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Well, obviously I did not follow through on the blogging resolution. I hate resolutions. I am seriously trying to decide if I should keep this going or if I waste valuable writing time by babbling away through my fingertips. Yes, I started this blog as an outlet for my NEED to write, get the words floating around my head out so I would not develop any more personalities. In turn, blogging introduced me to the wider world of writing available on this here Web. I’ve learned so much about writing and publishing, both traditionally and independently. I’ve also learned about my own writing, as in: what I want to write, how important writing is to my life, and what my shortcomings are.
Often, I think about “My Blog” as if it is a favorite old hangout, where I “used to go,” but which feels different when I occasionally visit now. Does that make sense? I admit that when I branched out and realized just how many people were blogging about the same or similar topics, I lost some confidence, or perhaps just the novelty wore off. I found myself comparing my blog with others, which are better written or “more popular” or funnier. It feels like high school again.
Is this whining? Or just the thoughts flowing out of me again? I want to be a better blogger, but I also want to be a professional writer, so I feel the need to focus more on that now. I am torn, though, because I know that blogging stimulated my writing in the first place, and I know I do not want to completely give up.
I have started posting on tumblr, which makes it easy to pass on links without feeling the need to create an accompanying post. Also, you may have noticed that I am firmly addicted to Twitter. Did Twitter kill my blogging buzz? Maybe. It is a fantastic forum that allows us to “micro-blog” and find resources, and of course, socialize. (Though to snark for a moment: I think I liked it better before the brand names and MSM discovered its potential for PR and marketing. And who really trusts “social media experts” who have 50,000 followers, but post the same links constantly? Not me.)
Anyhoo, this is just a check-in really. I am not quitting, but I am trying to let go of the nagging feeling that “I should be blogging” when I know I really should be WRITING and/or cleaning my damn house or any of a multitude of duties. I didn’t even plan on writing this post when I logged in today; it just sort of “flowed” out of me. Maybe My Blog is the outlet I need after all.
(Ironically, I was actually thinking of doing Poetic Aside’s Poem-A-Day challenge again which means I may post more in April *fingers crossed*).

Just thought I would pop in and visit. Though I have completely fallen off the blog wagon, I am making plans for my new year which include, um, blogging more. I am sure I said this last year too 🙂 But seriously, I’m planning a regular schedule to try and keep focused. Recently, I have been letting the family duties and schedule take over my writing time. Wish me luck! Hope you guys are having a good holiday season and a safe, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

{Prompt:Your character is determined to do something they know to be a mistake.}

The bells hanging on the door sound almost like church bells tolling doom instead of the cheap leftover christmas bells thta they are, hanging on frayed green and gold yarn. I swear the door slammed behind me and I expected everyone in the place to turn and stare at me. I paused, waiting, but they were all looking at the glittering jewel tones, trying not to acatch anyone’s eye themselves. It was only when the clerk asked if i needed anything that I realized I was standing in the middle of the entrance still, so I slunk over to the side, shaking my hand at him, denying, denying.
I hid behind a display of collectible sets for five minutes before I heard him speaking to a customer. Part of me was thinking I could make a bolt for the door and just get out of here. Should get out of here, but I felt stuck. I was here, I made it this far, and I was not sitting in the corner licking a bottle yet. Maybe I could make it through a simple purchase. Maybe.
I was walking down an aisle, tripping through a flashback slideshow of memories, linked to each different silhouette on the shelves. I couldn’t stop myself, I remember when I had that one in Vegas, I remmeber when Joe bought that one to the wedding, I remember…
Why I am here. Not for me, but now I can’t remember why not Those are good memories. Where are the bad ones? when DO they come floating in? Maybe it has been long enough as they say, or maybe not long enough, because it has taken me this long to walk down one asile of memories, and I still have not gotten what I came for.

So i literally take a big breath and start all over agin. Not at teh front door, but at least in my own mind. Noone here knows that I should not be here. In fact, maybe they should not be here. That thought at least carries me over to teh other aisle, where I should find what aI need. I mean, what I am here to purchase. Can;t believe it I am actually berating myself for doing a simple errand.

But it is not that smple, really, is it? I have been adding complex levels to teh entire chore ever since the PTA meeting last week when what’s her face said, “You can pick taht up for us, right? It should make a nice retirement gift.” I could have said no. Should have, but then I may have had to say why, and that was just not happening in front of her and the other moms. So I’m here. And it only took me twenty minutes to get from the car to the store, and now at least twenty to do the lap around.

[That was “at least five minutes” just to keep myself going, and now the teen’s home and I must run all over town again…have a good weekend all.]

I am sorry that I have been absent for so long (if anyone was looking)…Let’s just say that I hit a speed bump, not a block 🙂 But I do know that the first rule of writing is: Sit Down and Start! and that if at first we don’t succeed, try, try…you get it. So, here I am tired, humbled and maybe a bit more determined. Today is the first day of the rest of my yadayada…
normal_book1jkrfanAnd what a great day in literary history it is! Joanne (K) Rowling was born today, July 31st and she also gave her famous protagonist the same birthday, so some people call this Harry Potter Day. I don’t know if they need their own holiday (?) but it is a good day to apply pen to paper and get back into the flow.
Personally, she is one of my inspirations as far as success stories and admiration of style and skill, as well as, darn it, personality. When I first discovered the Harry Potter books, I was a single mother, struggling through a bad separation and divorce, temporarily living at my parents and waiting tables while also trying to finish my degree and maintain a healthy relationship with my 5-year old son. My British, reading-teacher mother actually bought the books to read to him while I worked dinner shifts, but reading at bedtime was one of our Favorite Things, so one night I read a chapter to him, then could not stop after he fell asleep. I had to go back and start the wondrous journey all over. Despite being tired, stressed and a literature major for goodness sakes, I was enthralled. That was in 2001, the boy is 13 now, and we love all things Harry Potter.
I admit to being a bit of a fan, as in fanatic, when it comes to Rowling and her amazing Wizard World. Hearing her own story only cemented my obsession. {btw: if you have not yet seen the documentary A Year in the Life with JK Rowling, you can view it on the ABC site.  i cried. } She was at a low point in her life, divorced with a young child who depended completely on her and an idea for a story that apparently would not leave her head (a feeling I know well). I think that millions of people would agree with me when I say, “Thank God, she wrote it down.”
I believe that her story, both the fictional and the biographical one, epitomize the answer to the struggling writer’s question “Why write?”  A: You never know, it may just change the world.

ADDED Aug 7: Since I have been in a Potter mood this summer and the books are always fun to read, I am definitely signing up for this challenge at Galleysmith. If you haven’t read the series yet, well, of course I recommend it! And if you have, then you may want to listen to the audiobooks, which is accepted for  the challenge. You have almost a year to complete it and yes, there are prizes. But, of course the biggest reward is the joy of reading, right? 😉  Sign up by August 15th to be entered for the prize drawings!

I am apparently not writing a poem today, just surfing and recovering from the sugar overload. And sharing stuff with others, too…Here’s a good list to check out:    10 Best Writing Books on Editor Unleashed
I am so glad I have some of these 🙂 It is a good sign.

Glory be! I am writing from the comfort of my own home in the security of the Obama administration. I am definitely counting some blessings. I did spend several hours staring at C-Span on Tuesday taking in all of the pomp and circumstances. I believe the only highlight I missed was the removal of…departure of W… which was probably what I had looked forward to the most…for 8 years.

I have to admit to getting rather emotional during the ceremony and speech. Part of me was missing being at the party but mostly it was a happy set of tears of relief/joy/anticipation. Of course I celebrate the historic factors, etc, but mostly I am thrilled to hear the revival of a positive discourse in our culture. We should be able to “choose hope over fear” without sacrificing our ideals. We should be models to the world based on “what you can build not what you can destroy”. President Obama is not the first politician or even POTUS to offer similar hopes, but it does truly seem like he may be the one to make lasting changes and renovations in the culture. Yes, there is the obvious one [many claim this is a post-racial America now, but I think that in saying that they prove we’re not quite there yet], but there is so much more to this “new revolution”. He offers a multicultural point of view, a world view which we need in the 21st century, not a close-minded view that says we only care about US.

So here we go , ready to change the world [again] for the better. I hope this is the end of American imperialism and the beginning of a simpler, open-minded democracy. We have a lot of work to do and it will not end in 4, 8 or 20 years. But I do still have concerns. I am not sure that everyone celebrating this week is getting the message that we have to stop wasting time, energy and resources on ‘stuff’ and that part of the problem of the previous 2 decades has been caused by our need to succeed. Many people still want the rich lifestyle and the gadgets that go with it. Many people still see others as enemies or Different. And in that respect, I think the most brilliant statement made on Tuesday January 20, 2009 was not by a president, a preacher and definitely not by a pundit. It was a poet who said “What if the mightiest word is Love?”

First of all, I liked it. I listened closely and took notes. I have heard some ridiculous statements and criticisms by people who should not comment on things they do not understand, [but that’s the American media for ya], though I have not yet checked out the Poetry community’s reaction. I did not really like the way poet Elizabeth Alexander read her “Praise Song for the Day”, and that may be one of the factors leading to the criticisms. The thing is, she read it the right way [obviously, it’s hers, she can read it any way she chooses] as far as academics and poetics goes. I have been taught “how” to read poetry, but I always thought that the Beats had the right idea, and she probably would have made a great impact on the day’s events if she had gotten up and slammed it. But of course, staid and solemn is more appropriate for the event [tho apparently that message did not get out to the other 1.5 million people there]. A song of praise was exactly what we needed though it could have sounded a bit more jubilant.

That is one of the powers of poetry which I have always loved, however. To me, a poem begins as a thought: the poet has a thought, jots it down [at keyboard, in journal, on napkin grabbed out of the glove box, etc]; the poet elaborates on the thought, then shares it with others. A listener or reader will take that thought and make it their own, based on what they hear, what their experiences are, what their interpretation of metaphors, images and individual words are- or what they think the poet meant. Which is why some poetry lasts centuries, because it is open to interpretation by whatever reader encounters it, whenever it is read.

So, I suggest we read it again. Silently, slowly, to yourself, over and over if you need to, then out loud as expressively or solemnly as you want. Her words are “words to consider, reconsider” just as the speeches are.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each others’
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of someone and then others who said,
“I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.”
We need to find a place where we are safe;
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
Others by “first do no harm,” or “take no more
than you need.” What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp —

praise song for walking forward in that light.

—transcribed from the Presidential inauguration ceremony

January 20, 2009
© 2009, Elizabeth Alexander

I did attempt my own creation after the party had ended, though of course it is nowhere near as profound. At first, I was focusing on the idea of Freedom, specifically the so-named statue atop the Capitol building that was cast and placed by a slave. There is even more irony to that story. I have to work on that piece more especially if i want to use poetic metre, but then I jotted out my ode to the crowd 🙂

[photo from michaeldeangelis on flickr]

Come, Together

They came to gather
Whether for history or
For honor,
For celebration or
They were there today.
They weathered it together
As the winds of change
Swept the world up and
Blew them all away
Leaving chapped cheeks
And cheerful smiles.
They filled the monumental Mall,
Each a drop in a grand pool
Reflecting the “patchwork heritage”
Flowing through
The nation’s veins.

Millions have worked,
Prayed and hoped for
Positive resolution
And so they milled together
To enter the new era of Love.

I am sure others have created their own lasting tributes to the day and I would love to read more. Please share if you have a poem, post or opinion. Now that I am back in the virtual world, and we are in the midst of the new administration, I am eager to connect with everyone. Happy Day! Write on!

Due to a major malfunction caused by my son’s need to be a high-tech gamer, my personal computer is in a coma. I am not giving up and will be pulling for its recovery, but meanwhile, I am posting this from the public computer [gotta love your local library!]. I realized that I had not blogged here ‘all year’ and I do have a blogging resolution to maintain.
Being offline at home has been something of a blessing in disguise because I have been forced to go low-tech and get back to the basics. Hence, the old compostion notebooks are getting dragged out, I am actually getting more reading done and I am using any other ‘freetime’ to organize and plan for the year. I also have to be a bit more selective in what I do with my limited time online [and not just because they don’t allow access to facebook here 🙂 ]. So, I am cramming proofing, posting and querying into a two-hour time period, generally on Tuesdays and Thursdays while the wee ones are in their preschool class. I am taking a look at my virtual habits and winnowing away at the time-wasters, just as I am going through the collected stuffs at home and throwing out the old to make way for the new.
I had planned on doing something similar with my blog, by reviewing my past posts and links and maybe even changing my layout, but much of that will have to wait until I get my PC back.
Yes, I miss it, and it shows [obviously, since it has been less than a week and I am already waxing nostalgic-like]. It seems a bit strange, since, like most of us, my writing definitely started the old-fashioned way [apply pen to paper], but I have to admit that the net and writing software are fundamental to a modern writer’s career, and even to publishing and education. So, again, I count the blessing of the public library’s services, because I would not be here without it!

I know most people are over the holidaze season by now but they are not technically over yet. Although the celebration seems to begin mid-October and keeps on going with various disguises and excuses to eat, drink and make merry, I have always liked the idea of beginning the winter celebrations with Solstice [i.e. the first day of winter], bringing in the greens and lighting the dark with candles and half-burned out strands of twinkles, enjoying the gifts of presence with friends and family, and ringing in the new year with a toast or four. When I was young I said I wanted to do the 12 Days of Christmas thing with my future family, though, as a mom I find that it is hard to cancel the revelry of Day 1. However, it bugs me that certain media conglomerates and retail corporations are trying to change the month preceding Yuletide to the 25 Days of  Xmas [and what was with the ABCFamily 12 days of Christmas in November Countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas thing? talk about overload]…oops overflowing again…

Anyway, I generally celebrate any which way I can and take a lot of joy in sharing my friends’, families’ and colleagues’ traditions. I have always been a bit of a cultural junky as well as a party animal [though that is limited these years]. Celebrations are what make life fun, so why shouldn’t we celebrate everything we can 24/7/365…[and before I hear from any devotees of any specific religion, i am a recovering Catholic, know all the rules/mores/myths, have studied many major religions and do not join any organized ones, so please keep your religion personal, as it should be :)]…

Soooo… I was inspired this morning by the revelation that the fifth day of Kwanzza is the day of Purpose as well as the Digital Dame’s spirit of giving me info on a free book-writing program to pass on some more gifts to anyone out there hal1facp_newwho wants free stuff. The DD has links to 2 software downloads, and at one of those sites I found a free download of an amusing sci-fi book from Australia- Hal Spacejock. It is the first in a series apparently popular down under, so alert any sci-fi/Douglas Adams fans you know. He also has a free book-reading program available, among others.

It was easy enough to find a few sites dedicated to free books like for mp3s of classic audio books, poetry and speeches. They are available to read too and the site also offers a lot of other resources good for home-schooling, ESL or research.

If you are beginning the new year with a resolution to finally begin your writing career, here is a link for freeware offering Writing Tips [“Our goal is to inspire would-be-authors, and publishers who dare to dream in the later seasons of life.”]

That makes five and the Sixth Freebie is perhaps my favorite. It counts as a book, but 200px-hortonhearsawhobookcoverdoubles as an environmental guide if your resolution is to get greener. The Energy Star folks made a guide for school-age children using the characters of “Horton Hears a Who“.  I think I like it so much because the kids got the “Horton” DVD for Xmas, so I know I can do some eco-education here at home. [I am also considering using the original for the LitFlicks Challenge].  Dr. Seuss is good for readers of any age, and there are a lot of old dogs out there who need to learn some green tricks, but if that’s just too juvenile for you or yours, there are a lot of other Energy Star guides and downloads available here including another Horton Tip Guide.

Well, I definitely feel like I fulfilled my purpose, as this blog is here to promote reading, writing and being green. I am working on my resolutions/goals/changes for 2009, some of which are already happening. Tomorrow, I plan to Blog for Peace on the first official iPeace Day, but I do want to send love and luck out to you all for the New Year. It’s bound to be a good one- and I believe that this extended celebration should go from now until about January 20 :).

With some trepidation, I am starting the submission process again. No, not for the NaNovel [see that wordcount widget hanging on the left? I must confess it is still about the same]. Actually, I have a healthy supply of writings which are in various stages of revision. Some pieces have not ever been read by another pair of eyes. I have definitely not kept up with that part of the game this year, which is certainly one of my Writeresolutions for Aught-Nine. I am making a submission schedule and plan on using a tracking program which should work better than the notebook in which I keep scribbling quick notes and addresses.

I actually have a lot of writing resolutions to work on, some of which I listed way back in January. I do not feel that I completely failed to do what I resolved to do, although some people may think so. I am writing regularly, and though I do not have an income from writing yet, I do have a lot more experience and knowledge about the wonderful world of writing [not to mention the mysterious realm of publishing]. Best of all I am coming out of my writer’s shell and actually talking about it with people- admitting I am a writer is the first step on the writer’s path, right? This is rather huge for me, because although I have always written and have had writing in my life since I could hold a crayon, I have struggled with my own view of myself as a writer. It was so easy when I did not think about what or why I wanted to write. Now, I self-edit myself often before the words ever see paper. This may explain why I wept when I read this beautiful passage from hownottowrite:

As I’ve grown older, I’ve trained myself to spend too much time thinking about the words and where they come from. The question of origin nags me like the sound of a sleeping child who coughs in a unfamiliar way. I try to tell myself that everything is alright, but I can’t help sneaking a peek. I creep slowly down the hall, trying my best to be silent. Yet, even with a lifetime’s practice, each board seems loose under my feet. The doorknob turns, gnashing like the gears of an enormous clock.

I highly recommend you read that whole post. Much like this author, I was the child up at night reading and writing by the borrowed light from the closet or hallway. When my father cut them off, telling me to get to sleep, I created stories in my mind to put myself to sleep. Some of those stories are still there, now coming out to finally see the light of day.

When I was young, I wrote mostly as an assignment and did not really understand the praise that accompanied the grades. As I grew and my self-esteem plummeted in adolescence, I wrote in secret, turning to my journal more than any other confidante. When that private space was invaded it was hard to recover the confidence to write for others. I started to fear the criticism and even the positive responses to my writing. I would write, but my words were for my eyes only. Always a bookworm, I preferred to read what I never could imitate and convinced myself that I could never be good enough and there was already enough crap out there to which I did not want to contribute. I have to admit to still believing that, but I cannot deny that I want to be a writer.

I used to say “I can write; I have the ability to write; I do write.” rather than “I am a writer.” Generally this was in response to the question, “Oh, are you a writer?” when folks-who-know-me mentioned it to others or asked me directly, “Are you still writing? What are you writing now?” I played it off as a hobby more than a part of my entire self. I still do not talk about it with everyone, but I am at least able to say it to myself. Much of the confidence I have gained recently is due to this blog, and my connections I have found online and with other writers. I officially count that blessing. I think it helps to know that I am not the only one who struggles with similar feelings and dilemmas. It is also good to know that I can write without being rejected. I may not get a thousand hits here, but my words [and often my feelings] are out there for anyone to see, and I have lost nothing, I survived.

So, maybe I lost a lot of years of my writing career because I held myself back, and spent “too much time thinking about the words and where they come from” but I am here now and I am no longer looking back at the rejections and violations and drunken “poetry” written in my angsty years. It is time to revise and revisit, but only so I can remember how far I have come as I continue the journey. As one of my favorite quotes says “You are not an official writer until you’ve gotten a rejection.” Well, I have gotten that far, and I must keep going. I must submit myself to the process and commit to writing or I will never be accepted as a writer, if only by myself.

{When I began this post, a few days ago, I was in a different frame of mind [still weeping over hownottowrite]. Then I was interrupted by my chaotic life and saved the draft. In the weird way the universe works, the next day I received in the mail a copy of Alice W. Flaherty’s The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain. It was a gift from myself because I had wish-listed it on PaperbackSwap and completely forgotten about it until it arrived. I will share more with you when I finish it.}

My husband is working on the kitchen renovations behind me, loud saws and drills and all. I can’t even block it out with the headphones blasting DMB. My son did something to the computer before leaving on a weekend Scout camping trip and  I can’t get anything to work on Internet Explorer so I am trying Firefox now. Even if I am still thousands of words behind schedule, I am at least keeping up with the blogging for NaBloPoMo. I was going to try to attend a local get together with some WriMos [actually in another town about 1/2 hour from me] but I am determined to get to 15,000 by the end of the weekend and since I do not have a laptop, attending a write-in might be pointless. I could be spending that precious time here being productive. I really just wanted to go to meet some locals.

I appreciate all of the comments, especially the reminders that I do not have to have a perfect work completed in 22 days, 7 hours and…[don’t you love that counter on the NaNo page that greets you when you sign on?]. I am having fun with my characters as they are progressing and I am just so happy to be writing! I have had a few waves of panic and blankness, but am learning the art of plot twisting to keep myself from getting stuck or lost. Does that make sense? I just hope I do not veer too far off of my original course.

I think that one of the reasons I am not freaking or quitting is because I am not thinking of this as a possible publication, more like an assignment. I have always done well in academic writing and can generally meet assignments as expected. So, this is homework and I either pass or fail on December 1st.

I figure then I can look at revising and editing it as another course for next “semester”. Let’s hope I maintain motivation that long. It will be harder with out the encouragement and peer  pressure that NaNo offers.

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