Reviewing April and Contemplating May

My Positive Bias on Fear and Control by Maria L. Berg 2023

Thank you to every reader who came by, read about contradictory abstract nouns, looked at my art, and read my poems. I appreciate the time you gave my work, and the nice comments and fun interactions. To finish out the month long project, I printed out the rest of the images, and put all of the months images in my three-dimensional graph I created yesterday.

My Negative Bias on Fear and Control by Maria L. Berg 2023

Contradictory Abstract Nouns

I really enjoyed how the A to Z Challenge inspired me to look at pairs of abstract nouns that I wouldn’t usually look at together, and wouldn’t usually see as contradictory. It helped me delve deeper into my idea that every abstract noun can be either positive or negative depending on personal perceptual bias.

Creating a three-dimensional graph of all of the abstract nouns that I looked at this month made me think that the Big Five Abstractions may not be: Truth, Beauty, Wisdom, Love, and Happiness, but others that represent each of my four quadrants and the center.

My graph also showed me that I have a positive bias overall, and the fight response to fear includes abstract nouns of equally inner and outer control, where the flight response is mostly inner control.

To explore the definitions of abstract nouns, I collected many texts on philosophy and psychology. I was excited to start exploring the works of William S. Sadler, M.D., the Discourses of stoic philosopher Epictetus, and the texts on human behavior by Adler. Along with the philosophy texts of Kant and Hegel, I have a lot of interesting reading ahead of me.

The Images

In creating this month’s images, I tried new techniques and combined some old ones in new ways. The most successful new techniques this month were controlled blur (using stickers to cover certain bulbs on the string lights), the “blinds” filter (strips of paper on o-rings on a piece of wire, so that they move due to gravity), Morse Code designs (adding the dots and lines of Morse Code to put words in the images), glue vispo (the different thicknesses of glue making the Morse Code look like language), and xylography filters with my wood puzzle piece designs.

I’m very excited that the sun came out before the month was over and I got to play with my floating studio again after the long winter. I created a second cage for my reflection balls, and like the results. I’m really looking forward to all the new possibilities.

Though my three-dimensional graph using my images isn’t a beautiful work of art in itself, the way mages cluster due to my constraints provides interesting insights through my color choices, shapes, textures, and compositions within each quadrant. I have a lot to look at and think about.

The Poems

Though I was feeling somewhat uninspired at the beginning of the month, my little brush with death about mid-month (toppling off the couch and hitting my head on the bookshelf while trying to take emotional furniture photographs) seemed to be just the fuel this poet needed. The prompt to write joke-form poems, was fitting for the possibly tragic hilarity of my situation.

I enjoyed stumbling upon The Nonce Scavenger Hunt while reading other poets, and trying some new forms. As usual, I enjoyed how the different prompts worked with my A to Z challenge topic to push me to write on the topic in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.

So What’s Next?

I’m looking forward to getting back to my Tuesday and Thursday posting schedule, and returning more of my focus to my novel. I tried to continue my Reading Novels Like a Novelist (RNLN) posts during April, but I only got one posted, so I have some catching up to do.

I plan to spend time reviewing all of the work I’ve done in the last year on abstract nouns, and reflect on where my study is taking me. Though I find great joy in daily creative innovation, I worry that constant creation without refining my focus won’t produce the final images and poems I’m hoping will express and communicate to the viewer/reader the dialectic of every abstract noun.

As I review what I’ve done so far and think about next steps, I want to look at every abstract noun (in English) and put it on my three-dimensional graph, and choose my new Big Five Abstractions from my four quadrants and the center. Then, by looking at the graph, I want to explore my biases and where they come from, and what might change them to their opposite, to see the entire continuum.

2023 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

April Challenges by Maria L. Berg 2023

Last year’s A to Z Challenge became a year long focus that changed how I approach art, poetry, and writing fiction. I like to combine the A to Z Challenge with the daily poetry prompts from NaPoWriMo and Poem-a-Day, so last year I picked the simple topic of “Abstract Nouns.” Abstract nouns are nouns that denote an idea, quality, or state rather than a concrete object. In other words, they are things that cannot be measured or perceived with the five main senses. They represent intangible ideas.

Studying abstract nouns led to reading lots of philosophy. Trying to capture photographs of abstract nouns led to a deep dive into abstract art and creating many new photography techniques. And the challenge led to some interesting poems about how we each have a different definition, sometimes contradictory definitions of the same abstract noun.

After the April Challenges were over, I continued my study with a new daily challenge of abstract nouns, and by the end of the summer, I had discovered a new passion: Contradictory Abstract Nouns. Inspired by a piece of writing advice, “Find the despair in hope, and the hope in despair,” I started trying to capture images of these contradictory abstractions, and this led to a continuing study of what I call the Big Five: Truth/ Deceit; Beauty/ Ugliness; Love/ Apathy; Happiness/ Despair; Wisdom/ Naivete. I even used the Big Five as inspiration for the main characters in my NaNoWriMo novel.

For this year’s A to Z Challenge I will be looking at contradictory abstract nouns that both start with the same letter. This will make for less obvious combinations, and more creative contrasts. Since A to Z subtracts Sundays, I’m going to leave this year’s Sundays open to collage my images and thoughts from the week.

Here is a calendar of the ideas I have so far. Like last year, X needs some leeway. These are tentative and may change as April progresses.

April 2023 calendar with pairs of contradictory abstract nouns from A to Z. One per day except Sundays.

And a Successful NaNoWriMo Comes to an End

Failure in success and success in failure by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the failure in success and the success in failure.

It is finally here, the final day of November: the last day of NaNoWriMo; the last day of prompts for the NovPAD challenge; and the last day of this extended study of the big five abstract nouns and their contradictory counterparts. This month has been huge for me in terms of creation, invention, and discovery.

I now have yet another novel draft, and thirty new poems, and a ton of new images, all successful failures and failed successes. Luckily, they don’t end there. November succeeded as a month of creation. Now it’s time to spend as much time in review, and to find the failures, examine them and learn from them; to sort through and find what I still like after letting time pass, and see why I think it succeeded and how to use that successes to transform the failures. I plan to let the novel completely rest, while I focus on the poems and images in December.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

The last prompt for this challenge is a title prompt “And (blank).”

And Success Will Follow

The undertaking is a complete fiasco
The shapes are blurry,
the colors are dull
so step over the line again

The performance is a total flop
the notes are wrong
the movements sloppy
so square off against butterflies once more

The operation is an absolute loss
alarms are sounding
footsteps approaching
so laugh in the face of fear anew

The design is a full-scale bust
the pieces don’t fit
the vision is not birthed
so muster the courage afresh

The quest is a downright defeat
the return is without elixir
the dragon still hoards the treasure
so cross that bridge over and over

Success in failure and failure in success by Maria L. Berg 2022


Today I will write until this draft is finished, no matter how many words it takes, even if I have to write through the night, I will get to “The End.” I’m very excited. I’m so close. I won’t let myself down. 

The draft is a complete mess. I know most of it is garbage, but the whole story is there. I have used the process of drafting to get to know some really interesting characters, create a small town world, and create and resolve conflicts. In this way, this NaNoWriMo has been a complete success. The words flowed, and I wrote more in a month than I ever have before. But what I really succeeded in doing was creating more work for myself.

I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about my plans for the dwindling days of this year and what to expect in December, but then I’ll be taking a break, at least for the weekend.

Happy Final Day of November!

The Glow of Daring Disinterested Infatuation

Disinterest in infatuation and infatuation in disinterest by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the disinterest in infatuation and infatuation in disinterest. Today’s study of infatuation brought me to foolish passion and and another look at that great word “unreason,” which made me think of the obsessive works in Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists by Lisa Slominski (and contributors).

For today’s images I changed my lighting preparing my palette for next month. And I cut a new detailed filter.

Infatuation in disinterest and disinterest in infatuation by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today we get a two for Tuesday prompt:

  1. Write a truth poem, and/or…
  2. Write a dare poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s is an ekphrastic prompt. Of the four painting to choose from, I felt the most connection to “A November Morning” by John Atkinson Grimshaw.

What We Dare in the Glow of Morning

We dare the cold bite of winter chill
getting through sweaters and coats
mittens, scarves, and caps
to find purchase in our bones
We dare the slippery sidewalks
the threat of the hard meet of concrete
embarrassment of flailing
pain, bruises, and scrapes
We dare to dream of a different world
where all this courage has purpose
inspiring, changing, improving
every trek to a destination desired
We dare to imagine a future in which
our Novembers are paintings of the past
in which we dared to venture out
in the glow of morning

Excited to Realize Indifference is a Challenge

Indifference in excitement and excitement in indifference by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the indifference in excitement and excitement in indifference.Everything about my work is excitement to me, the lights the shapes, the discovery, so how do I show indifference in that excitement. A second person might be indifferent to the excitement. The  world might be indifferent to the excitement. What does indifference look like? I was thinking no filter at all. Only looking at circles. But even that is exciting. Maybe not looking through the lens finder at all.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a remix poem.”This could be a different take on the same subject, or retrofitting a free verse poem into a traditional form (or vice versa).”

dVerse Poets Pub

It is Quadrille Monday where today’s challenge is to write a forty-four word poem which includes the word “warm” in some form. It will be an interesting exercise to condense all the lines I collected from the poems I’ve written this month into only forty-four words as my remix poem.

Attempts at Indifference Went Down in Flames

Let’s pretend I found indifference—
was free of bias learned from experience
and could know vibrations of unfiltered perceptions
and nerves afire went for broke
Nothing is as incomprehensible as honest truth
—would I in my excitement be warmed by the fire
or burned?

Excitement in indifference and indifference in excitement by Maria L. Berg 2022


Last night I set up files for each of the scenes I need to get me through the end of this draft, and hopped from one to another writing about five hundred words into each. I still have a ways to go, but I think I can get to the end by the 30th. I’m excited.

The Enhanced Diminution Resolution

Diminution in Enhancement and Enhancement in Diminution by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the enhancement in diminution and the diminution in enhancement. Today’s study definitely starts with the dictionary.

enhancement noun the state or quality of being elevated, heightened, or increased, as in quality, degree, intensity, or value

diminution noun the act, fact or process of diminishing, lessening; reduction

If one thinks about the law of supply and demand, one could enhance the value of something through diminution: lessening the available quantity. So that could be the diminution in enhancement. I’m still thinking about my first attempt at cubism yesterday. Cubism is a type of diminution, reducing something to its shapes and angles, and yet also increasing them by showing the shapes and angles from more than one point of view at the same time. So cubism could be the enhancement in diminution.

For today’s images, I cut another filter in an attempt at cubism, then took shots from different heights, and tried different intensities by adding my purple LEDs to the blue, and then using transparencies with mostly white.

I feel like all of today’s experiments got me closer to the cubism idea I had in mind. I think it’s a fun concept to explore further.

Enhancement in Diminution and Diminution in Enhancement
by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a resolution poem.

The Resolution

Ah, that note
the one anticipated
through elevated
intensity through
recede and decay

Ah, that note
the one needed
through degrees of
dissonance through
heightened state

Ah, that note
the one expected
through learned
settlement through
accord and verdict

Ah, that note
that sweet resolve


Yesterday I got my second NaNoWriMo win, so my draft is at 90,000 words, and yet I have a ways to go before I hit The End. I’m excited that I’m over-writing this year, so for the first time my revision process will be chiseling away instead of building up. However, I also want to get to The End, so I can let it rest, and focus on poetry next month while I put together my chapbook. Determination is key. I have four days: will I write this novel to the end? I sure hope so.

It’s time for the final push!

#SoCS: The Reality of a Half-full Plate of Dreams: On Second Thought It’s Half-empty

Dream in Reality and Reality in Dream by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at the dream in reality and reality in a dream.

I found a fun quote for today in The Aspiring Poet’s Journal by Bernard Friot:

“Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.” ~Georges Braque

Georges Braque was a Fauvist and Cubist painter of still lifes. A ray of poetry sounds like a dream image that reveals reality, thus the reality in the illumination of a dream. Do I want to attempt some cubism today a la Georges Braque? The experiment is how to create the curves and lines to create an impression of cubism.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS)

Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “on your/my plate.

I feel like there is always too much on my plate. But no one puts anything on it but me. Why do I continue to find things to pile on top, when it was already comfortably full? Because my eyes are big, much bigger than my stomach, and everything looks so delicious. When one sees flavor in everything, it’s easy to want a little, or a lot, of each. And when I have cut and chewed, and stabbed and shoveled down to revealing part of the pattern of the plate, a blue petal, the head of a partridge, the blue feather on the speckled beige background, do I celebrate, the accomplishment, rest and admire? No. I fill it right back up. I cover that space with new and exciting spicy explorations, and then pile on some more. Perhaps that’s why I’m never sated, because I never give myself a moment to digest. I guess I like how the colors and flavors combine, the surprises I find when I let it all mingle for a while. Finding something greater than the sum of its parts.

I love putting every color on the plate: the white rice with black beans, red and yellow peppers, orange carrots, green broccoli and spinach, blue and purple cabbage, a full spectrum of flavors for the eyes, mouth, nose, and tongue. The sound of utensils on plates, the chewing and crunching flavors for the ears. Does the plate make a difference. If I filled a different plate would the results, the experience change? If I filled several plates instead of heaping, and heaping on one, would that be better or worse?

Reality in Dream and Dream in Reality by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write an “on second thought” poem.

Is this the Dream or the Reality?

Roaming through a gothic castle on a holodeck, I’m suddenly afraid, digging in a field
on second thought I could be delirious

I cried when found bare after my deflector cape got stuck in glue
on second thought that’s how things are

The screech owl claws at my implant in the wind, but it can’t be fixed
on second thought I could be moonstruck

I recovered my snare drum with regenerated skin, but wove my beats to conceal the goose bumps
on second thought that’s the name of the game

I enjoyed kicking flesh-pods after subduing them with feedback from my microphone
on second thought I could have made it all up

In artificial gravity, feeling a bump during the witching hour is blown out of proportion
on second thought that’s the nuts and bolts of it

In the slipstream I slurp soup from a baked hollow
on second thought that’s the way of it

The imp at the door confessed to jumping through the singularity
on second thought I could be building castles in the air

My neck began to bleed when I saw the object in the interplanetary campfire
on second thought I could be having a nightmare

Roaming through my gothic castle, I see friends I haven’t seen for years
on second thought I see it like it is

The Seriousness of Justice and Injustice

The injustice in justice and the justice in injustice by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today my search leads me to the injustice in justice and the justice in injustice. This study gets right to the heart of what it is to be a human in society. The concepts of justice are based on a moral code that people have to agree upon to live peacefully together. But some laws are created and upheld that are not just or moral. And though justice is supposed to encompass equality and fairness, some laws that are just and moral are only applied to some, while others believe they are above the law.

While I explored definitions today, I came upon the importance that bias plays in injustice, and became fascinated by the word “unreason.” unreason noun 1.inability or unwillingness to think or act rationally, reasonably or sensibly; irrationality 2.something that lacks or is contrary to reason 3. lack of order; chaos verb to upset or disrupt the reason or sanity of; to deprive of reason.

It’s the verb part of that definition that fascinates me: that through unreason one could deprive another of reason, disrupt someone’s sanity. Is that what is causing what appears to be so much injustice?

I believe bias is the injustice in justice, but where is the justice in injustice? Perhaps through recognizing injustice—as in unjust or unfair laws—we can change those laws, thus creating justice through injustice. However, what is determined as justice to one person may be considered injustice to another, so it’s possible that society itself—the attempt of humans to live together peaceably through creating and enforcing laws—is the injustice in justice, and the justice in injustice.

Visually this gives me the excuse to play with my scales filter again. I really like that I went back and put the time into getting the filter the way I wanted it. The upper bar is affixed with a tiny brad so the scales of justice can be even or uneven. And the scales themselves are attached with wire and tiny jewelry loops so they move freely. Thus, in every capture the shape will be different.

The justice in injustice and the injustice in justice by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a serious poem.

And Then It Got Serious

And Then It Got Serious

As serious as flashing lights
in the rearview
As serious as pulling over
on a backroad
As serious as one would whisper I’m scared
in comfort’s absence
As serious as silence
in answer’s drought
As serious as a gun barrel
threatening extinction
As serious as vocal modulation
implying impatience
As serious as high blood pressure
in heightened stress
As serious as blood
rushing uncontrolled
As serious as trespass
trampling underfoot
As serious as bias
skewing perception
As serious as the banging gavel
finality’s sound
As serious as judgement
sealing fate
As serious as freedom
self determination
As serious as lost freedom
broken spirit
As serious as tragedy
hope drowned
As serious as life and death

Examples of Coldness in Warmth and Warmth in Coldness

Coldness in warmth and warmth in coldness by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the warmth in coldness and the coldness in warmth. You might be thinking, Wait a minute, those aren’t abstract nouns: they are sensations: I can measure them with a thermometer. You’d think this writer would understand what an abstract noun is by now. And you would be right, if I was exploring temperature, or the weather.

warmth noun the sensation of moderate heat.
coldness noun having a temperature lower than the normal temperature of the human body

And I definitely don’t mean to be creating any confusion, but each of these words also have meanings that make them abstract nouns:

warmth noun liveliness of feelings, emotions or sympathies; ardor or fervor; enthusiasm or zeal; the quality of being intimate and attached
coldness noun lacking in passion, emotion, enthusiasm; not affectionate, cordial, or friendly; lacking sensual desire; unexcitable; imperturbable

One way I could approach this visually is through color. My net lights will actually do it for me: blink blue and green, then yellow and red. I could use temperature symbols like a snowflake, or the sun, or fire, as metaphor for the emotions.So if the lights were blinking warm colors and I used a snowflake filter, would that show the coldness in warmth and the warmth in coldness? Or is that too on the nose? Guess I’ll find out.

Warmth in coldness and coldness in warmth by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today we have a title prompt “For (blank).”

For Example

The blue sky surrounding the snow-covered volcano
the gold glints of sun on the crystal clear lake in November
pulling your sweater tight as the frosty grass burns your bare feet
waving and smiling then hurrying to hide inside
the vacant stare of the confidant who keeps the uh-huh rhythm
while their fingers play a sonata of social media on their phone
the smiling face and open arms of the back-stabber
the gossip who feigns caring to dig up your dirt
the resting face interpreted as angry and stand-offish when only deep in thought
the damaged and traumatized who fears but longs for touch
shying from advances of the person most wanted to advance
a hand that reaches out when shivering with fear
pulling your walls in tighter as the fires of passion lick your feet
the raging volcano inside the silent, chilly stoicism
the blue bottle in the icebox waiting to warm the way down

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s open link night, so don’t forget to link up one poem you would like to share, and read, enjoy and comment on your fellow poets’ work.

Family: the calm in anxiety and anxiety in calm

The calm in anxiety and the anxiety in calm by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the calm in anxiety and the anxiety in calm. Actually, I’m looking to find that every day, but I’m looking at it differently today. For today’s images, I revisited the pin-hole patterns I’ve created, thinking of the black space as calm and the points of light as anxiety. I like how the images evoke both calm and anxiety: a keenness, a botheration in a halcyon harmony.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a family poem. Combining my prompts reminded me of a family gathering poem I wrote back in October of 2017. The poem was inspired by a flying horned monkey in a Joan Fontcuberta photograph which appears in this short video where he presents a museum showing of his work:

Joan Fontcuberta challenges the perceived reality in photography

The Horned Flying Monkey In The Room

When it flew into the room
You had just said, “That hurt my feelings”
She said it never happened
He wondered when you would get a real job
He shoved his mouth so full of mashed potatoes
he couldn’t answer any questions
and the baby hit his sister, hard
On purpose

When it flew into the room
You were staring at your empty plate
She was serving pork and steak
He was asking about the bank
He was chiding you for your tastes
And the baby threw his food on the floor
On purpose.

When it flew into the room
You were fighting back tears
She was poking at your fears
He was pushing Roth-IRAs for later years
He put his steak on top of your salad
And the baby was kicking the table
On purpose.

By the time anyone noticed it was in the room
You stared at it curiously
She said she didn’t see it
He threw his plate at it
It swooped down and pierced his neck with its horn
And landed on the baby’s head
On purpose.

Today’s Poem:

This year, I’m looking forward to a quiet, relaxed Thanksgiving with my parents.For fun I revisited this poem, imagining the horned flying monkey arriving at tomorrow’s dinner.

This Year’s Horned Flying Monkey In The Room

When I first heard the flapping
He had finished the same short grace
She had passed me the mashed potatoes, and
I was full of thanks for this quiet, relaxed meal

When it flew into the room, its horn glistening
I put down my fork and knife and watched agape
He stared at his plate and cut and cut, and
She discussed the most recent Proverb of study

When it circled the room, dropping more than feathers
She had mentioned a piece of political news
I had argued a counterpoint, but needed to produce evidence, and
He was yelling, though we were inches apart

When it perched on the table next to me
He said, “I don’t know” in that sing-songy way,
She made a connection about something unrelated, and
I plopped a scoop of mashed potatoes on the tablecloth

When it stole her corn with its tail
I wanted to laugh but didn’t say anything
He decided it was time to unretire for the third time, and
She admitted to the sin of pride

When it stabbed the turkey with its horn
She said, “but what about the murdered babies?”
I said, “Turkey’s gross! Why turkey?” and
He said, “How do I get that thing out of there?”

When it flew away and we stared after
He said the meal was delicious (though he has no sense of taste, or smell)
She brought out her home made pies, sweet and rich with flaky crusts, and
I knew that my dream holiday repast had finally come and gone

The anxiety in calm and the calm in anxiety by Maria L. Berg 2022


I’ll admit that I’m feeling a little anxious about actually getting to “The End” by the thirtieth. With all these words I keep writing, I would hope to see an end in sight, and I think I do, but I also don’t want to force it. I’ve enjoyed how the relationships between my characters have guided the story and I want everything to go into this draft, every single idea so I can carve out a great book from it in 2023, so today I’m going to stop stressing about it. Whatever happens, happens. I’m going to keep typing away, calmly having fun with this story, and see where it takes me.

If the American readers don’t stop by tomorrow, I hope you have a calm and relaxed Thanksgiving with tons to be thankful for. I’m sure I’ll have something to say about mine in the coming poems. 😊