One True Sentence

There are exercises we can do to practice and improve our writing skills. And I think that the writing process itself can be a mental exercise. Occasionally it is physical exercise: when we pace the room, walk our dogs to help ideas ferment, or we frustratingly throw our ideas at the wall.

In 2016 my resolution was to work on my writing or photography for 10 minutes a day. Those structured minutes often blossomed into 50, 60 minutes as I got engrossed in my daily project. I updated both my personal and work blogs frequently, explored other blogs, conversed online with fellow writers, read works by a variety of authors, and started to head into unexpected areas.

This year, without a specific plan, I recently realized that I am filling that allotted time with additional work tasks. I miss my creative outlet. Ideas remain spinning in my brain, wisps of characters evolving then vanishing, months without poetry.

I am going to mentally slot that time back into my day. It is a gift to myself—just 10 minutes a day.

In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway said:

You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

And then you can keep moving forward.

The journey continues.

C

2017 Direction of My Blog Decided

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Love the remnants of this sign I saw on the highway. 

I am choosing action and positivity, despite the ugly, misogynistic, racist, ranting posts, emails, and behavior this election has spurred. I have un-friended, defended, commented, ignored, and now decided it is time to engage, influence the change in direction of the conversation.

On my last post, I wasn’t sure what to do with this blog. But, now I have a plan for 2017. Each week my posts will focus on something to get us through these turbulent times.

I asked my family and friends on Facebook for some ideas of what to write about. The initial suggestions I threw out were: family, inclusion, action, exercise, technology, activism.

Here were some wildly varied and unexpected ideas inspired by people who read that post, in no particular order:

  • Nature and my photography
  • Reasonably prices wines and champagnes (there were a couple suggestions for this topic. You know me well, my friends!)
  • Exercise and healthy eating during the holiday season
  • The art of a civil conversation when there is disagreement
  • Favorite places to travel and why
  • Choose a word (like ‘peace’, ‘inclusion’ ‘determination’) and tell a story around it
  • Find an inspiring person and tell how they have moved me
  • Research my past and find a lasting impact a relative has had
  • Good books to read
  • Gift ideas for 20-something aged children
  • Favorite holiday traditions – how and when they came to be
  • Acts of Kindness that I see in the world
  • Charities and groups that need attention and help

What creative ideas, many that I would not have thought of! A couple people also volunteered to help guide some of the posts (ie. a friend who is a nutritionist/trainer).

Now I need to decide if I should use this blog as the forum for 2017, or if I should start a totally new one. Feel free to add other ideas below! I welcome other ideas, since I have 52 weeks to fill.

A new direction, a changed journey.  How exciting.

C

Where Does this Blog Go Next and other New Year’s Resolution Conundrums

I resurrected my blog this year as part of my New Year’s resolution to spent 10 minutes a day (10MaD) to “explore the arts” in 2016. The idea came from an article by Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune. 
My resolution included writing in this blog, my work blog, and taking photographs. You can read about my first blog post about my 2016 plans here. I wanted to also start on a novel, but the time is too fragmented to do much more than flush out characters.
What have I enjoyed? 

  • Verbalizing my opinions and ideas
  • Sharing my essays
  • Writing poetry again
  • Taking personal photo assignment days to improve my work
  • “Meeting” other bloggers
  • Keeping my business site, along with the personal site, current
  • Coming up with new ideas to write about
  • That 10 minutes often turns into 30-60 minutes of creativity.

What has been stressful?

  • Carving out that 10MaD during travel or very crazy days
  • Coming up with new ideas to write about
  • Sharing my ideas and thoughts with friends and strangers, opening myself up for criticism

The next month I will be reviewing the type of content I have added to both my sites this year. What topics resonated? what formats? Interestingly, many more people post comments an my Facebook and Twitter links. Should I keep this site active in 2017? Start something new that focuses on one topic?

 I will certainly keep posting on my business site. I often share those posts with clients, prospects can learn from it, other industry sites have shared some posts, and I get feedback from other database marketing industry professionals. 

If you have any ideas or feedback, I would love to hear from you.

Updating My Blog Design

I didn’t think it would be this stressful, updating the design for my blog. The old look was outdated, with clashing colors and hard for people to share. Time for a new attitude! For the past couple weeks, I checked out other blogs, tested different formats.

What image was I trying to evoke?

Which had a clean design? Uncluttered?

Where could I best highlight some of my photographs?

Which allowed easy and obvious sharing?

Which said ME?

Which formats would best show the work I have already shared?

After searching a variety of sites, I can say that there certainly are a wide variety of WordPress formats to fit many personalities, uses, and goals.

I selected a handful I thought I might like, then ignored that list for a couple days. After a final review, I whittled that list down to 2 I liked. Time to test! I tried one, and it was way too in-your-face. I changed it to the one you see here: Hemingway Rewritten. Spare, lots of white space, like his writing, of which I have become a huge fan over the last couple years.

Once I finalized the theme,  I added the widgets, cover shot, re-organized the columns.

Would anyone but me notice? Would anyone care? And is this representative of who I am, today? tomorrow?

Personally, I like the updated design. I think it easily shows who I am.

Now I wonder–do I like my content? My posts are simple, honest, emotional, reminders. There are short articles, photos, poems, rants, feelings, growth.   Too much? Too little? For now, like Goldilocks, I say just right. Or write.

C

P.S.  The day after I wrote this, I noticed that People.com updated their design.  I wonder how many people and how much time went into their changes?

P.P.S  Feel free to share your feedback or suggestions on the new look.

 

Novel Writing & Procrastination

How many words, books, articles have been written about the actual process of writing a novel? How many lectures have been given by teachers, authors, researchers, brainiacs,or idiots about this topic?

imgp4242Yet, writers tackle their work in a variety of ways, just how we can each see a different image in the floating clouds. Some authors start with outlines, some the themes, the characters, or the essence of the idea.

I have been frustrating myself, diving into this endeavor. I have written in many formats, but my goal is to craft a novel. I could procrastinate further, simply researching the methods people use to complete their novel.

Do I create new characters, the theme, the tone, flush out a character already created in a short story?   Do I write it in long hand or type it on the computer? And how do I make it MY story, without turning a real event or person I know into a blip, a chapter—especially if it’s going to hurt someone? Do I write when the mood hits, or set aside time each day to write, amongst all my other responsibilities?

It’s so easy just to get lost searching online, trying to find the ”best” way to write a novel.   But, we are all artists. We all have our own creative flow—so when that story comes, we need to capture the words and mood before they vanish from our thoughts.

We also need the discipline to actually finish the draft. It’s a lonely process. Then be unafraid to show it to someone. Even if it remains unpublished, sometimes creating the beginning to the end is enough.

How many unpublished manuscripts sit in drawers, closets, on DVD’s, in notebooks?

Now, I better stop procrastinating and start writing. My notebook with my character sketches is waiting to be further filled out.

C

Twilight Bliss

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A mural
of muted rose to pale gold to
midnight blue
reflected from sky to water
then seemingly back into the clouds.

A pair of ducks sits on the color-splashed surface
taking in the night sky,
diving for dinner.

The lone fisherman,
snaps his line
as he casts into the lake
causing a ripple of movement
then gently pulls on his rod,
reels in,
casts again
and again
his meditation for the day,
his release.

A silver crescent of moon
brightens the darkened corner
of the sky-
the cicadas calling
the frogs humming,
barely visible waves lapping the shoreline.

I sat serenely on the still sun-kissed bench
to just absorb
listen
and breathe,
empty my crowded, jumping mind
and fill it with calm. And beauty. And respite.

C

Inspiration was the boardwalk at Lake Zurich, IL. Pictures taken there 8/8/16 on iPhone 6.

Writer’s Block Vanish

halt!
no fingers slide across the keys
the brain frozen
while the mind froths over
with hidden lists
of work family travel dogs weather work work exercise errands
what is for dinner?

the heart invisible
silent
unfeeling
unable or unwilling to process
emotion
coherent phrases
complete thoughts

but suddenly tangled nonsensical words
appear on the page

how did they get there?
do they flow?
or will they vanish by choice
or chance?

then another day later
typing fingers trot across the keyboard
the brain moving faster than
thoughts can be captured
time for recorder
but it is easier to follow
written than spoken ideas
for me

does it matter?
who will remember?
who will pause in busy lives
to read words phrases sentences
an emotion hit
a heartbeat lit
a rhyme spit.

Go.