.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


On June 4 1973, George Wetzel registered a patent for the automated teller machine - ATM. 

Several different people worked on the idea at the same time, in Japan, Sweden, and Great Britain. An American, Luther George Simjian had filed a patent for a cash dispenser in 1960. In 1967, John Shepherd-Barron invented one for the British bank Barclays.

Working for the automated baggage-handling company Docutel, Wetzel, his colleagues Tom Barnes and George Chastain developed the ATM card we know today: a plastic card with a magnetic strip and an imbedded PIN code.

Do you have an invention hidden in your mind's closet?
What would you invent for convenience?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Collecting

Larry McMurtry celebrates his 75th Birthday today, June 3. Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, he grew up in nearby Archer City which is 80 miles from the town of Thalia. This town became the setting for McMurtry's novels: Horseman, Pass By (1961), as well as Leaving Cheyenne (1963) and The Last Picture Show (1966) and its four sequels.

Even through he writes a lot about small-town life in Texas, and about the frontier, like his Pulitzer Prize-winning epic Lonesome Dove (1985). McMurtry resists romanticizing the Old West. He doesn't even hold cowboys in high esteem.

While a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford in the early 60's, he began working as a rare-book scout, searching for first editions and other valuable books to buy for antiquarian booksellers. After moving to Washington, D.C., in 1970, he opened his own store in Georgetown, called Booked Up. In 1988, he opened a second Booked Up in his hometown of Archer City.  He purchased stock of failing independent bookstores all over the country to fill his shelves with hundreds of thousands of volumes.

McMurtry told The New York Times: "The tradition I was born into was essentially nomadic, a herdsmen tradition, following animals across the earth. The bookshops are a form of ranching; instead of herding cattle, I herd books. Writing is a form of herding, too; I herd words into little paragraphlike clusters."

While McMurtry occasionally talks about giving up fiction, but says he'll never give up the bookstores.

Creative Write:  Turn into a character from your favorite book and appear in the bookstore to meet Mr. McMurtry.  Create the dialogue upon meeting him.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hummingbird Tales

I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
that the swallows in their courses,
the tiny shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen. 
- Pablo Neruda

If we consider possibility that dinosaurs evolved into birds, imagine Brontosaurus Rex shrink into a hummingbird body. What a change had to occur from a bulky creature who walked on thick legs and shook the earth with each step? 

An amazement of technology, a hummingbird can fly upside down and backwards while dipping its beak and tongue into flower nectar.

Where did the jewel of glitter first open its eyes? In Peru and other South American countries a variety of hummingbirds exist. They went to the rain forest and the high peaks of the Andes. They arrived in Argentina and Mexico. One species even made it to Alaska.

The Quechan people of present-day Ecuador tell stories of how the hummingbird represents a variety of attributes such as wisdom, optimism and agility. One story tells of a fire in a forest where many animals live. The hummingbird carries single drops of water back and forth from the pond to try to put out the firs. When the other animals ask why, the bird replies, "I am doing what I can."

Creative Write: What story could you craft today about an animal "doing what it can?"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Enrich writing with additions and deletions.

Do you depend on one sense in your writing and forget to use a variety of sights, sounds and scents to enrich the text?

Experiment with substracting elements from a descriptive passage.  Select paragraphs from your favorite writer or a piece of your own writing.  Notice what sense prevails.  What if it's removed?

Observe the use of adjectives and adverbs.  Use a metaphor or action verb replace them to expand meaning.

How would you describe a garden without the use of color?  Reveal music without sound, a meal without taste, or a sunset without sight.  Show the scent of a rose in metaphor.

Write about the process of adding and subtracting elements in your writing.

The Sense of Home

Home is where one starts.  As we grow older the world becomes stranger,
the pattern more complicated  . . .

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
                                                            - T.S. Eliot

The sense of home revolves around experiences and emotions.  Nostalgia comes from the latin, "nostos algos,"  the agony to return home.  The ideal of home often becomes a place to run away from when the time comes.  Individuals want to run back sometimes as well.

What does home represent?

 - where one resides: a shelter, house, castle, tent
 - one's native land
-  another human being or group
-  a place in the mind

Write about your sense of home. Does it relate to the above dimensions?