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Thursday, December 11, 2014

How About That?!

12/10/14
Already I know that a new year's resolution will be to submit, submit, submit; that is, to submit samples of my writing to magazines and other publishing sites.  Ever wary of sharing my 'gems' for scrutiny, I finally learned to use the electronic process aptly named 'Submittable', to channel my submissions directly to their intended destinations.  Whether an editor finds them worthy is out of my hands.

So this week I am pleased to say that my essay "Writing Poems at Sixty Nine", which I'd sent out via 'Submittable' and with my blessing,  appeared online today.  I had submitted it to the Loft.org's website, under the category "Writer's Block," which, I assume, means place for thought, not obstruction.  My writing has been found worthy.

So how do I feel about that?  Filled with glee, fingers flying over the keyboard to tell all my friends and writing team (fellow writers and encouragers) (current parlance calls for a feminine counterpart to 'fellow,' but 'gal writers' hasn't quite caught on yet--shall we start?) that I am in print.  Online.  In digit (as in format, not hand or foot).  Oh my, terminology is such a variable  thing...with all the alternatives, how do we make the right choices?

I notice that the editor has changed a word choice in the 'Writing (etc.)" essay, substituting "teaching artist" for 'teacher,' which is the word I had written.  After living in India where tradition has it that teacher is third deserving of respect/reverence only after God and parents, and having been a teacher for thirty years and more, the term 'teacher,' for me, conveys a world of responsibility, skill, and respect (although opinions and teachers may differ).  'Teacher' has all the substance and wonder (wonderment or wonderful, take your pick) that my essay required, and indeed honored.

But the editors, bless their hearts, have their own messages to convey.  In this case, making a statement that writing is an art form.  I would not disagree. But 'writing' itself is a term for a respected and skilled occupation.  Other people, who could be writers too if they just realized the potential and practice of writing down the thought and spoken word, often express awe and wonder when they find out I am a writer.  So I do not believe the term 'teacher' is enhanced by changing it to 'teaching artist.'  In fact, the two word term, repeated as often as it is in the essay, becomes somewhat of a distraction, too weighty in diction for the purpose, which, in my mind, was already served.

Come to think of it, even the humblest occupation, say doing the dishes, can become an art form, a spiritual discipline. Think of Brother Lawrence.  Attitude, attitude, attitude, (and practice).

In the end, however, I bow to the editor.  The piece was published, after all. And I thank you very much. But, personally,  I will continue to use the simple, direct term 'teacher.'  With all due respect.

_________________
(Stay tuned to www.thelastpageofpooh.blogspot.com, where you are now, for tales of this year's adventures in India, probably not the ones you might expect, beginning after a week or so.  You can 'follow' via the link on the right hand side of this page --->, to receive an email notice whenever I make a new entry, at least once a week, for the about next six weeks. No advertising etc. emails will accrue, 'promise.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dawn, a new day...

Morning fades pastel pinks and blues into a wispy-clouded, baby blue sky, sun hesitates, it's eight a.m. and I'm back at the desk, stealing a few moments before speaking with others, breakfasting, segueing into the activities of a new day.  Morning meditation has me noting, once again (do we ever really learn?) Micah 6:8, that the ultimate to-do list is simply three items:  do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God. So let me give it a try, with the help of God.

(I was about to say 'Let me give it a shot,' then paused...how many phrases and sayings we have in our language which could be construed as violent...and what would happen if we purged them in favor of more neutral or gentle terms...)

Later in the day, I hear that an essay I wrote, describing first impressions of a writing class I enjoyed, will be published online next week.  You can find it at <loft.org> in their blog page, "The Writers' Block."  I hope you'll give it a look:  Let me know if the essay gives you a mental picture of the LOFT milieu...you can leave a comment right on their blog.

You can also sign up to 'follow' me under the blue bar on the right side of my personal blog page, <www.thelastpageofpooh.blogspot.com>. Then you'll get an email-reminder, with a link right in the reminder, that you can click to return to my blog, whenever I add something there. No advertising emails will result, I promise!

Monday, September 1, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 30: Keeping Hope Alive

On this last day of the ROOT 30 Day Journal Challenge, the originator of the challenge, Lisa Sonora offers a Chinese proverb as inspiration:
                 

Thank you, Lisa, for making me focus on inspiration, per se.  Though I tend to catch the moments of inspiration as they fly, it's good to have 'swept out' that part of the creative mind, to consider sources and be reminded to remember, access, celebrate, and honor my sources of inspiration by intentional as well as spontaneous writing practice.

In Lisa's daily handful of prompts today, the one that calls to me is:


The answer comes swiftly: my grandchildren.  Whether stopped by a song during a tantrum,  eyes twinkling when we meet, narrating a delightful experience or anxiety, or a rush and a hug in the midst of a crowd of relatives, their love is unconditional.  And so is mine.

Deo gratias.

As other thinkers, writers, and musicians have so often written, I honor the ultimate source of joy and inspiration with the words, soli deo gloria, my humble, pooh-like praise.

(Alas, my inability, thus far, to control the background color and relative size of cut-and-paste quotes.)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 29: Chrysallises Count

Today's inspirational quote was: "There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you its going to turn into a butterfly." by Buckminster Fuller

What a great reminder that wonderful and creative  things--books, works of art, children, even,
start with or go through unattractive, apparently inactive periods, but all the while growth and transformation are taking place.  To disturb or look to closely during that time could mean spoiling the result before it even happens.

This is a metaphor for my so-called 'fears' of the writing life, vis a vis hopes for what my work might become.

Question is, will I exercise the patience and the inner work to allow the writing to show me its own completion?  Now I'm getting into the enigmatic sort of statement that I really do not appreciate...but I think I know what I mean, and the implication I draw from it is to fuss less, stay on task, and trust things will be complete in due time.

So let me do. (May this be today's mantra reminding me to claim positives, to look for miracles and transformations every day, and to believe that they will come.)

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 28: Pooh-Poohing perfection and its downside, discouragement


"Have no fear of perfection, you'll never each it," attributed to Salvador Dali, opens up a window on possible sources of my procrastination...fear of closure, lest the product or producer be found wanting, fear of failing so why try, fear of criticism which, considered thoughtfully, could actually help refine a person, or his or her work. Fear of not having the right stuff, fear of making mistakes, fear of losing a train of thought, fear of falling, fear of going on too long or its opposite, of not being able to fill up the time or space.  Fear of interruptions, of misunderstanding and/or being misunderstood. Fear of being too early or too late or on the wrong date, and more, for the most part illegitimate fears.  Nobody probably fears the things I fear that fit in those categories except I.

Curious, though, that I began the list as a dispassionate narrator, but ended up claiming absolute ownership of the 'fears' listed, which case is obviously not possibly true.  The fears themselves are not even realistic, One thing that's true is that these are shadowy, imagined fears, nearby but rarely acknowledged, or acknowledged as 'excuses.'

"If I didn't fear perfection, then I..." (= the prompt) would probably be further ahead, more confident and poised than I am about my writing and writing life now. All of which I desire. So then why not   re-write fears and shortfalls as positive goals!

I have a plethora of resources in fact, in friends, in classes and in writer support groups available to me.

I have electronic spell checkers and writer peers who would (and even my husband could) look over my work for errors.  I say I can take critiques, so should be able to relax and attend to criticism, right or wrong, warranted or unwarranted, for what it's worth.

I can decide at a certain point that I just have to say this is enough, and let the work stand and deliver on its own.

I acknowledge having made more mistakes than I am aware of, that everybody makes mistakes, and that the best way is to deal with them in the moment and move on, not to dwell (or recite) on them.

I can trust God to keep in mind any thoughts and words that I need for the time and place that I need them...I can also make, save, and file notes in an organized writing environment.

I can be faithful to exercises and routines that strengthen both mind and body, and be careful how and where I step.

I can speak or write what I am given to say, and recognize whether and when it's time to go on, to revise, and/or stop.

I can recognize, not fear, audience as an ally, a necessary component for my work to be able to convey meaning.

I can look back over this list as a confidence boosting exercise.  Hooray for exercise!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 27: To think or not to think?

Today I find myself looking forward to the end of this challenge, of letting the spirit speak and soar in its own way...I think that, to a great extent, I have been working on the same tasks for a number of years.  It's good, however, to be reminded (prompted) to attend to the spirit, to keeping it (To the extent possible) on track, nourished, tuned in.  And I haven't always exercised the discipline to allow that to happen. Yes, discipline/common sense, can be freeing....  You can probably tell that the spirit flagged somewhere in them middle of the month.  Why was that?  Pain, lack of sleep, lack of 'productivity,' failure to recognize and honor the process of being on the back burner..perhaps all of the above.

Today's inspiration:

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” -- Pablo Picasso

Prosaic, perhaps, but 'seems to me we need a healthy dose of each.  Our thoughts and spirits may soar, but we still need to walk on the earth with others, and that requires some disciplines of its own, which may or more likely may not mean having anything to do with writing.

So, let me tend to the dishes and get to bed, for tonight!


30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 26: What keeps the soul aloft.

Lisa quotes Flaubert in another one of those sayings that sounds grand and echoes the emptiness of man's efforts to the the 'end-all' of wisdom and spirit. "The principal thing in this world is to keep one's soul aloft.'  Sounds as though, by dint of one's own efforts, one could free oneself. Try as one may, I believe we are endowed, by the creator, with a spiritual nature that only the creator can enliven, and that only if we can 'stay out of the way.'  Perhaps we/I try too hard.

Be that as it may, let me respond to the prompt, what makes my spirit soar? Oh, so many things:

a pleased, confident, triumphant, joyful, and or meditative song
sunshine on a newly rainwashed world
fresh, growing greenery...from grass to tree
flowers, whether graceful or fanciful in form
their fragrance...this season,  breathing in the short-lived divinity of a profusion of slender and      unexpected acidanthera blossoms, new to my garden and vocabulary
any unexpected pleasure
granchildren's hug, smile, or spontaneous expession of emotion, art, movement , achievement, yes, even creativity, in response to the world
a gentle, kind word, look, or touch
patterns in nature
a unique invention
a good story
a wry joke
eye hugs
joys expressed
unstructured time
reading in peace
fresh air
chocolate
satisfaction, that CLOSURE which, in my writing, seems to elude me
unhurried, uncritical time with children, family, dear friends, insightful conversants
worship

My second grade teacher did well to instill appreciation for beauty, poetry, well-being. Miss Narvarud rehearsed "The world is so full of a number of things, it's a wonder that all of us shouldn't be kings" until it was ingrained in our hearts as we lined up near the classroom door to go to recess or home.  When I quoted the poem to our almost eight year old granddaughter, she exclaimed, "But we couldn't be kings, we're girls!"  LOL and changing times, attitudes.  She did, however, appreciate the sentiment when I explained it was just a convention, 'we' and 'kings' representing everybody, male and female.  That sort of little clarifying exchange makes my spirit soar. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!