Life, Musings, Reflections, Time, Writing

Fitting the Pieces Together

After my father’s sudden death four years ago, my mother spent nearly every waking moment working jigsaw puzzles. For more than a year, she sat sorting, moving, fitting piece after piece to create the final picture. Hour upon hour. Like a Buddhist monk creating a sand mandala. As soon as she fit the last piece in one puzzle, she tore it apart and reached for another.

Her life was in chaos. She created order out of a thousand one-inch pieces because she could not, was not ready to create a new order in her life. As her hands worked, her mind let go. As much as possible, she ignored the present, even listening to WWII music, the music of her youth, the music she danced and sang to before my father entered her life.

Gradually, her puzzle obsession waned. My father was gone. She was not. Life would go on.

The death of a loved one is surely the most severe disruption of our lives, but no matter what has knocked us off kilter it takes time and patience to get back on track. We have to sort out what went wrong and then, piece by piece, form a new picture.

Time and patience. I need them both.

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Update: After a couple comments, I see this post has caused some unintended concern. I am all right.

Fiction, Imagination, Inspiration, Reflections, Time, Writing

What is this thing we call writing?

Since I don’t watch a lot of TV, I missed the debut season of the series LOST, even though two of my sons had independently mentioned they thought I would like the show. So, right before the second season started, I loaded up our Netflix list and my husband and I watched the whole season in a week … or was it a weekend. Whatever. The experience was intense.

In case you don’t know what LOST is about, it’s the story of a mysterious island that, seemingly, is under control of the forces of good and evil. These forces control the lives of certain people, at least to some degree, and eventually bring them to the island. This series focuses on the survivors of a plane that crashed on the island.

WARNING! Possible spoiler alert in the next paragraph:

This final season seems to be showing us that these “survivors” are leading lives in two dimensions: they crashed; they didn’t crash. Of course, this is an examination of the nature of time and existence, which is something I consider daily. And naturally, I like to consider it in the light of writing.

What is the nature of The Muse? What exactly is this state we call creativity? Do we truly “make up” our stories or do we channel some alternate reality, or past life, or even future life, if you consider time a man-made convention. Are we simply recording the collective unconscious?

Your thoughts?

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Social Media, Sunday Stew, Writing

Grab a spoon and a hunk of bread!

Today I’m serving up another Sunday Stew, which I guess is a strange dish for Sunday … at least the way I was raised. We always had a nice big Sunday dinner. But today I’m just blogging about a few things I’ve been thinking about lately, a mixture of things, so stew it is.

If you’re a regular visitor here, you know I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. After my last post about it, I decided maybe I just wasn’t being aggressive enough. Soooo … I’ve spent the last three weeks doing my best to tweet, retweet, and respond to others tweets—including loads of people who don’t follow me—you know, being sociable. And yes, I have twelve new followers, but only a few of those actually followed me because of my experiment, and of those few “strangers” only two have any connection with writing. Seriously, one of my new followers tweets about surfing!? For me, what Twitter does best is waste a lot of my time.

In my ongoing quest to write publishable stories, I’ve been reading how-to books. So far, I haven’t found any secret to success. I’ve realized the rules for writing a story are basically the same as for writing a novel. Because of the differences in length, you just have to get to the point quicker, make every word count even more, and there’s less room for character development and description. Am I missing something? I submitted a flash and two horror stories to my critique group. The verdict: two good, one not so much. I’m learning.

I think I have a “platform” disadvantage. Or for fiction writers, I guess that’s called a readymade base … or something like that. In other words, I don’t already have a large group of people likely to buy my novel when it’s published. Some of you do. Either you write genre or you belong to a social, religious, or special interest group that supports its own. I write mainstream fiction, which usually is sold on name recognition. I don’t think tweeting is going to do it, people.

Finally, I think email sent in June must have traveled through a black hole or something. In the last couple weeks, I have twice received the same email sent by a friend in June, another email sent by my son in June, and three different blog posts from June! It would seem weirdness is afoot.

Humor, Musings, Time, Writing

Free prose day!

Today’s post doesn’t really have much to do with writing, though I’m calling it free prose. That’s not the same as stream of consciousness; I would never subject you to that.

Juan, Henry, and Margaret

I grow roses … well, for the most part this last year, I neglected roses, but still they bloomed. Yesterday I cut a few. I don’t usually do that this late in the season because I like to let them go dormant for a couple months, but roses that bloom in cool weather have the sweetest fragrance, and I needed a lift.

In the bouquet pictured, I have Don Juan (red), Henry Fonda (yellow) and Margaret Merrill (white) and though the yellow doesn’t usually have much scent, and the red much less than the white, they’re all scenting the room as I write.

My work station?

I have not done so well on my NaHoCleMo challenge. The reward of a spotless house, including cupboards, closets, and drawers, is not enough to goad me into the nearly three hours of daily work I need to keep on goal. Actually, it’s not so much the cleaning that gets me down, it’s the deciding. I don’t know what to do with piles of stuff when I pull it out of those cupboards, closets, and drawers.

I like to blame it on being born under the sun sign of Libra … you know, being able to see all sides and trying to be fair in my judgment. Should I keep this? Should I give it away? Should I toss it? It’s that inability to decide that clutters my house in the first place. That, and my mother cleaning my childhood bedroom and throwing away all my little “collections” which she apparently mistook for trash. I’ve battled with keeping MY STUFF ever since. Ah, well …

In what sense are we lost?

I know this question is “out there” but is it possible that time is speeding up? I’ve been thinking that it’s only because I’m getting older. And cruel joke that—the less time you have left the faster it’s used up! But I’ve heard people far younger than I make the same observation.

Of course, with that in mind, we could veer off into questioning what time is, which would make my head spin, so let’s don’t. Although … that does remind me of the show LOST and how I so wish I could figure it out before they reveal it all this next season.

All right, I’ve blathered long enough, but at least free prose is … well … free.

Critique, Fiction, Group, Musings, Publish, Time, Writing

When the time is right

cleaningYou never know what you’ll find when you clean house. I have now made it most of the way around my “workroom.” This is where I write, do genealogy research, make jewelry, draw, and do whatever else requires a big table or a computer. Every inch of this room is occupied. Also in this room are two deep closets crammed with … well, a lot of stuff. I’ve now cleaned and organized those two closets.

I found a dozen errant beads that had rolled off my workbench and under the doors. I found the pack of mechanical pencils that I knew I’d bought but never opened. And I found a bag of a ten or so new bottles of craft paint that had been “lost” inside the bag of felt pieces. But the best find was in a box in the office supply closet. I found old computer disks.

disksOn two of the disks, I found some of my old writing files, and I’m working up the nerve to open them. Others are files from the first two online critique groups I belonged to in 2000. As soon as I saw the writers’ names, I remembered the plots of the books they were working on at the time. I did some research and found out that, of the three writers I worked most closely with in those groups, two of them have been published and the third mentors other published writers.

So, of course, I asked myself where I might be now, if I hadn’t let life get the better of me. Just as quickly, I let that go. I reminded myself that I believe all things happen for a reason. I’m where I’m supposed to be right now.

I was a different person then. I hadn’t read some of the books I needed to read. I hadn’t met some of the people I needed to know. I hadn’t experienced some of the things I needed to to enable me to write what I can write now. So I’ll let go my envy and I’ll practice patience. My time will come.