For the Love of Reading—Monday Meanderings


Photo: V.

Photo: V.

Because my mother became a war widow when I was just an infant, we spent the first seven years of my life in the home of my grandparents. My grandmother had congestive heart failure and was unable to do a lot, so my mother assumed responsibility for household chores. This symbiotic relationship had a profound effect on my development, as my sedentary grandmother played a critical role in the five years before she died.


I recall that early mornings, most every day, I would drag a pile of Little Golden Books into her bedroom. There, still in bed, she read to me for hours at a time. She spoke to me using adult vocabulary. I fell in love with words before I could read them, and when it came time to learn to read, it came so easily.

One little vignette I will never forget. I suspect it was in the months or even weeks before her death. Her patience had waned along with her strength. I was playing with a toy plastic Brownie camera as she read Lewis Carroll’s fantasy to me. She asked me to cease and desist…several times. I didn’t and she (apparently very calmly) took the camera from me and hurled the length of the living room where we were sitting, I on her lap. To this day I dislike the classic “Alice in Wonderland.”


That being recounted, I have, over the years, continued to develop my love of reading and have, at any given time, several books of various genres on my current reading list. It’s not a leap, and writers know well, that reading nurtures those of us who write and helps to develop imagination in children and adults.

I worry that so many things are supplanting reading. Back in the 1940’s and 50’s when I was a child, there was no virtual reality and, until I was 5, no television. Life was simple and nurtured simple things. Okay. I confess. I’m sounding my age. The point I want to make, the question I ask—what are we doing to promote reading among children and adults?


An addendum/disclaimer: it’s good to see so many YA books appearing on the various best-seller lists.

Just for the fun of it—what do you like to read? What are you reading now?

Monday Meanderings–On Keeping a Journal

This is a post from a long while back. I’ll give you an update at the end.

I’ve been keeping a journal for longer than many of you have been alive. Right now, my journals fill up the better part of a book-case. I don’t revisit them and have no idea what to do with them but some force compels me to hold on.

Perhaps the day will come when I’ll peel out the earliest tome and peruse the state of my soul way back when. I know the journey will lead me through angst, joy, guilt and growth. That’s it. I hope the growth will be the theme I take away.

For the most part my journals consist of the insights and roadblocks I’ve met on my spiritual journey. My dreams are there, too–along with my understanding (at the time) of the messages they’ve imparted. There are periods of time when I journal every day, and then there’s a drought where there’s nothing at all.

I have a smaller stack of writing journals, too. Notebooks overflowing with ideas, descriptions, outlines, writing how-to’s–you name it. Those I have revisited and culled a line here or a description there that makes its way into a poem or short story.

In a way, I guess, posting on a blog is a form of journaling–but doesn’t allow the freedom you have when what you’re writing is a part of your “secret diary.” I don’t think a journal should be shared or written with anyone else in mind except yourself.

If you haven’t tried this practice, I suggest taking a look at “The Artist’s Way.” Journaling is an asset, not only to the spiritual journeyer, but also to the writer, poet, artist–the creative spirit within you.

Journaling remains an important part of my life. I try to maintain a practice of three 8.5 X 11 pages daily, as recommended in “The Artist’s Way. In the meantime, I have begun those re-visits with an eye toward the growth that’s happened and that which still awaits me. I have notice, perhaps as a function of easing toward the end of life, there is more gratitude, less striving and more self-acceptance.

Have a happy week with pen and pencil whether you’re writing for yourself, or penning under the influence of your muse for the delight of all. Creativity rules!



Wake Up and Be Inspired: Monday Meanderings


Photo Credit: Victoria Slotto

What a gift it is–those moments when I remember to notice life in detail. To stop and watch the diamonds scattered across the grass in early morning hours, to catch the sun, back-lighting the soft white fuzz of my dogs or breath in the scents of earth and jasmine in our garden. I wish that I could learn to be aware in each and every moment–that I could learn to silence the mindless conversations I have with myself, to let go of fears about the future or regrets about the past, to ignore gnawing worries about what others think.

An exercise I’ve used before that has been the source of a good number of poems is this: at the end of every day (or even as the day progresses) jot down some things that you notice…in detail. I like to create a list of ten. That takes a bit of concentration throughout the day. You may want to use the top of the hour as a reminder, stop what you’re doing and tune in to what’s around you. Be sure to include as many sensory details as you can.

Here’s an example:

1. In the West, large white clouds hang heavy on the mountains. Someone has painted their underbellies with a wash of Payne’s gray.
2. Sparky lies curled at my feet, head erect like a Sphinx, but his eyes are at half-mast.

Photo Credit: David Slotto

Photo Credit: David Slotto

3. A hummingbird perches on the feeder outside my window. I think he’s in love with his reflection.

You get the idea…Want to share some of the things you’re experiencing today? Or another way you’ve found to heighten your powers of observation.  Add a poem or short paragraph if you wish.

A hummingbird descends,


perfumed blood and honey.

Blankets of feathers

stagger across its

silken breast.

Photo Credit: David Slotto

Photo Credit: David Slotto

Wordsmith Wednesday–Ten Places to Look for Inspiration

Community Thrift Store (ii)

Image by Pete Boyd via Flickr

Writer’s Digest recently released their top ten edition in which they create all kind of lists related to the world of writing. I had been thinking about discontinuing my subscription but when I received this copy, I smiled as I remembered the fun I had with last year’s issue that followed the same format.

I’m very fond of lists (OCD?). I love to make shopping lists, to-do lists…you name it. I especially like crossing things off of my to-do list. And so I thought for today’s post I would indulge myself. So here’s my “Off-the-Top-of-My-Head List for Ten Places to Seek Inspiration.

  1. Thrift shops–rummage through the remnants of other peoples’ lives. Focus on an object or let your imagination construct a scene around an object.
  2. Coffee shops or restaurants–lurk in the corner of the booth and jot down other people’s dialogues. Listen for subject and “voice.”
  3. Sitting or walking in nature–indulge in sensory description.
  4. A bus stop, train station or airport–watch people hurry about the business of life. Wonder where they are going and why.
  5. News sources–papers, radios, TV news and the Internet are ripe with snippets of news that can explode into fiction.
  6. Book Stores–in light of the closing of Border’s, we can only hope this will not become a trend. Yeah for e-books, but nothing replaces thumbing through the pages, looking at covers, luxuriating in “real” books. Look for trends and story ideas.
  7. Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook–follow conversation threads, look at ads, check out profiles. You never know where you might uncover a new character or theme.
  8. Art Museums–one of my favorites. Sit for a while in front of a piece of art. Really look at it. What would your senses perceive if you were inside the painting? How would it smell, taste, feel? What would you hear? Use the painting as the subject of a poem. Research a bit about the artist.
  9. Hospital or Doctor’s Waiting Rooms–I don’t suggest going there just to observe, but if you do have to wait, check out emotional responses of those waiting with you and try to describe them objectively. You are bound to pick up some anxiety, perhaps some sadness, relief, or impatience.
  10. Public Venues of any Sort–I wrote an entire short story once based on what I saw while waiting for a concert to begin…one of those “bring your blanket and sit on the grass things.” And the whole event, plagued by a significant thunder and lightning storm, gave me a story line.

Now it’s your turn. You might want to review the subject of “Artists’ Dates” in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Where are some of the places you go to discover your writing muse? Please share a bit with us in the comments. If you like, post something that you’ve written based on your trolling and link it in comments as well. I have limited Internet access right now, so will respond as soon as possible. Thanks for joining.

Wordsmith Wednesday–Kindling Creativity

The flame of wisdom

Image via Wikipedia

Many of us experience creative slumps, but I do believe that there are steps we can take to invite the muse back into our writing lives. Here are just a few remedies that have helped me in the past:

  • Brainstorm with a friend, or alone if you prefer. This is especially effective if you are writing fiction and the story line has come grinding to a halt. If you participate in an on-line community, you may discover inspiration with the help of one of your blogging buddies.
  • Switch genres. Move outside your comfort zone and write a brief poem, short story or an article…whichever you don’t write on an ordinary basis.
  • Go back to a piece of writing that you previously abandoned and revise/edit/resuscitate.,
  • Take a break. Go for a walk in nature, browse a museum or art gallery, a thrift store or garage sale. You will find a wealth of subject matter to explore.
  • Choose random words from a dictionary or book and use them as in a paragraph, poem or flash fiction.   Allow your subconscious to do the choosing. You will be surprised to find that a theme often emerges.
  • Put your manuscript aside and take a break from writing for a day or two, or longer. But set a deadline to return.
  • If you write poetry, try a form that is new to you, or free verse if you usually write form poetry.
  • Maintain a daily writing journal and every evening jot down a few details of things you’ve observed, tidbits of conversations you’ve had or overheard, events that took place. When you’re stuck, go digging in your collected musings for something that ignites a spark.
  • Keep a file of work that you’ve edited out of previous manuscript or poems. Go back, select one and use it as a launch pad for an entirely new project.

I hope you find something in this to jump-start your writing if and when it stalls. Would you do me a favor? If you have suggestions or technique  that help you, would you share it in comments?

Thank you as always for visiting my blog.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt

Saffron Crocus;

Image via Wikipedia

This is the time of year when the seasons start to change. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, snow begins to melt and crocuses emerge from their winter’s rest. And, I suppose, below the equator, the opposite unfolds. Wherever we are, each day brings a dying and an awakening.

For today’s prompt, write about something in your life that is declining or coming to life. Or both.

Here’s mine:

Waking Up in Reno

Morning starts cranking
in slow motion.
Befuddled thoughts unfold
like arthritic joints.
Silence wraps the house,
except for the groaning heater
as it stretches and snarls.
A train rolls toward
city center
emitting a plaintive lament.
Everything’s on the verge
of arousing to another
twenty-four hours.

People stir into wakefulness
to repeat what they did the day before and
the day before that.
But here,
creativity simmers, sparks
then flares.
Steam from a
cup of coffee
fogs the computer screen.

If you respond to this prompt, please leave a link to your blog in the comments…or post your poem, if you prefer.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Choose Words and See What Emerges

Christmas decorations. Rocking horses

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a fun and somewhat surprising challenge. Grab a hold of your dictionary and thumb through it. Choose between 10-30 words (verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs) that appeal to you, catch your fancy. Now, construct a poem using only those words. You may, however add the garnishments of articles, conjunctions etc. When you’ve finished, see if you’re not astonished to find a loosely-structured theme. It will probably be one of your more obscure poems but wait and see. Your subconscious may be hard at work in your word choices. I’ve done this a few times and it’s a great way of breaking out of a block, even if it doesn’t turn out to be one of your best poems. Here’s mine:


Crimson sucklings thirst
for silken flesh.

Doves arc into the sky
unfolding hues
that dangle quiet flames.

Anoint her body,
dormant like a
wooden rocking horse,
alone in liquid,
aching for shelter.

Erase the anguish
of crowning.

Balance loss.

I’m feeling a bit dull myself today so I think I’ll work on another one. If you do this and post it, I would love for you to send me the link in comments.

One Shot Wednesday–Monotone

21/365+1 [Dirty snow]

Image by The Hamster Factor via Flickr

Submitted to One Shot Wednesday:



Staggering through a maze of words,
The poet gropes for one to fill the emptiness.

Dark skies obscure even the shadows as
monochromatic gray scales the horizon.

Flecks of asphalt sprinkle the once-white snow
heaped in mounds on the side of the road.

Remembrance of beauty fades, evades.
November dies with its dreams of loveliness and magic.

Winter doldrums stagger through a maze of words,
extinguish artistry,
ignite loneliness.