Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Family for Fiction

“Ideas are everywhere. Lift up a big rock and look under it, stare into a window of a house you drive past and dream about what’s going on inside. Read the newspaper, ask your father about his sister, think of something that happened to you or someone you know and then think about it turning out an entirely different way.” ~ Ann Patchett

Family members provide fodder for fiction. Choose a family member with colorful adventures or an ancestor you're heard stories about.  Begin with a character description and let your creativity soar with details.

Switch from the ordinary to extraordinary and extend all possibilities.

If you had a great aunt who ran a restaurant in a small town, turn it into a rowdy bar. Spice up the drama with a secret shared.  If you had a relative with pioneer history, write a fifteen minute character sketch about travel across Indian country.  Do you have any mail order brides in your history?  Expand their stories.

Bring an ancestor to the present day.  How would Wild Uncle Will from the old west deal with tweeting in the modern world?  Did cousin Annette really design shoes for the Rockettes?  What if she worked for Nike today?

Stretch your imagination when delving into family members.  Combine characteristics of one or two individuals into a character with a story to tell.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Erasing and Beginning Anew

The thing is to become a master and in your old age to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing.  
- Arthur Miller

Choose a subject you know a lot about.  Scroll your mind back to initial experiences learning and gaining more knowledge in this area of expertise.  Close your eyes, click a switch and erase all memories and knowledge.  Forget everything you know.

Begin fresh.  Write from a child's perspective.  Use simple sentences and baby words.  Creep, crawl and rise to walk.  Then get your writing engine running.  Notice how words build upon words and memories enter.  Set them aside and design new ones.


Write about the first experience playing a sport.
Write about the first secret you shared and its magic.
Write about a first feeling of falling in love without reference to what you know now.

Keep deleting prior knowledge in your search for the pure form of your experience.  Have fun with this and share your writing with us.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Halluzanation's Who Dun It?

The flower stand in Halluzanation, Bridget's Blooms, has become the scene of a crime. When she arrived at work, Bridget found Martin Hershey crumpled in front of the entrance to her flower stand, a coffee cup broken next to him.

Martin Hershey lived alone after his wife Maggie left him for a job as cruise director on a world cruise. He suspected the drummer from Shakey's had something to do with it. His two grown children never visited much anymore. Martin spent time walking and reading about flower breeding. Roses and lilies were his specialty. He could be found drinking coffee and eating a grilled cheese sandwich at Mariner's.

Once a week he would visit Bridget and advise her about horticulture. He'd noticed brown leaves on several diffenbachia and the sheffelara drooped more than normal the past month. Bridget's father, Abbott, wasn't crazy about Martin hanging around the shop. Abbott had just returned from a prison term and felt protective of his daughter.

Sue Ellen's poodle had wandered into Martin's yard and never came out alive. Maybe the mulch or had the pup eaten a lily, Sue Ellen would never discover.

Amanda Harrington suspected Martin had been the reason for her parents' divorce but never could prove her sister, Elmira, was Martin's daughter. Her mother stayed away from him after the birth since her husband died suddenly with a seisure of some type.

Everyone in Halluzanation shared the rumor that Martin's house contained gold stolen from a pirate ship. He rolled his eyes and said, "Reallly?" when a newcomer questioned him.

The coroner discovered that Martin had ingested poison.

Who dun it?

A Day of Listening

Responsible communication skills involve respect for connection, harmony, and collaboration. Showing consideration for another requires listening, really listening to his or her concerns. Listening with intensity avoids anticipation of responses.

We become preoccupied with our own needs during simple conversations or in times of conflict. How easy it becomes to finish the other person's sentences.  We anticipate without listening to the full message.

If we remain aware of communication needs in any given moment, we have more power to meet them. This power differs from having control over someone. It shows ease and effectiveness in collaboration.

Take time today to listen. Do not make immediate responses.  Button the lips and make an effort to hear another's meaning. Watch facial expressions and body language. To keep the speaker on track,  nod your head or say, "Uh-huh" or "I hear you."

Repeat to yourself mentally what you heard without speaking.  If you can't make it all day learning to listen, at least try to do it with one person.

Creative Write: Write about your struggle to listen with all your senses. Could you set your ego aside and not interrupt?  How did the speaker respond? How will you use this new skill?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Play with Punctuation

Play with punctuation.  After you've responded to each of the ten choices, do a freewrite to combine them.  Let your life sentences emerge.

Observing your life:

l.    Describe a comma (a pause) you've experienced.
2.   What felt life an ending ( a period).
3.   Include a parenthesis ( ).
4.   Use an action verb to push the punctuation.
5.   What connection has a semi-colon made for you?
6.   Add a dash of -
7.   Entertain ellipses to begin or end . . . .
8.   What does a colon offer your list of fun or fantasy?
9.   Question the quesion mark that appeared before a choice.
10.  In what situations do you feel possessive like an apostrophe?

Have fun and share your results.  Live your life as an exclamation point!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Janus Moments

Roman mythology features Janus as the God of beginnings and transitions.  He has two faces on his head that face opposite directions.  One face looks east, the other west. Symbolically they look both into the future and the past. They reflect back at the last year and forward to the next.

Choose a distant time and situation from the vantage point of your younger mind, body and spirit. Create a narrative and dialogue with that younger self from where you find yourself now.

What admonitions or advice could the older you provide for the situation?
How and why would the younger you claim, "this is as it should be right now. Just wait. . .'

After you've considered the two questions, write with insights gained from both directions.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Psychic Powers

The film, "The Men Who Stare at Goats" tells the story of the U.S. Army's efforts to harness psychic powers for military purposes.  The movie follows the adventures of a reactivated "psychic spy," played by George Clooney, traveling through Iraq with a journalist. As a member of the First Earth Battalion, Clooney, as the movie's title suggests, has mental powers that enable him to kill a goat just by staring at it.

The  Pentagon  did have a "psychic spy" research program. Called Remote Viewing, a First Earth Battalion became influential in some military circles. An operational "battalion" depicted in the movie and satirized in the book never  existed.

Have you ever wanted to write a story about experiencing an unusual departure from reality with fact and fiction intertwining?  Go for it but spare the goats.

Share your first lines with us.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What does it Mean to be You?

Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. - Dr. Seuss

From time to time, writers need to ask questions about themselves and the writing process.  Answers change and more questions arise.  Where will these questions take you?  Ask two of your own.

Why write today?

Do you keep a journal of feelings or events?

Name your favorite author(s)?

What three topics do you read about?

Mention how a book affected you recently?

What would be fun to write about?

If you had no restrictions, what would you write?

What does it mean to be you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Halluzanation's Gift and Thrift Shop

Fifty years seemed like yesterday for Velma and Grace. Uncle Westy had left the "Gift and Thrift" to them with a one-liner in his Will.  The shop had a backlog of valentine cards with lace around the edges, old fountain pens, and used postcards from a trade he did with a midget from a traveling circus. An outside bin provided a way for locals to dump their used clothing.

Now in their late eighties, although Velma liked to say, "a couple years ahead of 90," the spinsters sold greeting cards with yellow stains, craft items in wicker baskets, and materials for scrapbooking.  Town residents still dumped items in the outside bin. One or two dead canaries and rodents also appeared monthly. When  Eve Harris lost her ailing Papillon, he eventually turned up in the bin.

Grace took charge of shaking the items free of debris. She attached price tags and never felt a need to revitalize them by laundering.  They did seem to pass themselves along and some returned for a second or third round.

Rumors circulated about seances where people disappeared. They gossiped about a pirate's treasure hidden somewhere in the store.  Everyone seemed to think something dark went on after sundown.

On Sunday evenings, the ladies hosted a poker night in the back room.  That's where the real financial aid for their golden years arrived. They denied the seances although Velma would read palms from time to time.

Many had offered to purchase the store but the sisters had no interest in selling. Out of town realtors tried all the tricks they could think of.

Nothing got to the women until one night . . .

Travels in Investigative Reality


When you set sail for Ithaca,
wish for the road to be long,
full of adventures, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
an angry Poseidon -- do not fear.
You will never find such on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, and your spirit
and body are touched by a fine emotion.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
a savage Poseidon you will not encounter,
if you do not carry them within your spirit,
if your spirit does not place them before you.
Wish for the road to be long.
Many the summer mornings to be which with
pleasure, with joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase the fine goods,
nacre and coral, amber and ebony,
and exquisite perfumes of all sorts,
the most delicate fragances you can find,
to many Egyptian cities you must go,
to learn and learn from the cultivated.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your final destination.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better for it to last many years,
and when old to rest in the island,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to offer you wealth.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful journey.
Without her you would not have set out on the road
Nothing more has she got to give you.
And if you find her threadbare, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience 
you must already have understood with Ithacas mean.                
                           -   Constantine P. Cavafy

Realtors say, "Location. Location. Location."  Writers should also take advantage of a sense of place to enrich writing.  The environment can serve as a character, reflect a character or add texture to a piece of writing.  Ithaca for Ulysses meant hope and a place to return. The poet, Cavafy, defines life's journey with a sense of place.

Creative Write:  Choose a town you've lived in, passed through in travels, or always wanted to visit.  Begin with a real or imagined journey.  Avoid judgment and telling the reader what to feel.  

Make the reader know what this town means to you by use of details and sensory imagery.  Show yourself reflected there.  Reveal connections and bring emotion into the story.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sleep's Mysteries

During the first stage of sleep known as half-sleep,  rapid, electrical activity is replaced by slower, higher voltage activity. Sleep specialists cannot pinpoint the precise moment of falling asleep because the transition from relaxed wakefulness to sleep is so gradual.

Two types of waves (alpha and theta) occur together on the sleep monitor for several minutes, each seeming to fight for attention. In the transition, called hypnagogia, the individual is a passive spectator of random associations, neither awake nor asleep.

Artists, scientists and inventors such as Charles Dickens, Albert Einstein and Johannes Brahms experienced moments of creativity during times of half-sleep.  Thomas Edison napped in a chair holding steel balls.  When he dozed, the balls dropped onto pans on the floor and awakened him suddenly. This aroused ideas of discovery.

Sleep scientists do not understand the causes and implications of these creative surges. They search for some connection between creativity and alpha-theta brainwaves or between creativity and intense visualization.

Most theorists believe the half-sleeping mind, removed from rational categories, can integrate opposites and accept uncertainty.  For example, as he rose out of bed one morning, Einstein realized space and time are not separate entities.  Our cognitive restrictions loosen in half-sleep allowing for unusual and illuminating associations.

The space between sleep and the edge of awakening remain mysterious and symbolic.  Meanings shift and deepen to create possibility.  Taking advantage of sleep's nuances may nurture creativity.

Creative Write:  Keep a notepad by your bed and notice thoughts and feelings during sleep time. Do you feel creative notions appearing if you awaken suddenly?  Write your first thoughts and feelings upon awakening.  Where will they lead?

Share any ideas you've discovered that relate to a sleep experience.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Imagination Comes Knocking

Our imagination is the most important faculty we possess. It can be our greatest resource or our most formidable adversary. It is through our imagination that we discern possibilities and options. Yet imagination is no mere blank slate on which we simply inscribe our will. Rather, imagination is the deepest voice of the soul and can be heard clearly only through cultivation and careful attention. A relationship with our imagination is a relationship with our deepest self.
                              - PAT B. ALLEN,  Art Is a Way of Knowing

Imagination exists in a reality that differs from logic. As children we do not have the depth of experiences to push it away.  For adults, when confronted with a situation requiring imaginative thinking, a return to a child's lack of logic will assist the process.

My first discovery of imagination at work still amazes and amuses. I had fallen asleep during my father's reading of the Aladdin story. I awakened suddenly as he read,"The townspeople were angry."  A bowl of mashed carrots cooling on a window sill appeared to me. I could smell buttery flavors with sweetness of cinnamon and sugar. Ever since that experience, when I hear the word angry - I think of mashed carrots.  Is that imagination at work?

I recall reading a story in a white book that included a picture of a huge red ant with bits of fur extending from its appendages. Later that day while playing in the garden, I saw that red ant ambling between stones along the footpath. Did I make an exaggerated connection or did it really approach the size of a small cat and invite me to follow it to adventure? I arrived home in time for dinner. When I saw the ant picture again it seemed so small compared to my experience.  Did imagination come knocking?

Creative Write:  Think back to a time in childhood when you discovered your imagination.  Where were you?  What fantasy did it involve? Were you influenced by a fairy tale or other story?  Where did it take you?  Did you feel surprise and delight?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What up in Halluzanation?

Let's re-visit our town of Halluzanation.

Jake Taylor, CPA from across the bay, took the ferry to Halluzanation.  He toted one suitcase and a backpack. As he tossed the can of beer over the side and left the ferry, he let out a sigh. Walking into the center of town Jake gazed at the open window.  He'd read the ad and, sight unseen, rented two rooms above the deli.  Suddenly, out of nowhere . . .

What's up next for Jake?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blue Sky Thinking

Daily, the media assaults, then haunts us with sensationalism.  What's broken prevails. Newscasters detail how we have damaged our society, economy, and destroyed the natural world.  We learn who's doing what to whom in dreadful and devious ways.

Where's the other side of the story?   Why doesn't our progress in myriad areas make headlines?  Did you know scientists are regenerating heart cells in mice?

Today, ponder and write about three areas of concern you have about life in 2011.  Take a local or global approach to cultural or political issues, the environment, or the human condition in general.

Move into blue sky thinking.  What suggestions do you have from a workable approach to challenges?  Devise wild solutions to our mega issues.  Dig into creative problem solving for ways to succeed beyond negativity.

It all begins with individual choices.  If each person took responsibility for his or her own personal universe with respect for others, the results would change.

Begin by redirecting your attitude when faced with adversity. Think and write:  in what ways can I solve this . . .

Pick up one piece of litter.  Offer assistance to a stranger.  Show positive energy when tackling problems.

Write on!  You will make a difference.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Uses of Expectation


Someone I loved once gave me
 a box full of darkness.

 It took me years to understand
 that this, too, was a gift
                    -  Mary Oliver

Have you ever received a box containing a gift you did not really want at the time?  It missed your expectation.

Use this metaphor to write about presents and expectations.  Expand your imagery beyond a tangible package to include an emotional aspect.  Then write about a relationship that missed an expectation.

How did you progress past the initial disappointment?  Or, did you feel anger that you still carry with you?

Revisit the gift experience and play it with a twist. Turn the expectations around for a different view.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Writer's Questions

Write to these questions today:

l.  Do you recall your first experience learning about writing? Or, do you remember an Aha! moment when you knew you liked to express yourself with words?  

When you think back, does a memory arrive that involves more than a visual image?  Do you remember sounds and scents?

2.  What’s the most fun you’ve experienced writing?

3.  Describe your most challenging moment. What kept you focused beyond the discomfort or frustration?

4.   In what ways does writing represent you?

5.   Are you able to transfer your talents and discipline as a writer into other areas of life?  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The All American Family

All American Family?

In the novel, THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE by Helen Schulman, the Bergamots move from an upstate college town to New York City. Richard has an executive role at a large New York university. Wife, Liz, has traded in her academic career to oversee the lives of their children.

Fifteen-year-old Jake wakes up one morning after an unchaperoned party and finds an email in his in-box from an eighth-grade admirer. Attached is a sexually explicit video she has made for him. He forwards the video to a friend. Within hours, the video has gone viral. It's all over the school, the city, and international.

The ensuing scandal threatens to shatter the Bergamots’ beautiful life. They are a good family faced with bad choices and reactions.


Once upon a time we lived without internet, cell phones, text messaging and tweets.  Television provided families in series like "I Remember Momma" that had teaching moments. Then family situations increased with Ozzie, Harriet, David and Ricky. "Leave it to Beaver" revealed kids getting into fun and mischief along with how parents reacted. Archie Bunker provided another slice of life.  Now we have "Three and a Half Men" that moves further away from "Father Knows Best."


Create a family of four or more. Develop the Grays.

Define their relationships and give each individual good and negative qualities.  

Develop a "homecoming" situation.

Use one of these or devise your own:

l.  It's Midnight and mom and daughter haven't arrived home after their visit to the gym or yoga class.  What's up?
2.  Brother has an enterprising "sports card" business on the internet. The Police pay a visit just as he arrives home.
3.  Father travels two weeks out of the month. He has just returned from Fairbanks, Alaska with a limp and facial bruising.
4.  The house with the picket fence has stories to tell.  Something dark occurred before this family arrived. The house creaks at night and someone hears moaning or walking. Lights often flash or electricity fails. There's something about the window to the right of the chimney. 
5.  The family dog left soon after their arrival and has not returned home.  Then one day a larger animal arrived to take its place.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Writing Yesterdays

All your yesterdays are buried deep. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud formidable from a distance.  The cloud clears as you enter smooth as silence; rough as glass.
                                 - from West with the Night by Beryl Markam.

Life involves a push and pull of forces. It becomes a strain for something; often against a resistance.  We grow to appreciate the little things. When life wears us down, we learn problem solving, creative choices and acceptance. Writing about the stresses and strains clears our vision.  It permits possibities to appear.

Creative action:

Create two columns where you list five favorite and five disappointing yesterdays.

Include those that have become "buried deep." Add achievements,  celebrations, and friendships on one side.  On the other side post fragile times of loss, failure and frustration.

Pair one from each column and write to the pair for fifteen minutes.

Consider what the joys, stresses and strains create when interwoven.  To distance yourself, write in third person.  Notice where the writing leads.

Share an insight with us.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Showing Character by Defining Place

A sense of place adds to the development of a character or characters.  It can evoke emotion and restrict or enable a character's progress.

Begin with a description of a natural setting, city, street, house, bus, car or motel room.
Take the reader inside one of these settings in minute detail.  Use all the senses.

Consider how to use a setting to bring out a character's flaws and strengths.

Desert setting:     dry, empty spaces, erosion
Tropical setting:  green, waves and sea, fish, shells, breeze
Urban setting:     traffic noise, crowding, concrete, few trees and flowers, heat
One of your choice

Creative Write:  Without telling us about the character, make us feel this person by describing his or her environment.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where or where will your writing go . . .

Where do you really want to go with writing that you haven't considered before?

Fantasize and freewrite. What images fill your imagination with prospects and projects that appear as you scribble away?

Write to the questions that may foreshadow future writing and enable you to awaken dormant yearnings.

Ruminate on hints for potential long-range plans.

Stay alert for clues during your speculation.

Consider a jaunt into humor. Dabble on the dark side. Write ideas as an animal, insect or plant. Play cowboy and . . .

Go for at least three wild ideas.  Share one with us.

Portrait of an Artist's Life

An artist requires the time of healing alone. Without this period of recharging, our artist becomes depleted.... We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish. We want to be generous, of service, of the world. But what we really want is to be left alone. When we can't get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves. To others, we may look like we're there. We may act like we're there. But our true self has gone to ground.
             - The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

Booker Jones had a degree in photography and taught art classes at the University for his survival needs. He loved high places.  A scaffold became his aerie where he felt the most comfort as he worked on his mural business.

Alone but needy, he expressed himself with effortless wonder.  Often passersby noticed details he included in his work that must have arrived from an inner desire.

Booker really wanted to . . .

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Consider these for your freewrite today:

l.    A limitation that leads to freedom.
2.   An Imaginative surrender that enables a breakthrough.
3.   A healthy shock to the system to tenderize emotions.
4.   A tough task that fine tunes or clarifies an ambition.
5.   A last chance that leads to a fresh promise through your vigor and creative willpower.

Dismiss your outworn fears and move ahead with ideas in response to the above.

Write on!

Friday, August 12, 2011

National Book Week

It's National Book Week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you. Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence.

Then write from there for fifteen minutes.

Here's a start:

It was like standing at the edge of a cliff.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


A train arrives at Midnight. After a long day's journey into this town, a woman walks off the train with a maltese dog in a carrying case and a backpack.  The only place open at this hour is the Jackalope Lounge.  Sarah has just arrived to  . . .

And then what . . .

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Write Your Success

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."   -Ralph Waldo Emerson

What does success mean to you in your writing life?  How would you compare your philosophy with Emerson's wording of success?

Creative Write: Write your ideals for writing and life in four lines.

Monday, August 8, 2011

How to Spell Curiosity

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.     - Albert Einstein

During childhood, I asked so many questions my father created stories he thought would satisfy my curiosity. Even then he often fell asleep before my questions stopped arriving like thunderbolts.

He never said, "I don't know." Even when I had him perplexed, he'd launch into an explanation to cover the topic. Many years later I learned a bidet really wasn't a footbath.

Recently at the Seattle airport, I followed a school of metal fish embedded in the floor that led to my gate.  One fish appeared with a suitcase. How many travelers have noticed this fellow? I had to take a photograph.

Endowed with curiosity, everything in life becomes possible. Linked with optimism and creativity, curiosity pushes limits.

Ways to heighten your natural gift of curiosity:

1. Stay open to possibilities. Nurture the ability to change your mind, unlearn and relearn.

2. Ask questions like a reporter: Who, What, Why, When, Where, How? Don't feel content with easy answers. Ask more questions.

3. Curious individuals never feel bored. Take advantage of 'empty time' like standing in line. Observe what's going on around you. Notice people's choices and listen. Writers always carry notepads.

4. Become a perpetual discoverer and learner. Make learning fun and seek beyond the obvious.  Find that fish with the suitcase.

5. Read diverse publications and books. Explore what you don't know with a free mind.

Creative Write:
Describe in detail your first memory of curiosity. Recall it with all your senses.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Life Story Writing

"Within each of us is a tribe with a complete cycle of legends, dances, songs to be sung. We need only to write these stories to claim our unique birthright. -  Sam Keen

Listen to the voices that travel through you: mother, father, siblings, children, friends, enemies, teachers and heroes. Notice how they act out their dramas on your life slate.  They will help you celebrate your myths, sing your songs, and tell your legends.

Memory becomes a trickster who picks and choses scenes.  You may recall a punishment for something you did not do.  When you tell the story for the hundredth time, you remember that you did commit the act and the whole scene changes.  Memories of what happened in one year will be different when retold five and ten years later.

Creative Write:  Begin with an unpleasant memory that has faded. Bring it to life by describing the situation in detail.  Write about the story. Enter it and explore the ragged edges. Change its focus and reveal a lesson learned.

Show your memory with a moving camera's view.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots. Each hung on the end of a pole he carried across his neck.  One pot had a crack and the other pot always delivered a full portion of water at the end of his walk from the stream to the master's house.

The cracked pot arrived only half full.  For two years the bearer delivered only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house.  The perfect pot was proud but the poor cracked pot felt ashamed of its imperfection and miserable it could only accomplish half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of its bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer.  "I am ashamed and want to apologize to you."

"What are you ashamed of?" asked the water bearer.

"I have been able to deliver only half my load because the crack in my side causes water to escape. You do all this work and don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The bearer smiled as he said, "As we return to the master's house I want you to notice the flowers along the path."

The old cracked pot looked and noticed the wild flowers in rainbow colors on a side of the path.

The water bearer said, "Did you notice the flowers are only on your side not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known your flaw.  I took advantage of it and planted seeds.  Every day while we walked back from the stream, you've watered the seeds.  For two years I have been able to place them on the master's table.  Without you he would not have this treasure to grace his house."

SMILE!  It's the cracks and flaws we have that make our lives together so rewarding and different.  We have to take each person for his or her possibilities and help them move beyond their flaws.

Light shines through our cracks. Blessed are the flexible for they will not be bent out of shape.

Creative Write:  Write about your foible(s) in a fable!


The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." 
                             —Eleanor Roosevelt

What does it take for self-mastery?  Life provides opportunities for self-discoveries if we make errors. Insights move into moments of enlightenment. Miles Davis says, "Do not fear mistakes. There aren't any. Only lessons."  

If we pay attention to our choices, we can make different mistakes and learn new skills. Life can be compared to a pencil with a point and an eraser. We're meant to use the eraser but not to let it erase so far down we forget to use the point.

It takes a lifetime to learn about ourselves as we commit experience.  We use and discard mental patterns and habits. Often we intercept choices before they turn into misfortunes. We learn to solve problems.

Creative Write:  Write about what no longer serves you. Let go of it. To evolve with self-mastery, ask questions no one else asks.  Observe beyond the obvious and write about it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Story in Five Lines

Have fun creating a story in five lines.  Who knows, you might become inspired to expand it.  Try one each morning for a week.

First line          Title   (Make it intrigue the reader)
Second line     Two words to describe the title
Third line        Three-words showing action
Fourth line       Four-word sentence describing a feeling about the title
Fifth line          Renames or describes the first line

Need a nudge?

Optimist by Accident
Unlucky Man
Hit by bicycle
Despair from avoiding life
Awakened from anger

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Inspirational Cuisine

Writers rely on food to start their creative flow and keep it going. Walt Whitman liked oysters and meat for breakfast. Expresso kept Marcel Proust writing.

Gustave Flaubert reportedly chose eggs, vegetables or fruit and a cold chocolate drink to begin the day. A morning with coffee and mint tea, Truman Capote ended the writing day with sherry at 2 pm and a martini at 4.

Franz Kafka loved milk as his drink of choice. Apparently Emily Dickinson was addictd to her own home-baked bread. As he wrote, F. Scott Fitzgerald ate canned meat from a tin and apples to the core. John Steinbeck loved stale coffee. To suppress his appetite so he could write, Lord Byron drank vinegar.

Creative Write:  What delicacies help you write? Do you keep tidbits by the computer or writing journal?

Go beyond its effect on your writing habit and describe your favorite meal. Share your culinary tastes with us in detail.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


sunshine of summer
      dew lazes on red lilies
                     lizard still asleep

When you first open your eyes each morning, notice how the thinking mind jumps in. It begins to judge, explain, interpret and ponder. To avoid turning the brain's hamster wheel, take a deep breath and release it. Take another. Focus on a thought of gratitude for the day.

Awaken with six breaths that bring your attention inward. Follow the breath from the abdomen up to the nostrils. Then let it out slowly.  When you focus on the breath, you'll begin to feel a relief. The wheel stops spinning.

Daily writing practice helps to release the illusion of control. It permits experiences to unroll with each letter, word, sentence and paragraph. The flow from within reveals mysteries and enables creativity to percolate.

Creative Write: Begin with thoughts of summer. Bring attention to experiences. Write with sounds, sights, scents and textures. Stay spacious in awareness and gentle the mind without judgment.

Notice the day's wisdom as it appears on the page or screen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review Relationships

What does relationship mean to you?

Recall a memory of your first relationship?  Do you remember a stuffed animal or a caring for a pet?  Does a situation with a parent, relative or first friend come to mind?

How do you relate to the importance of yourself in regard to others?

Consider also relationships to the environment, money, and nutrition.  How have you related in the past and in the present?

What themes appear in your communication with family, friends, a spouse, or love partnership?  Do you recall your first infatuations?  How did you deal with betrayals?  Do you carry past frustrations into other situations?

How did you perceive these relationships back then?  Did you feel a reciprocity or an unequal give and take?  What do you notice about your current relationships that reflect back to the initial ones?

Creative Write: Write about a relationship that helps you learn more about yourself.  Write first from the moment of a communication.  Then write from your current wisdom and sense of self.  What have you learned? What do you need to continue working on?

What insights does writing about a relationship provide? Let the flow help you create a character for a story. Choose a name for the character and move him or her into the relationship. How does your character communicate within the challenges?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bird Music

Have you ever spent time really listening to birdsong?

Certain times of day and seasonally, birds create the most music.  For hours before dawn mockingbirds sing non stop. Many birds begin their musicals at noon. At sunset they unite once more in chours.

According to Wilson Flagg, bird song may be divided into four classes. Canaries and Bobolinks sing rapid notes. Their songs flow uninterrupted, filled with fervor and ecstasy.  Moderate singers like the robin employ slow notes without pauses or rests in their different strains.

The interrupted singers don't modulate their notes with rapidity. They make decided pauses between strains. Mockingbirds are the marathoners in this third class.  The fourth class contains warblers whose notes consist of one or two strains not combined into a song like a bluebird.

Listen today and write what you hear in the dee dees. phreeps, and trills.  Let birdsong inspire a poem or story.