Tag Archives: Lifestyle

This Writing Life…

Writing is water.

I need it to survive. I find myself at the page, lost in the words. I cry and laugh aloud when I write. I put things on paper that I would never say out loud. This is my safe place, my best friend, my therapy.

I don’t feel worthy to keep a writing blog. It’s hard to arrive and feel like a writer. My hope was that in blogging about writing, especially revision, I would stay the course and finish my bigger project, my manuscript and hopefully inspire others to write as well.

But I don’t need the blog to write. I need only to write. Life water to live.

Instead, this blog has become a sort of process for anyone that needs encouragement in writing through a busy life. This year, I’ve irked quite a few people with my unavailability to preserve my treasured time, my gold nugget, my writing time. This is new to me. This is new to them too. They don’t get it. To sit, with peace, coffee, a candle and a pen is ecstasy. It is all that is needed.

I’ve spent the last two months reorganizing my files. To date, I have 52 short stories, 20 horrific poems, two screenplays, one manuscript and 12 flash fiction pieces. These are in a constant state of revision. But this organization process has given me clarity – a sense of how I can now combine these pieces–thread them, weave them–through theme and emotional arc. Part of this awareness was the realization that my manuscript, which I had hoped to revise over the summer, would be completed.

It doesn’t really work that way.

I’ve only revised half the manuscript. With that, I began to pummel “unproductive” self.

But then, half is good. These are hard revisions and I’m still in grad school and producing new material along with revising other shorts. I’m a writing-manic.

I know writers who can focus on one thing. One story. One book.

I’m not THAT writer.

My life is full of interruptions. I embrace the breaks because it is usually my children, pausing my work for a need. I love that I’m still needed by my sons.

Besides, I have to marinade ideas.

My brain soak is done in the kitchen and garden. This is the space I sort out dialogue, character development and problems with my work. I make sun-dried tomatoes with garlic from my garden or create new recipes, like smashed sweet potatoes with a hint of Wasabi. This is part of my writing process. The “think time”.

For me, this works; the interruptions and the time away from the page.

I’m learning to encourage the writer-me more, cheer her on and tell her, at the day’s end, this was a life worth living and she indeed has been “productive” enough.

Favorite passage is an excerpt from my short narrative, “Garden”:

“A new routine would begin each morning before the children woke. I’d rise, and with coffee, tend this garden. This morning was no different. I was finally here. My garden. This would become the place I could return when there were in-between moments needing filled. A place to grow a habit, something grounded, something I could count on. It offered both a sense of release and control.”

 

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This Writing Life…

Twenty-eight pages. That is a good day of revision. One of my goals with this long narrative is that each chapter can be published as a stand-alone. Today, I feel that this chapter is complete and could carry the weight of story all on its own.

Best writing for today:  “I didn’t know I had so much blood inside of me. Feeling dizzy, I tenderly lowered myself onto the glass, lying on my back as if I were used to a bed such as this. I stared at the ceiling while waiting for Mrs. Heights to come help. The ceiling was the same gray cement color as the floor. There were thick cobwebs in the corners, and the ceiling seemed lower than I remembered. I watched as a spider dropped and trembled on a thread above my face. I was afraid of spiders. I tasted bile and my body began to shake.”

I know every writer has their own system, their method to “warm up” to write. I have a beautiful fountain pen with deep purple ink and I love both the sound of it scratching on paper and the way it feels as I write in my journals. It isn’t writing in a creative manner, I’m actually copying poems from my past journals into one place. This process connects my mind to my heart, my heart to my hand, my hand to pen and finally, pen to page. It is a quiet process. And slow. I have a permanent purple ink stain on my finger where the pen rests that looks like a deep bruise. This is one of those warm ups into writing.

Family Adventure = Bowling at Big Al’s. My gutter ball was so slow that it stalled in the gutter and I had to flag down a staff member to walk onto the lane and retrieve it for me. My youngest son beat us all in the first game. My disabled son won the second. I lost every time. I consider myself the entertainment factor for bowling as I roll it down the lane carefully so I don’t hurt my neck.

Water = forget it.

Core Strength = I held in my stomach most of today.

Guitar = it hurts to play. I can strum, but not pick and am only decent at three cords to date.

New Dish = Chicken Tortellini – Kosher, of course. Coated in salt, cracked pepper, olive oil, rosemary and a titch of lemon juice.

New Discovery = I enjoy my mid-life hot flashes. My feet are always cold and having this new internal heating pad doesn’t seem such a bad deal. At least for me.

Staying Bright.

 

 


This Writing Life…

Memorial Day.

Writers absorb the world in more detail than the average bear. We feel things more intensely and notice what is less obvious to the naked eye.

Today was a day to take in the world. My sons and I prepared 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed lunches for those less fortunate, those without homes. Since many Veterans suffer from homelessness, this was our way of giving back to those who were willing to risk the most ultimate sacrifice for our many conveniences.

My youngest needed music while “working” and so we listened to the “Purple People Eater” almost 8000 times. I had over-purchased jars of peanut butter and jelly, so on our way to deliver pre-packed lunches, which included fresh fruit and bottled water, we paused at the local food-bank and donated our excess product.

We took to the streets armed with the hope of giving. Initially, we couldn’t find anyone in need. We went to the normal corners where we notice those with a sign, “anything will help” or “family of four in need”. It took us over three hours to hand out 50 lunches, but we found them, people in need tucked away in the crannies of our city. They were lying near storefronts and in parks. One man paused, shook my hand and then saluted me, saying “G-d bless you and your family.” Another just kept saying thank you over and over.

What stood out the most were three people, separate from one another. They each were clearly hungry, yet they declined our offer for a free meal. It was heartbreaking. I knew that they didn’t trust us. Someone, somewhere had violated that trust. Someone, somewhere had pretended to offer them something good and somehow took terrible advantage of them or someone they knew. They had been hurt or deceived or worse. I didn’t want to think about it.

Great storytelling involves scene, capturing the concrete details and creating a world that the reader can enter, like a dream. But it can also involve, sometimes more than anything, the main character returning to their ordinary world changed. We, as a family, returned home altered, changed. We felt great because we helped someone else in some small capacity. But emotions are complex and we felt awful that we could not do much more and that so many people are hurting.

My youngest announced, “we alleviated some suffering today, Mom.”

Later, I met with my writing group, my tribe and I thought it funny how most of us sat there with pens that glide and journals small enough to carry everywhere. How alike we are in some connected capacity, yet how different the stories we share with one another in the hope of feedback to help shape us into better writers.

It was a good day for writing, one of heartfelt adsorption of the world around me and a connection with like-minded people I respect and admire. It was a good day for living, one of opportunity to instill in my sons the greatness of serving others and appreciating all that you have.

 


This Writing Life…

I have one word for myself as a writer: Sentimental.

Ugh. My early writing is so sentimentally ugly, so overstated and over-written. I am thankful for the ability to rewrite and revise, because I’ve probably rescued anyone that would have read my story from enduring much pain.

My favorite line from today’s revision: “She silently hands over her baby and a warm imprint remains on the pillow.”

Honestly, today has been one of the most solid writing days of my life. I re-worked this week’s chapter for two hours, submitted a short story to literary journals, wrote a rock-star cover letter, and completed a Letter of Intent. The LOI is for Poetic Therapy. I’ve been training, pre-degree, and accumulating hours to become a Poetic Therapist for the last three years. Now that I’m heading to grad school, I can officially submit my LOI and hopefully be accepted into the NAPT program.

And….there is still no water in my diet. I did brew three pots of herbal tea, homemade Chai, without caffeine, so I’m counting this as my water intake from henceforth. This means that I’ve consumed about 48 oz of water. If all else fails, I’ll start counting my cups of Java towards water intake. Desperate means…

My disabled son and I went to the gym for a “workout”. He’s in Superhero training to write his scripts for his own stories. So we did a few core activities, some light strength for our joints and a bit of flexibility.

I practiced three cords of guitar. This is so difficult for me. And frustrating. My hands do not work right and trying to make my fingers stretch for each cord is painful. The nerve damage from my neck injury makes me think that I may not develop that “muscle memory” needed to quickly switch from cord to cord. I don’t think my brain and my hands are communicating. But I’m determined. And I think this will help strengthen what has been lost in my hand function.

Rest. Better. I watched Sherlock, listened to my “Calm” app and sprayed my pillow with lavender oil. Though I didn’t sleep long, I did sleep well.

I have an interesting family “excursion” planned for tomorrow, but you’ll have to wait to read until after the event.

 

 


This Writing Life…

“This is Not an Exit,” the sign on the door reads. She pushes through and the acidic aroma of sanitation singes her nostrils. With every step, fluid seeps from the bottom of her soles to the tiny crevices between her toes, a distinct squish. The open room is dim, clay in color throughout. The voices maintain a respectful hush. There is space between each isolette like a wide road separating oncoming traffic to prevent a terrible accident.  The babies don’t look like babies. They are small, some only the size of a hand, with a film of fuzz and skin darkened and wrinkled like a bad sunburn. She tries to avert her eyes as she weaves past, more out of horror than respect. Though the ward is full of babies, all is quiet. This is the passage. A substitute for the womb, thinly lined with hope that each baby will finish the journey of growth and miraculously reach full term.

This is the opening paragraph of  a revised chapter somewhere, somehow, in the center of my manuscript. The first day of truly writing was a good day. As I worked my way through this chapter, I realized my writing was less than adequate. What is funny to me is that when I revised this entire project five years ago, I thought I was a solid writer. I’ve learned an incredible amount of detail work and storytelling during my undergrad work and now I’m both exhilarated and terrified to discover how I will feel about my writing in two years from now when I finish my MFA. I guess you should stay tuned.

As for my other goals. I’ve yet to drink a glass of water. Not even a sip. I’m not sure what this psychological resistance is about, perhaps the desire to pretend I’m indeed superhuman? I’ve committed myself to stop analyzing myself and just accept my quirks. So what? I don’t like water. I know I need to consume water. It is on my list of “things”. Core strength consisted mostly of laughter and mostly at myself.

Rest today is a four letter word. Two of my sons graduated from Middle School yesterday and we spent the evening at Wahooz, arriving home after 11 p.m. and up at 5. I’m tired, but joyful. I do believe this counts as a family encounter.

We are only a few hours from Shabbos and I’ve baked 8 loaves of Challah to share with neighbors and friends. In observing Shabbat, I will not write, but instead, I will marinade the remaining 7 pages of this chapter.

I created a neew list in my journal. Throughout my writing academics, I’d jot a “side note to self” in margins as a reminder to write about a specific event or perception or experience in my life. I paged through my 7 binders of writing notes and listed each and every item in which to write. This added up to 7 journal pages.

I’m beginning to think my new lucky number is 7.

I’m off to light beautiful candles to bring more Light into my home tonight and to dream of living the writing life that I’ve longed for most of my existence.


She Rises

The wobbly first step appears to be the most difficult, but becomes the most exhilarating.  Something unknown, yet the toddler fills with life.  Her curiosity erases her fear.

She launches.

The awkward first blast from the sprinter’s starting blocks looks embarrassing, but is alive with excitement and anticipation.  Blinded with wind in her eyes, yet the young athlete pushes forward, overflowing with determination.  She shows no shame.

She blasts.

The clumsy first dance on the eve of a social gathering seems humiliating.  Experiencing young love, the girl sees only the eyes of her date; the one she hopes will be her first real kiss–the kiss that counts.  She is complete in her thoughts and her dreams.  She understands no judgment.

She floats.

The unstable brave step out of an abuser’s prison proves a shattering event, but grows into a move based on faith.  Horrified that she has found herself in this place, she slowly allows self-forgiveness.  She realizes she can move on and heal.  She knows no limits.

She rises.


How Do You Live on Fire?

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I want to know…How are you living on fire right now with your one life?


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