Let’s Go Fly a Kite – StormWeaver Episode 15

I am chasing the kite or,
Is the kite chasing me?
Over a field of wild strawberries,
my feet smash the sweet fruit,
filling the air,
My heels stained red with their juice.
I am laughing, laughing, laughing.
Wait is this me?
I’m just a baby,
No wonder the kite lifts me off the ground,
And places me back down again.
“That is right, little one”, a voice says.
It is not mama’s.
Then whose is it?
“Follow the kite.”
“Where will you take me?” I answer.
“Never mind.”
Mama says that. Is it mama I hear?
“Not mama, papa.”

StormWeaver is a continuing story told in 100 word increments. To read from the beginning, choose StormWeaver in categories

Blogging Ate My Homework

I read the description for an online class to help writers establish a platform. One of the things mentioned was how ineffective an author blog to share serial stories, writing experiences and poetry was. Hello? That is the description of CG Express.


So I’m daring to pose this question, “Is blogging a waste of time?

If my expectation in publishing this blog was launching my writing career or making money the declaration by the teacher of the online class would be discouraging. I have neither lofty aspiration but it warranted an evaluation of how this blogging experience is going.

I’m at the one year mark and actually just 2 days past my first post date, I reached 100 followers. I love round numbers so this was a happy day, thanks to Emily of “cool-camping.com” .

If not blogging for money or fame is it then just for fun, a past time with the bonus of connecting with humans across the globe, sometimes even sharing comments? It can be, but as a writer seeking to improve my craft, blogging is a monumental tool.

It’s one thing to keep a personal journal, something to catch daily reflections that times ahead can be pondered on and remembered. It’s entirely different however putting together a post and then publishing for others to read. Blogging develops discipline to write when maybe the writer bug wants to sleep. It requires taking an idea developing and presenting it, trimming out the fluff, making sure it opens well and closes well.

One of the results for me, over the past year is that I have honed scene development in my novel writing. I am much more aware of making sure there is a point to what I’m writing because blog posts demand that. Blogging keeps my mind tuned up, well oiled and ready to go which means I am able to slide right into my novel writing when time opens up. It is a balancing act time-wise and each endeavor feeds off the other but the priority is always the WIP.


Therein lies where blogging can become a waste of time. When the lure of counting ‘Likes’ and racking up ‘Followers’ starts to feel like the goal, I know I’m getting lost in the hallways of blogdom. I’m forgetting that my destination is not wandering through a maze of posts, but to pioneer new lands as an author.

To all those who are new to blogging with hopes and dreams of what it will accomplish, know this, if you have any thought of becoming a better writer, blogging will be a trusted guide. Just make sure it stays on a leash and away from your actual project goals.

Write on! Blog on!

My 911 Story – 20 years later

September 10, 2001, the New York skyline included the parallel lines of the Twin Towers and I saw it every day on my way to work . The next day that view was gone. I worked at a company forty minutes from Manhattan. That morning I just finished breakfast in the cafeteria. I walked down a connecting hall with big windows. The sun was shining, geese were waddling through the grass, it was a good morning. Someone came bursting through the double doors.
“A plane hit one of the Twin Towers.”
“What?”
“A plane,” she yelled hysterical. “It’s terrible.” She ran off and left me standing in shock and confusion. I joined my co-workers all huddled around a small radio. (Very few people had cell phones with data in those days). We listened in horror as the magnitude of what was happening mushroomed into both buildings collapsing, another plane hitting the Pentagon and another plane down somewhere in Pennsylvania. Some cried, some just stared out the window, most of us got busy calling loved ones, making arrangements to pick kids up from school. Everyone assumed the worst; it wasn’t over and who knew where the next target would be.


My kids went to a small school. They let out early not telling any details. We learned later two families had loved ones lost in the attack. The television stayed on CNN news, with a new feature of scrolling updates at the bottom. The kids didn’t notice that the skies were quiet. They didn’t miss that there were no baseball games. Those first few days the ripple of terror, knocked us over with fear we had never known, an uncertainty if we were safe.


But then it happened. The shock gave way to “what can we do?”.
Flags appeared everywhere; bridges, billboards, store windows, most cars had one attached to the window flying in red, white and blue blurs down the highway. People rallied together. I went into the City to volunteer to arrange supplies to give to ground zero workers. I walked past the makeshift boards where photos of people were posted along with flowers and candles. It sank in my spirit deeply to read desperate notes like, “Please call if you see Joe, fourth floor Tower One”. To this day I can still hear in my mind the muffled weird sound of the fire engines clogged with dust and I can see the replay of the news with the plume of debris chasing people down the street.

At lunch one day that first week, some co-workers and I went to a prayer vigil at a local church. It wasn’t our town. It wasn’t our church, yet we joined in with strangers. The unity among us was comforting, like a thick blanket.

The twin towers disappeared from the New York City skyline twenty years ago. Something good rose up from those painful, sorrowful ashes, that we didn’t know was there. When we were vulnerable as people, we came together as one, without division and meaningless walls. We helped each other weather the storm and did it well. Let’s not forget that.

The Basket

They sit in a circle, the symbol of unity, weaving the same basket, it works best that way. Young, and old, one generation blending with the next, hands at work, bending, threading, pulling the reeds prepared by experience, softened with love because this project, is no less than the project, their very lives.

When one grows weary, hands blistered by undoing mistakes, another is there with the salve of unconditional love, forgiveness if need be. The work continues unbroken, the pattern a little different but the result, having a beauty unexpected. From time to time one becomes better skilled, steady, able to help the rest get through narrow passages where it seems it’s just not going to work, there is no way, but this one knows just how to slide past the trouble, so all can keep going.

It is beautiful to behold, not just the basket they make but how they lean into each other. How even though along the way, one may be afflicted, hands weakened, set in her lap, only able to gaze on the work still going on, somehow, by some mysterious, amazing way, invisible hands have taken up where physical hands no longer can. She is held securely, no less a part, her life adding color, design, and fullness to the circle. She is sister, mother, wife, friend and her place in the basket is repeated over and over. It can never be anything but full of all she is and it will never be empty.


Dedicated to my daughter-in-law’s mother who is fighting a long battle with cancer and to all those in the circle who live, keep living and join together with invisible hands.

Excavation

I dig in the dark for you,
go where you are.
Why do you hide in the shadows,
as if that is where you belong;
where you are safe?
Don’t believe the lies.
The dark promises escape,
Invisibility,
Freedom to roam,
No one cares,
No one claims to care.
It doesn’t hurt,
When the darkness clouds the pain.
Look up and see,
The light won’t expose you.
It will hold you in warmth,
comfort,
truth that sets free.
Salve for the wounds,
The scars seen, felt, touched.
You are not a leper to be cloaked,
Hiding at the edge of life,
Fallen deep into the night.
Don’t believe that I will ever,
stop digging where you’re buried,
until I unearth and set you in,
Light.

Up, Up, Away on Kite Strings – StormWeaver Episode #14

Rose ambles right past me,
“Come.”
The sitting room has two couches,
A satin, salmon pink one with claw feet,
A boxy faded navy blue one occupied by a giant knitting basket with
A multi colored afghan flowing out of it.
Everywhere there is stuff,
Taking up space,
Stacks of books,
A set of golf clubs,
A hat rack loaded with hats,
Boxes of dried flowers,
Paintings leaning on paintings leaning on the wall,
And there,
Tucked next to a dead plant,
A purple paper kite.
I went to it.
“No!” Rose yelled. “Don’t touch it.”
But it’s too late.


Read the StormWeaver story from the beginning by choosing “StormWeaver” in categories.

Connect the Dots – Editing Tip

First draft writing is a blast. For me, it’s usually full steam ahead, word count racking up, while I’m in a cloud of creative bliss. Except, for those moments when there’s a the screech of brakes and I’m staring at the screen pecking out a word here, a word there, back spacing more than entering.
It’s the flag on the play for me. Time to stop and back track. How did I get into this dead corner?
This situation is not only a first draft problem, it is second, third draft problem. Any time in early editing where wrinkles in the plot are still being ironed out (as opposed to improving sentence structure, filling in emotion, description, nourishing a solid story).
The cause for me is typically related to trying to connect scenes, going from point A to point B and getting lost in the process.
For example, my two main characters, Maisey and Tyler have just been taken against their will (again) and have been locked in a basement rec room. I’ve been languishing over their time stuck in this place trying to build a sense of impending doom but also taking the opportunity to have them bond, reflect on the previous events and put them in position for the next big scene. When the red flag was thrown, i.e. I couldn’t get in the flow and pretty much hate everything I’ve managed to type, I took the necessary steps. Cut right to the chase, a few sentences that build suspense, a few of Maisey and Tyler maybe about to have a moment, then boom, right into the next crisis. What a relief to get past that road block. I just need to trust, that action and drama trump prose that starts to feel like characters are living normal, pain free lives. Honestly, “Kill Words” is not a literary novel. It’s commercial fiction with I hope some depth that raises it above silly, entertainment. It needs to keep moving along and weave intensity around the action which is a skill of its own.

So here’s the point of this post, if your story seems stuck between scenes, or there’s a ‘dead’ scene loaded with character interaction and what may seem as essential scaffolding to the next scene, consider cutting it all out. Connect from A to B directly. Try it. See how the story reads (recommend putting it aside for a few days). If you’re excited again about what’s happening and unstopped the plug, write on!

Spend it Well

Suffering is the currency of life,
Not wealth,
Not good fortune,
Not even love.
Piles of money,
Won’t stave off
The task master of pain,
Perfect plan, perfectly executed,
Is like water through a sieve,
Washed away,
Unretained,
Nothing.
Love, yes love,
The sweet communion,
That gives us value,
Binds us together,
With cords of anguish
There is nothing,
To make anything,
Of purpose out of life,
Except suffering,
So that someone else,
does not.

Just For the Hack of It – Surviving Stuck Behind a Desk at Home

We used to play a game as kids called, “Mother May I?”. The game went like this. One kid (“mother”) would stand about fifteen or twenty feet (six meters or so) from a horizontal line of kids. Each kid in the line would have the opportunity to ask the head person if they could move forward like this: “mother may I take three tiny steps forward?”Mother could say, ‘yes you may’ or ‘no you may not.” Mother might prefer to let her friends move forward but sooner or later, even a friend would get close enough to tag the head person. One strategy was to ask, “mother may I take one giant step?”Asking for only one step might trick the head person. If the answer was yes, then that kid would take the most giant step possible. That is my first hack on surviving working from home behind a desk.

  1. Whenever you get up to get a drink, use the bathroom, answer the door for the cat…take giant steps. Try it! There is something stress relieving about taking long steps. It’s almost as though, by taking strong action with my body, my psyche feels as though I’ve taken strong action against whatever frustration, harassment or powerlessness I might feel about how my day is going. Big surprise, I’m often experiencing one of those emotions. Even without those troubles however, taking giant steps feels great! Of course if there are others around, you’ll have to convince them to try it or else they’ll think you’re a little too far gone for help.
  2. Fit some cardio exercise in your day. Just do it. It’s the best thing you can do if your job requires mostly sedentary work. This is how I made it part of my normal life: I set up all the equipment I needed in a place I could easily get to first thing in the morning. My cardio is running, usually on the treadmill since I don’t do well in the heat. I have a basket with my running cloths, shoes, buds, sweat band, everything and I’m vigilant about returning it all to its place every day and that my friends is not typical behavior for me. I started slow, and not too long aka…don’t strive to prep for a 5k. Just get your mind and body cooperating with the idea. Even being able to say, “I did 10 minutes of yoga this morning” will do wonders to your sense of, ‘my job does not control me’. Plus you’ll be setting yourself up for your job to not cause an early demise. A little success breeds more success and soon enough that 5k idea won’t be a joke.
  3. Music – My job requires a lot of concentration and thinking. Sometimes absolute silence works the best. However, I find short interludes of music can refresh my brain and break up problem solving into segments.
  4. Almost the same as music, a few minutes of a diversion can recharge or reset my mind when it’s become entangled in…frustration, harassment or powerlessness…maybe I should add panic that I can’t possibly handle one more request. The diversion could be a quick walk around the house outside, watching a few minutes of a tv show, pulling a few weeds (always therapeutic) or playing a video game. Point is, it doesn’t take more than 120 seconds to produce a significant reset.
  5. Caffeine. Come on people you know it, sometimes just the ritual of making a cup of coffee, smelling that aroma, drinking that warm rich liquid, says, ‘all is well’. I find also that making tea has the same effect and green tea is particularly good at sending sharpness back to my brain. Yes, it’s basically drugging yourself and one day or another we’re told it’s bad for our health then good then bad. Life is life. If it works and it’s not illegal, drink the caffeine and live!
  6. Give someone a sincere boost, either from a compliment or by helping them have an easier day. Giving to others drives away that feeling of ‘my life force is being drained by this computer screen’. It’s really hard for negative feelings to rule when you’ve proven your worth by making someone else’s day better.
  7. Treats. Hey, it works for dogs. They do amazing tricks, learn how to have extreme self discipline all because their master has a few morsels of treat in their hand. The first time I learned that dogs do tricks because the moment they do something right, a treat is presented, I felt bad. Here’s this animal that is loyal, loving, smart but then introduce the treat and where’s her stubborn, ‘I’ve got you figured out human’ (that’s the cat’s line)attitude? I digress. A treat/snack plan can help the desk slave feel better. For example, I have carrots and a tasty yogurt and salsa dip prepped and ready for the four o’clock snack break. My motivation level and ability to focus and stay on task is buoyed by the anticipation of that snack. Yes, it’s true, I’m a dog performing for my treats, but I’m my own master and I’m controlling myself to enhance my stamina to stay on task.
  8. Most important to survive a stay at home work week, know when to quit for the day; hardest thing to enforce when work must remain undone, hiding between lines of email subjects, waiting to pounce with, “did you have the chance to…” . ‘Chance’ aka ‘time to’ can be twisted up and wrung out of humanity when if a person does not lift their butt from the chair, the work could go on and on and on. I work for a 24/7 operation. Emails and issues pile up 24/7. I must discipline myself and have personal rules and guilt free ends to the day. I must believe that time devoted to the people I live with is essential and healthy, not a problem pulling me away from my responsibilities. It’s so easy to diminish the importance of eating dinner with the family when a project is falling behind but those people are the ones who are there for me when the screen is off and real life is on.

So there you have it, my strategies for holding unto my physical and mental health while working from home attached to a desk. I hope to one day be doing this with my work being writing and marketing my novels. There’s the writing part of this post. Hope these hacks work for you.

Get behind that desk and write on!