Well, I lie A lot

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I am having a trip down memory lane today. I am watching one of my favorite shows from childhood, “High Chaparral,” an old time television western. One of the characters, Buck Cannon played by Cameron Mitchell, says after breaking a deal he made with an outlaw, 

“Well, I lie a lot.”

Today is 4th of July and I promised myself that my time would  be spent on my creative projects. And I have a free day to do this.

After the show, I realized how Buck’s words resonated with me.  

How often do I lie?   I lie a lot. I lie a lot to myself. I promise myself I will do the activities that I love. I will make time for them.  Then something else interrupts me and I make a liar of myself.

But not today, I will be true to myself. 

I will write.

Check back with me for how I do.

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Writing Matters But So Does Lunch

 

 

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It is June and that means graduation season for many of us including me. This week my 18 year old son, Dylan, is graduating from high school.

And until today, I have been making his lunch.

I am not sure why I kept doing it.  Teachers used to tease him about. But he didn’t mind. It was really more for me than him.

I told myself that I had to make my own lunch and it wasn’t a big deal. And that it was one less thing he would have to do knowing there were finals and presentations to finish. He’d rather sleep anyway then worry about making a lunch. 

As I put together the photos for his Open House, I wondered how the years flew away from me and how he grew from a boy to a 6’ 5” man he is today. Lately, I have been calling him Shaggy (from Scooby Doo) because of that fuzzy mound of hair that has congregated on his chin.) 

I am still in a bit of a daze that graduation is upon us. This fall he will be moving out of the house to attend college. And I will be an empty nester. 

A little sadness settles in.

Yet, what seems to be a bit of synchronicity I stumbled upon these words by Kahlil Gibran:

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.

 I needed to read those words.

The words written by Kahlil Gibran helped me as I transition into a new life without Dylan home.

Writing connects you to others and to the world.  And it can help you make sense of your own world and of your life.

It also reminded me how important it is to write to the people in our life. Writing from the heart can bring joy and comfort to you and to others.

That is why I write.  Sharing my words and my feelings has always been important. So instead of making a sandwich for Dylan today, I will write him a graduation note and tell him how I feel about this special day.

 

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”    —Albus Dumbledore

Being Mindful. Being Present

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Rene Magritte —The False Mirror

 

Dr. Henry Emmons, a psychiatrist,  spoke at a conference I attended last week.  He ended his talk telling the audience what the secret was to happiness and longevity.

 He said, “Be mindful of the present moment.”

Mindfulness feeds into our everyday life and especially into writing.

Creator of the Mindfulness Based-Stress Reduction Program (MSBR), Jon Kabit-Zinn, said, “Writing can be an incredible mindfulness practice.”

My best writing sessions are when I am present with pen and paper in hand. I am centered and open as I write.

But when I ramp up my brain about other random things like, “don’t forget to do this or that, and don’t forget about that thing.” Then my brain starts to overload. It is like  hot oil shooting out of a pan. It has nowhere to go except all over the stove, the floor, and my arm. 

OUCH!  And Damnit! 

We don’t need to be jumping around like Mexican jumping beans with our distracted thoughts corrupting our writing time.  Or acting like my dog, Bailey, chasing every squirrel she sees or doesn’t see because she’s so programmed to just go when she hears the word, Squirrel!  

That’s kind of like our mind.

 And there are a lot of squirrels (aka distractions-checking email, googling information, answering a text) taking our attention.

When I practice settling into this moment. My mind slows down. 

I smell the lilacs outside my window.

I see the animal figures in the clouds.

It calms my heart. I can see the way into my imagination and get into the task of what I am writing.

And that is all that matters.

Writing about your life can be enjoyable and bring a deep satisfaction.  When I  experience life  in the present and take the time to write about it, life becomes fuller and I become more creative. 

Sometimes when I read old journals and see that I have skimmed or neglected much of the detail around that time, I get a little sad. I may still have the memory but I neglected to write about it in the present moment. I skirted around it or did not take the time to see the details.  As if it was just not important enough. As if my life is boring.

Jon Kabit-Zinn also said, “When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting.”

Being present is about taking notice of your life.

Today at work I watched construction workers tear apart the street below my office window. I felt like my 15 month old grandson watching these huge bulldozers doing amazing things.

When you write, there is no reason to hurry, and no other place you need to go. 

So feel the breeze on your face, float with the clouds above, and smell the lilacs. 

Be there and wherever you are  ….

Write!

 

Word Care

 

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Words are not always cooperative.  Are they?   They remain invisible, unstable, uncooperative or stale.  My editor self says,  “you are so boring.”

Why do I write?

Author, Julia Cameron,  said in her book, The Right to Write that writers should write …  “because it is human nature to write.  Writing claims our world.”

She also said, to paraphrase,  that our own inspiration connects us to something larger than ourselves allowing ourselves to live with greater optimism.

As a writer, there is always something to do. Writing, editing, researching, learning Scrivener. 

Sometimes  my brain does not want to think about it anymore. If I show up regularly to write I know that some days are easier than others. I also know that NOT feeling like writing is no excuse to not writing.

Yet what can I do to keep the creative faucet open when things seem a little too dry?

Some days it could be just eating a lemon poppyseed muffin. Or walking my dog,  or maybe three pages of ranting on the way the words are not working today.

The thing about feeling stuck when writing is that it is only temporary.  The moment you think you will never be able to write another word is when the faucet starts running uncontrollably. Something that reminds me of a scene from a Supernatural episode.  Like when the bathtub water starts to boil.   Eerie but exciting.

That’s the thing about creativity. It appears when you least expect it. But It’s not like it went anywhere. It’s more that you finally allowed that time portal to open so you could jump in.

Sometimes opening that door to your muse is nothing more than allowing yourself the gifts of living and embracing the wonderful world you are writing about. 

Take a nice long walk, read a book,  taste a piece of dark chocolate and drink a cup of Chai, go to the art museum. Don’t feel guilty about it.  Because after a break, you will get back to the chair and write whatever you can – good or bad.

Because that’s what you do.   You write.

Engaging in the world is  part of the process. 

Julia Cameron calls it a Writer’s Date. But for me it’s living a creative life. Engaging intimately in what I want to write about: my world.  It builds on the knowledge I’ve gathered already  and deepens what it means for me to be a human but also to be me.

Not Just Another Thing I Have To Do

 

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I think writer Brenda Ueland had it right.

She said, “The imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”

It’s all about play and slowing down.

Writing is enjoyable. Even during a long dry spell. Even when the words feel heavy and meaningless.  Even during these times, it is important to remember that I do like to write. 

When I don’t rush.  When I slow down like I do for any mindful activity like walking or meditating. When I slow down to let the words fall good or bad on my page. 

Writing is joyful.

In my Developing a Writing Habit class, I tell students to think of writing as not just one more thing you have to do. It’s what you choose to do. It’s what you want to do.

Writing is about exploring, expressing and playing.  Writing is about making discoveries, solving problems, creating new worlds, and feeling a whole spectrum of emotions.

Never make it seem like it’s just a chore that you need to do or you’ll never do it.

Yes, there will be times when it’s frustrating and difficult and you won’t feel like doing it.

 But hang in there just a little longer and things will change.

They always do.  

And when it does the magic of writing will return.

As Sherlock Holmes once said to Watson, “The game is afoot.”

Write. Because That’s What You Do

 

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I am sitting at my desk with a large baked potato in front of my iPad. I am eating before writing or perhaps I am thinking and eating before I am writing. My back hurts. My brain is tired from working eight hours at my day job but I am here right now for a regular writing session.

I have projects to work on so I have no excuse not to write. And I know if I don’t make use of this time, it will be gone and I will have lost the opportunity to do what I enjoy: to write.

It doesn’t always come easily and I don’t always feel inspired. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. I can write the worst junk out there and it will be better than if I went and cleaned the bathroom. If I give myself a choice like that, writing wins out.

According to writer, Jennifer Egan:

“You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly. You can’t write regularly and well. One should accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”

Well I’ve eaten my potato so it’s time to sit down and write whatever I can. The worst or the best. It doesn’t matter. It will pay off. I will feel good spending the time doing what I love And the words and ideas I am looking for will come either tonight or maybe while I am out walking or doing something else. That’s the thing about inspiration. It strikes at the oddest of times.

Whether it does now or later, I will show up to write now. Showing up to write is like stoking the fire.

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it. ” —Neil Gaiman

Now go write.

Don’t Want Everyone to Read It

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Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgement difficult.    

—Hippocrates (460-400 B.C.)

A woman in my class once told me that she was unhappy that her classmates. She said that they did not understand her writing.

“It never happened. It was fiction.  They just don’t get me,” she said.

It reminded me of my own critique classes where I got a whole gamut of different responses to a single piece of writing. Some people said a metaphor was great while others said it was cliche and I could do better.

Who do I believe?

A long time ago I came across some words of advice by a writer. It makes complete sense when dealing with a critique of your writing.

Essentially the writer advised , “don’t want everyone to read it.”

We are all from different backgrounds and have many different life experiences.

We also have different tastes.

What you write will not appeal to everyone. Not everyone who reads your work will understand it, and not everyone will like it.

But that’s OK.

Any comments made constructively and respectfully can be helpful to a writer. In the end, the writer gets to decide what to do with those comments.

It doesn’t mean that you should stop writing or that you are a bad writer.

The most important thing we can do is to be brave enough to write our stories and  to write what’s in our heart. The more we write,  the better we get.  That’s what counts.

Our words will also connect to someone.  But only if we write them.

Always believe that writing matters.

Writing Is Not Foolish

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I hear those voices in my head almost everyday. You don’t have time to write. There are more important things you need to do with your time. You are no good.  What do you have to say?

Why bother?

But today I decided that these words will have no effect on me.

Why?  Well, it’s April Fools Day!

When the words try to return tomorrow, I will remember what  my mother used to say, “April Fool’s past. You’re the biggest fool at last.”

Those negative voices do not serve me and are not real unless I let them in. They are truly the fool.

So I will continue to write and invite in my muse. Fill myself with what makes me creative and happy.

I hope you will also leave the fool behind when you write. There is no room for negative voices interrupting what you love to do, today or tomorrow.

But since it is April Fool’s Day, I cannot let the day go by without a good joke:

 

What do you have when you throw books into the ocean?

ANSWER:  A Title Wave

Write on!

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Open Mic Community

 

 

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I hosted an open mic last week for a friend. It was called Chalk Talk Narrative. The theme was family and the art of brevity.

First I read a few of my stories. Then I asked the group to compose their own six-word memoir after reading several examples from the book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Famous & Obscure Writers. Edited by Smith Magazine.

A group of about 10 people sat around a long table Everyone shared their six-word memoir and then read a few pieces of their own writing.

What was special about the evening was not that I was able to read a few of my pieces to an audience but that this small group of people, (some strangers) gathered together for an evening of listening to each other’s words.

A student of mine read a piece he wrote in class about his eyes. Initially he did not think the piece was good enough to read. Yet everyone loved it. His courage to read and the response was what he needed. Without each other, we can be our own harshest critic which can cause us to shut down our words for fear that it is just no good. The Open Mic gives the writer the encouragement to keep writing and that is worth it.

An Open Mic creates community. The people around the table that night were all different ages and from a wide variety of backgrounds, expressing their deepest self, but also willing to pause long enough in their busy lives to listen.

And perhaps make a small difference in one writer’s life.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

DO IT. WRITE

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I bought this button at a flea marked many years ago. I still like its simple message.

There is nothing special or elaborate about writing.  It doesn’t take any expensive equipment and it can be done almost anywhere.

Yet some days may go by and nothing will be written. Life will get in the way.  I think to myself I need to write about this when I have more time.  But if I am not careful it will fade away.

There have been times when I have looked back at my journals  for a specific event and found out sadly that I did not take the time to write about it in detail or even at all.

I think to myself, why didn’t I write about that?

My life is in the details of my everyday world.  I need to make space to write about it as much as I can.

No one will put that pen in my hand.  There is no ceremony or recognition banquet to go to after I take the time to write.  No one cares if I write or not.

But writing is important to me.

That’s why I keep this button.

Just do it.  Write.