A Love of Writing

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I have a passion for which I write
Little of which will see the light

Channelling a message, I feel it come
One thought at a time, soon I am done

I wander across the page in time
Selecting each word and filling a line

My emotions are bleeding onto the page
I can't control it, like a lion in a cage

I wonder how people contain their ideas?
Mine flow out in a variety of ways

In lines of prose or poetic form
It rains down words like a thunderstorm

To write is something that I must do
My passion to write, I'm sharing with you

As you travel from place to place
I hope you will capture words in this space

Thoughts and ideas will always appear
A pen and paper should also be near

By writing you clarify a thought or a feeling
It will keep you and your mind from reeling

A safe haven, a place to write
In early morning or late at night

Even if the words just stay in a book
Years from now you might take a look

What today is foggy, tomorrow is clear
Each day you will learn, or that's what I hear

So write a word, learn something new
A writer must write, it is all he can do

 

Is the pen becoming obsolete?

Pen

I sit here typing on my computer wondering when the pen will become obsolete. Is the pen being phased out like the typewriter? Or a watch? With computers, smart phones, ipads, and Kindles, do you ever need a pen any more? What about paper? At least with paper you can type something on the computer and then print it. We send letters via e-mail and sign contracts electronically, so why would we still need to use a pen?

Dare I admit that I actually enjoy writing with a pen? Even worse, I like writing cursive with a pen. My boyfriend still has no idea how to read my cursive so all my journal entries are safe from him. He always thinks I am writing about him (as if I had the time). I would have the time, but I don’t have a watch. I love to write cursive in my college-ruled notebook with no computer or phone in sight. Is it possible that I am single-handedly keeping all the pen and paper companies in business? For some reason the physical experience of handwriting is different from typing on a computer. I know words still end up on the page, but there is a difference in how the brain works in each process and how the words come out. When I am typing I can write 90 words a minute. When I handwrite the words glide onto the paper much slower. Writing slow is not a bad thing when you want to think.

Maybe instead of wondering about pens going obsolete, I need to look in the mirror. Am I next? I may be going obsolete because I still cook in an oven (not a microwave) and I prefer french pressed or Turkish coffee instead of coffee from one of those fancy coffee machines. I am talking about those machines that can make coffee, fold my laundry and wash my car. I am not sure they do windows though. At least I am still good for something.

Another reason I became concerned with my obsolescence is that I recently discovered that my ability to concentrate on one task for long periods of time is disappearing. Hold on. I need to go put the laundry in the dryer. Sorry, back now. What was I saying? Oh, yes, I was talking about concentration. Sorry again, just one moment. I need to heat water for coffee now. Yes, back again. Where was I? Concentration is the problem. Actually the problem isn’t me. It is society’s inability to focus that is becoming the problem. Is a society with people who don’t have the ability to concentrate on tasks for long periods of time a good thing? Who will do research or design the next i-device? Who will be the heart surgeon? Can you tell I am worried about society going in a direction that is not necessarily good? I feel like life is moving too fast and there isn’t time to relax. No time to concentrate or focus. One might call it information overload. We get on-line and find ourselves bouncing around from e-mails to Facebook to an article about killer bees. How can we do this with such ease? Or do we? Is this hurting us in ways we don’t realize? Are we becoming dependent on information being thrown at us instead of sitting down and creating something or just plain thinking?

As I type this blog on my MacBook Air I wonder if I should grab the pen and paper sitting on the table next to me? Can I be more creative through the process of writing with a pen instead of using technology?  For now, the pen and paper industry is still safe because I love to sit outside or in a coffee shop and write with my Papermate Profile Elite pen on college ruled notebook paper. Maybe the ability to write cursive with a pen on my computer is just around the corner with one of these note taking applications. I can only hope that even if the pen goes obsolete, that thinking won’t.

Another year, Another NANOWRIMO?

I am sitting here contemplating participating in NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) again. This would be the third year in a row. I feel like Lance Armstrong on a roll, and wonder if I should go for one more victory. Another book of 50,000 words? I know I can write that many words, but I wonder if I can write something meaningful. Something that other people would want to read. I want to write. I love to write, but I feel like writing so much volume and having it grow stale on my computer is a waste. A waste of words.

I can use the month of writing to hone my craft. Like a triathlete who swims, bikes and runs everyday, I too need to train and I know I have let my writing muscles atrophy this last year. I wrote more poems this year than anything else, so it was not a total loss. My writing practice didn’t stall completely (I have numerous full journals to show for it). I did however stop sharing my work, which makes me sad. I have so much to say and the point is to be heard, not to just tell the paper.

The other challenge is coming up with fiction for NANOWRIMO. What story do I have to tell? I write from the heart and from my own experience. How can I put that into individual characters? I am faced with the writing challenge that every writer faces every day, writer’s block. Not just the ability to write, but to write something good. I doubt when Picasso painted or sketched that he thought each picture would be a masterpiece. Instead of focusing on the masterpiece, I need to focus on the process, the experience, the journey of writing. Every time I write, I start out one place and end up somewhere else. Like Indiana Jones on a new adventure – who knows what lurks behind the next corner (or in this case the next paragraph). Time to stop worrying and just get down to it and write, write, write. Right?

All from a word in kind…

The words I received in kind.

A word in kind
It sounds so fine
A raise in spirit
I can’t believe it!

I need to believe
the words I hear
They make me strong
It can’t be wrong!

Encouragement for me
That I can succeed
I see the way
Today is the day

The goal is in sight
I have no fright
I will finish it
I will win it
All from a word in kind

Unblocking the Writer Within

Over the last two weeks I have spent countless hours at the computer writing. Sometimes I knew exactly what I was going to write about and other times I had no idea. As occasional writer’s block cropped up here and there during book writing, I wondered about the necessity to get out your daily gripes and personal issues (daily pages) before getting down to the good stuff – the creative writing.

I suppose all the writing is creative – making up words and putting them to paper – but sometimes it seems the words don’t come because I am stifled. Stifled by my inability to get a word on the paper. Getting ‘the’ or ‘once upon a time’ seemed futile beginnings, but weren’t they better than never starting at all? Maybe if I had written my daily pages, getting started would not have been so difficult because the junk would have already been cleared away.

Is daily writing as important as some many other daily tasks we do in the name of health – eat, brush our teeth, or shower? If I don’t write, is it true that no one would want to be around me in the same way that no one would want to be around me if I hadn’t showered in a week? I know I should write every day, but I don’t. I guess I don’t ‘smell’ the need for writing and I ‘let it go’ longer that it should. This reminded me of a husband and wife with varying tolerances for what is considered a ‘clean’ bathroom. Eventually the bathroom has to be cleaned, much like the mind needs to be cleaned of words, it just depends on how long a person can stand it. Now I am hoping this little scouring is enough to clean my mind so I can get on with writing my book.

I am looking forward to the home stretch on the writing of the book this month. Just two more weeks and I will be back to blogging at my regular pace, which seems a snails when compared to the speed in which I am writing this book!

Writing My Fingers to the Bone

I have survived week one of the annual National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) writing contest where thousands of contestants write 50,000 words to be declared a winner. As of today I have racked up 11,027 words, created over 10 characters, and written 4 or 5 lines that I am actually proud of. Not bad for week 1!

What has amazed me most about my experience during this first week, was that the stale and boring characters of the first few pages have started doing strange things. They have taken on a life of their own – taking the plot with them. By day 5 it seemed my well thought out plot had taken some hits. This book is not following the path I chose, it is choosing its own.

I realize that as we write, we learn, and never so much as when formulating characters and dialog. Just like in everyday life, my writing is taking unexpected twists and turns. So for the next 23 days I will be riding the wave created by my characters because I have a choice, I can either let it take me or force a direction. How could I not choose the easy way when I have almost 39,000 words still left to write? Whether writing a book or getting through the work day, it seems we are better off taking things as they come and managing change rather than always expecting things to go our way. What wave will you be riding today?

No plot, No problem…Really?

The countdown for the start is here. The annual National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) starts in just 2 weeks. I have signed up for the daunting task of writing 50,000 words of a new novel in just 30 days. I am attending a plotting session tomorrow and I have no idea what my story is going to be about. For an experienced novelist, maybe that doesn’t sound so challenging (lacking a plot and direction with a deadline looming) but to me it is scarier than Freddy Krueger.

Over the last few months, I have been trying to work on my first novel and I have hit writer’s doldrums. I can’t say it is writer’s block, because it is more that I feel like aspects of the book are more work and less fun. Oddly, once I got the direction of the story and had a reasonable plot mapped out, I lost momentum. So here I am on the verge of starting a second novel, but I have no plot and I am wondering what is going to happen when I actually know what the plot is. I have read my college English professor’s book, “Write to Learn” and according to him, you write to learn what you don’t know (like the questions you are seeking answers for, such as the plot!). Is it possible for me to spend 30 days to write 50,000 words until I learn something and then just stop?

I am not so worried about getting started because I feel like I can find something to write about to get out of the starting gate. My fear is that I will get stuck and lose excitement part way through. Even though I have heard that my experience is typical (struggling at this particular point in a novel) I take little comfort in the ‘typical’, because a pile of yet unwritten words stands between me and winning NANOWRIMO. There is actually a book written for NANOWRIMO called, “No Plot, No Problem” with lots of tips and tricks and after reading it I couldn’t decide if it made me feel better or worse.

Maybe like pre-game, pre-show, or pre-race jitters, I am experiencing a bit of cold feet. I worry whether I can do this thing that I committed to over 6 months ago. I have been training (blogging, writing daily pages, practicing on my other novel) but can you ever really be prepared for something like this? The only thing I can do now is stock up on coffee, midnight snacks and earplugs (so I can focus without having to hear the kids arguing) and just plan to sit down and write each and every day. This isn’t about being perfect or correct, it is about writing. Some people say, “Put your butt in the chair and just write”, and I guess that is what it all comes down to. Instead of worrying about plot, maybe I need to invest in new cushions for my chair. I know once start date arrives I will be fine because, like every other day, I just have to write.

The power of the pen or the keyboard?

Lately I noticed that I really enjoy writing with a pen on paper more than I like writing on a computer. Is that antiquated? It made me wonder if there is something physically different about the writing process with the pen that makes it more fun to perform than typing. The words literally flow from the ink in my pen to the paper whereas on the computer, I have to ‘tick-tick-tick’ the words. It feels like a completely different experience, although both require the writing of words.

I know writing to paper requires ‘rewriting’ into the computer later (assuming I want to share it), but sometimes the stuff I write to paper isn’t really worth sharing. Occasionally I go back and read some of the junk I have written, but most of the time it is more important to just get it out of my mind. This is because I do cathartic writing before I start the real writing, and that is the stuff that ends up in the notebooks that should ultimately be burned. Sometimes there are words that haunt you forever, and I would like those to just go up in flames. What about the good words? How do I effectively write them and get them into a computer at the same time?

I am not sure why, but I miss the paper and pen writing when I don’t do it. Besides, it seems like it is only about one day every decade that I write something very profound necessitating sharing. Since burning the computer isn’t an option (and it is a requirement), I will still continue to use some number of paper notebooks for my junk writing. Recyclers forgive me when I burn my notebooks, just remember that it is for a good cause – my sanity. I guess I need to continue using both mediums (paper/pen and laptop) of I am to be truly efficient. If this is what made it to the computer, you can only imagine what is in my paper notebook (a.k.a. kindling).

The Vampires Next Door

I just returned from my monthly book club meeting and realized that due to the success of the Stephanie Meyer Twilight series, every author is writing about vampires. (Even people who never wrote about vampires before.) What happened to creative people who were actually ‘creative’? With all this writing about vampires, I was wondering if they were moving into the neighborhood. Since I live in Arizona with over 300 days of sun a year, I probably don’t have much to worry about. Then again, you can’t be too careful. Do I need to start a neighborhood vampire watch?

I like vampires as much as the next person (as long as they are not sucking on my neck). I have seen all three Twilight movies and like the ‘nice vampires’. My question is, how do you know the nice ones from the ones who kill you? The house across the street just sold to some new people. Will vampires be moving in? If so, how will I know? Do I have to wear this garlic necklace because it is pretty or as protection from all the vampires? Tomorrow, I definitely won’t be strolling down the street to the mailbox after dark. Certainly the bills can wait another day.

At least all the feral cats in the neighborhood should keep the vampires busy for a while (or should I say fed?). Surely they can “appetize” on them, until they get really hungry. I was wondering if vampires like vegetarians. They don’t want that iron poor blood do they? Would it help if I put a sign on my front door with a cow and a big red X over it? I know we are supposed to get out and meet our neighbors to create a sense of community, but how does that work with vampires? It just seems too risky.

I don’t understand all the hype about vampires, but it does remind me of show trends. Like when ER first came out and then all the other stations followed with their own medical shows. Then there were cop shows, talk shows, and reality shows. I think I am about ready for this vampire trend to be over so I can feel comfortable being outside after dark, and I can take off this stinky garlic necklace. Even my 4-year-old daughter doesn’t like a necklace this gaudy. What is next after vampires? How about teddy bears? Or is it time for smurfs to emerge from retirement?

A novel in a month? Is this a joke?

Several months ago I signed up for the unbelievable task of writing a whole fiction novel in one month a.k.a. NANOWRIMO. The fiction novel must be 50,000 words to qualify as a winner. (No, I did not add extra zeros there!) This particular novel-writing event is about quantity and not necessarily quality. No one reads the actual words, you just need to churn it out. I like this idea of focussing on creativity and not on structure, sentences, grammar, or spelling. How often in our lives can we focus for just one month on accomplishing a life-long dream? Maybe for me it is a life-long dream but for someone else it would be a nightmare.

I volunteered for staring at a blank page every single day of November with the objective of creating new and unique characters and then actually making them do something exciting, memorable, or at least interesting enough for others to read. I am not fooling myself on this challenge, because I know it will be a lot of hard work, but at the same time I am embracing it. The same way a marathoner embraces running. For me, I am running a race – a 30 day, 50k word race instead of a 26.2 mile foot race.

Some people might think I have signed up for a challenge of misery. Then again, I think people who sign up to run a marathon are the ones asking for misery. I am a runner – I know of what I speak. I ran a 1/2 marathon of which I was glad for the accomplishment, but I think I hit my limit on distance. I guess for writing, I am wondering what my ‘distance’ is. Can I go the distance and meet the deadline?

I ask anyone who is a novice writer, a wannabe writer, or a published writer to participate in this global event with me. Think about what you can accomplish:
1) Get carpal tunnel syndrome in just one month
2) Write a novel before Christmas and still have time for Christmas shopping
3) Save me from suffering this self-inflicted misery alone
4) Cross the finish line with a novel in hand
5) Share celebratory champagne, root beer, or cranberry juice with me on midnight on November 30th

Are you going to join in or just stand on the side-lines to cheer me on?