Random Shuffle: A Song & A Poem

Sometimes it’s a beat, or a verse, or just one word that resonates. Take a half-hour listening to songs with pen in hand & see what happens. This is definitely my favorite writing exercise!

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Monday night I clicked some random shuffle to life, and a few hours later I had a newborn poem. Love when that happens.

Astound me:
Reach inside my head to find me.

Switch off those old melodies
meant to keep me in captivity,
fading away with a faded-heart disease —
bereft of dazzle & glory.

Astound me:
Let you be you & I’ll be me.

A middle-aged woman, that’s me,
as unsung & unseen as I used to be.
There are girls all around distant cities,
composing brand new melodies.

Listen for their voices, please.
Don’t be just a guy; and I won’t be
just an aging girl, unsung & unseen —
inside my head is all dazzle & glory.

Let you be you & I’ll be me:
Astound me.

It needs a title and a little con-crit. Y’all game? Come along then. And when you get a moment to sit in…

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Disconnected Phrases & Haunting Images: What Fills A Writer’s Notebook

The formatting didn’t work out so well on this post, but if you can, please overlook the mess and read the interesting Craft Talk by Anne Valente. What tools do you use for saving and “constellating images” into your writing?

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Throughout the month of February, t.s. wright and I have been enjoying the Southeast Review’s Daily Writer’s Regimen. On Day Twenty-Two, Anne Valente’s Craft Talk, “Constellated Images” was featured. I will now share this with you.

ANNE VALENTE

“CONSTELLATED IMAGES”
 
In his recent Writers’ Chronicle article, “The Indelible Image,” author Benjamin Percy writes that film lends itself to pivotal scenes. He cites the shark popping out of the water in Jaws, the rolling boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He says creative writing has similar key moments: “Widowed images. Startling images. Haunting images. Iconic images. Whatever you want to call what ends up clogged in our imaginative filter. We don’t always know why they’re important, but for whatever reason, our mind won’t release them.” For his own writing practice, he mentions keeping a corkboard of these images above his desk while writing, images accompanied by bits of trivia…

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… “when I write I’m merely a sensibility.”- Virginia Woolf

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Reading through Woolf’s A Writer’sDiary, published by her husband, Leonard Woolf, can be likened to trying to put a 10,000 piece 3D puzzle together while blindfolded. And then, just when I’m hopelessly lost, her voice comes through with such intense clarity and insight I am left breathless.

I was simultaneously reluctant and desperate to read through this publication. Mr. Woolf supplies a Preface in which he admits to extracting items too personal for sharing … still, there are passages within that are painfully personal — passages that maybe only a writer would recognize as painfully personal.

Often, the author puts into her own words the struggle over THAT question: Whywrite? Why, indeed. Like so many, when she left the question alone and just did the thing, magic happened. When she obsessed over it, picked at it … the thundering silence, the lack of no real answer…

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On Studying And Writing

Have y’all discovered Coursera? FREE college courses! Unless you’d like to earn an official certificate of completion, then the prices vary. I’ve participated in ModPo once — which was beyond terrific — and I’d love to do it again. Meanwhile, I have signed up for two other classes: Sharpened Visions (A Poetry Workshop), and The American South (It’s Stories, Music, and Art). I’m so excited.

When I’m studying poetry, I’m writing poetry. Why this has become my truth, I don’t know, but it’s a fact. Typically, after completing a course or a new book, I will produce poems (and a large slush pile) for about a month. Then pfft. Studying other genres doesn’t result in the same. When immersed in fiction or essay I gather ideas like a mad bee after pollen, but I don’t typically write profusely until weeks or months later.

Is that odd? Do y’all find that studying helps you produce?

 

So … It’s That Time Of Year Again: Help Me Make Lists

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No, I’m not broaching the topic of Resolutions. Not exactly.

When first I peeked into WordPress, I did so with the intention of finding a site capable of hosting all my writerly blatherings. I love poetry, dabble in fiction, and have a tendency to go on week-long essay rants that don’t really end up anywhere — the latter is a bit frustrating at times, however, I always learn a lot during those essay rants. I want to write about current events, past events, delve into my perspective on spirituality vs. religion, modern literature vs. everything, and the absolutely maddening side-effects of longing to research and write while rarely getting the opportunity to actually research and write.

As you might surmise from the above, it’s difficult to stay organized and productive with so many varying interests. At least it is for me. For an astounding three months of 2015, I kept my…

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Oh Archetype, How I Love To Hate To Love Thee

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A few days ago, t.s. wright brought up the topic of Avoiding Cliches. Within that article was the mention of one of my favorite TV binge opportunities, The 100. I agree with pretty much everything t.s. said about the series, as well as the fact that such modern means of entertainment really get me to thinking about writing characters that will eventually meet the world — and a world of critics.

It seems to me that way too many recent TV writers have become convinced that knee-jerk violence, fumbling indecisiveness, and radical, gratuitous instances of self-sacrifice attempts are what viewers crave in their protagonists. (Deliberate attempts at self-sacrifice always leaves a ridiculous body count behind.) Maybe they think this is the way to exhibit humanness — that this is a good representation of human fallibility and therefore it is endearing.

In one reader/viewer opinion: Uh, no.

I’m fairly certain…

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It Was The Last Time I Ever…Foreshadowing

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I recently finished reading a book called “Hawley Book of the Dead” by Chrysler Szarlan. Over the first few pages, the first person narrator foreshadowed the death of her husband at least six different ways. It wasn’t subtle, she came right out and said, “On the day I killed my husband –” in the first or second line of the book, but each instance revealed a different nuance to the concept that her husband would end up dead in chapter one and that the rest of the story would take off from there.

Foreshadowing is a device that must be handled with care. If you say the wrong thing, you can put a reader off right away. Personally, I do not like to be told what is coming, but Chrysler Szarlan definitely did her foreshadowing right. Her first mention of the impending death gave me enough pause to wonder what kind…

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Natural Reflex And Perception Of Control: What The Brain And Body Do Without You

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On the subject of Fight or Flight Response, there are reams of articles available on the internet that break down the physiological, emotional, and cognitive responses to extreme stimuli. Reading through, my first thought was WOW! The human body is quite remarkable in quick response times!

Before our brains can actually puzzle out the name of what situation has arisen, blood vessels contract, pupils dilate, and, unfortunately for some, the bladder … relaxes.

Within a nanosecond of those blood vessels contracting, we’re ducking, running, or swinging. Remarkable.

Of course, another response would be freezing. Imagine that. Imagine your feet going on absolute lock down while adrenaline heats your insides, while your eyes are wide and staring, staring, until the picture before you — the event unfolding that has made your companions react completely differently — begins to make total, horrifying sense.

That’s how I reacted once upon witnessing an…

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Fight Or Flight

Calling All Writers — Fight Or Flight!

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The choice is rarely made consciously, however, we’re generally consistent in our individual responses to extreme stressors. How does your character react when fear makes its cold sharp stabs to the spine?  When ravenous monsters rear their ugly heads? Will she put up her dukes, or run like the wind?

Put us in the middle of the action — in 3500 words, or less, please.

Week Three entries are due by 11:45 PM (EDT), Sunday the 25th.

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