joy–dVerse Quadrille #39

Mina Loy, Image by Dave Bonta, via Flickr
Labeled for Reuse

joy

word after word arises
from the morass of her
muddled mind—memories,
loves losses tumble
onto blank pages
like flakes of snow
in wide open fields

the poet inhales sweet spring,
moldering leaves
in piles of autumn
revels in creation-bliss
waits for the unknown

Welcome to another round of dVerse Quadrille, the 39th, hosted by Bjorn. A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words, not counting the title. This week the word that must be included in the poem itself is BLISS, in any of its forms. We hope you will join us. The pub opens at 3:00 PM EDT. The prompt is open all week.

The Zen of Soup-Making: Monday Meanderings

Photo: cincinnatiwaldorschool.org

Photo: cincinnatiwaldorschool.org

Most everyone who has visited my blog knows that my husband is the cook. I’m the housekeeper and laundress, but he is the chef. That does not mean, however, that on occasion I’m not drawn to the kitchen.

The “occasion” began yesterday when I had the bone of a turkey breast to dispose of and decided, instead, to begin a pot of soup. I tossed it in a pot, added finely chopped celery, onions and carrots, water and chicken broth and left it on its own over a low heat. Soon the house was filled with an appetite-inducing aroma. I waited for the Master Chef to do his magic with the spices then, after it stewed some more, allowed it to cool before relegating it to the fridge overnight.

This morning, as it began to warm up again on the stove, I took it a step further. That was when I came to realize that soup-making could, indeed, become a sacred moment and a powerful tool of the creative muse.

As I cut chunks of carrots, the sounds of the blade against the cutting board wed the song of finches eating from the feeder outside the kitchen window. Two dogs sat, ears pricked, eyes fixed on my every move, hoping I would notice and reward them with a tiny morsel. When I switched to celery, their interest waned.

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A few minutes later, a mallard couple stealthily made their way up from the pond, planning, no doubt, to encroach upon the smaller birds seed. I waved them off, reminding them that I would toss what was left onto their turf when the finches and sparrows had finished.

My chopping continued followed by clean up as I contemplated the wonder of simple tasks completed with awareness. It was a time to surrender to the stillness, to trust. A time to gestate.

Such is the magic of simple tasks, a spiritual discipline, an uncluttered mind.

On another note, I find I need to take some time to bring a couple of projects to completion. Although I will continue to post, my participation will be more limited for a while. I’ve made the difficult decision to step away from hosting a dVerse for a few months (after this weeks Meeting the Bar)–however long it takes me to publish a novel that’s sitting out there waiting for my attention. I’ve decided to go the route of self-publishing on this one. I will continue to share on-line, but in a more limited role. And I remain committed, of course, to comment on those who visit my work.

Write2Day–Finding the Muse

Hesiod and the Muse

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a poll, asking which day of the week would serve best for a post combining my on-going features about writing technique, trends and prompts (Monday Morning Writing Prompt and Wordsmith Wednesday). Wednesday afternoon to Thursday took top spot. Several of you told me to go with whatever works best for me, so there may be some variance from time-to-time.

In today’s ponderings, I’d like to explore a topic I’ll call, Finding the Muse. It’s a topic that’s been a recurrent visitor to my blog because, from time-to-time we (should I say I?) need a kick in the butt to jumpstart truly creative writing.

Quantity writing can be a symptom of a complusive disorder…especially if that writing lacks quality. There are times when we need to find balance between writing and not-writing, with the goal of using that downtime to nurture the muse. Writing is a priority in our lives, but it isn’t the whole story. To be a good writer, in my opinion, it’s important to do more than write. We need to conceive our work before taking up pen and paper, and we need to hone the work once it’s completed.

Here are a few outside-of-writing considerations to help produce quality poetry and/or prose:

  • Write what you know, but go out and learn something new so you have more to write about. Take a class, read, consult experts in other fields, learn a new hobby or skill, spend a day with someone on the job.
  • Meet and interview people who have a different take on life. Write from a point of view that differs from your own, read essays and op-ed pieces. Explore other religions.
  • Travel. If you can’t afford to take a trip, watch travelogues, jump on the Internet and go new places. The world can come to us through our monitors.
  • Read something from a different era or country. Pick up a book or watch a movie that packed full of adventures you’ll never experience in your own life situation. Do whatever you need to in order to get out of the confines of your day-to-day existence.
  • Take time to notice the details of life that is within your scope of living but that you tend to ignore. Observe the baristas at Starbucks. Watch the chefs in a diner or pizza joint. Take a field trip to a brewery, a manufacturing facility or warehouse.
  • Invite your imagination to go on a date with you. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Stay home and daydream.

For this week’s prompt, chose one of the above suggestions and write whatever came out of that experience. Write poetry or prose. Make a list. Share a journal entry. Whatever. If you’re stuck in the quagmire of writer’s block or mediocre writing (like I am) this may be just the Rx you need.

To join in:

  • Share the results on your blog.
  • Copy your URL, access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post. Share your name and paste your URL
  • Visit and comment on other blogger’s work.
  • Extend an invitation to one or more of your favorite blogger to join us.
  • Have fun.

The link will be open until a new Write2Day is posted.

Image: Hesiod and the Muse: Public Domain

Wordsmith Wednesday–12 Sources of Poetic Inspiration

Illustration from the cover of Christina Rosse...

Image via Wikipedia

Today I’ve been considering the sources we poets turn to for poetic inspiration–so today’s Wordsmith Wednesday is for poets although I’m sure that it can be useful to prose writers as well. I’m going to short-list some of the sources I turn to to be inspired in my writing. I’m hoping that you will add to it in the comments section.

  • Nature–look for details, metaphors, lessons that are present all around us. When stuck, it often helps me to take a walk. I’m blessed to live in a place that is replete with nature’s offerings.
  • Reading–read other poets. Their work often tickles my creative muse. I’ve mentioned some of my favorites in my list of recommended reading.
  • News sources–look for the seeds of story-poems hidden in the newspaper, on the Internet or on TV news broadcast.
  • Poetic Forms–do an Internet search and check out poetic forms. For me, the discipline of a form can jump-start and idea.
  • Spirituality–look to metaphysical/religious ideas and writings such as the Bible or holy books of other spiritual traditions. Look within at your own spiritual experience.
  • Relationships–these evoke emotional reactions that are often begging to be expressed.
  • History–check out historical events as well as your own history. There are stories to tell.
  • Mythology–although this is not an area of expertise for me, I’ve read much poetry that draws on the classical myths, stories that transcend time.
  • Science–a wonderful well-spring of poetic inspiration.
  • Art–Use painting, sculpture, photography and translate your experience into words.
  • Writing Prompts–those of us who participate in writing communities have a wealth of material tossed out at us on a daily or weekly basis. Check out some of the sites on my blogroll. I’d love to see you link up to my own Monday Morning Writing Prompt.
  • Political issues–need I say more? My personal viewpoint is to stay away from personal attacks and stick to the issues.

I hope these will be helpful to you, especially if you are feeling stuck right now. There are more–help me expand the list if you will!

Monday Morning Writing Prompt: Headliners

newspapers

Image by Gary Thomson via Flickr

Fiction and poetry writers can find inspiration for their writing in daily newspapers or on-line news sources. I’m sure many of us recognize story lines from real life events in TV dramas. For today’s prompt, browse the news and find your own inspiration for a poem or short fiction.

Please link your work to this post in comments. I’ll add mine later this week. Now, I’m off to find a story.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Chat with an Author

Collage of photos of authors

Image via Wikipedia

Here we are, the last week of September. To help you get the creative juices flowing this morning, I offer you this prompt:

You are conducting an author interview. Your first question is simple–“Why do you write?” Choose one of the following authors, use your imagination and construct a brief dialogue with them discussing this topic.

  • Emily Dickinson
  • Ernest Hemmingway
  • Barbara Kingsolver
  • Lee Child
  • or someone of your choice

Post your dialogue and add the link in comments. Have a good week writing.

Genre-Hopping

Sometimes I feel so unfocused. I write short stories, flash fiction, novels, essays, non-fiction articles and poetry. I blog. I read books and articles on all of these genres. I’ve published short fiction, poetry and articles in local publications. I feel like I want to do it all, but have to question myself: Is it better to concentrate on one area of expertise or is it okay to be like the hummingbirds in my garden that flit from one source of nectar to another?

Then there’s the whole question of genre within the field of fiction. It’s not always easy to neatly fold our work into a neat little package and give it a label. For example, Winter is Past. I’m inclined to call it literary fiction, or maybe commercial/mainstream. It contains elements of tragedy along with a love story that doesn’t follow the recipe for romance. My agent calls it inspirational fiction, but it seems too weighty for publishers who are looking for a work that is light-hearted, uplifting…although the underlying message is one of hope. The same applies to The Sin of His Father.  Again, I lean toward branding it literary fiction. Both novels seem to me to be character-driven but both also have a well-defined plots.

I think when it comes to choosing where to invest our writing time and energy it’s important to ask ourselves a few questions:

  • What is my purpose in life, in writing?
  • Am I looking to entertain, enlighten, teach, or a combination of these?
  • How important/necessary to me is it to make money? Do I rely on  my writing as a base of income?
  • Who is my targeted audience?
  • Do I want to go the traditional route for publishing, or will I self-publish?
  • Where do I want to be in five years? In ten?
  • How much time do I have to devote to my craft?
  • Where does my passion for writing lead me?

I’m asking these questions now, because soon I will be sending novel #2 out into the world. Where do I go from here? The economy being what it is, I could use a boost in cash flow. I’ve written some articles I could try to pedal. I’d love to publish some poetry and I feel the call to plunge into the world of  book-length non-fiction. This is the first time since I retired from nursing and dove into writing that I feel somewhat adrift, with no sense of what to pursue next. So I guess I would do well to sit with those questions and see where the creative Spirit leads me.

Can you help me by sharing your thoughts about this topic? Do any of you face the same issue? Do you have benchmarks that help you decide where to go next? Is it okay to be like my hummingbirds?

The Gift of a Poem

I’ve come to understand that writing a poem is a gift that cannot be forced. When I work on my novel, I just have to sit down at the keyboard and hammer out something. Many times, words flow but at other times, it’s like being in labor.

My experience in writing poetry is different. Often, I have to search for an opening line or subject. That usually happens through awareness: noticing things in my environment, listening-in on conversations, tuning-in to sensory stimuli. But once I have that cue and sit down at the computer, words erupt from I-don’t-know-where. Creative inspiration and poetry go hand in hand. It’s a sublime experience.

January in the Desert

I am
a wild strawberry
woven among
low-lying oleander branches,

I am
the fear that brushes
by your body in
the darkness of a dream.

I am
cloud-fingers
slipping over
mounded slopes

of snow-capped
Santa Rosa mountains
bringing rain
and night.

I slap
the rounded curves of
wind-stroked cheeks
turned skyward.

I am the hummingbird.
I wait outside
your window
with promises of joy.