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The Master Cat by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

The Master Cat by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

Creativity and inspiration, like many things in life, arrives in waves and cycles. Seeing that truth as a problem when the wave is out or the cycle is quiet has never been helpful to my peace of mind. This week, there hasn’t been any inner urging to post about a particular subject and I was tempted to skip a week. It happens to bloggers all the time. Who would ever notice?

Different thoughts went through my mind like butterflies. Blogging once a week is a practice that is serving me well; if I skipped a week would I ever return? Doing things mindlessly, like an automaton, isn’t so good–yet, it didn’t seem as though my habit is quite that bad. There’s no need to compare any of my posts with any other, whether mine or another bloggers.

I decided to take extra care with brunch and not think about it. It can be pleasant to rest and not have something calling to be expressed. Showing up here is a healthy practice and contributes to my feeling that all is well and it doesn’t have to be a bigger deal than it actually is.

I found a great picture that demonstrates how I’m choosing to approach this lull in what I wish to blog about. And like a cat, I might spring into action when there is something to spark my interest again.

What Writing Education?

There are always blogs to be found on writing here and once again I’ve just been reading some and am reminded that I’ve never been taught to write. That I recall. I was taught spelling in school, about nouns and verbs and such–punctuation but I don’t recall ever being taught to write. Which is odd because I like to write and I want to and I guess I’ll need to teach myself. Which I’m willing to do.
I grew up in a small mid-western town of about 750. There were 43 of us in my high school graduating class and it was a very poor school. Half of the young women were pregnant or had children, the Viet Nam war was still going and only a handful of us would go on to college or leave the area. A surprising number of us are deceased. If anyone wanted to be a writer, they were keeping it a big, big secret. Good idea.
My family lived way out in the country. I spent an unusual amount of time being isolated there. My mother had an eighth grade education and English was her second language. Often in school, I would be reprimanded by teachers or ridiculed by the other kids for pronouncing words incorrectly or just talking weird. Everyone had a kind of hillbilly accent which I wouldn’t learn until I left the area.
I read a lot of books, as many as I could get my hands on. There were very few books in our home and I made good use of the library. I recall a big deal about being allowed to check out Michener’s Hawaii because of a sex scene in it.
Having remarkably few conversations, my thinking voice and also some verbal exchanges became a mixture of the language in books, my mother’s style of speaking and what I picked up around me.
When I was working in the blue collar jobs I had, it didn’t go over well when I used big words. But often they were the only words that would come to mind when I was trying to express myself. Wanting to please, I would often attempt to tailor my speech and expression to whomever I was speaking to.
But it was often awkward and expressing myself still is. There’s often a feeling of not being clear or understood. And I don’t care as much but I am intending to learn some basic writing skills because I know things that I don’t have words for.
It’s almost a duty that people share what they know because we all need to teach and inspire each other.
More and more I realize how important it is for everyone to take responsibility for their own education. I made better than average grades because I wanted to be a good girl and I was a good memorizer. (What ever happened to that?) I didn’t really understand much though.

Sunday Morning Odds and Ends

Actually it’s mid-day here and warm out (relatively), I’m able to walk without too much pain and my hair is clean. So, I’m wanting to get out and get some more food before it rains–30% chance.

Writing my morning pages went well today–it unearthed something that may seem a little shadier than the bright tone I attempt to take here. It’s about nuances–as usual–regarding human nature–discernibility to the degree of acceptance in the now moment and the degree to which one wants to grow and move on to better circumstances, how sometimes it’s better to learn from someone closer to us in proximity than someone who would sell us a bulldozer for the task of digging a small flower bed for the first time ever. About how good people can be highway robbers, because we are traveling in a strange land where that’s the way it goes.

Whew! I’ll maybe get back to you on that–there is a wide gap between my consciousness and my ability to find terms and words and organize them with clarity, but this is important for me because it fine tunes the way I can handle obstacles on my journey. The audience I’m writing for, persevering people with huge challenges, willing to take responsibility, have self-authority and who are about a mile behind me–well, they are not on the internet reading WordPress blogs. And that’s O.K. I will carry on.

Reading a book about novel writing, I ran into the brick wall of not having an idea that I think I can manage somewhat for my first endeavor. For the time being anyway. And the little basil plant I’m growing from a seed (another post waiting) has survived the watering can washout from yesterday where it appeared to have vanished for a day. Win some, lose some. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell which is which.

Giselle Bundchen, a super-mode,l has said that sunscreen is bad–causes cancer, I think. I only read the headline, but I guess some big company is not liking her saying that. From all the research I’ve done, I agree with her. Except now I’ve modified it to putting sunscreen on the face for graceful aging purposes.

And and obscure source I check out has found that for many people there is a generation of our ancestors that got too much sun which altered DNA and that the current “craze” for vitamin D3 is not necessarily good. They work with miasms and vibrational remedies. We really need to pay attention and do due diligence when it comes to choices we make. Pay attention.

Then there are those who are in survival mode and the question of sunscreen and vitamin D3 supplements is not at all a priority.

Which brings me to another personal insight. Take my word, I’ve not had many good people in my life. On the hierarchy of needs, (Maslow?), I get frustrated with the belonging and be loved need and attempt to jump to self-actualization. Who wants to be stuck when the world doesn’t cooperate? It seems I’ve been in survival mode longer than I thought or want to be. Yet, I carry on.

Lastly, my blog got a lot of hits. From a spammer with an acne med. site. At least this one wasn’t about porn. Now, somewhat cheerfully I’m off to brave possibly eventual inclement weather to score some healthy food.

The Gem at the End

The quality of discernment is worth cultivating. It adds ease, efficiency and flow among other things, to our lives. Our individual balances differ from each other and they fluctuate constantly. I’m getting more bang from my effort lately by paying attention to nuances rather than the grosser (for lack of an immediate better word) activities. How about you?

Some things are diversions and time-wasters for sure but sometimes a practice can feel that way as a kind of resistance. Like when you’re a kid and you just know that brushing your teeth is a total waste of time that could be spent doing something more fun.

Morning pages (from Julia Cameron) is a practice that has been very valuable for me and can also seem questionable–a waste of time and paper. Not so. For another to read what I’ve written in the three pages of longhand each morning, it would certainly seem so.

When I grow as a writer and blogger, I could look at what’s been written and take the good stuff, do some editing and post it here. But I’m not there yet and I like this being kind of an organic thing, not pushing myself too hard. It might be different for you. When you get glimmers of your leading edge, do you like to seize the moment?

This morning I was writing (drivel) along, mostly about my day and what I “should” do and what I felt like doing and (not doing), kind of pleased that I’d shown up again for the three brain-dump pages and I noticed I was at the point where I had two lines on the yellow legal-pad page left. Something I heard about therapy flashed through my mind–that lots of times the client beats around the bush for most of the session and then blurts out a deeper truth just when the session ends, when they can then leave–or escape.

I’d been writing about the weather and at the last line and a half, I abruptly switched to a different topic–as an empath, much of what I’m doing here and elsewhere in my life is to convince myself that I actually do exist as an individual. Wow–that is a subtle but also big deal to me.

Most of us can’t afford years of therapy and many wouldn’t choose it even if they could. Do they wait until something hits them over the head enough times? Maybe those who actively look for change are really in a minority from those who really want the status quo. Me, I want to embrace growth and change and writing morning pages is a welcome tool for that.

My Blog, My Friend

I’m not really prepared to write anything but I’m here and I want to get off the computer and go out and do things.

I’ve just been drawn in to reading blogs I subscribe to and following links and have learned some tips about blogging that I’m just not ready to incorporate.

The one for writers about having their real names easy to find–that one can go because I am learning the craft.

I already know that it would help my blog if I posted more pictures but I see there is a limit until you need to upgrade and I plan to be here for awhile.

As far as focusing on a topic–well, no. I don’t want to. Maybe in a few years I can have separate blogs for my main interests but that isn’t really a focus of mine right now.

I’m using shorter paragraphs and breaking them up here (another tip), maybe to an exaggeration but it’s a trial-and-error thing which I might likely forget soon.

I read a blog post directed at writers about why their blogs suck. Again, LEARNING. It had to do with comments. People read my blog and don’t comment and that’s o.k. with me. I know it’s work to come up with something even if you like a post or if you don’t. Right now, I’m not writing to get people to follow me. I read other blogs for inspiration and information (and distraction) not to network.

What the hell am I trying to say? I’ve read some great tips on how to improve my blog and while I am willing to keep them in mind, I’m not willing to change until I feel like it. O.K. maybe I’m resistant and stubborn. It’s way more important for me to practice being authentic than working for support, approval and attention.

I really look forward to writing this everyday. Even on the days that I wonder if I can make any sense at all. It is having a cumulative healing effect and is positively impacting other areas of my life. No matter how many other frustrations and failings happen during the day, I can write a post. Accomplished.

Every single day, there are numerous things I could go into a rant about and so far, I believe, I’ve refrained from doing that.

My blog is my friend, no matter what anyone else thinks of it or whether they comment or not. Or whether anyone even finds it. It is amazing that I have perfectionist tendencies and high standards for someone who could be observed and labeled as a world-class, clumsy, slow, ineffectual loser. What a great job I’m doing of not letting all that ruin and discourage my experience here.

Now, no matter what little humiliations and glitches and annoyances I experience the rest of the day, I have successfully completed another blog post. And I did the shorter paragraph/breaking up thing. For today, anyway.

The Art Room

Yay me! I’m following through on bringing more artistic expression into my life. No matter how long it takes.
I’ve noticed that even though the morning is an awkward beginning for me, whatever I engage my mind in, I’m in that mode for awhile. When I write “morning pages” in longhand it activates that part of my brain and then it’s easier for me to read and comprehend what I’m reading.
That’s not so good for me physically though, if I want physical accomplishments that day. Which I certainly do.
So yesterday morning, after I was finished writing, I gently tore myself away from the sticky track of words and began coloring in my coloring book.
The coloring book calls for colored pencils. I got the book at an art fair held in a local park this summer. The one I chose was Wetland Critters. The artist is Sue Coccia. It’s difficult to stay within the very intricate lines. I can feel how good it is for me although I don’t have words to describe that.
When I was finished, I intended to do some needed maintenance activities in my apartment. Instead I wanted to mess with the painting I’m working on now–an old stone bridge and it’s reflection in the water. I took advantage of the ease energy of doing it while it was available to me. Frankly I’m overwhelmed by approaching artistic expression after more than 35 years.
The process felt good but the painting looks too splotchy and ill defined now. My hands tremor but I think I’ll get a tiny brush and use dark gray dots to define some of the areas. And I’m still wanting to paint people.
I’ve been diagnosed once with ADD. Also random, exasperated people have accused me of having ADD when I wasn’t being who and how they wanted me to be. Unless they’re paying me or supporting me, I don’t care anymore.
And I don’t label myself although in my research (I love to research for solutions–thank you, internet) I have found techniques that are useful to me.
One of the descriptions I’ve read–and it’s like how my brain works–is that if the brain were a house, and numbers were like an upstairs bedroom and words were like the kitchen and social interaction were like the hallway, most people could just walk from room to room. Some people with so-called ADD can access those rooms but it’s like they can’t just walk through the doorways. They have to get a ladder, crawl out a window and place the ladder against the outside of another room, climb up and crawl through the window.
That’s how it is to varying degrees and I’m learning to improve this (one of my many, many projects) and that’s why many goal setting techniques recommended for the masses do not work for me. When my schedule is somewhat flexible, I need to consider what I’ve got going for me–and which room I’m in.
When I have commitments and obligations to other people, I am very, very conscientious, considerate and dependable to the degree that I can manage. I work harder at it than most people, often to my detriment.
I am a survivor and I have a certain kind of intelligence that has gotten me this far, even with the lack of information and support about the best way for me to navigate in the world.
And when I get better at my own navigation, I’ll be someone who understands what it’s like for many other people who are struggling.
Things are not as they appear. And I have a huge, huge clue about how it’s not wise to judge other people.
And I guess that’s of way more value to me than people who are now appearing to be way more functional than me in the 3D world. Bless them, I’m glad many of them are operating so efficiently.
So when I find myself in the art room of my brain, I’m going to play. Even if it looks like I’m making a mess.

Learning From My Three Favorite Novels

the ones on the shelf instead of the floor

the ones on the shelf instead of stacked on the floor

The novel writing book I’m reading by Donald Maass asked for the reader to pick their three favorite novels and intuit or look for why they’re favorites. I chose “Silent In The Grave” by Deanna Raybourn, “The Year Of Pleasures” by Elizabeth Berg” and “A Walk In The Woods” by Bill Bryson.
The character in the Raybourn book is very likable and honest with herself. It’s the descriptive quality of her relationship with people and things around her that I enjoy. She’s wealthy and the story takes place in Victorian times. Many Victorian novels seem bleak to me and while this one isn’t fluffy or frivolous, it is lighter. I love the sense of place and descriptions of clothes, furniture, homes and gloriously, food. It felt good to read of Lady Julia Grey’s relationship with some of her servants, which could be humorous but not in an over-the-top way.
The Berg book (which darn it, I loaned out and will have to obtain a new copy for myself) is about a favorite theme of mine–a mature woman whose old life is gone and the steps she takes to find her way into a new one. It’s what I liked about the film “Under The Tuscan Sun”, a favorite of mine. The book isn’t about drama and angst and suffering. It is subtle and the descriptions of the place and things and the interior journey all blend well together in a way that’s soothing and sensual to me.
Bryson’s book is the funniest book I’ve ever read and I laugh out loud until I have tears. Even though he’s a guy I can relate to the process of setting an incredibly unrealistic goal, forging ahead without proper conditioning and preparation and then the ensuing inner conflict of realizing he’s in way over his head. Again, there is a lot of description of the Appalachian Trail and his relationship to it.
As I read a little further in Haass’s Writing The Breakout Novel, he mentions how 19th century novels treated the landscape as a character in the story. Of course! The outdoors and nature are very alive to me. Setting and landscape can feel more important to me than the action part of the story, although I resent being jerked around and manipulated by the action part and for personal reasons I don’t tolerate tragedy and unfortunate endings well. (I avoid Oprah’s book selections.)
I love the Britflick series Midsomer Murders and it isn’t for the story. It’s for the amazingly gorgeous settings and the relationships.
Relationships between people and things and surroundings are interesting to me as well as relationships between people. In at least one of my posts here, I’ve mentioned that I like stuff. When meeting new people as potential friends, not only do I notice how they treat others but also the way the relate to their cars, electronics, clothes and the environment among other things.
I’ve also mentioned I like the show “Burn Notice” and it certainly isn’t for the story, blowing things up, etc. It’s for the character’s integrity and their relationships to each other. I would never read books about those stories, I think, because it’s a visual thing and the actors do a great job. Although I can appreciate the written descriptions in Robert B. Parker’s novels.
Since I tend to over-analyze and think things to death (oh, you’ve noticed?) I usually stay away from books making intellectual points (although I love the novel Ishmael) and go for more sensual stories.
I avoid books about illness and suffering with the exception of Stephen White’s books. He has a character with MS and he does an awesome job of portraying her as a complex, whole, interesting person who is so much more than her illness.
Now there, I’ve learned a little something about myself and what I look for in a book. And one thing I know for sure–as I’m learning to write, this is the approach that will more likely bringing me an enjoyable experience. I’m well aware that the craft part, very little of which I remember from high school (nope, didn’t take any courses in college on that) and grammar and such–well, I have a lot to learn and refresh there. It isn’t the place to begin for me. So much of my introduction to various things in life have been more of a turn-off and discouragement instead of an inspiration. I’m going to approach it from a direction that might work a lot better for me.

Reading a Writing Book

Sometimes I enjoy reading novels and sometimes I like to write. Sometimes really weird and interesting things have happened in my life or to someone I know and I’ve wished I had the skills and other qualities it takes to write a book. When I read an amazing book I often wish I’d written it.
It’s only been lately that I’ve taken up the notion of writing a book for the experience of it. Actually, I’ve written one accidentally and that’s for another post.
Where to begin? I know about eating the elephant one bite at a time but I don’t know where to start. Organizing and structure in life are not my strength. I can be visionary and see the huge, cosmic picture and also get lost in details but as for any kind of structure that resembles what others consider functional–it’s overwhelming to me and I have to feel my way into it. My intellect balks.
Not being averse to really crappy first efforts (as long as no one is looking) I’ve collected three books on novel writing. The first is Chris Baty’s “No Plot, No Problem” which I used for support in writing that first accidental novel.
The second one, which I’ve recently begun is “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass. I chose it because I buy a LOT of books from Amazon and bless their business-like hearts, they are always showing me recommendations for books that I’d never find any other way. I also look at reviews (with skepticism) because often I am not in agreement with critics, people who don’t like something seem more likely to write reviews than people who think it’s just fine and also because I don’t trust the judgement of many of the reviewers. Something about the reviews of this book made me want to give it a whirl and I ordered a used copy.
The book was published in 2001 and the beginning of it has to do with the changing publishing world, which of course is way different now. The publishing world isn’t what I’m wanting to learn about right now and I’m smart enough to know things have changed anyway so I proceeded on.
I like the book and even though I’m not very far along in it I’m already noticing things differently when I read fiction. (I’m reading “Breaking Dawn” right now. Don’t judge me.)
Reading the chapter about Premise, which I’d never thought about before, I got stuck for a little while on the exercise where the reader is to choose their three favorite novels for consideration. Novels they’ve read over and over and that they can go to the shelf and pick up and put in front of them.
After putting too much energy into the exercise, I told myself to just move on. It isn’t a test and there’s no wrong answer and no one cares.
I chose Deanna Raybourn’s “Silent In The Grave”, Elizabeth Berg’s “The Year of Pleasures” and believe it or not, Bill Bryson’s “A Walk In The Woods”.
It’s not clear to me yet why I really like these books so much but I’m sure that it will dawn on me. I mean what the books have in common that fit the elusive-to-describe criteria of what’s magic for me.

Stuff

We all know that what’s on television does not resemble real life. I don’t own a television but occasionally I’ll get drawn into shows on Hulu. Last night I watched two episodes of Castle, which I’d never seen before.
After reading blogs by writers here lately and about the hard work it involves and such, I took note that one of the main characters is a writer of crime novels. And apparently very, very successful.
The set that is his “home” is very rich and modern looking. Castle never seemed overwhelmed and angst-ridden by writer’s blocks and dilemmas. He wrote a novel over the summer and is going to go on a book tour. Then he saved an old historic bar called The Old Haunt by buying it. With cash.
Anyway, I guess people who are that wealthy have housekeepers and assistants to help take care of their stuff. Taking on new objects is not just about the upfront cost, there’s the time, energy, space and upkeep involved. Lately it seems that most things aren’t worth it to me.
Ideally, I prefer to have quality, artisan-made stuff with an element of good stewardship on my part. Then there are environmental factors regarding all the stuff consumers collect.
When I left home at seventeen and went to college I barely had anything. It was the same for my friends. Most student apartments were furnished and it was really easy to move every six months. Sure there were things I wanted but I don’t recall feeling deprived.
Three and a half years ago I went into major redecorating mode after years of not much change although I moved quite often. It was fun and I did a great job. I’m glad I did it in the little window of opportunity I had because now I am certainly not in the mood to do the research and make those kinds of decisions.
In some ways it almost seems “incorrect” to be too enthused about acquiring stuff when so many people are having a rough time that aren’t used to it. At least for me it is, I’m rather tolerant of other people being where they’re at on their journey (as long as I don’t have to listen to them too much).
Anyway, watching Castle was diverting and not bad story-telling but I doubt if that’s the typical lifestyle of a writer.

My Brand or My Stripper Name?

I’m really enjoying my blog and reading what other people write. I’m learning things here.

At this time of my life I have time to write and I’m wanting to expand that even though I don’t have a plan—just the occasional fantasy.

Several days ago I received a book about social media for writers. Reading about social media has never sounded interesting to me but I liked the writing style of the author, Kristin Lamb, who has a WordPress blog.  It interests me to read about how creative people adapt to all the changes in the world.

Also I enjoy reading about well-organized systems and strategies.  I’m only partially into the book so I’m not qualified to review it but I really like what I’ve read so far.  It’s like having a friendly, enthusiastic person sharing what they’ve learned about something that could save people from a lot of trouble and mistakes.

As I’m reading  I can get a clear idea of where I’m at with all this which realistically isn’t much of anywhere and I’m fine with that.

If I wanted this blog for professional or business purposes, I’ve already screwed up. I’m usually late to anything that comes along and anything like a reasonable username for me is already taken and then I usually pick something on a whim. Such is the case with my username here. Lamb has a solution for that.

Today while I was distracting  myself to get through checking out something that’s gone wrong in the bottom of my dishwasher…..ugh….with aching joints, I was considering my username and how it might work as a brand for something.

Then I decided it might be better as a stripper name, especially if I was male.

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