Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where Do I Come to The Page?

Becca at Becca’s Byline asks this question: where do I come to the page?

Where I write depends on what I write. When I write Morning Pages, I am lying on the couch in the family room, in front of the windows. The blinds are pulled. It is still dark outside, so I have a soft light on in the kitchen and one beside the couch. I lie propped on a big pillow with a small pillow on my stomach and my notebook on top of that. I’ve let the dog outside, so I write until he scratches on the door, then get up and let him in, then write some more until it’s time to hop in the shower and get ready for the day.

I carry a pen with me everywhere, and can be found taking notes on any available blank piece of paper that I find in my purse—backs of envelopes or receipts, one of my Moleskine notebooks that I carry to keep poems and book notes in, Post-Its, or whatever. One of my Moleskine books comes out at the book stores as I peruse the books I might want to buy. I write down the titles of books I want to buy, the price, etc. If it’s a non-fiction book, I will skim through it and write down pertinent ideas and quotes that I want to remember. Sometimes just getting the main ideas is enough, and I don’t have to buy the book. Other times, I can tell from the sheer number of quotes or the beautiful language that I must buy this book!

For blogging, I am usually sitting at my desk, composing on the keyboard. Sometimes, I lift a journal entry to use. I always develop it further at the desk though. I don’t know that I want to share a picture of my desk, even though I am like Becca and love to look at other people’s work spaces. Mine is a mess though! Piles of paper cover it, along with pens, treasures, knick-knacks, books, pictures, etc. I clean it up occasionally and it takes about two minutes for it to be filled up again. I think I have an aversion to clean empty spaces!

I don’t have a laptop. I fantasize sometimes about sitting in a comfy chair or couch with a laptop and soft lighting. I may have to borrow one to see if I would really use one that way. To me a computer means sitting upright using my ergonomically correct keyboard and a real mouse—I hate those little touch pad things.

I have a friend who writes in a teepee. I have friends who carry little notebooks with them and write anywhere and everywhere. I have a friend who writes at her dining room table. I think, when you are a writer, you can write anywhere and frequently do write everywhere. We may have our favorite spots, but all we really need is a pen or pencil and a scrap of blank paper. We carry the urge with us all the time!

How About This?

I told one of my daughters about the experience of the night rainbow. When I described the strange pinkish light, she said, “Mom, you were IN the rainbow! That is why the light looked like that!” And I think she is right. From the angle that the sun was shining through and the mist that still surrounded us, we had to be inside a rainbow. How cool is that?

Oh, and today is June 18th, Paul McCartney’s birthday! This date has stayed in my mind since those days in the 60’s when I was totally in love with Paul and convinced that somehow we would meet and he would want to marry me. I just knew it would happen! Ah, the faith of a teenage girl! While I’m not still totally in love with him, I do still have that soft place in my heart for him, and I wish him well. Happy Birthday, Paul!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remember the Night Rainbow

Several years ago, a friend gave me a little book. He said “Read this when you’re feeling blue and I’m not around to talk to.” The book was If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow by Cooper Edens. It’s a beautiful little book, written for children I think, with fabulous illustrations by Cooper Edens also. The book starts with the fanciful lines “If tomorrow morning the sky falls…have clouds for breakfast.”

I love this book. I love the illustrations. And I thought that the words expressed were sweet and fanciful and lived in the land of imagination—especially the “night rainbow.”

Imagine my astonishment Sunday night when I actually saw a night rainbow! And it was truly magical.

We had a big storm Sunday evening—as we have done for the last two or three weeks almost every day. It started around 7:30 pm. The sky blackened, the wind picked up and the rains came. Thunder and lightning filled the air. This lasted until about 9:10 pm. Then suddenly, all became quiet and the sky and the air lit up with the strangest light. It wasn’t the usual green that warns of a tornado. It was an eerie purplish rosy green twilight. The sun had pierced through the western clouds, but not completely. It was still covered with a haze of gray clouds and the black clouds floated above. Yet we were inside this mauve bubble.

I went to the door. The neighbors across the street came out on their porch and pointed to the eastern sky and said “Look!” I ran out and looked back, and there was the night rainbow! A real rainbow, seen through the misty mauve at 9:15 p.m., with darkness outside our bubble.

It was magnificent. And unreal. And it filled my heart with awe and joy. I pulled out the little book and reread it. Thought of my friend. Thought about what is imagined and what is real and what we know—and how all those things are also seen through a misty haze so much of the time.

I went to bed happy, remembering the night rainbow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trust the Gap--A New Perspective

Isn’t it funny how we can hear something for years—we nod our heads and agree—“Yes, yes, I understand.” Then one day, someone says the same thing using different words, and suddenly “I see! I know! I understand what that means!” It’s like the light comes on and we see clearly.

That happened to me yesterday. I was listening to a clip on YouTube by Ira Glass as he talked about the importance of storytelling. He was directing his talk toward visual storytelling, but suddenly I saw it as it applied to writing. He said that our problem is that we have good taste. We’ve seen TV or movies—or read good books and stories—and we know what we love and what we create at first doesn’t match what we know and love, doesn’t match what we have seen and were aiming for. There is a gap between our creation and our ideal. And this is where so many people quit, thinking that they just can’t do it, they’re not good enough, etc. Yet he says this is the place for us to keep trying—because WE HAVE THE GOOD TASTE—we KNOW what we are aiming for. So just keep trying and each effort will get closer to our ideal. It may take years, but we will still continue to get better if we keep trying.

I think the reason so many of us quit is because we think “I didn’t make it to my ideal so that means that I don’t know how to get there and I’m no good.” But in reality, we DO know how to get there—if we have the ideal in our heads and hearts, then we know what we are aiming for. And every time we create something that doesn’t make it, we still know where we were headed and where we fell short—so if we keep going, we can make our corrections and see how the next attempt turns out.

For some reason that just brought everything into focus for me. It made me realize that I DO know how to write—I know how I want to write, and if I write and revise and write some more and revise some more, eventually I will be able to make/write/create the kind of writing that I hold as my ideal. So keep writing.

This isn’t some overinflated ego thing of “I can be just as good as so-and-so,” it is an affirmation that my intelligence or conviction or standard is valid even when my execution is deficient, that I do know what I am doing, that my writing has worth . So, I can happily keep writing and fixing and quit worrying that my writing is no good—because I have good taste, I know what good writing is, and I am on my way to achieving it.

Anyhoo—my friend Sherita will say, “Haven’t I been telling you this for years? And you only believe it when you read it somewhere else?” Yes, guilty as charged. Except that finally understanding that seeing the gap between the ideal and my creation equals “yes, you can do it.” That if I didn’t see the gap, then there would be no hope for my getting better. That “seeing the gap” is actually the important part of the equation! And that makes all the difference. That means I can trust the gap to lead to better things instead of seeing it as a deterrent. The gap shows me where to go. So trust the gap and keep writing.

Go to You Tube and watch the four clips by Ira Glass on Storytelling. If my link doesn't work, look him up. He explains all this so much clearer and better than my rambling does. And maybe some sentence that he says will illuminate an idea for you. He does know how to tell a story!

More later!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Feast for the Eyes

Here is something that I discovered the other day. The magazine La Vie Claire published by Claire Murray. How could something this beautiful and magnificent have been in publication for over two years without my knowing about it?

The simple, beautiful cover caught my eye as I passed the display rack in the bookstore. Then when I opened the magazine, I was hooked. I knew right away that I had to buy a copy—right then—immediately—MUST HAVE RIGHT NOW! So I bought it. Took it home. And it took me forever to get through it. I would look at a gorgeous picture. Stop to catch my breath and just think about the picture and all the emotions and memories that it pulled up. Then I’d look again. Repeat the stopping and thinking. It was the most satisfying magazine reading experience that I’ve ever had—and believe me, I am a magazine reader from way back!

I have shared this magazine with my Journaling and my Fiction Groups. I think we can use these pictures for writing prompts. My friends were impressed with the magazine too. I keep looking back through the pictures. I have decided that I need to buy some back issues and sign up for a subscription for future issues. Yes, I am truly addicted to La Vie Claire.

Lately, most of the artwork that I look at on different blogs has been collage, scrapbooking, and assemblage type things. And I love that! I do collage and scrapbooking myself. I love buying Artful Blogging and poring over each page. I love the concept of a whole made of tiny pieces. I love quilts for the pattern, color, history and artistry that goes into each one.

Yet the simplicity of La Vie Claire just captured my heart and my imagination. It felt like coming home and breathing a sigh of relief. Like sitting outside on a clear morning watching the world wake up. Peace and satisfaction.

And because it is so wonderful, I want to share it with all of you too. Enjoy!

PS--I tried taking a picture of my copy, and none of them turned out well enough to post. You can visit the website and get a glimpse of how gorgeous it is.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Life vs. Blogging

When it comes to blogging regularly, in my case, it seems to be all about the time. We’ve recently started working summer hours, which means I get off work at 4:00 p.m. Getting off this early, plus daylight savings time means that I have long evenings now. I have no pressing “must watch” TV shows, I have daylight, and I have energy. This let me post entries for three days in a row.

Then, yesterday, I was gone for a happy occasion until 7:30 p.m. By the time I got home, ate supper, walked the dog, cleaned up the kitchen, and meditated (another of my activities that I am trying to do regularly), it was past my bedtime and I was exhausted. So, no blogging.

The happy occasion was that one of my granddaughters graduated high school last week, and my daughter held an open house for her yesterday. I was so proud of my granddaughter. She was Valedictorian of her class. She has won scholarships. She had a whole table filled with her awards. My daughter also had a table spread with pictures from kindergarten on up. And she had a kitchen island covered with tons of food and another table filled with little desserts. Plus, she had found a stand up photo board of a man and woman dressed as movie stars or prom goers with cutouts for people to stick their heads through. I got my husband to pose with me. He said, “Why are you so set on me doing this?” I told him this was the only prom we would ever attend, and I wanted a picture!

I am proud of both my granddaughter and my daughter for their accomplishments and their creativity. I think they’re pretty wonderful—not that I’m prejudiced!

The day was filled with family and friends, happy expectations, memories, laughter and some tears. A good day. Just no time to blog!