Follow by Email

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Industriousness

Photo by Laura Bear
 What a beautiful weekend! Here is how I spent Saturday...stacking the rest of the two and a half cords of wood piled in the driveway (still need to order two more cords to get us through the winter). Then we planted the gardens so we can harvest fresh veggies this summer and fall for delectable dishes. These things took us all day because I was overzealous in my seedling buying and we had to plant the back corner garden (and mulch it and get more fencing to keep out critters and drag the hose up to water it, etc.). Our sweet little neighbor girls chatted me up over the back fence and gave me two of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever eaten (I may have been starving, but they were delicious). I did give my husband the other cookie, although it was tempting to gobble them both up (who would know?). Damn conscience.

But, it's done and so we had time for a long bike ride today on one of our favorite routes. Just a hair under 40 miles, but you don't see me on the couch (Kevin). I can't play hookey the whole weekend. Like I said in an earlier post, I can't not write for too long, although it's much more difficult when the weather is perfect.

Actually, I have been researching book promotion in anticipation of the release of my novel next year. So much to learn! I have been doing more reading than writing lately. But, I did manage to get a couple scenes written for my next book and am working on a short story. Tonight and tomorrow I will be working on my book blurb, press release, paring down and polishing my synopsis, and coming up with a bio. Did I mention that my publisher, Unsolicited Press (www.unsolicitedpress.com) has a fantabulous journal called The Fictioneer http://www.unsolicitedpress.com/the-fictioneer.html ? They do indeed and my writer friends are welcome to submit short fiction or even non-fiction after reading their guidelines.

As beautiful as this weekend is, I do have to pause to remember our veterans. My father, who served in the airforce and my late father-in-law who was a Seabee in WWII. I am grateful for my freedom of speech, among many other things. Whenever I get annoyed by all the political rhetoric or the what ignorant people say in the press or say against one political party or another, it helps me to remember that this is possible because brave men and women have been willing to fight for what they believe is right. They sacrificed so we don't have to. How do you adequately thank someone for that? Please remember and care for our veterans, especially when they need us.

Anyway, that's the scoop for now. Thank you for spending a few minutes with me.


Photo by Kevin Tomasello

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sweet Solitude

Photo by Kevin Tomasello
Sometimes--really, all the time--it's hard to balance creativity with the demands of daily life.

I am someone who needs a lot of alone time. In fact, I seem to need way more than most people. I mean, I like people, but I get grumpy if I am forced to be with others without breaks of solitude.

As a human being, it is necessary and good to connect with other human beings. I spend at least 95% of my day trying to connect with other people face to face as part of my day job. I chose this and I love it, but it drains me. When I come home, my spouse wants to connect with me. I get that. I like him. He's a pretty cool guy most of the time, except when I am on empty. Then no one is cool. He would argue that I appear to be on empty most of the time, I'm sure. I really don't try to be. My husband took the photo above, by the way. We both take so many pictures that I forget who did what, but that's his canoe. We each have our own boat. This is important for marital harmony.

I have a framed black and white photograph in my writing room of a person in a single rowing scull in the moonlight by Bruce Stromberg that I've had since high school. At the bottom is a quote from a guy named Omar Khayyam : "The thoughtful soul to solitude retires." It still speaks to me after all these years.

When my son was little, solitude was impossible. Little kids follow you into the bathroom for heaven's sake. But, then his father and I divorced and I moved far away and I missed my son more than my own breath under water. He's a young man now, planning his own wedding, and I savor any time I can get with him. I don't seem to need so much solitude when he's around.

But, I still need it...like air. Like water. I'm not a good person when I can't take time by myself in nature. Yes, the nature part is important. It's the only way I can recharge. Not that there's so much amazing activity going on in my brain that I have to commune with it. Usually, my mind is full of junk. Icky, sticky, tarry pollution that I need to purge before it suffocates me. I find it easiest to purge when I am by myself, outside...or inside on the page with the windows open, or at least with a window that looks out at nature. I use my solitude to face the world again because I do want to connect with other human beings. Here's another good quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:

What lies behind us 
and what lies before us 
are tiny matters 
compared to what lies within us.

I can't find out what's within without that solitary window. And then, hopefully, whatever I can siphon from that weird wreckage of my mind is worth sharing with the world.

May you also find peace and solitude when you need it.



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Joy , Validation and Perseverance

Photo by Kevin Tomasello
It's been a great week.

The big news is I am about to sign a contract for publication of my NOVEL with UNSOLICITED PRESS! A very cool independent press in Northern California. Check it out:
 www.unsolicitedpress.com

And this weekend it's my birthday and Mother's Day. And we've had a few beautiful sunny days in a row, so I got to ride my bike outside with silly bicycle shorts instead of cumbersome, restrictive bulge-inducing tights. And I got to eat birthday carrot cake from Wegman's and my mother's strawberry cake and Grandma Bear's- recipe-made-by-my-Mom chocolate cake with chocolate mocha frosting. (See why I needed the bicycle rides)?
Life is good.

That's my little dog Teddy above. He  is a little brain-damaged and doesn't know how to play with a ball like regular dogs. In fact, he is afraid of balls, even if one is simply resting quietly in the middle of the floor. Instead, he expresses joy by running around in circles. He can run faster than I can and I thought you would much rather see a furry little dog zooming around than me collapsing on my bum knee after jumping for joy. This is what it feels like to get an acceptance from a publisher you really like!

So, validation arrives for my writing. This is fantastic, but would I keep writing if no one wanted to see it? Some days I might say no, it's too hard. It's too big. It means too much. I don't have enough ideas. I don't have enough time. Whine, whine...wine! Then I remember how I feel whenever I read really good writing. I need to keep writing. I want to be that writer that stays with a reader long after the book is over. I want to keep writing better. I want to stir some souls (or at least entertain them for a while).

One of my favorite poems is actually about poetry, but it completely expresses how I feel about any creative writing. Pablo Neruda wrote a poem called Poetry that is so good I can't even stand it. I can't breathe whenever I read this poem. There is a reason this man won the Nobel Prize for his poetry. You need to read the whole thing to get the feeling, but here is how Poetry by Pablo Neruda ends:

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry 
void,
likeness, image of
mystery
felt myself a pure part 
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars, 
my heart broke loose on the wind.

Seriously! My heart breaks loose every time I read this poem. This is what writing means to me. I can moan about the process sometimes, but I can't stay away from it. It is part of me. I am counting my blessings.

Let the editing begin!







Friday, May 2, 2014

Finding My Tribe

Photo by Laura Bear
I recently spent a productive four days at a lovely house on Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York state with four talented, fascinating women. We each spent our first day decompressing from a stressful week and it was gratifying to experience and witness the gradual unfolding of peace and inspiration in all of us. Clearly, a retreat was long overdue.

Several of us hold full-time work outside of our writing lives. Although the day job may involve much writing, it is not typically of the creative soul-feeding type. As women with families, it is also unusual to steal un-distracted and uninterrupted time for that type of writing. Even more important was the chance to rekindle creative energy. I think it is safe to say that women in general spend much of our lives tending to the needs of others. Often, we do so willingly, but it drains us. That's what happens when you go with the flow, sometimes you get sucked down the drain.

The cool thing about spending four days with other women who write, is that we all write different stuff, but we could still relate to each other as writers...and people. Turns out we all like good food. And wine. Word play. And taking long walks or vigorous hikes. Or we kayak. We all love nature. We tell the truth. We appreciate beauty--whether it is a "beautiful, sleeping man" (wink wink, Elena) or a beautiful waterfall. The call of a loon on the lake. All of this feeds the muse, whatever that is. My muse is a wily b**ch. A shape-shifter who darts in and out with frustrating inconsistency. But, we all have one. I guarantee it.

Find your tribe. Invite the muse. Celebrate.

Check out the following links for excellent writerly advice, inspiration, and tidbits about literature and food:

writerunboxed.com

elenagreene.com

http://www.creative-writing-now.com/

www.thedomesticbeast.com