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Every Tuesday I post a slice of life and share in the challenge at Two Writing Teachers.
Lately, I have noticed shadows of things that I thought were new to my life but actually are not. It is amazing what reflection can bring forth.
I think of myself as a reflective person, and not just at the end of the school year. I always want to learn and become better and reflection is a large part of this process in my opinion.
With my discovery of short stories and I being creative soul mates over the recent last couple of years, I did not think that I had that much experience with short stories before. I had no recollection of reading many of them in high school other than The Celestial Omnibus . I do have a special place in my heart for this story, which is why I suspect it stands out.
Yesterday, while looking for something else, I stumbled across my ELA folder from school. In my corporation, writing samples were saved in a district folder that followed you from elementary to senior year where it was given to you unceremoniously. I have kept it all these years.
Curious, I started thumbing through it and was reminded of papers I wrote for Macbeth and for Of Mice and Men…then I stumbled on papers in connection to short stories.
One is WINTER DREAMS by F Scott Fitzgerald. I printed it off and began reading. I don’t remember reading it at all! It was a trip down memory lane – slight skewed.
I wrote a paper about Judy Jones and her many personality aspects. It isn’t the most riveting paper I must say. I had strong opinions and did not like this character much at all!
I look forward to finding new stories to read that I have read before. It will be like the first time…again.
It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers with a weekly Slice of Life Story.
Today’s Emily P. Freeman word is STAY.
STAY today refers to being in the present moment. You can only be in one place at a time. I suppose this is mostly true. As a writer, I am physically only in one place at a time, but mentally I am usually somewhere else. This is sometimes in one of my own story creations. Sometimes I am in a memory mining it for details that will add panache to the story I am working on.
When I am reading I am in the character’s head feeling and thinking what they are, often trying to anticipate their next move. Or I am trying to figure out the craft moves the writer made to have me feel the way I do about a character, setting, or story line so I can use it later.
I find it difficult to be in the moment. I am working on it. I know I should do one thing at a time but there is so much to learn. Everyone I meet has something I don’t know.
I have been tired lately. More tired than I should be. Last night I watched the movie The Professor and the Madman which my husband and I had been looking forward to. It did not disappoint. It is the story of how the Oxford dictionary came to be. It took extraordinary dedication and focus to have this book come to fruition. 70 years from the first conception in fact. Dr. Minor was meticulous in his mad state about the history and definition of words. He was in the moment for sure – for long stretches of time. I kept thinking of how much energy was put into this project and how many obstacles everyone had to overcome.
I am trying to find the right ratio of input vs output without driving myself mad. I love input of all sorts – deep conversation, reading, podcasts, etc. Outputs are likely interactions and writing lately. I know I have not found the right ratio when I am angry or overly tired.
Reflection and slowing down are both critical attributes for this process. I am glad that today I can breathe and think about it.
Yesterday I went for a second spring run at the National Dunes Lakeshore. I am lucky to live in Northwest Indiana and to have access to this park. I didn’t visit the park until I was an adult runner even though I have lived here most of my life.
I wandered down trail 9 yesterday. Essentially, I ran the trail backwards from how I normally run it. The “normal” route is to go down trail 10 and then up on the ridge and then down trail 9 back to the parking lot. There were several cars in the Wilson Shelter parking lot due to the beautiful weather yesterday. It was near 70 degrees here. During the week there has been no admission fee which makes me feel like I am getting away with something. On my way out I noticed a man at the entrance booth. hee hee
As I ran trail 9 I noticed to the left of the path the brown leaves are decaying on their own timeline. To my right the ground looked burnt and reminded me of the lava fields of Kona, Hawaii. I assume it was a controlled burn supervised by the park rangers. It was surreal to see and I moved along.
Looking at the black leaves, a smoldering fire, and smoke cloud I thought about how much I like the idea of fire.
Sometimes you need to light a fire.
Sometimes you need to stoke your internal fire and follow your passion.
Sometimes you need to burn a project to the ground and start over.
Gathering ideas are like gathering twigs in the woods. Starting the project is like lighting a fire. Sometimes I start the fire/new project too early because I am excited. I light the kindling, but then I do not have anything else to feed the fire with and it goes out! To avoid this catastrophe, I’m working on gathering my resources and organizing my most recent project so I can start a fire that can burn for a long time.
I was happy to run outside yesterday. I needed to be in nature, it is I way I refuel.
How do you refuel yourself?
I participate in the TWOWRITINGTEACHERS.ORG Slice of Life Challenge every Tuesday.
I started the day writing my stories for Camp NaNoWriMo. I am using a plot structure for at least one of the stories and started to flesh it out around the framework I already created. It is going ok but I do not find it as exciting as my normal writing I must admit. I have two other structures I am going to play with as well for this series of stories.
I read my poem, essay, and short story for the day. The short story I listened to from the New Yorker Fiction podcast which was interesting. I liked the commentary afterwards.
I met my writing friend at a local restaurant and we wrote together. I brought a prompt and she brought a prompt. It was great fun and then we talked about what we wrote. It was surprsing what I came up with and it was fulfilling. I have a seed for another short story now.
I had my online group monthly Zoom call. There really wasn’t much talking about writing. We did some sprints. I had already written a lot so I cut out early.
What kind of writing day did you have?
One of the writing resources I use is Language is A Virus. Here there is a list of 66 writing experiments. I used the idea of English to English translation to work on craft yesterday.
According to the site:
Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem (someone else’s, then your own) and translate it “English to English” by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or “free” translation as response to each phrase or sentence. Or translate the poem into another literary style or a different diction, for example into a slang or vernacular. Do several different types of homolinguistic translation of a single source poem. (Cf.Six Fillious by bp nichol, Steve McCaffery, Robert Fillious, George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Dieter Roth, which also included translation of the poem to French and German.) Chaining: try this with a group, sending the poem on for “translation” from person to another until you get back to the first author.
I used the poem, “The Imaginal Stage” by D.A. Powell.
This is what I ended up with after utilizing a thesaurus and them rewriting for more cohesion.
Inventive Theater by T.L. Breitweiser
On the plane where we change
I move away into a view of abundant worlds.
Rather than suns,
Abundant corners are fancy to scorch.
Do not settle
An ending opportunity
When instantly they indeed appear
To settle with the mundane.
Quiver and alter
The remains of my mind
The end game is we combust
Apt to escalate at dawn
When I share my feathers.
This was an interesting exercise and more difficult than I first imagined. I would like to try it with students. I would only give students one stanza as it can be frustrating to find words that fit.
Running made me a morning person. I used to get up before 5am everyday and run no matter what the weather or the mood. I am not training for anything now however.
I keep hearing and reading lots about morning routines. The information centers around creativity, productivity and being a leader which I enjoy. I also like reading about routines especially when they are about the process or writing.
I like the Ninja Writers W.R.I.T.E.R. acronym: For 10 minutes each Write-READ-IDEAS-EXERCISE-REVIEW but I do not stick to it.
I have read a lot of about other people’s routines here.
I do have morning routines for home and school.
My ideal morning routine is to wake up naturally, have coffee in bed with my husband, write and read for several hours, and then run outside.
At school I try to freewrite before my official day starts. I either write what comes to mind organically or use a prompt I am feeling that day. Many times it is something that was sparked by a podcast that I listen to on my way to work.
When the day starts I look at my bullet journal and what I have for the day. I double check email to make sure that I have everything on the list. I pour a cup of hot Joe and then get started.
I feel like my mental clarity has been better the last couple of weeks which is refreshing. Throughout the day I read my Bradbury Trio. There just isn’t enough time in the morning to get that all in!
What is your morning routine?
Happy St Patrick’s Day! Usually, we make corned beef and cabbage and have soda bread but this year is a bit more regular and simple. I wore my green to a workshop on Friday.
An app called Readwise is linked to my Amazon account and therefore my kindle. I receive a once a week email including some of the highlights I have made in the books that I have read.
Here are some of the highlights I received this week. It is an interesting look into my reading history.
As a writing exercise, I will take a couple of these quotes and use them as freewriting prompts.
|10% Happier by Dan Harris|
Working for Peter was like sticking your head in a lion’s mouth:
thrilling, but not particularly safe. (Location 182)Y
This book was recommended to me by a coworker. It was interesting and I liked reading about meditation but it did not change my behavior around the practice. I did really like this line though.
|The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah|
She wanted to bottle how safe she felt in this moment, so she could
drink of it later when loneliness and fear left her parched. (Location 284)
I read The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See right after each other. I wished I could bottle safety myself and wish I would have written this line!
|Dear Life by Alice Munro|
In fact they embraced it, diving into it and wrapping the familiar
words round their tongues as if they were a candy that could last forever. (Location 209)
Being a short story writer I love Alice Munro. I only recently learned of her so this is a more recent read. I love words and the idea of them being candy like resonated with me.
|Inside the Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg|
Subtraction works by eliminating an essential component of a system (a product or process). (Location 706)
This book was recommended by a speaker at the International Reading Association conference. It was about problem solving and was fascinating. I have gone back to this book on many occasions.
|A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman|
Year’s resolution was to live his life like it’s an art project. (Location 2175)
Ah! Emily! If you are a reader of my blog you know I LOVE Emily P Freeman. I love projects and challenges and loved the equation of life to the project.
|We Wanted to Be Writers by Eric Olsen, Glenn Schaeffer, and |
Or try to walk, a walking meditation. Don’t talk. That scares away the light. (Location 3293)Y
I found out about the Iowa Writing Workshop from Oprah actually. Once I learned about this writing mecca I searched for everything I could read about the program and the writers. This book is only one of them.
|A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit|
The stories shatter. Or you wear them out or leave them behind.
Over time the story or the memory loses its power. Over time you
become someone else. (Location 1348)
Solnit is a beautiful writer. I adore her patterns and style. Her words speak to me in a very mindful way.
|Tangerine by Christine Mangan|
Tangier and Lucy were the same, I thought. Both unsolvable riddles
that refused to leave me in peace. (Location 1632)
This was a book about friendship – or the illusion of it at least. I loved this line.
|Creative Schools by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica|
Effective teaching is a constant process of adjustment… (Location 1724)
Ken Robinson! Oh yes! His books are fantastic and I love to hear his presentations on YouTube. He is brilliant.
|Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford|
He’d do what he always did, find the sweet among the bitter. (Location 4260)Y
Such is life, yes? I read this book for a book club years ago. I would have never picked it up otherwise.
Thanks for reading and looking into a slice of my reading life! It is fun to revisit lines that struck me as I read. I am looking forward to the writing later too!
Happy Irish Sunday!
Note: I wrote my coffee share post yesterday – if you are looking for it it is day 16 this week.
I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge. Each day in March teachers from around the country post to their blogs and the Two Writing Teachers website. We read and comment on each other’s posts
Today’s post is centered around a question for you dear readers:
What fun fact would you share if you were being interviewed on a podcast?
A follow-up question for you is: Have you ever been on a podcast?
While thinking of what fun fact to share consider these ideas –
- Do you have hidden talents?
- Have you met someone interesting?
- What are you obsessed with?
- What is the most unusual thing you own?
What is my fun fact?
If I were on a podcast I would share a story of my intuition as my fun fact.
I used to be afraid to fly and for my last job we flew quite a few times a year for training. I had set my mindset that the pilot and the flight attendants were not going to willing get on a plane knowing it would go down so I calmed myself with that idea and also a breathing exercise from my yoga training.
[Side note here: As I have been reflecting over the last couple of weeks I have realized I really miss teaching my yoga classes! Back to regularly scheduled programming…]
Anyway, so we were to fly to New York and I was panicking about this trip for over a week before which I had not been doing for months. I tried to reframe my mindset, I talked to my coworkers who assured me flying is safer than driving, I did my breathing exercises, etc. Nothing helped the impending doom hanging over this trip.
We are in line at the airport and what do you know!? The flight is canceled due to MECHANICAL DIFFICULTIES. Luckily, they put us on a different plane to fly East. This plane was smaller than one my son made with Legos so the crashing thoughts came back. We did make it there and had an interesting van ride from Jersey to New York but I am still here to tell the tale!
Please share your fact in the comments below.
Bonus question: Yes! I have been on a podcast! You can read about it and find that here. #happyslicing!