F is for fainéant- Poem: After the Rain

cut wood between trees

Today’s new word:

fainéant n. an idler. adj. idle; indolent.

National Poetry Writing Month prompt:

Write a poem that emphasizes the power of “if,” of the woulds and coulds and shoulds of the world.

Writer’s Digest April PAD (poem a day) challenge:

“After (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “After Dinner,” “After You,” “After Hours,” and/or “After I Finish Writing This Poem.”

My poem

After the Rain

if the clouds break and spread
releasing blue sky, the sun bursting,
glistening droplets on glass and bush
the blue-green waves pumping rhythmically
then saws and motors fill the air as if
men and women held them still
as long as they could, but the first ray of sun
set them free

if the sun breaks free and turns
the glistening raindrops to steam
rising up to join the receding clouds
let the growling, whining, revving, gnarling
inform the fainéants of their indolence
there is no rest against nature’s encroachment
no peace for those who live
among the virulent trees

if the rain ceases and the droplets are greeted
by the warm sun, spring has sprung
and there is growth, nature encroaches
and the peace of winter, the silent void of winter
is filled with revving and whining and gnarling and growling
if the fainéant sit, their heads soon split

Reading

Today’s poetry book for inspiration is Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Happy Reading and Writing!

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E is for eleemosynary- Poem:Donations Eaten by Bureaucracy

iStock_000013284658_Small burning money

Today’s new word:

eleemosynary adj. 1. of or relating to alms, charity, or charitable donations; charitable.
2. derived from or provided by charity. 3. dependent on or supported by charity.

National Poetry Writing Month prompt:

“Write a poem that incorporates at least one of the following: (1) the villanelle form, (2) lines taken from an outside text, and/or (3) phrases that oppose each other in some way.”

Writer’s Digest April PAD (poem a day) challenge:

“For today’s prompt, write a stolen poem. And no, don’t steal anyone’s poem! But you can write about doing such a thing. Or stealing hearts, stealing time, stealing minds. Or steeling your mind (remember: I don’t care if you play on my original prompt). Steal away into a comfortable place to write and break some lines today.”

My poem

Donations Eaten by Bureaucracy

Your altruism is in the mail
to eleemosynary systems of dilution,
stirring the cycle of hopelessness

You try to bypass through donated time, but
bureaucracy can ruin every good intention
Your altruism is in the mail

Regulations, rules–there must be control–change
behavior through punishment or reward,
stirring the cycle of hopelessness

You try to circumvent: offering temporary shelter;
donating clothes; preparing meals: inconvenience
Your altruism is in the mail

No one wants your eleemosynary roofs
if they mean invasive monitoring and checks
your altruism is in the mail
stirring the cycle of hopelessness

 

Reading

Today’s poetry book for inspiration is Native Guard: Poems by Natasha Trethewey

Happy Reading and Writing!

D is for dysphemism- Poem: Pollock in the Playhouse

Today’s new word:

dysphemism n. 1. the substitution of a harsh, disparaging, or unpleasant expression for a more neutral one. 2. an expression so substituted, as “cancer stick” for “cigarette.”

National Poetry Writing Month prompt:

Write your own sad poem, but one that achieves sadness through simplicity.

Writer’s Digest April PAD (poem a day) challenge:

Pick a painter, make him or her the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.

My poem

Pollock in the Playhouse

Stop crying! Why won’t you stop
crying? Get up! Get to work
Make phone calls. Find your stuff.
Stop crying.

Do you have to do that?
You’re killing a path through
the grass. I smell it on you
I can smell that

This isn’t working You
aren’t working. We’re only trying
to help you help yourself
Try this. You’ll like it if you only
try. Try that.

Better to leave her alone
To wallow, to swallow her pain
The pain that is all in her mind
Since she can’t leave the past behind
We don’t have time for this

All the whispers, so unkind
They find time to diss
the dysphoric with dysphemisms:
couch potato, cry baby, killjoy
negative Nancy in a black mood

I’m trying

 

Reading

Today’s poetry book for inspiration is Poems: Maya Angelou

Happy Reading and Writing!

Realistic Goal Setting vs. Creative Chaos

Rising in the West

The Chaos

Moments after I published my last post with realistic reading goals that I would put in my planner for January, I went to the library and checked out twenty-five books that were not on that list. I’m glad I did. There’s nothing wrong with my reading gluttony. I should not have imagined I could reign it in.

My approach to submissions is similar. Today, I saw a tweet about the guest editor at Smoke Long wanting story submissions, and from her interview, it sounded like she might like one of my stories, so I spent most of the day completely re-writing it and submitted it. Not in the plan, but I submitted and I think the story is much better today than it was yesterday, so mission accomplished.

As you can see, my ideas for my writer’s planner that I laid out in my last post were an interesting hypothesis for my experiment, but do not hold up to the creative chaos of how I actually work.

Realistic Goals

Deadlines

One aspect of the planner, however, the main one of knowing dates for deadlines in advance, has worked and I did submit to the first two deadlines on my list, on the very last day, but still. Stories submitted. I think the idea of having some specific deadline goals each month will definitely work for me and if I already had these dates in a planner and didn’t spend so much time finding them out in the first place would save me a lot of time for writing new work.  So this will be my main goal for the planner: finding deadlines for magazines and contests that will be predictable for next year.

Knowing all the options

The other aspect of the planner that I think will work is a daily overview of a literary magazine. Though literary magazines appear and disappear, often without warning, I’m still in shock that Tin House closed its doors, I think I can come up with 365 options for writers to think about with links to their websites, so the writer can learn more and submit if it looks like a good fit.

While at the library (checking out all the books) I found The Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses 2017 Edition (2017 Edition) (The Pushcart Prize). This was a great find for this part of the project. In the back of the book it lists all of the small presses, with their addresses, that submitted pieces for consideration. For fun, I went through the list and picked out every listing for Washington State. I was surprised how many there are and how different each small press and magazine is from another. I have already submitted to one of the magazines from that list. The great thing about the Pushcart Prize collection is I can read the stories and see which magazines think which stories represent them the best and which magazines publish the most award-winning stories and poems.

The Design

For the experiment, I wanted to create the planner pages in open office so all of you can play around with it with me. I like the idea of being able to fill in the planner on my computer and/or print it out and have a physical copy.

My initial attempt to create the daily layout was frustrating, so I headed to Youtube and found a couple of videos that clicked with me and got me started.

Jenuine Life

Mariana’s study corner 

The trick was to use shapes and text boxes. Though it was very time consuming, I came up with an initial draft of my idea.

feb one left                                           feb one right

So now the experiment can move into data collection. I hope you will join me. What do you think of this initial idea? How’s the layout? Does it include everything for a motivational daily planner? What types of physical properties would you change: shapes, colors, backgrounds, fonts, etc.?

My next step is to create all of the pages for February and start using them, re-evaluating and incorporating feedback each week.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting Your Work!

Review: A Compendium Of Collective Nouns

Over the weekend, I went to West Seattle and had brunch with an old friend. After we ate, we walked around the shops. In a home furnishings store, I noticed a beautiful book and had to have it. So I am now the proud owner of: A Compendium Of Collective Nouns

A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras from Woop Studios.

The collective nouns in this book were researched from The Book of Saint Albans, An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition by James Lipton which I talked about in my post Exploring: Collective Nouns, and other historic examples of collective nouns.

A collection of collective nouns is fun for anyone and everyone who enjoys playing with words, and this book is beautiful as well.

A Disguising of Tailors

This is the page I turned to in the store that turned this book from, Oh, I want this, to I’m taking this home with me. As a person who worked many years as a seamstress and tailor, I absolutely love the idea of being part of a Disguising. I’m going to extend that to A disguising of costumers because it’s just perfect. As you can see, the full page graphic designs are also eye-candy.

A Duplicity of Spies

This page is full of fun collective nouns. I especially like:

  • A venom of spiders
  • A duplicity of spies
  • A scurry of squirrels
  • and A galaxy of starfish

I highly recommend treating yourself to a copy of A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras from Woop Studios.

Also from Woop Studios:

A Raft of Otters: Collective Nouns Flash Cards from A to Z

A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns

 

How can you use collective nouns in your writing?

Happy Reading and Writing

 

Gobolinks and Blottentots

You may recognize these inkblots from my last post. The image on the left looked to me like two teddy bears playing with a ball from the moment I made it. The image on the right, however, originally looked like an angelic figure or winged creature (turned 180°), but when I looked at it again, I saw a canyon carved by water flow. Because the original inkblots were made with glitter-glue, the blue watercolor flowed like water and did not soak into the paper, so it even acted like mountain lakes flowing into a river in a canyon. It was very fun to make.

More Fun With Klecksography

Gobolinks and Blottentots

At the turn of the 19th to 20th century,  people expanded on Justin Kerner’s ideas of Klecksography, the art of using inkblots in illustration and created works of their own. Ruth McEnery Stuart turned the creations of inkblots and verse into a game called Gobolinks and John Prosper called the inkblot creatures he created and described in verse, Blottentots. Both of these books of inkblots and verse are now available online through Project Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg ebooks:

gobolinks coverGobolinks or Shadow Pictures For Young and Old by Ruth The Blottentots coverMcEnery Stuart and Albert Bigelow Paine 1896

Blottentots and How To Make Them by John Prosper Carmel 1907

Inkblots As Story Inspiration

I had a lot of fun creating a bunch of inkblots the other day. One of the great things about inkblots is they are a super-cheap, if not free (you can make them with things you already have in your house) art form and you can make them very quickly.

I did a little experimenting and found porous paper, like regular typing or printing paper works better than thicker paper. So any scrap paper you have lying about is the perfect canvas, and any drippable liquid will do. I used a cheap, hard-disc watercolor set with a lot of water. If you don’t have watercolors, you could use acrylics, or left over house paint. If you don’t have any paint, use mustard and ketchup. Use coffee or tea. Try mud. Why not? Make sure to protect your work area. I rolled out a bunch of butcher paper.

As I made more and more inkblots, my scrap paper got smaller and smaller. I found joy in the black and white blots that were about 2″ X 2″.  Many of them looked as if they could combine to become more detailed creatures, so I got out a metal board and some magnets and had some fun.

metal board and magnets play area

Looking at all these unique beauties made me ponder the stories they could tell. For those of you who have read Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, what about using inkblots to inspire or illustrate your nine boxes?

Nine Box Plot

Or how about using your inkblots to access your subconscious ideas about your hero’s journey? Perhaps in a similar way to, or along with Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot.  The hero's journey in inkblots

You could also use inkblots to inspire setting and character:

spring garden

A spring garden

mantiss gnome


A garden gnome spinning on a spike

Character development: Use your inkblots with your characters like Rorschach tests to explore their psyches.

Group dynamic/ character interaction: Have your characters play a game of Gobolinks.

Since I am having so much fun with inkblots, I hope to find ways that they will help me enjoy my editing and revision process as well. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Further Reading

Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity by Margaret Peot

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

The Inkblot Pack: Includes the 10 Classic Inkblots for you to interpret & a beautifully designed journal with thought provoking quotes

And Just For Fun

Rorschach mask

As a photographer and a costumer, I imagine many possibilities for The Original Moving Rorschach Inkblot Mask, so I bought one. I should have it in about 10 days and will definitely write a review.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

Easy Inexpensive Halloween Decorations

These ideas from KellysDIY are so fun, I had to repost. Amazingly simple decorations to get you in the mood for #Writober. I think my Halloween decorating will be a month long process this year.

Halloween is just around the corner….so I found some ideas you can do to dress up your home….scary. Fun and easy to do.. I used felt for everything except for the white eyes and teeth. They’re just card stock. We have a covered porch, so I didn’t need to worry about rain. This was totally […]

via Easy Halloween Decorations — kelleysdiy

Need your next great idea? Try this!

A few years ago, after reading Dufresne’s Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months, I created my go to story idea generator; my Plot-o-Matic. The Plot-o-Matic is a set of three different colored cards: green = Subject (person or occupation), yellow = Conflict (something the subject wants or needs), and blue = action (something the subject does to achieve that goal or overcome the conflict). When I’m looking for a story idea, I pick three cards, one of each color, and see if the story I want to write comes together. I have used that Plot-o-Matic to come up with many short story and flash fiction ideas. It’s a fun and useful tool and it was free, other than paper and printer ink.

When I became a blogger, I started searching Amazon for fun things to recommend for you, writers and readers, and noticed there were Plot-o-Matic-esque products on the market like The Storymatic and The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain. Then, when shopping for a game for my nephew, I noticed Rory’s Story Cubes among the games and bought a set to try them out.

DSC07558

Rory’s Story Cubes

The game and how to play

Rory’s Story Cubes are six-sided cubes with simple images on each side. For a long time I’ve been fascinated by human symbols. They dominate my fabricglass art and my puzzle design. I love looking up symbols in symbol dictionaries and dream dictionaries. How people express so much meaning through a simple shape over eons is exciting to me. So this game is  right up my alley.

There are different ways to play. The instructions page provided with my set provides 3 ideas:

  1. Roll all 9 cubes and look at the face up images. Pick an image that will be the starting point for your story. Beginning with “Once upon a time . . .,” make up a story that somehow links together all 9 face up images.

  2. Think up a title or theme for a story. (Examples: The beach, My fantastic vacation, Dream.) Then roll all 9 cubes and try to tell a story that relates back to the title or theme.

  3. Divide the cubes evenly among the players. (It’s ok if some get more than others.) Starting with one player and continuing in a circle, take turns rolling the cubes and adding to the story based on the face up images. Stop after all 9 cubes have been rolled, or continue rolling for additional rounds.

Rory’s Story cubes also offers more inspiration on their website.

Let’s Play

So let’s test it out. Can these story cubes inspire my writing? How will they compare to the Plot-o-matic?

DSC07559

What story does this roll give us? Hmm. Who’s my protagonist?

A happy man examines a letter that says he has to come home right now, so he jumps out of the plane, but on the way down a bee stings him. While sucking on the sore sting on his hand he does not pay attention to his magnifying glass that sets fire to his parachute. Luckily he lands in a tree, but he walks with a limp from then on and has to use a cane.

How about another one?

DSC07560

The hour was getting late for saving the earth, so the alien came disguised as a rainbow to alter the magnetic poles, but when it did, the water flowed upside down confusing the fishes and killing the bees and now the earth is overrun by scarab beetles.

Here’s one for you. Please leave your stories in the comments.

story cube 5

Now let’s play another way. One cube at a time.

story cube 7

Sasquatch, of course.

story cube 8

took a trip to Egypt to visit the great pyramids.

story cube 9

A freak storm surprised him. Lightning almost hit him, so he found an opening and hid inside the pyramid.

story cube 10

He pulled a flashlight from his backpack and began to look around the small chamber in the pyramid.

story cube 11

While examining an intricate spiderweb, he felt a chilly hand on his shoulder and roared turning around ready to attack.

story cube 12

But it was only a friendly mummified pharaoh who wanted to meet the furry large guest in his home.

story cube 13

The pharaoh asked if the bright light and crashing sound outside had been a meteor or an asteroid. He hoped it was the gods come to join him in the afterlife. Sasquatch hated to disappoint him,  but  told him it was only a bad storm.

story cube 14

Sasquatch pulled his favorite book out of his backpack. It was a book about the pharaohs of Egypt. He gave the pharaoh his flashlight and a sharpie. “Hey, could you find yourself in my book and sign your pic?”

The pharaoh started leafing through the pages. He started laughing. “I’m not in here. They haven’t found my chamber.” He shined the flashlight around the room. “See,” he said, “Not discovered yet.” He held the book and pen out to Sasquatch.

Sasquatch shrugged. “Wanna sign it anyway?” he said. How about right in the front?”

story cube 15

After the pharaoh signed his book, Sasquatch climbed to the very top of the pyramid, waited for a large gust of wind and opened his parachute. The giant wind, helped along by the ancient pharaoh’s good wishes took Sasquatch all the way back to his home in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s a video from the Rory’s Story Cubes website showing another story inspired by the story cubes:

Analysis

My stories inspired by story cubes tend toward the silly and ridiculous, but I had a lot of fun and wasn’t using them to work on anything in particular.

The Plot-o-Matic also lends to the silly and ridiculous. I’m seeing a trend here. It may not be the tools, but the user. Hmm.

I like the story cubes. They feel less rigid than the Plot-o-matic, as the different images can symbolize the subject, conflict and/or the action. The story cubes also seem more conducive to group writing and play.

As you can see, like the Plot-o-Matic, story cubes are a fun, playful, idea-conjuring resource with a vast array of outcomes, but what if some of the images don’t work for you and/or you would like something more specific to your story idea?

Rory’s Story Cubes has created a variety of different cube sets to address that issue. You can choose from:

Rory’s Story Cubes Actions

Rory’s Story Cubes – Voyages

Rory’s Story Cubes Bundle with Original, Actions, Voyages, Prehistoria, Enchanted, Clues, Intergalactic, Medic & Score 

But what if you want something very specific to your story that all those almost infinite possibilities didn’t symbolize?

How to personalize your Story Cubes

I came up with a quick DIY project for you to get the most out of your Story Cubes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pen
  • White label stickers
  • Scissors
  • OR for those who cannot read their own drawing
  • A printer
  • ink
  • printer paper and tape (double-sided preferred)
  • or printable sticker paper

I’m pretty sure you get where I’m going with this, but since I want to draw little symbols for my cubes . . .

Instructions:

  1. Measure one side of a cube (height and width to cover image)

three story cubes, a ruler, a pen and some white stickers

 

I don’t think I need an abacus, a teepee, or an L in a box (?) so I’ve chosen to replace these three symbols with symbols more pertinent to my story.

 

2. Take the sheet of labels and draw out a square that matches those measurements

3. Draw your preferred symbol within the square you drew

Drawings on sticker paper. A goatman has been placed over the teepee.

To be more specific to my stories, I’ve drawn a volcano, an alligator and a goatman. I’ve already cut out the goatman and placed him over the teepee.

My symbols may not curb the silliness of my stories, but they are more specific to what I’m writing.

4. Cut out the square and stick it over the side of the square you want to replace

5. Repeat until all unwanted symbols have been replaced

Three story cubes with hand-drawn symbols

6. Roll cubes

And there you have it. Three unique and fun stories to write. I would love to see what you come up with in the comments.

I found that when I rolled with my story-specific tiles, the game changed for me. The symbols became more of a What If game. What if the alligator is afraid of his own shadow? What would happen if the goatman got a bee sting? Do I want to bring magic into my volcano story?

I may be onto something. Adding personal symbols to the story cubes may be a more powerful writing tool than I thought.

I look forward to reading your interpretations of the story cube rolls.

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

Creativity For The Fun Of It!

The Diva Pest Repeller

I have begun so many blog posts lately only to feel uninspired and forced, like it was pure drudgery. After starting yet another one this morning, I gave up and asked myself, how can I make this fun for me? Then I heard cheers of laughter from next door.

I went out to witness the joys of snow engineering. My neighbors were creating a sledding ramp with a jump at the bottom. The kids weren’t getting air off of the jump, so the ramp had to be steeper. This was achieved by turning two garbage cans upside down as a launch platform and then building the ramp to the top of them. The project was a ton of fun for everyone, especially Riot the dog.

When the sledding had exhausted the kids and they headed in for cocoa, I decided to continue my happy snow day by attempting the mini-masterpiece assignment for the coursera.org online course Ignite Your Everyday Creativity from SUNY (The State University of New York).

The assignment was to turn a household item, they used a light-switch plate as an example, and decorate it any way you would like. I didn’t have a spare light-switch plate, but I did find an old ultrasonic spider repeller.

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

Large, black, monstrous wolf spiders think my house is the greatest. I, however, do not enjoy their company. After much debate, I thought we had come to a truce, when I agreed they could live in the shop, but they don’t respect boundaries. So a while back I invested in a few of these supposed wonder-gadgets. When plugged into the wall, they make a noise  humans don’t hear that repels “pests.” Obviously, my wolf spiders did not consider themselves pests because they weren’t bothered at all.

My creative idea was that perhaps the spiders aren’t drawn close enough to the gadget to hear its lovely song. This inspired my “mini-masterpiece.” Using a few odds and ends I had in my art supply bin, I got to work.

Art supplies

As I worked, my mind happily wandered to my writing projects, and as I waited for the glue to dry, I jotted down some notes. Right here is the real purpose of this post. While I was making my spider diva, I was having fun while my mind continued to work. It’s important to enjoy other creative outlets instead of solely focusing on your writing, or its possible to suck all the fun out of it. This fun, silly project made me want to write a blog post, plus I am pretty pleased with my results.

I wanted my spider  to be reminiscent of the wolf spider to draw them in, so I looked up some close-up images and replicated the three-rowed eye configuration, the long, scary arms and the furry looking body. As you can see from this close-up of the finished product:

Close-up of the finished spider diva.

The finished Spider Diva still fits in the socket and the light came on, so it still “works.” I haven’t seen any wolf spiders approach it, but it’s supposed to repel them, so I’ll assume I’ve fixed the product.

Happy Creating!