Ponderings #SOL21

Each Tuesday I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog and then read and comment on at least three others posts.

I don’t check my school email everyday in the summer, but I am waiting for a response to something so am checking it more often. Early this morning, I saw an email from my principal that struck my heart strings to click.

As I read of the person she has become over the last 25 years in the district I knew the line that was coming next.

My principal is leaving and moving to another corporation.

This actually makes a few decisions easier for me moving forward but it still makes me sad.

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I am more myself when I can walk every day and luckily I am in a space where I can this summer. I have been walking 10-13 miles a day and this makes me happy. I can think about writing and listen to podcast and allow ideas to come to me.

One of the podcasts I love to listen to is the MFA podcast hosted by Jared. The interview this morning is about the University of Minnesota. It was a fabulous episode.

I struggle with the desire to apply and attend an MFA program. The immersion is what appeals to me. I know I can create a DIYMFA. There is even a book and website. There is something about the time set aside for just writing and talking about writing that appeals to me. I know from past experience that you cannot always handpick the community that comes with these programs. I am so honored to have cultivated a rich community of writers I would not trade no matter what class I took!

In any of your creative writing experiences what was the book and/or the writing exercise that made a lasting impression for you?

Writing is a passion for me that existed way before I taught. The skills I learned from teaching and marketing from various professions I have had have led me to where I am now and I am so grateful.

One of my greatest joys is teaching writing to all ages.

Want to join me? I am teaching a second round of my Fabulous Flash Fiction class starting August 4th. Come join the fun! Details and registration are here.

Brevity – An Exercise in Craft

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

One of the podcasts I listen to every week is the Stop Writing Alone podcast from Nicole Rivera. Several weeks ago Nicole talked about choosing a book from your bookshelf and working through it.

I love craft books and own a lot of them. I have done a lot of the exercises in several like

Writing Open the Mind,

Wild Mind , Writing Down the Bones and the True Secet of writing all by Natalie Goldberg.

I have done almost all the exercise in Going Short by Nancy Stohlman. I also took a course with Nancy using her book.

The Rose Metal Press Flash Fiction Field Guide is also one I have done many exercises from.

One book I have dipped in and out of it Brevity by David Galef. I purchased this book on the recommendation of Nancy Stohlman in March of last year.

Ever since I heard Nicole talk about choosing a book and committing to doing the exercises in it I knew the Brevity book was the one I needed to dig into.

Today I started with the first chapter about vignettes. I like this book because there is instruction and then at least one mentor text illustrating the points of the form highlighted. I wrote a vignette that I don’t like very much but the form will be on my mind for the rest of the day.

This is not the only writing I did today. I did my five minute Friday exercise. I also did my Sarah Selecky daily prompt in addition to morning pages.

What book would you like to work through but haven’t made the plan to do so yet?

***This not only works with writing exercise books but also cookbooks! I have worked my way through a couple of cookbooks beginning to end.

#FMF Summer

Each Friday Kate shares a one word prompt for you to write for 5 minutes.

Summer

There is an ease and magic to summer like no other season. Winter is my favorite with its cold and idea of being wrapped in blankets and the heat of the fire. The heat of summer blazes onto my skin as I walk through the trees and the fields logging the sounds of red winged blackbirds and horses as I pass. But summer is the time for iced drinks and watermelon too.

There is time in the summer for flow. The flow of writing and water. The flow of time. June went so quickly this year. It always does but now we are almost halfway through July and I am not ready. The two big trips happened already and there is a small excursion again next week. There are many things to still look forward to but I am trying to savor each moment and it feels like it is on fast forward.

The summer schedule is ideal for me. My writer’s agenda for the day starts with coffee and words in the morning, then a walk, good food plus inspiration. A simple existence which I crave. Scheduled meetings for talking to friends but minimal each week. Input of all types with reading, conversation, tv, and podcasts.

This summer is about work with my subconscious. The dreams and what I hide from myself. There are essays to write and notebooks to transcribe. There are stories to revise and workshops to plan. Morning pages have started again in preparation for The Artist’s Way group I am running in September. 

July is for hosting a 10 minute daily challenge. I inspire others to have a daily creative practice. It helps align me so I hope the same for others.

I am thankful for abundance and what is next. But mostly, I am savoring this moment.

#IWSG July

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

July 7th optional question – What would make you quit writing?
The awesome co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

First off, how in the world is it July? The pace of the world is certainly different now that the world is opening up more.

There is nothing that could make me quit writing all together. I have tried to take breaks in the past and I always come back to it. It is my default setting. It is how I think and how I figure out what is going on in my brain that has way too many drawers open at once.

When I feel bad I go to the page. When I feel good I come to the page. I start my morning with coffee and writing every day no matter what.

The past few weeks have been rough emotionally for me and also filled with travel so the amount of writing that has been done on the page has been much less. Most days when I am in my regular routine my writing time can range between 1 hour to 4 before I go for my walk. I made sure to write my 10 minutes every morning but I felt like I was in practicing just the physical movement more. The thoughts and ideas were marinating.

I have found that the connection to my husband, my coffee, and my daily walks are vital to my creative life. It has been an interesting reflection period these last few weeks!

Truth #SOL21 #10minchallenge

Each Tuesday I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog. Then I read and comment on at least three others posts.

The truth is…

I am hosting my own challenge this month

The prompt today was:

There are several ways a story can be true. 

Perspective and lens make a huge difference.

The brain changes a memory each time we recall it slightly which is why when you try to compare a situation with another person who was there you remember it differently.

Today I want you to set your timer and begin with the stem:

THE TRUTH IS

Just let your brain take you where it wants to go. You might write about the same truth the whole time or you may make a 2 mm shift of truth like a kaleidoscope. You may switch between several truths.

Allow what comes.

The truth is perspective. What is true for me is not always how others around me see it. As I get older, this seems to be more true than I ever thought before. But this idea also complicates things when you deal with people who deal in black and white. Five year old perspectives are different than adults for sure.

The truth is I am looking at some changes come August. I am uncertain how it will play out, but I know that I have taken steps and just have to wait now. The truth is I am impatient.

The truth is I returned from Florida on Sunday. I had an amazing time for my son’s graduation trip but it was a long time to be away from home.

The truth is June went even faster this year than it normally does. It is already the 6th of July and I am not ready. Time is flowing too easily.

The truth is I am examining what needs to stay and what needs to go. I am choosing to focus on the light, abundance, and wonder of it all. One thing that will stay is my 10 mile walks. I went earlier today so it wasn’t so hot.

If you would like to join this free challenge sign up here and you will start getting the emails tomorrow!

https://mailchi.mp/18cdb0dbd335/10min10days

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 23

All month I am following Ray Bradbury’s self directed MFA by reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of using the idea of good words in = good words out. I welcome your comments, recommendations, and insights!

#10minchallenge

Join me for the July #10min challenge. Each day I will send you inspiration to create for 10 minutes a day. Change your creative life and create a habit. It is a low stakes challenge with levels of accountability! Join us here Sign up here!

June 23

Poem: While

Story: What Can’t Be Carried Should Be Left on the Side of the Road Chelsea Stickle

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – A Long Chapter For A Short Practice

Reflections

The poem is odd and came into my email today. Here is the first stanza.

I go to drink the vending machine lights. I insert the coins I was fiddling with. I like how the machine lights up. I like shaking hands with paper cups. Warm as newborn quails. I like engraving teeth marks on the rim. I leave the cup on a chair. It becomes trash, becomes a letter.

The first line intrigues me and is a play on the idea that you go to a vending machine for something to drink. The idea of drinking light makes me think. There are observations of concrete details here that I can use in my revisions.

The story fascinated me when I read a draft of it in a class and I was drawn into the idea that there was a place you could go to scream. The compact nature of this piece inspires me.

I love these lines: Decades of screams raced out of her. It pressure washed her insides.

The essay from NG is about an exercise she poses to her students. To choose a place and write down what is happening at a cafe at the same time for a week. See what you observe. She does this exercise herself and she found out how much resistance it brought up for her and also what she noticed. It is an exercise I would like to try myself…maybe not for 7 days though! I need to find a cafe here. There is Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks of course but I would prefer a smaller place with a variety of baked goods!

Last night’s PUSH group was great and full of pulled lines to write with today. There were lots of great wins shared and we talked about what play meant to us. It was different for everyone ranging from things that were new to no expectations.

Do you want to join next week? Go here for the details: https://mailchi.mp/7a65558c8526/push

Sign up for July and get next week’s session FREE!

Happy Writing and Reading!

things on my mind #SOL21

Each Tuesday I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog.

things I’m

watching….

Below Deck. A new season started and we are able to watch it on Peacock. They are releasing the shows a week ahead of schedule so that is exciting. I am looking forward to Big Brother and it starts in July.

loving…

the horses on my walking route. There are horses on every walking route. I am logging in 10 miles a day since the school year closed.

reading…

A poem, a short story or flash piece, and an essay every day in June. I am reflecting on what I am reading and how it connects to revision this month.

missing…

my middle school writers group. I had several groups of middle schoolers who were some of the best thinkers and writers. we talked about short stories and wrote our own. it was a magical time.

ordered…

quick dry shorts with zippered pockets. I am traveling next week and need a place to stash my phone where it won’t fall out of my pocket.

Loving…

my library. Almost every book I look for, they have a copy of! It is amazing. I can put holds on books through the Library Extension through Google and that saves me time as well.

listening…

to favorite podcasts. One of the ones I look forward to is MFA Writers. I am excited a new episode dropped today and I will listen on my walk

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 22

All month I am following Ray Bradbury’s self directed MFA by reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of using the idea of good words in = good words out. I welcome your comments, recommendations, and insights!

#10minchallenge

Join me for the July #10min challenge. Each day I will send you inspiration to create for 10 minutes a day. Change your creative life and create a habit. It is a low stakes challenge with levels of accountability! Join us here Sign up here!

June 22

The amount of flash pieces that came out yesterday was astounding. So many writers I respect had pieces published. The SmokeLong Quarterly released their new issue (#72) and it is full of wonderful pieces.

Poem: The Summer Day Mary Oliver

Story: Undergrowth by Bowers

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – Loving a Place

Reflections

I went with a classic Mary Oliver poem today because I wanted to read it. The last two lines are some of the most popular from Oliver:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Undergrowth is a story that won a recent contest from Smokelong. I love the way this story is organized and will use it to revise a memoir piece that I wrote based on some inspiration from Lidia Yuknavitch. It is an emotional piece.

The NG essay is about loving where you live. I have this feeling now that I live in Wisconsin. I think this also applies to the space you live in. You need to be comfortable where you spend your time. It needs to work for you. One of the things I will not give up next time I move is to have a fireplace. I love where we live now but I miss my fire!

Today’s reading is more about good word input rather than direct revision. I listened to Traci Skuce on two podcasts on my walk and found her revision conversations helpful.

Happy Writing and Reading!

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 21

How are we at the 21st of the month already???

All month I am following Ray Bradbury’s self directed MFA by reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of using the idea of good words in = good words out. I welcome your comments, recommendations, and insights!

July is Coming!

Join me for the July #10min challenge. Each day I will send you inspiration to create for 10 minutes a day. Change your creative life and create a habit. It is a low stakes challenge with levels of accountability! Join us here Sign up here!

June 21

Poem: In a Place Where Trees Can Speak by Jane Brunette

Story: Hunger Pains (A bit racy…fair warning before you click)

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – Lists

Reflections

The poem is from Jane’s poetry collection Grasshopper Guru. There is a rhythm and ease to Jane’s poetry that feels dream like and soft to me. There are images and then you sift through to reveal a memory of hers that you feel like you were let into from a peep hole. It feels magical.

In the story I love her opening line: Eating nacho-flavored cauliflower chips is like eating the crisp skeletons of dead leaves. 

I like some of the lines and the lists and how she uses food, but the explicit nature of the piece is not my favorite. In something I read today she said she wrote it when she was hungry!

NG writes about the writing of lists and how they are simple but one of the backbones of writing. Whenever you don’t know what to write you can always come back to a list. She gives some opening lines to play with in this chapter. For revision, formulating a list opening line that corresponds with your story can open up a new way to look at it and add details.

What list will you make today?

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 20

For June, I am following Ray Bradbury’s self directed MFA by reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of using the idea of good words in = good words out. I welcome your comments, recommendations, and insights!

July is Coming!

Join me for the July #10min challenge. Each day I will send you inspiration to create for 10 minutes a day. Change your creative life and create a habit. It is a low stakes challenge with levels of accountability! Join us here Sign up here!

June 20

Poem: Mourning

Story: Click Clack the Rattle Bag by Neil Gaiman

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – Things to Draw

Reflections

This poem draws me in with all the objects contained within it.

This short story is one of my all time favorites. It is about 1400 words so not considered flash fiction. There is a moment in this story where you gasp and you realize what is happening. It is a story told through dialogue as well which I find difficult to pull off.

NG talks about drawing with words. Sarah Selecky talks about this a lot as well – the idea to describe something with words. Lean descriptions keeping close to the object and the senses. It can add to the experience for a reader.

What inspires you?