Zuzu’s Petals! Make Your Magic Authentic to Your Readers!

Unless one has never heard of the invention of a television, it’s fairly safe to assume that we all know the reference ZUZU’S PETALS. In case one among you (AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!) has not yet seen a particular movie, I shall explain Zuzu’s Petals before going into the point I want to make about writing. (-:

ZUZU’S PETALS. They are perhaps the most glorious evidence of magic that we have in the universe today. Let’s just go right to it, shall we. Behold! Zuzu’s petals!

061
ZUZU and her PETALS!

 

Aren’t they glorious!? The most beautifully gorgeous symbolism in all of moviedom! Yes…I’m excited. Of course I’m excited. I get excited every time I think about those petals. And tis the season.

In the above picture you will see Zuzu Bailey and her father George Bailey. They are characters in the movie IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Zuzu’s story is a sad one. But it’s also one that is, at first glance, such a small insignificant role in the vast scheme of things. At first glance. I’m going to forgo the announcement that a spoiler follows here. Because all but maybe one of you have seen It’s a Wonderful Life.

Zuzu comes home from school with a beautiful flower and can’t wait to show her father. But some of the petals have fallen off. George, in his infinite desire to please everyone–and especially his lovely Zuzu–pretends to reattach the petals. But he secretly slips them into his pocket. Zuzu’s tragedy is averted, and her love and adoration for her father grows three sizes that day. Her flower is returned to its beautiful self and her tears retreat.

George Bailey then falls into the rabbit hole. He is taken into a world that would be the world how it would exist if he had never been born. It’s a much bleaker, darker world. It’s quite frankly a terrible world. It’s also a world in which Zuzu’s petals do not exist–no George means no Zuzu. Folks, don’t ever shout to the universe, “I WISH I WAS NEVER BORN!” That’s a rabbit hole you will not want to go down, right there.

As the movie wraps up, George is allowed to reverse his error and come back into the world he left behind. He has seen the vast changes his life-force has created in the world. He knows that the third rock from the sun is a better place with him in it. His faith in humanity is restored and he feels glorious.

Of course, he must be thinking, ‘Wow. What an awesome dream!‘ Because something otherworldly like that just can’t happen, right? But lo and behold…George Bailey reaches into his pocket and what does he find there? You guessed it! ZUZU’S PETALS. They were a huge symbol the whole time. Right in front of our noses. George IS. And how does he know he is? Because ZUZU is. Because…Zuzu’s petals!

“Zuzu’s petals…Zuzu… There they are!”

Today’s lesson for writers is simple. In truth, I just wanted an excuse to talk about Zuzu’s petals. Because they’re glorious and what not.

Firstly, did you know that It’s a Wonderful Life is based on a short story called The Greatest Gift. Written by Philip Van Doren Stern, it was privately published. I have to wonder if that means self-published.

My point? I do have one. No matter what magic you write into your story, it must be authentic. I use the term magic loosely here, because this can apply to any genre…not just magical realism or fantasy or paranormal or anywhere you would normally find MAGIC. I’m talking about anything from coincidences to ghosts to flying to world-building to Zuzu’s petals. Put clues in your work to authenticate the reality you want your reader to step into. Subtle clues. Tidbits of information that they can reflect back on when they reach the story’s conclusion. Something that will make them go, “AHA!”

I don’t know about you…but I eat that stuff up. I was just a child when I first watched It’s a Wonderful Life. And, for me…the most magical part wasn’t George suddenly running through a town that was COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than the same town we were just previously shown. The most magical part wasn’t the way people who lived as adults had suddenly died as children and lived-in houses became empty haunted spaces and even the TOWN became renamed in the blink of an eye. The most magical part were those petals. Placed lovingly into a pocket in the most subtle way…so that I would both remember their significance and forget their significance. Those petals were a glorious flower themselves…planted as a seed in a threadbare pocket. And when they blossomed, when George reached into his pocket and discovered those beautiful babies…well, my world stopped.

So the lesson for writers today is this—do that! Give your readers a whole boatload of Zuzu’s petals. Be like Hansel and Gretel. Leave glorious breadcrumbs throughout your story…breadcrumbs that will validate the story itself, make it more authentic. Every reader loves a great AHA moment. Just don’t manipulate them. Your breadcrumbs can’t have huge glowing neon signs on them that scream, “LOOK AT ME!” They need only be a few crumpled petals placed lovingly in a pocket in an effort to staunch the tears of a loved one.

I’ve Gone Mobile (Or, Writer Gone Wild!)

I have made the move. And it feels great. I wasn’t sure if it would work out or not, but I’m LOVING it!

No more laptop, no more desktop. No more pens, no more pencils, no more books…no more teacher’s dirty looks. Oops. I didn’t mean to go there. It just happened. What I’m trying to say is I made the switch from laptop to tablet. And I’m loving it.

samsung

I thought I would give it a try because it’s ridiculous how quickly we get used to the downsizing of our electronic lives. The desktop computer seemed impossibly large when the laptop came into existence, and now…just the mere thought of carting my humungous laptop around exhausts me. (-;

When I got my new tablet, the first thing I thought of was writing. I was excited to get the closest app to MSWord and see if it would work for me. I immediately downloaded the free version of OfficeSuite, and loaded my latest manuscript to the app to see what I could see. It’s a go. The onscreen keyboard works well, the functions are similar enough in the app that I was comfortable transitioning without feeling lost in new technology. I began editing and writing. And I did so for a couple of days. Once I was sure that I could work in the new environment, I upgraded to the full version of OfficeSuite. For $21 a year, I felt it was well worth the investment. I now have writing on the go. Right there at my fingertips, wherever I am.

It feels liberating. That laptop–at least in my mind–was beginning to weigh a thousand pounds. With the tablet, and its functioning and acceptable 10″ screen, I have the freedom of mobility with the comfort of a bigger size than the smartphone I was considering using as my go-to writing implement.

To be perfectly satisfied, I created a new file and switched it back and forth between my laptop and my Samsung tablet. Just to make sure that formatting didn’t get messed up, or anything untoward would happen to the files compatibility-wise. It’s all good. It’s a go. I am now a tablet writer. (-:

I’ve been wanting to try this for quite some time, but I was leery. I thought it wouldn’t work out, for some reason or other. But I’ve gone mobile. This writer done gone wild…

Now…time to write.

I leave you now with Mr. Writer, by the Stereophonics. Because all writers are beautiful clowns…

Solitary by Design – The Writing Life

Yesterday I talked about writers and community by sharing some information about the writing community I myself am entrenched in. Today, I wanted to talk about the solitary life of the writer. Because when it comes right down to it, we need to be solitary while in the thick of things. Putting words on the screen is done by a committee of one. In today’s social media based universe, it is becoming more and more difficult to focus long enough to put words on the screen when those words are in a manuscript. IF you’re easily distracted.

Guess what. I’m extremely easily distracted. I could easily write 3,000 words in an afternoon. And suddenly realize that all 3,000 words were shot off into the social media stratosphere…while my manuscript lies dormant.

That’s not a good thing.

I sometimes wonder how many of Mark Twain’s short stories (or novels, for that matter) would not have been written had he had a Twitter account and/or a Facebook account.

Wondering about things is what often gets me into trouble. If I had my TWENTY MINUTES back every time I wondered about something and ran to Google, only to be lost in a vortex of wondering and searching and reading, I would have hours of writing time accumulated. I’d be able to write a novel in one sitting with that lost time. Sadly, lost time stays lost. One of the biggest skills a writer can possess in today’s information epoch is CONCENTRATION and an unflappable ability to FOCUS. Please God, give me focus!

I sometimes go days…no, weeks…without opening a manuscript. I intend on writing every day. I used to write every day religiously. I still conceptualize myself as a person who writes every day. Man, I’m bad. I have this ONE THING. And I mess it up.

And what am I doing about it. Writing about the fact that I’m not writing. I’m participating in the social media phenomenon of blogging as a way to distract myself from writing. I feel like somewhere inside that runaround logic I should declare myself a winner. But if I stand up and shout to the universe, “WINNING!” I might be declared insane. What I need to do is give myself structure so that I’m back to an every day writing schedule. Maybe I can limit my social media time better if I schedule it. Maybe I can fly to the moon with the wings on my back, too.

You have to WANT it. Wanting is winning, IMHO. Right now, I’m not as hungry as I used to be. But I’m coming to the conclusion that social media IS killing some of the best writers out there. Proof? Oh, I gotcher proof. Let’s go back to Mark Twain, shall we…

EXHIBIT A
EXHIBIT A

Above, you will see exhibit A. I offer this as proof that some of the world’s greatest writers are being gobbled up by their own egotistical need to spam, blather, purge, gab, selfie themselves, and pontificate on social media. I came up with the theory and it took about six seconds on Google to prove it!

When was the last time you witnessed new work from Mark Twain? It’s been a while, hasn’t it?! Yet, he has all the time in the world to tweet about his life. He’d rather tweet past quotes and reflections than sit down and put new words to the screen. Social media has swallowed Mark Twain whole. We may never see another new work by this great author. WHY? Because he’s too busy tweeting, Facebooking, and pontificating. I won’t even search out his snapchat account. Heaven help us!

Are you a writer?

It’s time to take a pass on some of the distractions of the modern social media frenzy. Give yourself a daily scheduled block of time where you ONLY work on your Work-In-Progress. Don’t multitask inside this time-frame. Choose writing! Leave all your other windows closed…because you know if you don’t a little birdie is going to fly in at just the right moment to take you away from your work at hand. Twitter can wait. Facebook can wait. Blogging can wait. Tumblr can wait. Forums can wait. The NYT can even wait. Make YOUR writing the priority…at least once a day.

We have witnessed the decline of one of the world’s greatest literary treasures. Mark Twain may never again come out of the social media spiderweb long enough to give us new material. We all lose there. Don’t rob us of any other great works of literature. Sit. Write. Repeat…

 

Remember that it’s great to be social. Writers together is an awesome thing. To a point. Sooner or later you need to leave the party long enough to write. Writing–the actual act–is solitary. By design. Like I said. Sit. Write.

The party will wait for you…

I Made a Discovery – A Thing That Kills Creativity – Or Why I’m Experiencing Writer’s Block for the First Time Ever

This is NOT writing
Portrait of the Writer as a Non-Writing Entity. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!

I think I figured it out. Finally. I was worried that I just completely lost interest in writing. That I might not be a writer, after all. I think I know what it is now. Apparently, when I have two definitive release dates for upcoming novels, I feel like I can relax. Take a break. Chill out. Quiet the pen. Check out.

WRONG. I have to get back into the swing of things. Because I have these two novels coming out, I should be writing MORE…not less. I don’t know why I took this as an excuse to stop writing. Oh, wait. Yes I do. Because I’m the laziest writer on the face of the earth. I saw an out and I took it.

I’m over the moon that two of my favourite manuscripts that I have ever written are being published (Burn Baby AND Half Dead & Fully Broken), but this feat should not slow me down. I need momentum now more than ever. I was actually feeling like I might not be a writer after all…how does one get to that place?!

Burn Baby hits bookstore shelves on December 11th. A cover reveal, among other things, will take place along the way to this release date. I’m extremely excited about this book and can’t wait to share it.

My author page at Curiosity Quills, the publisher of both upcoming young adult novels: CURIOSITY QUILLS

If you will excuse me, I have some writing to do. I’ve been sleeping for several months now. Resting on my laurels, you might say. Oh Christ! Might say? That actually nails it. I can’t believe I fell into that trap. The funny thing is, I even participated in the 2014 Muskoka Novel Marathon in this fog of I-no-longer-have-to-write-because-I-have-two-books-coming-out. What a sad attempt at writing THAT was. I should have a professional ass-kicker on hire for those times I get so lazy I don’t even look at my laptop for days.Time to catch a fire. It’s back to the writing grindstone for me.

 

 

I thought I would share the premise of BURN BABY while I’m here:

 

Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.

The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.

 

Gift Horse & Anything…

We’ve all heard the idiom NEVER LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH. What does it mean?

If someone gives you a horse, it would be extremely rude to inspect its teeth and gums. What you do is say, “Thank you.”

My gift horse is my writing. I have a bad habit of examining its teeth. But I’m working on it. I’m learning to accept that I’ve been given a gift. I am trying not to ask why. We should all practice the art of being grateful without questioning the thing that we are grateful for. I’m grateful that I get to do something I love to do…WRITE.

Here’s a song to empower and embolden. Enjoy…

 

Dear Writer: To Thine Own Self Be Kind

Why are writers always beating themselves up? I don’t get it. Writing is a choice. It’s a passion. It’s something we presumably cannot live without. But alongside the passionate love notes that writers offer up to writing, there are the inevitable self-hating notes. Are we masochists?

Side-note: Masochist is a word named after–you guessed it–a WRITER. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was a nineteenth century Austrian writer who described the gratification he got from his own pain and humiliation.

So do we get gratification from the suffering we endure in the name of craft? Is that why people go on and on about the love-hate relationship they have with writing. Frankly, I see more of the hate than I see love. I often wonder why the hell some writers even bother. Between a strong desire to tell them to shut the hell up and a strong desire to lecture them on the good points of creativity I end up just feeling tired and cranky.

I enjoy writing. I don’t really suffer for the craft. A bad day of writing is better than a good day of roasting at the spit. No wounds. No antiseptic needed. I emerge from my writing relatively unscathed every single time. Sue me if you don’t like that I enjoy writing and being a writer.

What I can’t imagine is NOT having a creative outlet, not needing a creative outlet. I count my lucky stars every day I wake up a writer. What a passion to have! I can’t imagine it hurting as much as some writers complain it does. For the love of candy, let go of the animosity. If you are experiencing pain writing, you’re doing something wrong. Stop equating writing with misery. Go knit if you can’t take it. Or weave baskets. Find another outlet.

Just sit. Just write. For the love of all things writerly, be kind to yourself. Enjoy that you get to play with words. This isn’t a job or a chore, it’s a passion. Treat it that way. Be passionate. Be happy. Write.

 

Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris – A Writer at Work – Please Excuse the Blog Silence…

I will be slipping into the blog cone of silence once again. (-: Today I head to Paris and the LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to go to Paris. It’s at the very top of my bucket list. In fact, a visit to the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris IS the #1 item on that list. And guess where I will be heading while I’m in Paris! (-:

I will be taking small workshops every day while I’m there…little exercises in the exploration of all things writing. On the menu is; poetry, finding your voice, place as character and more. PLUS—we will be exploring Hemingway’s Paris AND F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Paris.

You can find out about the retreat by clicking RIGHT HERE. You know, in case you’re thinking you may want to go to the retreat NEXT year. I hear it’s an annual thing. (-:

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway

Do I wish to retrace the footsteps of Hemingway? Absolutely. His A MOVEABLE FEAST is one of my all-time favourite books. I’m going to attempt to re-read it on my flight over tonight. Although I tend to do nothing but sleep while on airplanes. I can’t seem to keep my eyes open. I’m not too worried about it, though. I have practically memorized the book. (-;

Some of my favourite Moveable Feast quotes:

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”~ ERNEST HEMINGWAY, A Moveable Feast

“By then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it by finding something better.”~ ERNEST HEMINGWAY, A Moveable Feast

“For a poet he threw a very accurate milk bottle.”~ ERNEST HEMINGWAY, A Moveable Feast

I’m going to Paris for Hemingway. And for Paris itself. I believe it to be a beautiful city. I’m about to find out if reality matches my belief…

 

See you on the flipside. (-:

Please don’t forget to check out my previous post! I’m having a fundraiser for MALESURVIVOR. For a limited time, 100% of the royalties of my book sales will be going towards their Weekend of Recovery Scholarship program.

A Writer’s To-Do List of Non-Writing Stuff That Will Help With Writing

All writers have time before and after (and in-between) writing time. How should we use that time? Better yet, how could we use that time in a way that may be useful to the B.I.C. (Bum In Chair) time we are afforded for our writing?

How about we make a short list?

  • READ MORE – This is the easiest thing a writer can do to assist their own writing skills. What you put in to reading, you get back tenfold as a writer. As your neurons are connecting in new and interesting ways with the stories you read on the page, so too is your imagination working in the background on your own creative avenues of adventure. Never underestimate the power that reading gives you as a writer.
  • RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE A PART OF A BIGGER FAMILY – It doesn’t matter what we write, writers have great opportunities to commune with one another in many interesting ways. Join writing circles, both in-person and online. Help other writers and accept help from other writers. There is SO much you can do. Host them on your blog, either in the form of a guest post or an interview. Offer to beta read their work. Be creative…if you can think of something that would benefit you, chances are it would benefit your fellow writer.
  • NOTE TO SELF – This sounds corny, but it helps. Really, it does. Leave yourself little post-it notes on your mirror. Today, I will write an amazing sentence! I will edit Chapter 16 today! Today I will finish my first draft! I am a great writer! I will be published! I am going to submit something today! An agent is going to ask me for a full! You get the picture. Write yourself positive affirmations about your writing, about your writing life…
  • VISIT THE HARD STUFF – We all skirt that place in our minds where we fear to tread. You know those demons you carry but dare not write about. Go there. Go to the deepest darkest place you can find inside of yourself…and when you come back from the journey, write from there! Be fearless. Your heart has a story to tell. Listen to it. Be authentic.
  • GO FOR A WALK – Yes. A walk. It’s simple. ♪♫Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking across the flo-o-or. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.♪♫ Do silent meditation walks through the forest. Walk downtown and listen to the traffic. Walk downtown and listen to music screaming in your headphones as you drown out the traffic. It doesn’t matter how you do it…a walk is a fantastic thing for a writer to take. Your mind forgets the niggling day to day things when you’re out for a brisk walk…it’s free to wander. You can get it working for you in writerly ways.
  • TAKE YOUR SHIT SERIOUSLY – Write out goals for yourself. This is a bit like the post-it notes, but the mind is a terrible enemy of the heart. We have to repeatedly poke it to get it to do what we want it to do sometimes. Once your goals are on paper, see to it that you achieve them. You’re the only one standing in your way. Nobody else is going to give a shit if you succeed or fail. Do it for you. 200 words a day times 365 days is 73,000 words. Break your goals down into manageable bites if need be. I just showed you an example of this with a goal to write a novel in 1 year. Seems like a hell of a hard thing to do—write a novel in a year. Then you break it down into 200 words a day and you can’t imagine not being able to write a measly 200 words in one day. 200 words is nothing, right? This bullet point alone is almost 200 words. Do this many words every day for a year and you have yourself a novel. Treat your writing like it’s important—like your shit matters. Because it does. It’s yours. It’s the result of your creativity. That’s golden.
  • SERIOUSLY, CHILLAX – Writing is fun. Writing is allowing your creative side to do cartwheels across the floor. Writing is liberating your inner-child to sing at the top of his/her voice in the library where quietude is mandatory. Writing is using every colour in the crayon box to colour in your horse, just because you want to. Don’t, for the love of god and all things holy, make it a chore. When you feel that writing is becoming a chore, step away from it. You’re doing it wrong. Go read some poetry—maybe Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss. Don’t be serious. But be serious.
  • FIND WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR COMFORT ZONE – Yes. Do it. Book yourself at an open mic event. Or get your own audience of friends and peers and read aloud from your work in front of them. Get yourself into a writing commitment with a seriously scarey deadline. Offer to teach a workshop at your local library. Do something that will put you out on a limb without a paddle, or up a river without a parachute. Make yourself breathless with fear.
  • TAKE INTERESTING COURSES THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH WRITING BUT LOADS TO DO WITH CREATIVITY – You must have other interests? Macrame? Underwater Basket-Weaving? Photography? Stained-Glass Window Design? Theatre Arts & Drama? Oil Painting? Finger Painting? Bamboo Carving? Glass Blowing? Totem Pole Carving? All these things feed the creative monster inside. Learning new skills also gives you more to write about.

Inspiration Station – Kaleidoscope Eyes are Everything You’ll Ever Need…

I often sing, “the girl with colitis goes by”. Much the same way as I often sing, “hold me closer, Tony Danza“. Just because.  What does this have to do with anything? Nothing. I just thought of this after I wrote the title of this post. Naturally, whenever anybody anywhere hears a line from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds they immediately burst into song…singing the entire song from front to back and back to front. It’s just, as humans, what we do. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is so ingrained it is part of our DNA. Right? I’m not the only one who thinks this, am I?

Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly;
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

So inspiring, right!? It tickles…I can practically feel the mind-mapping of creativity when I hear these lines. They SPARK!

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore,
Waiting to take you away.
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds,
And you’re gone.

So, about the title of the blog. I’m sure ALL of your calendars are showing APRIL as highlighted for NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, right?

Now I KNOW nobody just thought, ‘What? What’s he talking about?!’ I know you all marked off the entire month the minute you opened your crisp new calendars back in January. If you didn’t–and I know you all did, so this is just a hypothetical–I will give you a moment to do so now. Don’t worry. I’ll wait here. Please…go forth and mark your month of April as POETRY MONTH. Highlight it as you see fit. I’ll be here when you get back.

Done? Okay. Shall we continue.

Inspiration.

Because APRIL is looming I have been doing a lot of thinking about INSPIRATION. In my mind poetic inspiration comes from a very different place than does fictional inspiration. I don’t know if it SHOULD, but it DOES. It’s actually songs like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds that push me to be poetical. There’s something extremely delightful in the nonsensical. Lucy has it, as does anything by Dr. Seuss. And even good ole Gord Downie in a way. But I think his version of nonsensical is more refined…he is a man who absolutely unequivocally reveres the English language. He doesn’t write lyrics, he sculpts them. Songs like BOBCAYGEON make me want to use my laptop as a TV tray. Because I know I will never find more beautiful words hitting its keys than the words composed in that song. I just made that sound like it stilts me rather than inspires me, I know, but it’s the kind of beauty of words found in Bobcaygeon that devastates me into trying. When I am completely humbled by gorgeous word combinations that take my breath away, it triggers something inside. It makes me want to discover language in ways I have heretofore not accomplished. So these songs tear my heart out and leave me a quivering mass of ruined flesh twitching on the floor in a near-death frenzy of apocalyptic jealousy and rage. But in a good way. I set up my idols–contrary to that silly little biblical threat about said idols–and I worship at their feet. If Gord Downie can have a weather vane Jesus, I can have a popsicle stick Gord Downie.

I have gotten so far away from where I was going with this post that I no longer remember what I was going to say. But Gord Downie!

So, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. As I search for poetic inspiration that will help me get into that place I need to be in for National Poetry Month (henceforth NPM), I listen to the songs that will put me there. Whatever it is that inspires you poetically, now is a good time to start immersing yourself in it. One of the challenges of NPM is to WRITE ONE POEM A DAY EVERY DAY FOR THE WHOLE MONTH OF APRIL. In order to do that, I need to be kept constantly inspired. In order to do that, I need to have several things working in conjunction with one another. The biggest is a great soundtrack that has both beautiful and quirky songs in it. I look for the songs that have over-the-top silly lyrics and the songs that have those beautiful unattainably gorgeous lyrics that make my head explode. It’s kind of a pleasure/pain thing that inspires me. Let’s have a look at a couple lines from Tragically Hip songs, shall we?

Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
Wheat kings have all treasures buried
And all you hear are the rusty breezes
Pushing around the weathervane Jesus

Those are the intro lines to WHEAT KINGS. And more from that song…

There’s a dream he dreams where the high school’s dead and stark
It’s a museum and we’re all locked up in it after dark
Where the walls are lined all yellow, grey and sinister
Hung with pictures of our parents’ prime ministers

I don’t know what it is…I hear lyrics like these and I just want to curl fetus-like and bawl. There’s nothing particularly stunning, visually, but the words are beautiful…they conjure ennui and nostalgia. They leave me wrecked. Bobcaygeon has the same effect…

I thought of maybe quitting
I thought of leaving it behind
I went back to bed this morning
And as I’m pulling down the blind
Yeah, the sky was dull, and hypothetical
And falling one cloud at a time

Not to mention FIDDLER’S GREEN. That song hollows me to the ground. One of my brothers performs in local bars and when he does Fiddler’s Green, it destroys me. It’s probably one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

His tiny knotted heart
Well, I guess it never worked to good
The timber tore apart
And the water gorged the wood
You can hear her whispered prayer
For men at masts that always lean
The same wind that moves her hair
Moves her boy through Fiddler’s Green

We are ALL different, aren’t we. Others may hear the songs that inspire me and think nothing of them. The trick is to never stop hunting for the things that make that little switch in our hearts flick to on. For me, it’s great lyrics. They just make me want to write. I’m playing all the songs that inspire me…I need to grease up the cogs that make my brain move poetically. So if you’re nearby, you may hear me singing these songs in the next couple of weeks…and for that I truly apologize. I’m sure a skinned cat’s screams would be more audibly appealing than my vocal stylings.

So, prepare yourself for APRIL. Make it a goal to write ONE POEM a day. JUST ONE. If preparing, for you, is listening to music, then do so. If it’s crocheting, then crochet. If you find inspiration by licking pavement…I urge you to get down on the ground and lick away. If reading Dr. Seuss is the crank that moves you, then do so! Ignite the spark that will see you through the entire month. On April first, don’t go in for the cheesy old April Fool’s Day nonsense. Dance poetica…

Momentum – The Key to the Happy Writer

Everybody needs it. When you’re a writer, it can be the difference between writing and not writing. I’m talking about momentum, that thing that keeps you going.

 

 

“If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.” ~ Kate Bush

Momentum can be achieved any number of ways. For me, a book sale goes a long way. It’s a form of validation that really helps to keep me putting words on the page. But there are a lot of other things that can happen in my writing life that motivate me to keep runnin’ up that hill. A good review, a newsletter from a writing organization of some kind, booking a writing retreat or conference, communicating with other writers in forums or in person. All these things serve to get me pumped and ready to keep writing.

Once you sit down to add words to your manuscript-or poem-or journal-or article-or grocery list, you’re well and truly in a vacuum. It’s just you…and maybe your characters. This can be daunting. I find it helpful to get out into the larger writing community prior to sitting down. It fortifies me. When I talk about my writing, it feels more alive. It makes me want to jump back into it.

Don’t forget to interact, set goals, treat yourself to writing related outings, etc. And one of the great motivators is the simple act of SUBMITTING YOUR WORK. Do this often. You’re not risking anything if you’re not submitting. To submit is to motivate yourself. And remember, a rejection isn’t totally negative. It’s proof that you are doing something about your writing. You should wear rejections as badges of courage. You put yourself out there. That’s reason enough to celebrate.

There are great opportunities in the writing life to BE THE WALLFLOWER. I would even go so far as to say it’s often NECESSARY for a writer to be a wallflower. Especially during the cultivating stage of your work…when you’re collecting grist for your writing mill. BUT…you can’t always stand back against that wall and be the bystander in your life. It doesn’t get you anywhere. Sometimes you need to take life by the throat. Before you sit down into that vacuum of DOING WRITING, collect yourself some reasons to write. Get excited about writing.

Let review. Ways in which to jump-start your writing and gain the momentum needed to carry on carrying on:

  • SUBMIT
  • ATTEND CONFERENCES & WORKSHOPS
  • REGISTER TO ONLINE WRITING FORUMS & BE AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF SAID FORUM
  • ATTEND SOCIAL GATHERINGS FOR WRITERS IN MEAT-SPACE
  • SUBMIT
  • SIGN UP FOR WRITING ORGANIZATION/WRITING SITE NEWSLETTERS. READ THEM WHEN THEY ARRIVE IN YOUR INBOX
  • CREATE A SAME-TIME-EVERY-DAY SCHEDULED WRITING TIME AND STICK TO IT. WRITE OUTSIDE THIS TIME ALL YOU WANT, BUT CREATE THIS DEDICATED WRITING TIME
  • CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES, ATTAINED GOALS, ACHIEVEMENTS, ETC
  • ENTER WRITING CONTESTS
  • JOIN A LOCAL WRITING CIRCLE/ORGANIZATION
  • FIND A BETA READER PARTNER AND SHARE YOUR WORK WITH EACH OTHER (THINK OF THIS AS SIMILAR TO AN AA SPONSOR—CARRY EACH OTHER WHEN NEEDED)

There are all sorts of things you can do once you’re outside that vacuum. Things that will enrich your writing life and cause you believe in yourself more fully. Do them. Anyone can write. The trick is to keep the momentum going. Be excited every day. You don’t have to be sitting and writing to be cultivating your writing life. Think outside the box. Fuel the passion…

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