Blog Stuff, Creativity Workshop, Social Media, Sunday Stew, Writing

Sunday Stew with a side of Workshop Update

Today I’m serving up one of my stew posts, a bit of this and that. Plus, it’s time to let you know about my brilliant, fabulous, stupendous progress toward my workshop goal. Grab a spoon and bowl; the line forms on the right—women first because this is a matriarchal blog.

BLOGS: Lately, I’ve visited several blogs that frustrated me. I wasn’t frustrated with the content of the blog, just the presentation and/or navigation. A lot of the popular blog themes use either small white fonts on dark backgrounds or small greyed-out fonts, which are hard to read at my usual screen resolution of 1680×1050. I’ve been grumbling for a while. Fortunately, I just learned that I can enlarge the fonts with the keyboard code Ctrl+plus. Still, I hate having to do that so often while I’m browsing, especially because I sometimes click through to another blog where the fonts are now HUGE and I have to use Ctrl+minus to get back to normal.

Another thing that bugs me is a blog with no search capability, or categories, or even archives—some way to get to previous posts. I always wonder if the blog author is ashamed of every post they’ve written except the current one. Sometimes I go back to a blog and want to reread a previous post and have to jump through hoops to find it—and sometimes I never do. Please, Bloggers, add a search box or at the very least use a category list or cloud because it’s unlikely a reader will take the time to go back through your archives looking for the post where you mentioned some particular person/place/thing especially if it wasn’t named in the post title.

Hmmm, I guess I should ask: do you find anything frustrating or annoying about my blog?

Twitter:No, this is not going to be another rant about Twitter. I’ve made my peace with it. I’ve learned to glean some useful information from it and use it to keep in touch with writer friends. I’ve also learned that I can live without logging on every day. I no longer worry about how many Followers I have (or Facebook Friends, for that matter) because unless you have thousands of them, it means nothing—and maybe not even then. An acquaintance recently explained how she amassed such a “following” so quickly (she’s not famous.) One of her methods is to use a lot of hashtags and buzz words in her tweets. She also accepts ALL followers. When I asked her how she could possible keep track of all those tweets and status updates she gave me a look that clearly questioned my sanity and told me she doesn’t. In her Twitter app, she creates a list of the dozen or so followers she really wants to follow and then only watches the tweets in that list. (She does the same in Facebook, only there you can just Hide the “friends” you don’t care about.) I didn’t dare ask which category I’m in. 😕

I like to Tweet and ReTweet good links for writers. Here’s a few recent ones:

  • Things I no longer believe (via Scott G. F. Bailey at The Literary Lab) http://bit.ly/dzBXD5 This is tongue-in-cheek, but speaks to the frustration at all these writing “rules.”
  • @LadyGlamis blogged about the need to back-off when reading a fellow writer’s work: http://bit.ly/9cpgXs
  • Another post from Scott at The Literary Lab | A Question of Genre: http://bit.ly/9suLqW
  • And one from Edittorrent: Does your POV make it hard to like your character? http://bit.ly/aKeWvB

Also on Twitter, @karenfrommentor reminded me the other day about the virtual parties we used to have here on my blog. They lasted all weekend and things got a little crazy. Ah … the good old days.

Creativity Workshop update, Week 4

I completed my weekly goal for Merrilee’s Creativity Workshop, so I will take another step up. This week’s poem continued the theme of personifying the seasons, and depicted Spring as an ingénue. (Yeah, yeah, cliché.) Here are the notes from my week:

  • Monday: Chose the triolet as my form for this week’s poem. Wrote my first two lines (A and B) and then filled in the fourth (A), seventh(A), and eighth(B) lines of the form. Jotted down some possible third lines.
  • Tuesday: Went to Rhyme.com to find possible rhymes for last words in lines A and B. Decided to change end word of line A because of difficulty in rhyming. Wrote some possible third, fifth, and sixth lines.
  • Wednesday: Changed one line and now have a completed poem, though I don’t much like it. I think I could have written a better poem about Spring without this rhyming structure, but then I suppose that’s the challenge. If I were truly a poet, I could write a good poem in any form. I’ll look at it again tomorrow.
  • Thursday: Changed several words in an effort to mature the poem.
  • Friday: Took another look and declared the poem awful. Revised it. It’s okay now, definitely not one of my favorites because the rhyming still assaults my ear. But after having now read numerous triolets by published poets, I recognize the fault is only in my amateur application of rhyme.

Next: My fourth, and last, poem for this section will be about Autumn—or Fall, depending on where I take it. 🙂 I have done no advance work on this one, so I’m hoping some of that Tuesday morning magic kicks in.

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Stone steps photo credit: Michael D. Perry – MikePerryMedia.com

Creativity Workshop, Goals, Poetry, Writing

Creativity Update

Despite my focus on introspection this past week, I did accomplish writerly tasks. I not only reached my Creativity Workshop goal, I also continued polishing my novel, as well as read and wrote feedback on submissions from some of my critique partners. And in related matters, I finished reading two novels I had started weeks ago. All in all, I had a productive week.

One more step up! Here’s the breakdown of how I met my CWS goal for week 3:

Monday: I took another look at the words I jotted down on Saturday for my haiku. Most of the words were okay, but they didn’t produce the right number of syllables. In the second line, I changed sees to mourns and passed to lived. Then I revised the final line and by the end of my CWS session I had the 5-7-5 pattern and a draft of my Winter haiku done.

Tuesday: Woke up in a black mood that just would not relent. All of my work looked horrid to me, even my beloved novel, so I shut down the writing room for the day.

Wednesday: Did no work on the poem today.

Thursday: I read an article by Jane Reichhold on haiku technique. I have much to learn before I can say I have a reasonable understanding of the form. Even the 5-7-5 pattern has been challenged. I played with my words moving them around, making substitutions. My third attempt felt right, so I declared this haiku written.

Friday: I thought ahead to the next poem, which will focus on Spring. I don’t know which poetry form I’ll use, but I’ve narrowed down ones I want to explore to the cinquain, triolet, and rondeau. It’s possible I’ll end up not using any of those, but I will definitely use a form I’ve never written in before.

It’s hard for me to believe that two years ago, I rarely read a poem because doing so made me very uncomfortable. It almost felt I was reading something in a foreign language, and I was sure I never understood what the poet was trying to convey. Many times, I still don’t, but I’m not afraid of poetry any longer. Pamela Villars may be right; I just might become addicted to writing poetry … but for me, it will never supplant writing fiction.

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Creativity Workshop, Goals, Poetry, Writing

Week two, during which I entered Poetland

Today is the day I update you on my Creativity Workshop progress. My goal this week was to research poetry forms, necessary because I’m basically ignorant of everything connected to writing poetry, and then to write the first of four poems. My theme for this set of goals is the four seasons. Certainly not an original concept, but it meets the requirement for connection, and I’ve never written poems specifically on seasons before. Also, each season will be personified as maiden, mother, or crone. I recognize two stages to motherhood: birthing and rearing, so Summer and Fall will both stand for mother.

I confess, by midweek I began to question the wisdom of signing up for a workshop when I was this close to finishing the final polish of a novel. Only two weeks in, it’s become a struggle to keep focused on the workshop goals. I don’t write well in short spurts, and at this point in my life, I usually don’t have to. I can and prefer to take the time to “get into character” before I let the story flow and then work until my brain exhausts itself. Breaking up my writing time with a bit of this and a bit of that is taking its toll on the quality of my output.

As requested, I recorded my progress in writing the first of four poems for the Creativity Workshop. This week I did not keep to the daily schedule I drew up before the workshop started. Obviously, I’m not doing so well on marrying discipline and creativity. I did, however, step up a rung on the ladder.

  • Monday: This was meant to be my research day, and I did some, but not as much as I’d planned because the words came first. I wrote some “poetic” thoughts on summer as I recall it from living the first half of my life in Indiana.
  • Tuesday: I researched more on poetry forms. One form I kept bypassing on Monday was the prose poem because it didn’t seem challenging enough. But early this morning, I took another look at the what I’d written and saw that it had already matured halfway to prose  poem–so prose it is. I worked far beyond my scheduled time and finished a decent draft of the poem by the end of the day. Also, viewed Merrilee’s three photo prompts and wrote down nine ideas/thoughts inspired by them as requested.
  • Wednesday: This is the busiest day of my week, so I had to stick with my allotted CWS time. Edited the poem to choose words better fitted to this poem. I consulted with one of my musician sons on use of one term.
  • Thursday: On second thought, I may not keep the prose poem form. I revised to free form, which is not a new poetry form for me, but I think I like the poem better this way. I spent the rest of my CWS time sitting in the sun and reading poetry.
  • Friday: I let the two versions of the poem sleep today. I researched more poetry forms to prepare for writing the next three. My aim is to fit the poetic form to the theme of the poem, but I’m not sure I will be able to do that.
  • Saturday: I re-read the two versions and decided to go with the free verse. I changed one word and added another. At some point in the future, I might know enough to write this better, but for now, I’ll consider this poem finished.

Words for the next poem came to me in the shower yesterday morning. I had been considering haiku for a winter poem and these words were already a close fit. So, it seems I have a head start on next week’s goal.

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Advice, Creativity Workshop, Fiction, Goals, Inspiration, Novel, Prompt, Writing

Are you prompted to write?

Along with meeting our weekly Creativity Workshop goal, Merrilee gave us tips on ways to come up with writing ideas and assigned us the task of looking at three photos to spark three ideas each. Sometimes a story idea sparked, sometimes a line, possibly an opening, for a story came to me.

Creative Commons via Cobalt123

It was hard not to see this photo other than in a “techo” sense, so I went with that … and a bit of fantasy (which I don’t write.)

  1. A radical new technology enables photographic evidence of the human soul.
  2. She stared at the beautiful blue visualization on the monitor as his favorite song played in Media Player and her heart slivered into shards.
  3. She held her breath and touched the pulsing blue orb, but this time—oh, this time—encountered no barrier; she reached further.
Creative Commons via bslmmrs

Since the main character in my recently completed novel is a brokenhearted man who flees to his cottage by the sea, that’s what immediately came to mind, but I pressed on … sort of.

  1. A suicidal woman retreats to a beach cottage and falls in love with life again.
  2. A recluse suspects that her neighbors on either side are planning to kill her.
  3. In a rental cottage overlooking the sea, a man finally confronts the fallout from his years of alcoholism.
Creative Commons via moriza

This photo just struck me funny, so I had a little fun with this one.

  1. A woman realizes that her husband had lost his mind along with his hair.
  2. If she had to listen to one more of his ridiculous ideas, she would murder him in his sleep.
  3. She knew in that instant on a sidewalk in Manhattan, their marriage was over.

I’ve rarely used photos as prompts, though something I actually see often sparks an idea. Dreams are a big source of inspiration for me. Music can be a good one. Occasionally, some bit of conversation sets my muse to scribbling down an idea. What serves you as a writing prompt?

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Creativity Workshop, Goals, Poetry, Writing

Past and Future Weeks

At least in part, I will discuss my Creativity Workshop progress in every Sunday post for the duration. This past week was introductory, and in that sense, I totally reached my goal. Yay, me!!!

This next week, the first of a block of four, I will write poetry. Since I’ve only written poems in free verse and haiku, my research on Day One will refresh my brain on the many other forms. Then I’ll choose the form I think will best suit the first of my four connected poems. I’ve chosen the four seasons as my theme for these poems, and first up is Summer, which is fast approaching for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Those of you who’ve been subjected to my poetry before on this blog can breathe easy because the rules prevent us from sharing what we write before the end of this workshop … and by then, I’ll have come to my senses. Hopefully.

And now for something completely irrelevant … and unbearably trivial.

I love bacon. I hate frying bacon. (I hate microwaved bacon worse than no bacon at all.) I don’t think perfectionists should take on the job of frying bacon. The task is just too frustrating. The only way to get all the little rippled fat bits cooked before the meaty part turns to leather is to prevent the ripples in the first place. Hence the invention of the bacon press. For some reason, I have never owned one … until now. Actually, I’ve only ordered it, but after it arrives, I expect it to transform my life. Well, the bacon frying part, at least. It will help me not a whit to write poetry.

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