Just An Ordinary Day

Today was wonderful. Just an ordinary day.

  • Trimmed geraniums in my cobalt blue pots on the porch
  • Face-timed the grandson & daughter
  • Went for groceries with the bushman
  • Baked oatmeal muffins – alas, they were rather dry

invited a friend for tea – she brought flowers from her garden, and I gave her home-made pesto and eggs

Just regular ordinary events.

Enjoying my family

Enjoying my home

Enjoying the flow of the day

Making an effort to ‘be here now’.  An old phrase from Baba Ram Dass.

So for today:

No striving.

No planning.

No goal setting.

Just sitting in the rocker on the porch. Just being me. Full disclosure! My real porch photo evaporated. So here is my fill in photo. A minor glitch in an otherwise perfect day.

 

 

 

 

 

Manipulating Lives

Ah yes! The power of it all. A friend of mine traveled from Victoria, to spend two days with me. We’ve known each other for years. She’s written a number of non-fiction books for teachers and is a former colleague when we worked as school principals. But the most important thing is that she adores reading.

She is the perfect partner for a Plot Party. What is that you may ask? Well, for writers it’s an opportunity to get together and brainstorm where a book might be headed. We are creating plots.  Did I explain that I needed help? Oh yes.

I’ve been thrashing around in the mud. My thoughts were rambling and unformed. I didn’t understand my characters. What are their backstories? Why do they do what they do?

We used large sheets of paper (because that’s what former primary teachers tend to do) and we created plot points, important scenes and family trees. As an author I need to see where I’m going. More or less.  This in-depth work was desperately needed. Even though I may not incorporate all of the possibilities that we created, I will have a framework for my writing. And that’s how I write. I admire authors who can write ‘into the mist’ – ‘pantsers’ but it doesn’t work for me.

In order to do this, we utilized suggestions from Blake Snyder’s – Save the Cat and Michael Hauge’s 6 Stage Plot Structure Worksheet. These are screen writing books but definitely assist the novelist too.

In between, good food, mega naps and a lot of laughter, we achieved our goal. A plot-line all set up and ready to go.

And now: All I have to do is write it.

Onwards!

 

Those Little Free Libraries

You’ve seen them around most towns.  Those home-made book exchange boxes or cupboards (usually colourful and funky) that folks place in front of homes, schools, and businesses. The simple concept is, take a book, and return a book. Some cities even have an interactive Google Map of where you might find a Free Library in your neighbourhood.

This is an opportunity for neighbours and strangers to meet, and share a book, ideas or at least a conversation. As yet, I haven’t met anyone at my Free Library which is just a few streets away from my home.

Amazingly – this ‘feel good’ project has developed into controversy in some places where detractors think these libraries are violating city building codes. As well, some librarians expressed concern that readers wouldn’t attend regular libraries if they had access to a tiny one close by.

I love my Little Free Library!

This week I had an amazing experience. I picked up two novels that made me smile.

  • Home Safe – by Elizabeth Berg (1999)

Now, I’m a big fan of this author. I’ve read some of her novels. She reminds me that authentic dialogue is the way to go. Her characters are real, troubled and fascinating. Sometimes I have to re-read a paragraph because it is written so well. I inhaled this novel. Elizabeth Berg writes slice-of-life, riveting fiction.

  • The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder – by Rebecca Wells (2009)

Oh yeah! This author wrote, Little Altars Everywhere, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Ya-Yas in Bloom. When I read her work, I’m reminded that quirky, eccentric characters are mesmerizing. As an author, I want to relax enough to enter into that free fall, creative zone and unearth my own bizarre people. I’m looking forward to diving into this book.

So, I picked up these books and then I’ve spent the rest of the week pondering:

  • Who owned these books?
  • Did one person bring both books?
  • Did the person donating actually read these books? Or were they just cleaning up someone else’s book shelves?

I’m curious about where the books came from? I think I might like this person.

Do you have a Little Free Library close to where you live?

 

Writing Rituals

Well now! Do I expose my behaviour to the world? Okay, here we go. First, I’m superstitious or maybe ‘ultra-aware’. I’m sensitive to sounds, movement and the energy around me. Some of my friends can write in buses, in cars, in coffee shops and restaurants. That is admirable. I can research or edit in those places. But I can’t dig deep.

For my authentic writing, I prefer my little niche aka/my home office. I crave total quiet and this room is where I feel I’m an author. Over the past four months, my husband fixed up my space. I have new bamboo flooring and the walls are painted a soft green. The colour is called ‘Pleasant Valley’. That works for me. The window overlooks the porch and my garden. Of course, over the years, I’ve acquired essentials such as a white board, bulletin board and bookcases. My art is still waiting to be placed.

I’ve developed some rituals that help me enter my writing world. I adore song lyrics but they are too distracting, so I work in silence. Often I read my work aloud, and that is all the noise I want.

The following ideas are my strategies that I’ve utilized while writing five novels.  I mix and match, depending on my mood, and the chapter I plan to write. I certainly don’t use all of them at once.

So, here are my favourites:

  • I light candles in the entry way as that is the biggest room of our home and I want the vibration to spread out in the house.
  • I set up my diffuser with scents like, Unwind, or Relax.
  • I wear my necklace with a special key. (courtesy of author Ev Bishop at her workshop in Victoria, B.C)
  • I splash on some Agua de Florida, Peruvian Flower Water. I purchased a small bottle a number of years ago in Lima, Peru. It has a number of magical properties and can elevate vibrations. Am I a believer? Sure. It has a unique citrusy scent of bergamot, cloves, cinnamon, lavender, neroli, orange flower and rose. (neroli is an essential oil)
  • Before I start writing, I shut down the media. I cannot arrive at my computer directly from world events.  No, no. The news is too overwhelming and upsetting.
  • I set an ‘intention’ for my writing period. What am I aiming for? What am I trying to accomplish on this specific day? What word count do I want?
  • I set my finishing time. If I don’t create a framework for my writing,  then I can easily slide off task. What does that look like? Well, I can easily gravitate towards tumbling down the rabbit hole of Pinterest or Facebook.

To be honest – sometimes none of these suggestions help. But I still try to show up on the page, even if I feel like I’m trudging through a swamp. Writers write.

I must add that focusing on these rituals, makes me feel like I have the power to create. Something wonderful may emerge. I may invent a ‘New York moment’ as Margie Lawson, writing instructor has coined. That is, a magical phrase that takes my breath away. And maybe the reader will enjoy it as well.  And because I believe that – then it’s win win for me.

Are you ready to share any personal strategies that you’ve invented that help you dive into fresh writing?

Life in general got a little too ‘lifey’.

river-rafting-1251435_1280That’s a quote from the amazing Anne Lamott – an American novelist and non-fiction writer. She felt unable to produce much writing because of exhaustion from a book tour, renovating a new home and moving in with her life partner. She needed to put writing aside. Just for while, until she felt ready to create again.

Her description seems to describe my life right now. Challenging, uneven and unexpected events are surrounding me. I feel like the people in my blog picture. The rapids are pulling me in a swift direction down the river and I’m not too sure I can see around the corner.

Ms. Lamott is also known as a political activist, public speaker and writing teacher. I value her insights, her humour and her openness. She has just finished a book promotion, and a TED talk discussing her new book, ‘Hallelujah Anyway’.

She has written other novels such as : Bird by Bird, Help, Thanks, Wow, Traveling Mercies, Small Victories, Stitches, Operating Instructions and many more. As I dug further into her biography I discovered that she’s more prolific than I realized.

Her writings cover alcoholism, single motherhood, depression and her version of Christianity. When she puts a blog entry onto Facebook, she receives tons of comments. I especially enjoy when she weaves in her reactions to the current political landscape.

So, yes, my life is a little too ‘lifey’. But I intend to hang on, hopefully with humour and grace. And I’ll get up the next day and start all over again.

Everyone has challenges. Not all challenges are revealed to the world. Kudos to those who tackle life’s obstacles with determination and vision. You are admirable people!


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