Writer Voyeurism

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Voyeurism is a problem for some people; for others not so much.  True voyeurs may want to move on now.  Nerd voyeurs keep reading.

Get a group of writers, lovers of language, and one brave author chatting on Twitter and suddenly you have a new reality tv show.  WriteTv aired today with author Ksenia Anske opening her sacred writing time to all her Beta Readers and writing friends interested in watching her work her craft. All in all there were 217 views over the four-five hour writing session.  People popped in and out; wrote their own texts while hanging out with Ksenia writing her novel; tossed Bless Yous; asked about the ambient music; and listened to Ksenia sing along –no talk aloud her thinking/writing process as it formed. 

All in all it seemed just like anyone’s writing session.  It had all the accoutrements a writer depends on for the comfort it takes to open one’s self so completely in order to fill the page.  There was a visibly comfortable sweatshirt/sweater sans elbow patches, hell sans elbow fabric.  No doubt from countless sessions of this author’s elbows firmly planted on the edges of sanity, or a desk, holding a head full of ideas in two hands trying to wring out cohesive thoughts.  I know that is what happens to the patches on the flannel shirts I wear as I toggle the edge of sanity scouring for that elusive word.  You know the one on the tip of your tongue synapse that won’t fire across to your fingertip synapse so you can put it down in the midst of that sentence glaring at you with the big hole in it? Grrrr with me people!  There was that mug of liquid jolt juice, for Ksenia-coffee, for me never coffee.  No one wants to see me on coffee.  So apple cinnamon water for me or sweet tea.  And there was ambient music.  Something to massage one side of the brain while the other cerebrates and the third, yes I said third, while the third writes.  There used to be a theory about right-brain/left-brain; one side as the creative side and the other as the analytical/mathematical side.  It has changed over the years to a triune format to signify the more complex interplay between our various intelligences.  No wonder we drive ourselves silly?  So much malleable mayhem up there. 

The best part about watching another writer write were the numerous ‘best practices’, as we teachers call them, that were confirmed.  Check, check, check; I’m doing it right.  First, there is the one I learned as a National Writing Project Fellow.  Writing conferences work.  In any format they work.  Everybody present in one learns and grows as a writer.  Today’s was unique because for the most part there was one writer writing and an audience of cyber passive observers.  We didn’t do anything more than watch and listen but she knew we were there watching and listening.  IF she wanted interaction she could have it but this wasn’t a ‘conference’ set up.  It was just writing.  And writing she did.  Beyond the initial distraction and discomfort of doing something new for the first time, I don’t think we got in her way.  I hope not. 

Other confirmations included writers’ quirks.  Well at least Ksenia and I share them lol not sure about the rest of you.  There was the head turning to the right as if just over there was the rest of the thought, rest of the sentence, figment of the character spurring you on, or vision of the setting or conflict unfolding as you watched to get all the details.  There was the hair issue.  The loose strands that need to go back behind the ear or back in the ponytail or back around the fingers to be twisted into releasing the next idea.  Don’t have hair?  I got nothing for ya except you shouldn’t have twisted so tightly!  There was the brow action; creasing, raising, furrowing, scrunching, all of it happening and then those fingertips massaging the creases up and out into the hairline.  And last but not least was the lip action.  The pursing, pouting, pressing, and for me pulling and biting.  All in an effort to get out what brews inside of us be it story or poem or song. 

Ksenia Asanke, author of Siren Suicides, thank you so much for letting us in today.  It was a blast to connect and observe, watch and learn, listen and write with you!  That hug is for you!

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The Magic Sock

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Recently I became the inheritee of some yarn.  The yarn and beginnings of numerous creations belonged to a Hope Hospice patient that had succumbed to whatever predatory pestilent pissant betrayed the last years of her life.  I never met the lovely lady—and I am sure she was lovely from her inherited knittings –but as I unpacked the yarn and creations in their various stages of completion I could only think how the stages of life pass us by.

One particular unfinished project caught my eye for multiple reasons.  As I looked at the skein of yarn all I could think of was how I would never buy such a color.  It was a variegated color of mid-tone pastel pink, purple, pistachio, coral, and blue all running into one another like a melted sherbert disaster.  But as I moved the skein there was one finished sock and God forbid an unfinished one.  Not only unfinished but on three double pointed needles with the fourth needle missing in the mayhem I was unpacking.

Now I am a fair knitter.  I have knitted scarves, mittens with and without fingers, vests, and even sweaters that yes I have then worn in public or– Lord help them– given to others expecting them to wear them in public, but I have never knitted socks on double pointed needles.  I avoided them like wool.  But these socks were different.  They were pretty.  I liked them.  I wanted them.  I would have even bought them had I seen them in a store.  My head pivoted like I was at a tennis match back and forth; skein to socks, socks to skein. How odd it seemed to me that I didn’t like the skein but when I saw the socks the yarn was beautiful.  How many times in our life do we not realize the value of something in its self because we can’t imagine it in its togetherness in another form or its combination with another something?  That was a truly sad moment.

I don’t know if it was the fact that this was Hope Hospice yarn, or the spirit of the knitter was entwined therein, but that sock had to be completed.  How exactly without knowing her pattern or ever having tackled such a feat was beyond me, I just know in that moment I was compelled to finish the sock.

So I shot a picture of it and sent it to my mom the knitting guru in my life and asked, “Don’t I need a fourth needle?” to which she of course replied, “How did you get that far without one?”  Now I am fifty so that makes my mother ancient and you know as well as I do that this conversation was over right there and then with one text exchange. My phone rang immediately with her asking the exact same question with an added ‘hell’ to the mix.  I shared the story and she verified that I needed a fourth and walked me through the completion process (very simple indeed, thank goodness) and off I went to find a fourth needle.  As I grabbed the skein to move it off my lap I felt something hard inside and there it was the fourth needle safely tucked right where it should be.

Now for the magic.  As I am knitting the finish of this sock, it seems to only need the part from the heel to the toes, fifteen minutes work tops, but every time I check the length it just needs a few more rounds, and a few more, and a few more.  Kinda like it doesn’t want me to finish?  Kinda like it wants to hang on a little longer.  Kinda like it likes my company and my hands holding on to it.  Could this be the knitter’s spirit holding on, hanging around a little longer, guiding me to make sure I get this right?  I don’t mind in the least; glad for the guidance.

It brings tears to my eyes to think about her and I never even met her.  Odd how someone can touch your life without touching you.   And if she has this much power in my life right now without having ever been in my life, no wonder others that have been in my life have such destructive impact.  How is that so backward and why do we allow it?

So the question I grapple with today as I stopped to write this is do I finish the sock or hang on to her?  I find that she calms me, makes me smile, makes me wonder all about her and life in general (obviously spurred on in the response here), makes me stop and take stock a little more often than usual.  Finishing the sock and wearing them would only trample that right?  Beat it down?  Or worse finishing them only to tuck them away in some drawer unused and forgotten?  But unfinished?  Is that right either?  Seems almost sacrilegious.  With my face scouring at this dilemma a thought eases my creases and I decide.  The sock must be finished.  It is the only way to honor her.  But the sock must be passed on so her spirit can be shared to touch someone else.

Obstacles to Writing

It is so simple that I only wish it was doable.  These obstacles I have are so manageable if only.  Writers are worse than Hollywoodians when it comes to ego driven insanity.  Our creative souls propel us to places we can’t reach but can feel, we can’t draw but can see, we can’t be but can imagine.  A padded cell is not good enough to contain the insanity our writer’s ego ignites.

Never failing to impede my desire, these obstacles exist to torment my need to write.

Time—the thief of all desires.  Never enough.  Mismanaged at best when we do have it.  Interrupted by those that think so much less of what we are doing that they think we are doing nothing.   I just need to order more hours in which to write.  can it be as simple as designing my own clock with a time warp or Mobius loop for just those few more hours I want?

Eye Twitch—if only my fingertips had eyes to type out on my illuminated keyboard the thoughts I wanted to write when my eyes were so tired that they start twitching at me to demand I close them for sleep.

Idea Muse—those gossamer glimmers that arrive in the middle —-middle of work, middle of the night, middle of anything but the opportune time to capture; sure I will remember that thought, those phrases, these descriptions, this character, a twisted plot complicated in a unique knot; no need to write it down so no worries that I don’t have my journal or a pen.

Technology—don’t even get me started since I won’t be able to find my way out of the ones and zeros without my techilicious man.  And let’s admit that technology is more on the positive than the negative when it comes to writing.  More of an assistive tool than an obstacle, unless, of course we see those words ‘file not found’ or the blue screen of death when we try to boot up a computer. No ExcusesWP_20130217_01020130222220852

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In spite of these obstacles this blog got finished.  It may not have been what I wanted to write tonight but I did write, right?

PS  The techilicious man had a solution for the Idea Muse attacks when I have no journal or pen:  Voice Notes on my Nokia Lumia 920!  He is such a hero!

What I Am Reading and Why

Reading for me is something I have to steal and sneak snippets of time to accomplish.  Between work, new love, family, wanting to write, wanting to knit, sew, make jewelry, learning to bake bread the old-fashioned way and hundreds of other want-tos and should-dos–reading falls into many “need niches” of my life.  I am often reading something spiritual, something for writers or the writing craft, something for personal growth, something for work, and of course something for pure esape.  The problem with reading for me is that I am an eternal learner  so as you can see there is that journal there in the middle where I have to cogitate what I read.  My current pile below is heavy on the craft of writing.  As a teacher I find myself heavily writing during those school breaks and there is a one a coming J.   Four of the six are on the topic of writing or writers. The other two consist of one spiritual growth and one personal growth on forgiveness.  It is still open because boy is that a long process sometimes.  There is no pure escape book because I am having trouble finding somethig that suits my need after having ravished both E. L. James’ 50 Shades and Stieg Larsson’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogies.  Anyone have a suggestion for me?

My current reading stash along with my journal
My current reading stash along with my journal

Quick facts about PTSD include the estimate of 5 million people who suffer from PTSD at any one time in the United States and the fact that women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

 

Forgiveness is a Choice by Robert D Enright

This blue book is open because even after a six week workshop with my therapist and a wonderful group of women seeking empowerment in our lives, I am still struggling with completing the cycle of forgiveness regarding an event in my past.  Suffering from PTSD is what brought me to therapy and my faith, while sustaining me, has suffered a crack in the foundation of what I was raised with and what I am now as an adult choosing to re-believe or affirm.  This book is a gut wrenching journey through the forgiveness process but well worth the turmoil.  Once you till the ground that hardened and lay fallow from years of avoiding the issue, the book helps you prepare for sowing seeds of forgiveness that may or may not sprout.   What it has done for me is remind me that the person in question is certainly more than the one sin I was focused on just as I am more than the one event that reaped my PTSD.  I am still in the book four months later because I still have work to do and it is a process.

Dancing the Dream. . .the seven sacred paths of human transformation  by Jamie Sams

My current spiritual growth book is rooted in Native American wisdom regarding our path lives.  According to Sams we have seven sacred paths that are never forced on us but present themselves to us as opportunities and each path allows us to expand as humans.  These paths are not linear but dovetail and allow us to embrace lessons on several paths at the same time.  The seven paths are:

East Direction:  We become illuminated; see a purpose for our life

South Direction:  We learn to rise above our childish human reactions, compulsions, and unhealthy emotions

West Direction:  We learn how to heal our pasts, our bodies, self-esteem

North Direction:  We learn to share wisdom; live with compassionate non-judgmental open-hearts

Above Direction:  We embrace unseen worlds of spirit; heavenly realms; unknown parts of universe; intangible forces in Creation

Below Direction:  We learn to perceive unseen force; connections to spirit in all living things; how to bring our own spirits fully into our human body

Within/Now Direction:  We gain access to all life in our universe within our human body and walk through life in a state of full spiritual awareness without separation or judgment

The connection throughout the reading to “mindfulness” is helpful as I grow and transform my PTSD self into my SELF.

“We all have energy and direct our thoughts/feelings into the world.  That energy can implode on us and penetrate who we send it to resulting in loss.  We carry invisible burden baskets containing our limitations, thoughts, emotional wounds.”

Mindfulness can help us break free from our fears and live a purposeful life not a purposeless life.

Rumors of Water by L. L. Barkat

As managing editor for The High Calling and four time novelist, Barkat shares what we all need to be reminded of —writing comes from life.  What I enjoyed best about her novel was that she spoke about her life in reality, included how writing flows through her daily mindfulness and how it extends letting me follow where it goes, and the chapters were manageable for those of us needing quality guidance on a tight schedule.  The reality of her conversation with the reader about writing and how it seeped into the day and presented opportunities and trifled with her or stumped her kept me shaking my head in the affirmative as to having the same experiences and enjoyable or angst filled moments as Barkat.  So she makes you feel like a writer if you are working from your real life stance.  Creativity has to have a foundation and why it can’t have it in your real life is beyond me.

The mindfulness of when writing enters her thoughts and how those thoughts flow through her are a journey I am sure I have never been still enough to capture in myself.  The ride is well worth the ticket.  As a teacher it tickles me best that she has fostered the love of writing in her daughters and they have the same connectedness to writing that she does.  Even when the writing thought gets tangled and lost in an interruption, you can’t write without living.

“Writing starts with living.  Living starts with somebody caring so much about something that they need to

drag you out of your writing chair and take you where you’ll be surprised to find your words.”

The manageability of the chapters meant, for me, that even after a 12 hour day of teaching (yes they exist) I could still treat myself to a one-on-one session with Barkat about the writing craft and maybe just maybe be rejuvenated enough to craft a draft before crashing for the night..  Not only that, but each chapter seemed to have a tangent I could take somewhere.  Thanks Barkat!

As for the rest of my stack the next three books that I have yet to crack but will tonight include

The Novelist by L. L. Barkat  The Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Paintner & The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Will I juggle all these books at once?  Yes, I will.  Will I try to write my own creative texts while I am juggling?  Yes, I will.  The book I am writing with my boyfriend; the one I am writing by myself, a poem/story I am writing for my six year old granddaughter—that only means another two have to be written for the five year old and two year old so they each have their own story from Gran’Ma.  In my world, life is juggling and even when things drop there is something in that to capture from the pieces.

Lights of Rosendale

“Brian, I know we said we’d never mention it again but it’s happening again.  Or maybe it’s not happening again. Maybe it’s always been happening and I’m just noticing again!  Who knows.  Okay, okay I’ll talk around it.

Since you moved back they show up just like before, you know like when we were eleven and camping that first time we saw them?  I still remember how freaked we were but man we were eleven when we made that promise; we’re thirty-one now and it’s happening and we can do something this time.  We can’t just ignore it, we’re grownups; not as powerless as we were before.

You don’t know this but after you moved and old man Snyder closed that mine, two weird things happened.  The entrance was covered with a blast door and armed guards were posted.  I was trying to sneak in one last time to get some detonators but couldn’t get near the place.  Not only the door but those military goons knew I was coming before they should have.  Tell me how that’s possible?  If that mine was so obsolete, then why the need for guards?   Armed guards—not worthless rent a cops-but armed – meticulous about security – military style guards.  And not only that, but nothing coming nothing going; nothing in our out of the place, so why bother?  I know man, I recon’d the place for days trying to figure a way in.  The only thing that changed were the guards.  Another thing, no one that worked there before ever talks about the place; won’t say nothing, just shake their head and move on as if they forgot they had someplace to be and were late.  Mad Hatter syndrome.  I mean, come on, a limestone mine!  An obsolete one at that?

Regardless of everything old man Snyder left inside, from full factory to detonators to ball bearings it was shut down.  Why all the security unless it was somehow connected to those lights.  And don’t give me that lame Hudson Valley lights nonsense.   Our lights were different and you know it.

Friday night let’s get together.  You just moved back and our wives and kids need to meet.  Barbeque at my place, bring the family, leave the kids for the night.  After things settle down your wife can go home and unpack or relax and you and I will sneak off to the top of the big hill with a six pack and warm the tailgate and watch for them lights.  You know you’re dying to know what they are and where they are really coming from so don’t bother telling me no.  See ya Friday at 6.”

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